Minimize your Risk with Scalable Software Defined Radio (SDR) Systems in Your Unmanned Vehicle

Software Defined Radio, UAV


For unmanned vehicle applications, minimizing Size, Weight, Power and Cost (SWaP-C) often means trading off capabilities or number of radio frequency (RF) inputs. System integrators need GigaHertz (GHz) of sampling rates and complex processing to handle huge data rates. Using 3U OpenVPX-based Rugged Mission Computers from Curtiss-Wright, system integrators reduce their risk in development and speed their time to market because these Software Defined Radio systems are fully qualified and pre-tested for interoperability between the processor cards, I/O, RF cable routing, a power supply and storage cards. With the SDR system including an embedded thermal management system that cools up to 485 watts of power at 71°C at Sea level via forced convection cooling, system integrators can focus on developing the software and compression to handle faster speeds and increased bandwidth required for their applications and radio waveforms required for transmitting and receiving data.

SDR Image


Today’s Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs) are able to fully digitize parts of the multi-GHz including L-band and some S-band frequencies at native 12-bit resolution, and into X-band at 8-bit resolution. At these speeds and resolutions, tuner-less radios are becoming a more practical solution. The Curtiss-Wright SDR system meets these challenges with a high performance VPX3-530 ADC/DAC with Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA that implements direct RF analog I/O, coupled with a Xilinx Virtex-7 series FPGA for processing. Up to 5 VPX3-530 ADC/DAC cards can be included in the SDR system.

An ideal SDR would be able to digitize the frequency spectrum of interest directly from an antenna, present the data to a processor and output to an application – and also the reverse for a transmitter. Read the case study on 3U VPX SDR solutions for size weight and power constrained systems.

Key Features of the Software Defined Radio System:

  • Intel Core i7 or Xeon D Processor
  • DC or AC aircraft/vehicle power
  • FPGA-based Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog converters, scalable from 2 to 32 channels, at up to 4 Giga Samples Per Second
  • Phase alignment across all analog channels
  • Auxiliary I/O options (1553, RS-485, ARINC etc.)
  • MIL-STD-704F, MIL-STD-810 and MIL-STD-461 qualified MPMC-9354 system