CEI developed a reconfigurable RF system with more than 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 Design Challenge
The device “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.
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 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 the 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’s 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. “I find NI AWR Design Environment to be the most accurate and most cost-effective circuit design software on the market today, and, most importantly, it provides the best user-friendly interface. With my 20 plus years of component-level RF design, it is the best simulation tool out there, period,” said Dean Pizio, Colorado Engineering Principal Engineer II.