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Industry News

Remote Signal Intelligence Monitoring Systems

August 2, 2007
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Remote signal intelligence monitoring systems must combine high speed signal acquisition, signal classification and monitoring functionality all within a platform that is compact in size, lightweight and rugged in construction for deployment in the harsh environments common to most military applications. The Tampa Microwave RV3500 system combines multiple software-defined radio and energy detectors with AM/FM/SSB detection and real-time digital audio for operation as a stand-alone system or integrated into a larger system.


The RV3500 hardware includes a tuner, digitizer, multi-channel signal processors, system controller and communications controller, all contained in a single 19" 1RU rack-mountable package that is suitable for manpack, ground vehicle, shipboard and airborne real-time signal collection assignments. For more power, several RV chassis can be integrated into a single system by simply interconnecting the chassis via a network data cable. When ready to deploy, the RV hardware is designed to meet demanding field use requirements.

The RV3500 platform is configurable for specific mission requirements, providing rapid high frequency (HF) band spectrum sweeps, proprietary interfaces for analyzer control and data display. The platform empowers multiple users to remotely and simultaneously view different portions of the spectrum. As a development platform, the RV product provides developers with the hardware and software components they need to configure powerful, multi-functioned SIGINT systems.

The RV3500 software allows users to develop applications down to the component level of the RV system. Additionally, software development tools are provided to support the development of user interfaces on a client computer, integration of the RV3500 product with other systems and development of custom DSP applications. The software development tools also provide built-in functions for rapid spectrum sweeping, I/Q signal capture, remote communications, multi-channel streaming digital audio, modulation recognition, software-defined radios, multi-chassis integration, as well as many others.

Energy Detection: High Speed Signal Capture

Designed with FFT-based sweeps and multiple parallel processing units, the RV3500 monitors frequency ranges of up to 50 GHz/sec. within the instantaneous stare bandwidth (ISB). The system is capable of achieving sweep speeds up to 7.5 GHz/sec., as well as the entire span, in approximately 0.5 seconds. This rapid energy detection facilitates the use of lower resolution bandwidth (RBW) to separate tightly grouped signals without sacrificing speed, and ensures signals of interest are never missed.

Software-defined radio (SDR) gives the RV3500 the power and versatility of commonly used separate hand-off receivers, in a significantly reduced size/weight package. The RV3500 supports multiple channels and can hand-off signals within the ISB to any SDR for demodulation and recording. Users can access up to 16 streams of real-time, streaming digital audio via TCP/IP from one or multiple authorized PCs around the world.

Optimized for Remote Operation and Integration

The RV system’s core design provides strong support for deployment of the RV hardware at sites remotely located from the operators and analysts. The RV system is optimized to support remote real-time access to data such as spectrum survey data, multi-channel streaming digital audio and I/Q data from captured signals. The system allows multiple operators and analysts to remotely access the RV system simultaneously. Also, each operator and analyst can access multiple RV systems. The RV products provide extensive user control of the system by way of Application Programming Interfaces (API). This makes it easy to integrate an RV system into a larger customer system. In addition to supporting the development of new SIGINT systems, the RV system is also particularly useful in upgrade programs. Typically the mission of such a program involves replacing a legacy system with newer hardware that is smaller and more powerful, while keeping as many of the existing interfaces as possible. With the RV software development tools, the developer is given the ability to control the RV system using the legacy interfaces. This can save countless hours of retraining operators on the use of a new user interface.

Mobile Operation

The RV3500 platform is designed to support mobile platforms including ground-based, airborne and naval applications. RV products are currently used in Hummer platforms, naval vessels and aircraft. The success of RV systems in these space-limited environments is due to three specific packaging and construction factors:

• The highly integrated RV products provide a complete SIGINT system in a single 1RU rack-mountable chassis or an optional compact chassis. The system can also be packaged per a customer’s specifications.

• RV systems are designed to operate in mobile environments subject to shock, vibration and humidity. For instance, the RV system has successfully passed RTCA/DO-160 compliance, the Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment.

• The RV systems support operation on both AC and DC power sources—using either 24 VDC and 28 VDC power sources, as well as any of the standard international AC power sources. Additionally, other sources can be supported per customer specifications.

Dynamic SIGINT Reconfiguration with SmartCells™

The RV3500 platform offers SmartCells™—a single or multiple set of intelligent hardware processing modules that can be added to any SIGINT system (see Figure 1). Each SmartCell has the ability to perform one of several functions depending on the software selected. For example, up to four SDRs can be loaded into any one SmartCell, allowing four channels of simultaneous signal analysis. Alternatively, a SmartCell may be loaded with software to make it function as a rapid energy detector. Up to seven SmartCells may be added to each system, and the software may be dynamically loaded and changed as needed under software control. SmartCells can be dynamically configured for each mission’s critical needs and/or multiple embedded SmartCells can be configured to form a complete signal intelligence system. SmartCells support simultaneous demodulation of multiple radio channels, or can be configured to achieve increased energy detection speeds.

The RV3500 system allows each SmartCell to be re-programmed on-the-fly as operational requirements change. For instance, multiple SmartCells can be configured for very rapid spectrum survey sweeps, and then re-configured as needed for modulation recognition or software-defined radios.

All the data and software in the RV3500 are stored on the system’s disk drive. Since the disk drive is the only non-volatile storage in the RV hardware, the system is rendered unusable when the drive is not present in the system. The disk drive is easily removed in a matter of seconds from the front panel.

Compact, Scalable, Customizable

The RV3500 product provides a complete SIGINT spectrum survey and collection system in a package much smaller than traditional systems with the same or less capability. Virtually any RV3500 hardware or software component can be customized or developed to meet a particular customer’s requirements. This includes packaging, tuner frequency range, interfaces to third party hardware (such as tuners, handoff receivers, etc.), graphic user interfaces, system integration, DSP software modules, GPS and communications interfaces.

The RV product is available in either the standard 19" 1RU rack-mountable package or in an optional 10" x 11.75" x 3.75" compact chassis package style. The system can also be adapted to a custom package to satisfy specific application requirements.

Each RV3500 product has the ability to function simultaneously as both a signal survey device and a signal collection device. When more capability is required in a system, several RV chassis can be integrated into a single system by simply interconnecting the chassis via a network data cable. The RV software development kit (SDK) allows a multi-chassis RV system to be treated as a single integrated system.

Tampa Microwave Inc.
Tampa, FL (813) 855-2251
www.tampamicrowave.com

RS No. 300

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