Colorado Engineering, Inc.

CEI Uses NI AWR Design Environment to Design and Program a Reconfigurable RF System


Company Profile

Colorado Engineering, Inc. (CEI) is a leading developer of radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems. The company specializes in active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, EW, air-to-air radar, electronic intelligence (ELINT), brownout radar, rear-obstacle avoidance, enterprise and embedded software engineering, grid and cloud computing, real-time operating systems, 3D robotics computing, analog-to-digital converters (ADC), digital-to-analog converters (DAC), U/D converters, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and PowerPCs, X86 and general purpose computing on graphics (GPGPU), systems engineering, and antenna design.

The Design Challenge

CEI has developed a reconfigurable RF system, which has over 40 RF devices (various amplifiers, mixers, and filters) connected by a switch matrix. The switch matrix is controlled by a microcontroller connected via USB to a PC running NI AWR Design Environment™. The device then “rewires” the RF circuit in real time based on what the user designs on the screen. The device can be reprogrammed as often as desired, and the design is stored in non-volatile memory on the device so that the RF circuit can be used when disconnected from the PC. NI AWR software was not only used to design the device, but forms the backbone of the CAD system used to program the device.

The Solution

This reconfigurable RF system required a mature RF design environment and graphical interface. NI AWR Design Environment software provided exactly that, enabling the designers to concentrate on integrating CEI software and hardware. NI AWR Design Environment's scripting API allowed them to see and react to what the user was doing on the screen. In addition, the 'Elements Library' enabled the designers to provide the user with a design palette that exactly matched the device, including RF parameters. The NI AWR software allowed users to simulate their design before programming the device. A custom toolbar was even added to the standard environment so users could manage CEI’s product.

Why NI AWR Design Environment?

Because NI AWR Design Environment is completely integrated, CEI designers were able to seamlessly integrate their software with NI AWR software to provide customers with a unique design environment customized for the CEI product.

The designer feels that NI AWR Design Environment rock-solid simulation differentiates it from other tools. Users can see within a dB what to expect when CEI hardware implements their design and can trust that “What you see is what you’ll get.”