DARPA spectrum challenge

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced their upcoming challenge to RF hackers: can you program a radio to dominate the spectrum everywhere? DARPA describes the challenge:

The DARPA Spectrum Challenge is a competition to demonstrate a radio protocol that can best use a given communication channel in the presence of other dynamic users and interfering signals. The Challenge is not focused on developing new radio hardware, but instead is targeted at finding strategies for guaranteeing successful communication in the presence of other radios that may have conflicting co-existence objectives. The Spectrum Challenge will entail head-to-head competitions between your radio protocol and an opponent’s in a structured testbed environment. In addition to bragging rights for the winning teams, one team could win as much as $150,000.

DAPRA says registration for the Spectrum Challenge is expected to officially open in January 2013. Any U.S. academic institution, business, or individual, is eligible to compete, with certain restrictions. Visit the Spectrum Challenge page for more details.

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  1. Since I’m not American, I guess I needn’t bother apply.
    Doesn’t say if it’s 1-way or 2-way comms. The hardware is a given: it’s the software processing they are looking at. Any bets the winner will use SCV (Sub Clutter Visibility) algorithms used by radar systems to overcome jamming?

  2. that may have conflicting co-existence objectives LOL, are they really looking for new radio protocols or testing a new jamming system…

  3. Extending on the radar technique: FMCW http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FMCW#Modulated_continuous-wave
    Take a sawtooth, encode [say] 2 bits in frequency modulation [doppler shift]. Encode another 2 bits in amplitude modulation [return strength]. That’s a 4-bit packet. All that’s left is the number of packets [range cells] per sweep and voila, your radar processing is now a comms circuit.
    Narrow channel? Less packets. Merely 9 packets per sweep gives you 36 bits [4 bytes @ 8 bits + parity]
    Noise? Repeat pattern 3 – 5 times. Changing to new packet? Signal with change of sweep rate.
    I’m sure there are plenty of science boffins working on pulling weak / masked signals out of noise, using correlation DSP’s etc.
    I suspect the limiting factor becomes the size of the channel: Decent FM modulation tends to be rather wide.

  4. With the risk of sounding entirely too adolescent: This is the coolest freaking thing I have heard of. RF Engineers are bad asses in my book and I aspire for my make-shift basement engineer’s curriculum to someday lead me down the RF path. I can’t wait to see the results of this challenge! I believe one of L0pht’s members went on to work at DARPA. Keep up the inspiring work!

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