Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

GSoC is a Google-sponsored event to get students involved in Open Source projects (Website). GNURadio has participated in GSoC 2012 and 2013, and has 5 students accepted for GSoC 2014.

Students interested in participating, read the student instructions and the rules of conduct.

For previous and currently ongoing projects, read the page of past GSoC projects.

List of ideas

This is the list of project ideas for GSoC 2015 within GNU Radio. All of these projects have mentors, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact them!
Remember that these are ideas and are merely meant as an inspiration for you to write your own proposal.

Students who do not find a fit among these projects are encouraged to engage with us and suggest new ones. The GNU Radio discussion mailing list is the best place to contact all of us. Please do not contact us off-list for the sake of discussing GSoC, unless you're contacting a mentor listed here to get feedback on a proposal.

Reviewing the Google FAQ page for a broader understanding of project, mentor, and student responsibilities is recommended.

List to be written. Please add ideas, you may cannibalize old ideas, of course!

If you need a USRP to complete the project, we will be able to arrange something.

Old GSoC ideas

These ideas for projects did not find a student in previous GSoCs. The project ideas are left in here for archaeological purposes and future reference.

Signal Processing

GSM analysis tool (replacement for airprobe)

Airprobe is a tool that was used to analyse GSM signals a while back. It no longer works with current GNU Radio versions, and doesn't make use of any of the new GNU Radio features. A modular rewrite would make a great out-of-tree module (gr-gsm). While this seems a daunting task, there are already many building blocks available which can be used (of course giving the original authors credit where due!).

Objectives

Create an OOT module which decodes GSM signals. Real-time capabilities would be nice.

Potential mentor(s)

Sylvain Munaut

Vector Network analyzer

With SDR than can transmit and receive and even receive several channels in a coherent way, this opens up the possibility to implement a VNA :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_analyzer_%28electrical%29

Objectives

Create an GNU Radio application that perform a sweep of a DUT and outputs its S11/S12/S21/S22 curves (or a subset of those, depends on available HW and connections).
That application should be able to perform calibration sweeps (open/short/thru). It should also try to minimize the impact of any hardware limitations (like DC offset / LO leakage / dynamic range limitations / tuning delay). It should ideally support real-time display (to help tuning antennas / filters for instance).

Caveat

Might require access to some specific RF hardware depending on the chosen architecture (things like B210, directional couplers, or RF switches, ...). We might be able to supply some of these.

Potential mentor(s)

Sylvain Munaut

Wireless Networks In-the-Loop

The basic idea behind "Wireless Networks In-the-Loop" (WiNeLo) is to build a GR-based network emulator. This implies the modeling of the underlying SDR hardware, the individual channels & interference characteristics, as well as the timing behavior (produce correct amount of noise samples if no node is transmitting). The project already started in 2011 and as a outcome, the basic functionality -- the framework with client-server based "sample dispatcher" as well as some example hardware & channel models -- has already been implemented in the gr-winelo OOT, which will be published on github soon. See http://video.fosdem.org/2014/AW1125/Sunday/Wireless_Networks_IntheLoop.webm for a quick introdcution to "Wireless Networks In-the-Loop".

Objectives
There are various tasks covering several areas. Possible (sub-)projects are:
  • (Signal Processing) Implementation of new hardware/channel models like a SDR platform/specific daughterboards or reference channels.
  • (Optimization & Performance) Improve performance of existing implementation (port python code to C/C++, develop new mechanisms to collect & distribute samples between several nodes).
  • (Signal Processing & Development Tools) Implementation of new development tools like "breakpoints on the air link" (pause the entire emulation if certain criteria (BER, SNR, interference/collisions) is fulfilled on the virtual channel/at single nodes).
Potential mentor(s)

Nico Otterbach

MIMO transceiver

MIMO is a great technology which utilizes multiple antennas at both transmitter and receiver to improve communication performance. With the advent of gigabit level wireless network, MIMO becomes more prevalent now. Although there are many works on MIMO in GNU Radio, those works are choosy in terms of the application context and the hardware used. Also, MIMO is not a standard application in GNU Radio yet. This project aims at creating an OOT module (gr-mimo) that implements the basic encoding and decoding algorithms and allow GNU Radio beginners to enjoy the benefits MIMO brings.

Objectives
  • Build a MIMO transceiver with 2 antennas, this transceiver can support concurrent transmission based on OFDM PHY.
  • Implement the MRC decoding algorithm at the MIMO transceiver, upon receiving the frames, the transceiver combines the two streams of symbols and utilizes MRC decoding to decode them.
  • Implement the Beamforming encoding algorithm at the MIMO transceiver, by precoding the signals, the MIMO transceiver should be able to broadcast two different frames simultaneously.
Requirements

Understanding of OFDM and MIMO. Algorithms would be coded in both C++ and Python.

Potential mentor(s)

Micheal Dickens

Advanced Signal Visualization and Analysis

Interest in Software-Defined Radio (SDR) is intensifying in the hacker community. Software for locating, visualizing, and dissecting unknown target signals is lacking at present. I propose creating an open framework for viewing wideband signal captures, identifying and extracting interesting features, and analyzing those features to obtain the data within.

Objectives
  • Display simultaneous spectrogram and time-domain views of a captured signal.
  • Ability to select regions of the frequency- or time-domain view for deeper analysis. This includes support for 2D selection within the spectrogram to eliminate signals outside the frequency range of interest.
  • Demodulation view, showing the selected signal's instantaneous amplitude, frequency, and other characteristics.
  • Signal analysis, allowing symbol filters to be applied to the target signal.
  • Symbol filter processing options to combine the symbol filter outputs into a symbol stream suitable for clock and symbol recovery.
  • Clock recovery view which allows manual grid placement of symbol timing, or application of algorithmic clock recovery.
  • Recovered bits output.
  • GNU Radio flow graph generation from the symbol and clock recovery parameters.
  • Analyze the entire capture file (or another capture file) using the obtained parameters.
  • Statistical analysis of bits recovered candidate data from the analysis, to identify likely packet length(s), preamble/access code/header/ID) fields, CRC/checksum field, and data field boundaries.

I have already done some preliminary work on this, including:

  • Identification of signals against the noise floor.
  • ASK/OOK and FSK demodulation algorithms with tweak-able parameters.
  • Somewhat successful attempts at identifying modulation characteristics.
  • Heuristics and techniques for identifying bit encoding (e.g. Manchester vs. differential Manchester), data field delineation, CRC vs. checksums vs. parity vs. check fields.
  • Viewing and zooming of spectrograms of large capture files.
Requirements

Experience with Python and/or C.

Potential mentor(s)

Jared Boone

Optimization and Performance

Integration of OpenAirInterface LTE software modem blocks into VOLK

OpenAirInterface (www.openairinterface.org) is open-source project created and maintained by Eurecom (www.eurecom.fr). It features an open-source software modem for LTE (both UE and eNB) entirely written in C. This software modem uses highly optimized SIMD kernles and is performant enought to run a 20MHz eNB on a dual-core off-the shelf x86 PC. The goal of this project is to integrate some of the building blocks of this software modem such as the FFTs or the channel codes into the VOLK framework of GNURadio.

Project Goals: The project should integrate the following blocks from OpenAirInterface into VOLK: * Turbo channel coder and decoder * Viterbi channel coder and decoder
Functional tests and benchmarking of the above block should be performed as well

Requirements: The student should have good knowledge in C (for OpenAirInterface) and C++ (for VOLK) as well as basic knowledge of channel coding and SIMD processing.

Potential Mentors: Nathan West (for support with VOLK), Florian Kaltenberger and Raymond Knopp (for support with OpenAirInterface)

Automatic Filter Optimization

In SDR and signal processing, filtering is one of the most fundamentally important tools. We use them to filter out interfering signals and noise, shape signals properties, and perform rate conversions. And since a filter performs convolution, it is very easy to turn the filter around to also perform correlations. In many cases, a filter may be the first thing add to your flowgraph when building a GNU Radio application.

Filter styles and implementations come in different forms, though we'll stick to those available in GNU Radio right now. The filters themselves can be finite impulse response or infinite impulse response. While IIR filters tend to allow us to use fewer taps, which reduces the computational demands of the filter, they suffer from stability guarantees in the design and non-constant group delay and non-linear phase in the passband. FIR filters are typically slower conceptually because of the larger numbers of taps used but have better characteristics with regards to stability and passband properties. It's important to understand that a filter tap is a coefficient that adds another multiply and add operation to the convolution process.

The other aspect of FIR filters that makes them attractive to software radio is that the calculations can be easily parallelized and pipelined. IIR filters have a feedback path, making these concepts, while not impossible, much harder. And finally, FIR filters benefit greatly from the concept of fast convolution, which states that convolution in time is multiplication in frequency. Using FFTs, we can move into the frequency domain, perform the filtering operation there, and then move back to the time domain. There is a trade-off here where at some number of taps the FFT methods (using O(nlogn)) perform faster than doing straight time convolution. The trade-off is partially algorithmic and partially implementation and architecture specific. In GNU Radio, we find using AVX SIMD optimizations, we have a cross-over point of ~10 taps, after which using the FFT method is faster. On a non-AVX Intel box, we found that this cross-over point is closer to ~22 taps. The following figure shows the trade-off space for one particular machine this test was run on for complex samples with complex taps:

FIR vs. FFT filter performance

We would like to better understand this trade-off space for different processors and processor architectures (i.e., various generations and styles of Intel chips, ARM chips, etc). From here, we can look to have a meta-filter structure that selects the best type of filter for us depending on the given machine and filter size.

Thanks to Marcus Leech for suggesting this on IRC.

Primary objective

Benchmark and profile existing filter structures in GNU Radio and make results available on stats.gnuradio.org. The filter structures considered are: gr::filter::fir_filter_XXX, gr::filter::fft_filter_XXX, gr::filter::pfb_channelizer_ccf, gr::filter::pfb_synthesizer_ccf, gr::filter::pfb_decimator_ccf, and gr::filter::pfb_interpolator_ccf.

Because of our interest in the performance on various processors, we want to create a benchmarking script that can be run by others in the community on various machines. This would preferably become a part of the gr-benchmark project, which already provides both structure and support for important pieces of the data collection.

Based on the results of the benchmarks, the project goal is to create code that uses the benchmarking information to select the best filter implementation to use for a given task.

Secondary Objective

Use the profiling of the filter blocks to identify specific problem areas in the implementation of the different filter blocks and work to correct them. In particular, a work-in-progress (that will be published before GSoC begins) is to allow us to use either FIR or FFT filters in the polyphase filterbank (PFB) blocks. Understanding the trade-off and the implementation issues involved here would help these blocks greatly.

Tertiary Objective

Implement other filter design routines that minimize the number of taps for a given bandwidth, transition band, stop-band attenuation, etc. GNU Radio currently designs symmetric filters using either windows (in gr::filter::firdes) or the Parks-McClellen algorithm (Python-only in gr.filter.optfir). There are other filter design techniques for FIR filters that make non-symmetric but minimal tap filters, which can reduce the filter's group delay but may also affect the linearity of the phase. Implementing some of these filter design techniques can improve filter performance by reducing the total number of taps.

Requirements

This project requires a good understanding of C++ and a decent understanding of Python. A background in signal processing is helpful, but there are many text and reference code already available to learn what would be required here. The student must show a good understanding of data analysis and presentation, which we will use to decide how to enable the optimizations and improvements necessary. The student must also communicate with the community on both the mailing list and the IRC channel (#gnuradio).

This project does not require access to radio hardware. Instead, we are most interested in behavior of the filters on different processors and architectures, including Intel and ARM chips. Access to ARM-based systems and SDKs will be made available to the student for remote login.

Potential Mentor(s)

Tom Rondeau

GRC and Development Tools

Remote deployment and control of flow graphs from within GRC

Users might want to run flow graphs on an embedded device or a distant machine. Currently in order to do this they will have to turn their GRC generated flowgraph into a Python file and transport it to the remote machine via scp. With control port we already have a way to remotely interact with flow graphs; however, remote deployment of a flowgraph is currently not possible. This could be achieved by using, e.g., python-execnet and a new "Generate" option. As for remote control/monitoring, a new component or OOT-module "gr-htmlgui" might be a flexible solution.

Requirements:

Although most of the parts for this are already scattered over GNU Radio, the student should be comfortable in reading and writing (!) (simple) network code in Python and (or) C++.

Primary Goal:

Allow for remote control and execution of GNU Radio applications by extending control port.

Potential Mentor(s):

Moritz Fischer, Sebastian Koslowski

GNU Radio Companion improvements

GNU Radio Companion is the most prominent part of GNU Radio, and continuing to improve the GUI and the workflow is a never-ending story. We have a list of improvements we want to have at our GRC roadmap.

Objective

Add new features and improve existing ones. This includes for example new/extended methods to handle blocks within (large) flow graphs like an automated bootstrapping/update of hierarchical blocks, visual grouping of helper blocks (like imports, params) and a parameter dialog with tabs.

Requirements

A decent understanding of Python is required and some user-level experience with GRC is helpful.

Potential Mentor(s)

Sebastian Koslowski

QT and Python3 port of the GNU Radio Companion

GNU Radio companion is a graphical tool to generate flowgraphs and therefore probably the most prominent part of GNU Radio. It is written in Python2 using GTK for the GUI and Cheetah to generate the flowgraphs. As GNU Radio is trying to move more and more stuff to QT and also make the jump to Python3 (compatibility) at some point, porting GRC is an ongoing project.

Objective

Help to port GUI of GRC to QT.

Secondary Objective

Port the code to Python3 and find a suitable replacement for Cheetah.

Requirements

A decent understanding of Python and QT are required.

Potential Mentor(s)

Sebastian Koslowski

Improve PyBombs

To find out more about PyBombs, see http://gnuradio.org/pybombs.

Objectives

Possible goals are:

  • Develop documentation and tutorials
  • Improve UI
  • Improve app store
  • Integrate with CGRAN
  • Test on additional operating systems and software configurations
  • Develop automated test build systems to verify the working state of development branches of all packages, these could be then exported to the CGRAN website
Potential mentor(s)

Tim O'Shea

Measurement Toolbox

As being widely used in the scientific area, an often recurring task when working with GR is measuring. The idea is to design and implement a new "gr-measurement" or "gr-sensornet" toolbox. Central aspects are "automation" and "centralization".

Objectives
Possible (sub-)projects are:
  • Implementation of a "distributed measurement tool": Start flowgraphs on different hardware platforms (see also project idea "Remote deployment and control of flow graphs from within GRC"), collect measured samples or post-processed data from every platform after running the measurement & store the measurement with the appropriate tags in a "central measurement database", (create a nice-looking GUI).
  • Development and implementation of methods for synchronized distributed measurements (GPS, NTP, ...) - allow synchronized measurements at different locations, e.g. simultaneous spectrum observation at different locations.
Potential mentor(s)

Nico Otterbach

Network Coding Toolbox

Network coding is a theoretical field of research which is slowly starting to become more attractive for experiments. Actually building a network which uses network coding would be an interesting showcase for GNU Radio capabilities which appeared in the last two years.

Objectives

Implement some of the most commonly known network coding algorithms and verify them over the air.

Improved support for many-core floating-point accelerators

Functionality to enable the effective use of MIMD floating-point accelerator hardware, using the Parallella board as a reference platform. For example:

  • further development of Performance Counters and Block Core Affinity
  • implementing message passing using on-chip networks

A project could choose something like a digital waveform receiver and use one of the above to optimise for throughput.

Note that work has been started on porting blocks to Epiphany, but it's likely that the student will need to do further porting work in order to complete and evaluate the benefit of the project.

Hardware will be supplied by the Parallella Project, along with support on the architecture, SDK and OpenCL implementation. While the student is waiting to receive hardware it should be possible to provide remote access to a Parallella prototype at the ORBIT test bed at WINLAB, Rutgers.

Mentor: Tommy Tracy II, High Performance Low Power Lab, University of Virginia.

Performance metric suite for GNU Radio (first proposed: 2012)

Details: Build a set of performance measurement tools for GNU Radio to enable accurate measurement of a variety of metrics including processor load, throughput (of a flow-graph) and end-to-end latency. For example, an existing set of patches to GNU Radio (and a Linux libc include file) was developed to measure latency between GNU Radio and the USB-based Ettus Research USRP1 (ArchitecureLatencyMeasurements). However, this project has not been updated to use the new UHD interface, and therefore does not work with the network-based or embedded varieties of the USRP family. Further, this project was not intended for end-to-end latency measurements of a complete GNU Radio application and is specific to the USRP radio front-end.

In addition, GNU Radio has been developing the VOLK library to provide platform-specific, optimized signal processing blocks. The intent is expose and make the use of vector processing capabilities in general purpose processors easy. Since the idea of VOLK is to improve performance, having a general purpose tool to measure application-level metrics is critical. The goal is to build a suite of performance measurement tools that can track end-to-end application-level metrics such as latency and speed, and which complements profiling tools such as OProfile to help guide optimization work. An initial attempt at VOLK benchmarking was done in GNU Radio and is discussed here, but a more complete, easy to use toolset is called for.
Knowledge Prerequisite: General Linux/Unix programming, C++, maybe Python
Access to USRPs required.

Channel Sounder (first proposed: 2012)

Details: Channel sounding describes the process of measuring a multipath propagation channel and obtain information about excess delay, Doppler spread and fading properties. The final product should make use of USRPs for channel sounding (the high timing constraints require use of the FPGA) and provide a complete measurement tool which can be used to gather statistics about mobile communication channels.
Knowledge prerequisite: Digital signal processing basics, FPGA basics
Access to USRPs required.

Generic compressive sensing framework (first proposed: 2012)

Details: By correlating the incoming signal with pseudo-random sequences, it may become possible to obtain the entire 100 MHz spectrum at once via Ethernet, albeit in a different base than the usual regular sampling time base. One proven application for this is Compressed Spectral Estimation. This project includes developing an FPGA image to correlate with pseudo-random sequences.
Knowledge prerequisite: Some FPGA experience, basic digital signal processing

Rewrite tunnel.py (first proposed: 2012)

Details: Tunnel.py has been around for quite some time and has served as a simple example of how GNU Radio could be used for basic MAC layer development. Basically, it's a transceiver radio which connects GNU Radio to the networking stack of the operating system through virtual network devices (i.e. TUN/TAP devices). This allows to tunnel any IP traffic through GNU Radio and therefore use it similar to a normal Wifi device. In the recent past however, it turned out that tunnel.py is not really working as it is supposed to do. For many GNU Radio users it doesn't work at all. That's because tunnel.py is quite choosy in terms of modulation type, rate+gain settings, the daughterboard used etc. This project therefore aims at rewriting tunnel.py in order to turn it into a working example again which also allows GNU Radio beginners to see how powerful it is.
Knowledge prerequisite: C++ & Python, basic digital signal processing

Integration of GNU Radio into Eclipse. (first proposed: 2012)

Details: Create a development environment for GNU Radio based on Eclipse (see also: Call20120119). The goal is to make the entry point into GNU Radio easier for beginners. The Eclipse extension could help in the actual coding process (e.g. code completion, knowledge of GNU Radio modules etc.) but also provide graphical tools (possibly a GRC integration).

Vector-network analyzer

Details: Build a vector-network analyzer app (qtgui based) that can show PSD, constellations, maybe other representations of the signal. Demodulate some basic modulation schemes (BPSK, QPSK, GMSK, QAM, etc.).

AGC loop for the USRP. (first proposed: 2012)

Details: Make an AGC loop for the USRP (i.e., in hardware with direct, low-latency control over analog gain stages).
Access to USRPs required.

DECT Tools (first proposed: 2013)

Details: DECT is a standard used to connect wireless phones to basestations (for landline operation). DECT for GNU Radio has been attempted before (see https://www.cgran.org/wiki/GR_DECT), but is lacking a stable release. With all the new features in-place a fully functional and nicely integrated DECT transceiver should be possible.

Goals of this project:
  • Receive a clear voice signal from an unencrypted DECT signal (DECT sniffer)
  • Can we use GNU Radio to actually connect to a DECT base station?

Skills required: DSP, C++, Python

FPGA pre-correlation (first proposed: 2013)

If there was a possibility to pre-correlate and decimate on the FPGA, this could help a lot downstream and allow usage of high bandwidths with lower sampling frequencies.

Applications:
  • Channel Sounding
  • Spectrum estimation
  • Compressive Sensing
  • DS-CDMA

Turbo Equalizer (first proposed: 2013)

Details: A turbo equalizer is a receiver component similar to turbo codes, see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbo_equalizer. The performance of such equalizers is very good; even in tricky channels, the bit error rates converge closely to theoretical limits.

Implementing such an equalizer is difficult on several levels: first of all, the theory behind turbo equalizers must be understood. Then, the iterative nature of such systems requires a highly optimized implementation if it should be usable in real-time systems.

Skills required: DSP theory, C++, Python, SIMD-codes (e.g. VOLK)

gr-perf-monitorx.png - performance monitor example (218 KB) Tom Rondeau, 03/27/2013 04:25 pm

gr-perf-monitorx-small.png (105 KB) Martin Braun, 03/28/2013 05:06 pm

fir_vs_fft_ccc-scaled.png - FIR vs. FFT filter performance (41.2 KB) Tom Rondeau, 02/05/2014 09:29 am