We here at Nutaq are pleased to support the software-defined radio (SDR) community by bringing to your attention two exciting contests this year. The first contest is open to those participating in the Wireless @ Virginia Tech symposium (May 28–30, 2014). The second contest is open to members of U.S. academic institutions and offers a chance for you and your team to win a Nutaq PicoSDR software-define radio platform.

Wireless @ Virginia Tech’ software-defined radio challenge

Every year, Wireless @ Virginia Tech organises a symposium and summer school on wireless communications. This year the symposium is held from May 28–30, 2014 at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, VA.

The symposium is an excellent opportunity for learning and networking for both university and industry partners. Besides oral presentations, poster sessions, and tutorials, one of the symposium’s major events is its software-defined radio design challenge:  https://wireless.vt.edu/sdrcontest/

Teams of students, advised by a faculty member, are asked to propose and solve any problem related to SDR, cognitive radio (CR), or dynamic spectrum access (DSA). The 2014 call for proposal can be found at https://wireless.vt.edu/sdrcontest/2012SDRContestCallForProposals.pdf

The application and implementation are to be determined by the entrants, but each entry must include an implementation of an SDR link or receiver. The final report should include a description of problem addressed, the proposed solution, the results, and your conclusions.

In 2013, the evaluation criteria included:


  • Importance and timeliness of the problem addressed
  • Performance of solution (e.g. minimum detectable signal/minimum SNR of receiver, demonstrated throughput, spectral efficiency of digital link, etc.)
  • Flexibility (e.g. multiband and/or multi-mode capability)
  • Degree of automation/adaptive capability
  • Ease of use/user interface
  • Size, weight, and power
  • Cost-effectiveness

The 2013 winners were:

  • First Place: Vanderbilt – Low-Power Software Defined Radio for Wireless Sensor Network Experiments (http://groups.winnforum.org/d/do/6816)
  • Second Place: Drexel – SDR Integrated Cognitive Antenna System (http://groups.winnforum.org/d/do/6819)
  • Third Place: Stevens Institute of Technology – Application QoS Aware Cognitive Wireless Networking (http://groups.winnforum.org/d/do/6820)

Nutaq’s Software-Defined Radio 2014 Academic US National Contest

Nutaq has recently announced its 2014 Academic US National Contest: http://content.nutaq.com/2014ContestRegistration.html. The contest aims at encouraging and supporting academics in their effort of developing tomorrow’s technologies.

Registration is easy: submit a brief project idea and the team with the best project idea wins an SDR kit. The contest is based on the submission of an idea and does not include implementation phase or results.
The contest is open to active members of the research community working in one of the following fields:

  • Software-defined radio
  • Small cells
  • Tactical data links
  • Radars
  • Cognitive radio
  • Unmanned vehicles links
  • Signals intelligence and electronic warfare
  • Satellite communication
  • Localization Algorithms
  • Wireless spectrum analysis and monitoring
  • Channel sounding and channel emulation

Research groups are asked to submit a project proposal. The submitted project proposals will be evaluated by an independent expert committee based on criteria available on the contest web page.

The team who submitted the project proposal that receives the highest scores wins the grand prize:

  • Nutaq PicoSDR 2×2 MIMO (Virtex-6 SX315T) with PCIe expansion and MIMO OFDM QAM-64 reference design
  • Mathworks MATLAB and Simulink with the Signal Processing Toolbox
  • Xilinx ISE Design Suite System Edition and System Generator for DSP

For each of the topics described below, the entrants are simply asked to provide a short paragraph (200 words or less). The scores will be compiled and 10 finalists will be asked to submit a full abstract describing more in depth their research project. The abstracts will be evaluated based on the same criteria to choose winner of our grand price. The goal is to put an SDR kit in the hands of the team that has put forward the best project idea. The winners have the ownership of the project’s outcome and any intellectual property developed along the way.

Proposed Project (15 pts)

Describe the proposed project and explain why it is innovative. Throughout the evaluation of the project description, the independent technical committee seeks a global understanding of the proposed project, its innovative aspects, and how it pushes the boundaries of modern technology.

Features of the PicoSDR 2×2 (50 pts)

Identify features of the PicoSDR-2×2 that are essential to the project. This section will receive a lot of consideration; the more each feature is used to its full potential, the higher the score. On the software side, the independent technical committee will be focusing on the use of the model-based design kit (MBDK) and the use of GNU Radio, both of which are proven to substantially reduce development time. The SDR platform provided to the winning team as part of the grand prize is 2×2 MIMO, a large FPGA (Virtex-6 SX315T), and is equipped with a rear PCI Express connector. The independent technical committee will be looking for the use of Nutaq’s PCI Express drivers, the substantial use of FPGA resources, and the use of 2×2 MIMO in the proposed projects.

Project Outcome (15 pts)

Describe how the outcome of the research project will be shared with the community. Previous projects can be used as examples to describe how the group typically shares the outcome of their work (e.g. though publications or industry/government partnerships). The independent technical committee will be looking for the team’s previous participation in journal papers, conference papers, blogs, and industry whitepapers to determine the potential impact the proposed project could have on modern technology and ensure the outcome will be properly conveyed.

Team Introduction (20 pts)

Introduce the team working on the proposed research project. In this part, the independent technical committee seeks information on the team structure. The lead professor, research assistants, Ph.D. students, and any resources to be involved in the project’s execution can be listed to help highlight the team’s capabilities to execute the proposed project. The name of the legal entity receiving the prize (hardware and software licences) must be stated.


Nutaq’s Software-Defined Radio Academic US National Contest and the Wireless @ Virginia Tech’ software-defined radio challenge are just two examples. If you know of other SDR challenges or contests that will take place in 2014, please post them in the discussion section below. It will be our pleasure to include them in upcoming blog posts.