Skylark Wireless - the last two years

I have been incredibly busy these last two years making a high capacity wireless communication system from scratch as the lead radio systems architect at Skylark Wireless. So I haven't had much in the way of blog entries, and its been difficult keeping up with community responsibilities.

Designing a communication system

Its a been a wild ride translating the needs of a commercial communication system into 1) hardware specifications, 2) distributed FPGA designs, 3) software control, and most importantly 4) pieces that individual engineers and bite off to work effectively as a team. There is an unbelievable number of trade-offs and elements to parametrize at every layer in the system. Its also important to have design milestones along the way so that even if the system is not complete, basic validations of the design are still possible.

I cant talk to much about the implementation, but its great to see everything come together and actually function over the air, tunnelling network packets over a substantial distance, and staying synchronized to the protocol.

Some of the most fun was really dissecting OFDM, LLR demodulation, and turbo codes to get an intimate understanding, and to create scalable implementations in the FPGA. Although again, I cant share the work, should I ever find the time, I hope to fold some of these interesting thoughts into a blog, or even a Pothos Flow style demo.

Houston Chronicle article

We got a recent piece done on the company's efforts published in the the Houston Chronicle:

Garage Massive MIMO

Here is a cool shot from the article. We converted a two car garage into a Massive MIMO covid-19 development test-bed complete with large antenna array and clients. The power is way down since these usually sit 100M up on a tower and transmit 10s of kM. But its nice as sort of a hardware "CI" to test protocol changes and system capacity.

Community responsibilities

It has been a challenge finding time to keep up with github issues and user group emails. I do my best to find and fix bugs and get back to people (albeit a little late some times). Unfortunately I have not been great about uploading a new PothosSDR windows installer every month.

There is a lot of development and demos I would like to do, but I will have to put off until my schedule can become more "normal". Its my plan that this is a long term hobby, so in the grand scheme it should all work out.

  • In good news, PothosCore recent got its 0.7.0 tag this summer!
Last edited: Sat, Jun 5 2021 - 09:03PM