Inspection methods for satellites post-launch are currently expensive and/or dangerous. To address this, BYU, in conjunction with NASA, is designing a series of small satellites called CubeSATs. These small satellites are designed to be launched from a satellite and to visually inspect the launching body. The current satellite revision passively tumbles through space and is appropriately named the passive inspection cube satellite (PICS). The next revision actively maintains translation and rotation relative to the launching satellite and is named the translation, rotation inspection cube satellite (TRICS). One of the necessary sensors aboard this next revision is the means to detect distance. This work explores the feasibility of using a software defined radio as a small, low-cost front end for a ranging radar to fulfill this need. For this work, the LimeSDR-Mini is selected due to its low-cost, small form factor, full duplex operation, and open-source hardware/software. Additionally, due to the the channel characteristics of space, the linear frequency modulated continuous-wave (LFMCW) radar is selected as the radar architecture due to its ranging capabilities and simplicity. The LFMCW radar theory and simulation are presented. Two programming methods for the LimeSDR-Mini are considered: GNU Radio Companion and the pyLMS7002Soapy API. GNU Radio Companion is used for initial exploration of the LimeSDR-Mini and confirms its data streaming (RX and TX) and full duplex capabilities. The pyLMS7002Soapy API demonstrates further refined control over the LimeSDR-Mini while providing platform independence and deployability. This work concludes that the LimeSDR-Mini is capable of acting as the front end for a ranging radar aboard a small satellite provided the pyLMS7002Soapy API is used for configuration and control. GNU Radio Companion is not recommended as a programming platform for the LimeSDR-Mini and the pyLMS7002Soapy API requires further research to fine tune the SDR's performance.
College and Department
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Monk, Andrew Michael, "Exploration into the Use of a Software Defined Radio as a Low-Cost Radar Front-End" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8742.
Software Defined Radio (SDR), Radar, Linear Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (LFMCW), application product interface (API)