Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Clark Savage Turner

Abstract

A low-cost radio direction finding (RDF) VHF receiver has been investigated for development into a radio direction finding network (RDFN) with a particular focus towards public service and commercial asset tracking applications. The primary design criteria were reproducibility, low-cost, and simplicity such that public service and volunteer organizations can benefit from the technology. Two receiver designs were built and tested to allow for comparison of practicality, cost, and accuracy. A pseudo-Doppler RDF and a time difference of arrival (TDOA) receiver were built as proof-of-concept for a system design based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The pseudo-Doppler system is a less practical implementation due to the necessity for custom hardware, a large antenna system, and an increased directional error due to multipath and weak signals. The TDOA system has potential as a very simple and low-cost RDFN implementation, but requires extremely accurate time synchronization that is difficult to achieve using COTS GPS receiver modules. The final proposed solution takes advantage of the simple TDOA hardware and multiple detection techniques (including signal strength) to produce improved locational data and ultimately provide a more accurate estimate of position. Further development and improvements to this receiver design have the potential for implementation as a low-cost radio direction finding network.

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