The new Whitespace Technology standards provide an efficient way to use the spectrum. Also, the standards utilize the VHF and UHF frequencies which facilitate wireless transmission over large distances. This technology applied to Communications Radar has great benefits for the African scenario. To boost Whitespace-based Communications Radar application development, the White RHINO (Reconfigurable Hardware Interface for computatioN and radiO) hard-ware platform was developed. It aims to fill the gap of low-cost commercial hardware platforms available for Whitespace-based Communications Radar.
Being a Communications Radar platform, the White RHINO had to be designed keeping the standards and regulating body norms as yardsticks. An achievable radar performance of the platform under various scenarios was also estimated. The White RHINO contains an FPGA (the Zynq7000 series) which has dual embedded ARM processing cores. For the wireless interface, it contains a field programmable RF transceiver and an RF frontend section. The platform contains wired networking capability of 2 Gbps. The platform also has 512 MB DDR3 and 128 Mbit NAND flash as onboard memory. Finally, it has USB host, SDIO and JTAG for programmability and temperature sensors for system monitoring.
The manufactured boards were tested under lab environment. It was found that except a failure on the RF transceiver section (due to a PCB footprint error), other interfaces were functional. The White RHINO successfully runs both U-Boot and Linux as operating systems. The error and other minor bugs have been corrected for the next fabrication run.
Also, the cost of the complete White RHINO system is less than 1000 USD which makes it a very powerful platform and yet, less expensive than most of the commercially available platforms designed for similar applications.