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Industry News / Subsystems and Systems

Complete P25 SDR Waveform Ported to Android™ with ORBexpress®

November 29, 2011
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Objective Interface Systems Inc. (OIS) announced that Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) ported a complete APCO P25 waveform and Software Communications Architecture (SCA) radio system to a small form factor Android device in just one day with zero source code modifications using the ORBexpress communications software. This port by CRC of the P25 waveform to an Android device realizes the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program initiative to facilitate the migration of software-defined radios (SDR) to smaller, commercial form factors to enable faster time to market and substantially lower development costs.

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Project 25 (P25) is a complex, public-safety waveform that federal, state/province and local public-safety agencies use in North America to enable communication with other agencies and mutual aid response teams in emergencies. The P25 waveform was designed to improve interoperability among civilian public-safety agencies. This port by CRC proves that public-safety radios can now easily adapt to new operating parameters―the real strength of SDR in a public-safety communications system. In addition, the success of this port makes it easier for military radios to communicate easily and seamlessly with public-safety radios during homeland security and other emergency situations.

CRC’s port of the entire radio system, including a full core framework and a P25 waveform application, ran seamlessly while achieving long battery life on a dual-core ARM processor. Because ORBexpress is fully multi-threaded, CRC’s radio application and P25 waveform were able to take full advantage of both cores of the ARM processor without making a single change to the source code.

“In the SDR community, many believe that complex waveforms such as the P25 are difficult to port and require DSPs and FPGAs to run successfully. CRC has proven otherwise,” commented Joe Jacob, Senior Vice President of OIS. “CRC’s outstanding engineering work on developing a highly efficient, small-footprint core framework means that smaller and smaller devices can take advantage of an SCA-based SDR without sacrificing battery life or functionality.”

“Using ORBexpress, we quickly and successfully ported the core framework and P25 waveform to a dual-core ARM Android platform with no source code modifications in a single day,” noted Steve Bernier, Research Program Manager of Advanced Radio Systems at CRC. “In particular, because we were using ORBexpress, we were able to take full advantage of the additional processing core on the dual-core ARM without modifying a single line of our source code.”

“Even though SCA-based radios will provide public-safety professionals with substantial new capability, the move to an SCA-based SDR has, in the past, been deemed too expensive for the public-safety market,” said Claude Bélisle, Vice President of Satcom and Radio Propagation at CRC. “The P25 waveform port to the Android platform using ORBexpress changes all that, lowering the costs and opening up communication on all types of devices among the many first responders, including fire, local and state police, as well as federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.”

CRC’s port successfully demonstrates the benefits of abstracting the mechanisms for inter- and intra-process communication offered by the ORBexpress software. The ORBexpress communication framework provides the interoperability and flexibility required to easily move data and logic components of the radio application and waveform without any change to the core application or system. With ORBexpress, radio developers and manufacturers can easily maintain, modify and adapt to the P25 standards and requirements as it continues to evolve and mature.

CRC’s use of the ORBexpress framework to port the P25 waveform leverages CRC’s SDR successes with SCARI++, a full-featured SCA framework used in developing software-defined radios deployed by the US Army, Canadian Defence Forces and other defense forces around the world. This port successfully demonstrates the migration of an existing radio application and system onto new and emerging commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology without any major application refactoring.


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