Radio System Design - Theory and Practice

Course 180

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This course identifies the key system design parameters, showing how they compound in a given configuration and hence how they relate to the top-level specifications. The course builds from basic models and descriptions of system behaviour. Describing common receiver and transmitter architectures, understanding the key impairments to reliable communications and looking at system solutions to modulation, multiple access and air interface standards. Various tools are used to provide accurate initial estimates of component performance while others show the relative contribution of each circuit block to the total. These tools help isolate critical parameters allowing designers to focus on the key aspects. In this way, designers can focus on the key elements that have to be solved to meet a design requirement in a cost effective manner while making sure that all the parts, when put together, will work as expected.

Recognizing that system design is not completely analytic, the course illustrates the art of design with practical analysis tools. The lectures contain useful formulations of key analysis techniques as well as Excel templates and practical tips applied to commercial CAD tools. The more advanced design concepts are illustrated with examples using commercial software.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • understand the basics of system performance from constituent component block characteristics
  • anticipate how component blocks interact
  • relate component level parameters to top-level system specifications
  • compare common receiver and transmitter architectures
  • illustrate both good and bad architecture solutions
  • demonstrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of simple spreadsheets, commercial software and CAD packages

Target Audience

The key objective of this course is to understand the basics of system performance from constituent component block characteristics, how they interact and how they can be related, to top-level system specifications. It uses examples and some historical perspective to help understand how and why modern radio systems work.

This is an intermediate level course for engineers or project managers. It is suitable for system designers wishing to better understand component level implications or practicing component design engineers interested in managing more complex sub-assemblies and systems. The course is suitable for those working in radio as well as in the mobile phone industry, handset or base station, satellite communications, radar and EW / ECM.


Day One - Signal Integrity

 • Origins and Definitions - Noise figure, noise factor, noise temperature, Bandwidth assumption, Thermal floor -174 dBm/Hz • Cascade Calculations - Standard formulae, Single step simplification, Calculating per stage increase and percentage contribution • Examples
 • Textbook Definitions - Input or output reference, 2nd, 3rd and Nth order IM • Cascade Calculations - Single step cascade - phase addition, Calculating per stage increase and percentage contribution • Sensitivity, selectivity and spur free dynamic range
 • Textbook Description: Useful approximations - Cascade Calculations • Example illustrating the Linear / Non-Linear Continuum

Day Two - Signal Translation

 • General Discussion
 • Signal Conversion • Image Band - Signal and Noise - Noise figure of mixers • Calculating Spurs - Frequency and level - Identifying worst ones • Phase noise and LO effects • I / Q conversion
 • Selectivity - Estimating complexity - Effects of diplexing • Passband Loss - Qu considerations - Bandwidth considerations • Filter Functions without the Circuit Theory - Standard methods - transfer functions

Day Three - System Architecture

 • Choosing the Correct IF - High and low side mixing - Up/down or multiple conversion - Direct conversion • Gain Distribution • Special Considerations for Transmitters • The Role of DSP
Design Tools
 • Spreadsheets - Plusses and Minuses • Examples and Uses of Low Cost Programs • Commercial System Simulators and examples

Day Four - Signal Transport

Link Budget
 • Introduction to antennas • Free space propagation path analysis • Effects of fading, delay spread and Doppler • Balancing the link budget
 • Analog modulation AM and FM • Digital modulation schemes, BER • Advanced schemes OFDM - bandwidth utilisation and channel capacity

Day Five - Radio Layer Standards

Multiple Access Methods
 • The distinction between modulation and access methods • The dimensions of frequency, time and symbols • Examples of FDMA, TDMA, CDMA and OFDMA • Multiple access planning, frequency re-use capacity and efficiency
Advanced Concepts
 • 3G Long Term Evolution, HSDPA and beyond • 4G networks, MIMO, Ad hoc networks and Cognitive radio