Powder News Room

The internal readout of the O-RAN Alliance Global Plugfest Spring 2022 took place during the week of June 20th 2022. The O-RAN Alliance will be distilling material from this internal readout into a Virtual Showcase for public release.

A summary of the plugfest events, across Asia, Europe and North America, is included here.

The POWDER team supported testing/proof-of-concept efforts related to energy savings/energy efficiency in O-RAN.

We also collaborated with Keysight Technologies to showcase O-RAN test automation that enables vendors to automatically test and validate O-RAN near-real time RICs and xApps on-demand, across a customizable parameter space, with Keysight's RICtest O-RAN Near-real time RIC test software integrated with POWDER's "lab as a service" automation framework (PLAF).

The POWDER team has started deployment of our "dense deployment" equipment!

Equipment for the dense deployment needs to be ruggedized to be housed in an enclosure without climate control. This first deployment involves a ruggedized small-form-factor compute node, a ruggedized B210 SDR, an industrial Ethernet switch and a CWDM mux/demux node. Other sites are to follow soon with the same electronics. Initially the B210 radios will be made available as experimental devices (paired with the ruggeduzed compute). Later in the summer we will receive and deploy ruggedized N310 radios, which will become the experimental radio devices and the B210 radios will transition to transmission monitoring.

The photos show the equipment being deployed in our "USTAR dense node".

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new close-range POWDER-RENEW massive MIMO deployment on the Merrill Engineering Building rooftop on the University of Utah campus. This deployment targets a small area (approximately 17m x 60m), and provides realistic outdoor conditions in a topology with short distances for improved link budget.

The initial offering includes:

  • A 64 TX/RX Skylark Faros array
  • One client site with two Iris 030 client radios

In the next couple of weeks, we will bring online two more client radio sites for a total of six client radios on the same rooftop. We will also bring a separate calibration radio online to support the real time Agora framework.

You can find documentation on using these resources on the RENEW wiki

We hope you find this new facility exciting and useful for your research!

We continue to develop/debug the combination of our high-power RF frontend plus OpenAirInterface software to provide over-the-air operation.

The pictures below show a "connectorized" version of the band-41 high-power RF frontend on the bench, on the bench in our new RF-lab and being installed for testing on the Browning rooftop.

Following a multi-month re-roofing activity of the Merrill Engineering Building (MEB), we are actively working to redeploy one of our mMIMO arrays on the MEB roof.

To improve coverage between the array and our mMIMO clients we are also deploying three "client nodes" on the same roof. Each node will house up to three mMIMO clients.

We expect to soon be able to make these resources available to the POWDER user community.

The pictures below show the array being installed as well as one of the client nodes.

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of mobile endpoint resources on University of Utah campus shuttle couriers.

These endpoints are similar to Fixed Endpoints, with some key differences:

  • The devices are mobile.
  • There is one user-allocatable compute node (a beefier server-class unit) with an attached USRP B210.
  • Resources are allocated/reserved by requesting shuttle routes (vs. devices). Currently all available routes must be requested (see example profile below).

The POWDER map page includes views of the currently-running shuttles, including details on the associated POWDER mobile endpoints (click on the moving dots representing the shuttles).

Please have a look at the mobile-demo profile to get started. This profile allocates a compute node (plus attached B210) on all currently-running shuttles with POWDER resources on them. GNU Radio and UHD tools are included on the loaded disk image. The profile provides instructions for starting up GNU Radio to observe spectrum utilization in band 41 around 2500 MHz. Also featured is a new POWDER feature that lets you connect to the compute nodes using VNC inside your browser, for a responsive X desktop (GUI) experience (the profile automatically starts up uhd_fft in an X window in VNC). This VNC feature will be introduced into other profiles in the near future as well.

We have also made a video showcasing the use of this profile and the mobile endpoints.

Here are some additional details on the resources available in each of these new Mobile Endpoints:

  • Supermicro SuperServer E300-8D
    • Intel Xeon D-1518 processor (4 cores / 8 threads)
    • 32 GB RAM
    • 480 GB SSD (SATA) disk
  • NI/Ettus USRP B210
    • Connected via USB 3 to compute node
    • Same radio that we have deployed in multiple other places on POWDER
    • No RF front-end currently (no additional amplification beyond radio default)
  • Available frequencies
    • 700 MHz - 6 GHz for receive (based on Taoglas MA244.LBIC.002 antenna)
    • Transmit available where POWDER is allowed based on license (e.g. CBRS)

We hope that you find this new set of mobile resources useful. It has been a long time in the making! If you are interested in using this, please let us know so we can enable the appropriate permissions for your project.

We are pleased to announce that POWDER users from the Networked Systems Group at the University of Edinburgh have made their Nervion RAN emulator publicly available, have created a POWDER profile for the emulator and provided a detailed how-to guide to use the emulator on POWDER.

The Nervion RAN emulator is a scalable and flexible cloud-native RAN emulator that can be used to evaluate the scalability of standard compliant 4G and 5G core mobile networks. The source code for Nervion is released under the AGPL License and as such present a significant resource for the mobile networking research community. The Nervion work will be presented at the ACM Mobicom 2021 conference (to be held March 28 - April 1, 2022).

The "internal readout" of the O-RAN Alliance Global Plugfest 2021 took place during the first week in December. The O-RAN Alliance will be distilling material from this internal readout for a public release early in 2022.

A summary of the plugfest events, across Asia, Europe and North America, is available here.

The POWDER team supported testing/proof-of-concept efforts related to O-Cloud and near-realtime RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) functionality, as well as AI-enabled management of multi-operator/multi-vendor RAN resource pooling and slicing.

We are pleased to make the tutorial material used during the POWDER supported parts of the Fall 2021 OpenAirInterface (OAI) Workshop available to all POWDER users!

The material was developed together with the OAI team and the instructions are quite detailed so will serve as an excellent "self-help" tutorial on using OpenAirInterface 5G.

POWDER supported two RAN hands-on sessions and also showed/demonstrated how experimenters can progress from "simulated" to "controlled RF" to "indoor over-the-air" to "outdoor over-the-air" experimentation with OAI on the POWDER platfrom.

A demo of the POWDER spectrum monitoring system was presented at the ACM SenSys 2021 Conference!

Demo title and description: A Compliance Monitoring System for Open SDR Platforms.

We also have a video of the demo.

We are pleased to announce the availability of POWDER's indoor over-the-air (OTA) lab! Read on for details on what is on offer, some notes on utilization, and how to get started with these resources.

Key Indoor OTA Lab resources
Four NI X310 SDRs with 10G fiber connectivity for flexibly pairing with compute resources
These resources can be used analogously to how POWDER rooftop radios are used. Typically this involves an X310 radio paired with a d740 or d430 compute node, connected by a 10G wired Ethernet link.
Four Intel i7-based NUC compute nodes with USB-3 attached radios: One NI B210 software defined radio per node and COTS 5G modem
These resources are set up similarly to the NUC+B210 devices deployed in POWDER fixed endpoints. In addition, they have direct Ethernet connectivity both for command and control and flexible connectivity to the Emulab cluster's wired experiment network fabric.
CBRS frequency range
The OTA lab is primarily intended for use with the CBRS frequency range (3550 MHz - 3700 MHz). Note that there are no external RF front-ends or filters on the indoor OTA lab radios, so other frequency use is possible (please contact the POWDER team with questions/requests).
Using the OTA Lab
Reservations are required
The Indoor OTA Lab requires admin-approved reservations for use. We are not yet automatically monitoring transmissions in the lab, so to help mitigate improper transmissions, we will be reviewing reservations to ensure frequency ranges are declared appropriately. Users *must* ensure that their software (e.g. GNU Radio, srsLTE, OAI, etc.) is configured to only use frequencies in the range(s) they have reserved when instantiating experiments.
Profiles for getting started with the Indoor OTA Lab
srsLTE 4G profile
This profile allows for allocation of between one and four X310-base eNodeB base stations, and from one and four NUC+B210 UE clients in the OTA lab. Note that you must configure srsLTE to use the frequencies you have declared via this profile's parameters before starting any srsLTE processes.
GNU Radio profile
You can use this profile to work with GNU Radio for more direct access to SDR communications using the OTA lab. Between one and four X310 radios and/or one to four NUC+B210 resources can be specified.
OpenAirInterface5G profile
This profile includes a server-class compute node hosting the container-based OAI 5G Core Network, a single NI X310 SDR paired with another server-class compute node for running the OAI gNodeB soft modem, and 4 Intel NUC compute nodes with Quectel RM500Q 5G modules connected via USB3. It targets a feature branch that is under active development by the OAI community, which allows for the simultaneous connection of all four COTS UE modules.

POWDER is pleased to support the upcoming Fall 2021 OpenAirInterface (OAI) Workshop in December! This will be a virtual event.

This year the workshop is featuring hands-on lab sessions as well as technology demos. POWDER will be supporting one of the hands-on RAN sessions and we will also be showcasing various POWDER configurations that support OAI research or development.

The POWDER team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of end-to-end 5G Open Air Interface capabilities on the platform. Our initial offering is a profile that includes the container-based OAI 5G Core Network running on a single host, coupled with a 5G-NR RAN leveraging the OAI gNodeB and nrUE soft-modem functions using SDRs with associated server-class compute.

This setup targets the POWDER Paired Radio Workbench environment, which features pairs of NI X310 radios directly attached through 30 dB attenuators (see image).

The following profile will get you started with 5G on the POWDER Paired Radio Workbenches: OAI 5G on POWDER Paired Radio Workbench

We hope you find this new capability useful, and are happy to hear your feedback. Keep an eye out for more 5G capabilities coming soon!

POWDER is pleased to support the O-RAN Alliance 3rd Global Plugfest!

As part of the plugfest POWDER is one of seven venues supporting a total of 77 companies across the globe in testing and proof-of-concept demonstrations. Technical work will be completed by the end of November 2021.

Local technology company, L3Harris has deployed an E-band modem as a BYOD device on the POWDER platform. Like other BYOD devices on the POWDER platform, the modem can be combined with other POWDER resources for experimentation.

The pictures below show the modem antenna being aligned during installation.

Pleased to report that our dense deployment is moving along well!

Our work on O-RAN RAN slicing featured as a demo at MWC in Los Angeles! It was part of a series of virtual demos presented under the O-RAN Alliance umbrella.

We got some press coverage of the work:

We are pleased to announce two papers including POWDER team involvement have been accepted to Mobicom 2021!

  • DeepRadar: A deep-learning-based environmental sensing capability sensor design for CBRS, Shamik Sarkar (University of Utah); Milind Buddhikot (Nokia Enterprise); Aniqua Baset and Sneha Kasera (University of Utah)
  • Nervion: A Cloud Native RAN Emulator for Scalable and Flexible Mobile Core Evaluation, Jon Larrea and Mahesh K. Marina (The University of Edinburgh); Jacobus Van der Merwe (University of Utah)

POWDER is pleased to announce the availability of the first (to our knowledge) "top-to-bottom" closed-loop fully open-source O-RAN use case. The use case in question involves RAN slicing and makes use of the O-RAN Software Community (OSC) near real-time RAN intelligent controller (RIC) from the O-RAN Alliance. The OSC-RIC is combined with POWDER created enhancements to the open source mobile networking software from srsRAN to realize the RAN slicing use case.

We specifically added RAN slicing functionality to the srsRAN software and exposed that to the RIC via a custom E2 RAN slicing service model. We also implemented the O-RAN key performance measurement (KPM) E2 service model in the srsRAN code to allow xApps to obtain RAN related statistics. Our implementation includes an xApp (the NexRAN xApp) which realizes policy driven RAN slicing using these two service models.

The video clip below shows a brief demo of the implementation.

A paper describing this work has been accepted to the ACM WinTECH 2021 workshop.

A POWDER profile is available to enable POWDER users to replicate and build upon our work.

POWDER is pleased to announce that we have successfully tested end-to-end LTE TDD mode operation in an over-the-air configuration. This is a significant step towards making this functionality available to our users.

The test configuration involved an eNodeB (consisting of OpenAirInterface (OAI) software, an NI X310 SDR and a new high power RF frontend) located on one of the POWDER rooftops, interacting with a COTS UE (a Quectel M2 module) located at one of the POWDER fixed endpoints. The OAI eNodeB software was extended to support TDD config mode-2, to ensure that our operation is compatible with commercial operators in adjacent bands, and to make use of the external high power RF frontend.

The video clip below shows a number of terminal windows for a successful UE attach and data transfer for this configuration.

The photos below show a schematic of the RF frontend, a prototype RF frontend on a workbench and subsequently being deployed in one of the POWDER rooftop nodes for end-to-end testing.

The POWDER team is happy to support the MEC Edge Hackathon for 2021. This event is hosted by ETSI, and encourages teams to imagine new applications that can be enabled by using new computing capabilities at the edge. As stated in the call for participation:

Contestants will be asked to bring that app or service to life with the ETSI MEC Sandbox. Teams are encouraged to be creative in selecting an application vertical to focus on for their submission, include:Automotive, Drones, AR/VR, media, and entertainment & Smart Cities.

POWDER is providing an environment for participants to run the cloud side of their applications, with the edge side using MEC's Edge Sandbox.

The POWDER team is pleased to announce that rooftop-to-rooftop over-the-air experimentation is available once again on POWDER. TDD-mode operation is available via the following six radios/rooftops:

  • cbrssdr1-bes
  • cbrssdr1-fm
  • cbrssdr1-honors
  • cbrssdr1-hospital
  • cbrssdr1-smt
  • cbrssdr1-ustar

See the POWDER deployment map for reference. Frequencies 3570–3700 MHz are available for use with these devices. A few additional notes:

No external RF front-ends
These radios are limited to the available power on the X310 UBX160 front-end inside the devices. This means they won't have as much reach as some of POWDER's radios have had in the past that did have external RF front-ends to boost range.
Only the TX/RX line is connected
Only the TX/RX port (not RX2) is connected on these radios. This allows for transmit and receive, but not at the same time, using the TX/RX port (TDD mode).
No LTE/5G profile currently available for these devices
The POWDER team unfortunately does not have a compatible open source stack that can operate over these links in this configuration.
Future OTA resources
The POWDER team is diligently working to restore high power OTA operation (band 41 and more power in CBRS) and hopes to have something ready in the coming weeks. The team hopes that the CBRS radios and spectrum may be useful to some in the meantime. Please let team members know if you are interested, and they can see if the work you have in mind might be a good match. They can also steer you toward some profiles to get going.

POWDER was pleased to host a team from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) and Purdue University who utilized POWDER's BYOD capabilities to perform mmWave measurements.

Professor Chris Anderson (USNA) worked with PhD students Yaguang Zhang and Bharath Keshavamurthy (both from Purdue University) to collect millimeter-wave channel state measurements for a moving vehicle scenario. The measurement system included two parts, (i) a 28-GHz sliding correlator sounder, and (ii) a pair of custom-built antenna rotators for automatic antenna alignment. (See video clip below.)

The photos below show the system being put together the lab and being installed on the POWDER Browning rooftop.

We are pleased to announce, after a long period of repairs, upgrades, and revalidation, that the POWDER Massive MIMO functionality is available again! We are currently supporting a scenario with one 48-antenna Skylark mMIMO array alongside two 2-antenna clients inside an anechoic chamber. These devices support operation in the BRS (2500 - 2570) and CBRS (3550 - 3700) frequency ranges thanks to the new dual-band patch antennas designed by our team here at the U of U. For registered POWDER users, the relevant profile, which includes pointers to documentation, is here: RENEWLab Profile

In the near future, we will release a 64-antenna array on top of the Honors rooftop site along with two clients. More devices will be made available in the coming weeks and months as well; three arrays total and several more clients will be provided in the outdoor POWDER deployment on the University of Utah campus by early Fall 2021.

Those interested in experimenting with the mMIMO equipment will need to sign up for POWDER's biweekly virtual office hours. The POWDER-RENEW team will run through some bootstrap steps and provide guidance for your intended use of these devices during those office hours. Questions and feedback on POWDER's massive MIMO capabilities can also be sent to the POWDER User's List

Happy Experimenting!

We have been receiving questions from US academics asking whether they should budget for using the POWDER platform when writing proposals.

We are happy to provide the following clarification from NSF on this question:

The POWDER platform will be available for free for RINGS researchers (and other academic users) until April 2023. Beyond that period, NSF will work with the POWDER platform and PIs supported by NSF-grants to determine appropriate arrangements to enable use of the platforms. Given the above, academic users need not explicitly request additional funds for using the POWDER platform at this time.

We are pleased to support the efforts of the ns-3 team as they investigate how simulated environments, like the ns-3 discrete-event simulator, and "real world" platforms like POWDER can be used in combination to improve the research utility of both environments.

As part of an upcoming Workshop on ns-3, on Monday June 21 at 13:00 UTC (9:00 AM EDT), ns-3 maintainer Tom Henderson will present a tutorial on "Using ns-3 with the POWDER wireless testbed" as an introduction to researchers interested in exploring synergies between these environments.

Prof. Neal Patwari, one of the co-PIs of the POWDER-RENEW project, is featured in the spring 2021 issue of WUSTL's Engineering Momentum Magazine. Read the article to learn more about about Prof. Patwari's research and his successes in academia and industry.

In collaboration with our partners at UDOT we are looking into the impact of RF interference on various V2X type technologies. The picture/photos below show a specific setup exploring interference with dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) equipment.

The DSRC equipment is introduced into the POWDER platform as a BYOD device. Specifically, as shown in the topology diagram, the DSRC road side unit (RSU) was deployed on the POWDER Browning rooftop and connected to a POWDER X310 SDR via an attenuator. The X310 serves as a controllable RF interferer. In this configuration the DSRC on-board unit (OBU) was free-standing and connected to a laptop. With this setup the impact of RF interference on DSRC traffic can be measured in a realistic and yet controlled manner.

The photos show the RSU on Browning and the setup of the free-standing OBU.

Dual-band antennas (CBRS and BRS bands) developed by POWDER and Skylark Wireless being installed in massive MIMO arrays.

A photos showing the dual-band antenna connected to a dual-tranceiver RF frontend, the original CBRS-only antenna (on left) with the new dual-band antenna (on right), the mMIMO modular radio unit with four transceivers and new dual-band antennas, the installment process.

The POWDER team is starting a new “office hours” schedule to assist people in using the POWDER platform. This is a venue for meeting with POWDER experts in an online setting (via Zoom).

The POWDER team will continue to provide help to users via email too. The new office hours are meant to supplement the team's existing email-based help and to address issues that require more one-on-one discussion and/or show-and-tell.

Below is the initial plan for office hours. This plan will evolve over time, based on experience. [Updates to the original plan noted below, last updated July 2, 2021.]

  • Office hours are available every other week (biweekly) on Fridays between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM (noon) Mountain Time, starting Friday, May 28, 2021.
  • Office hours are by appointment, for 20-minute slots, and must be booked at least 12 hours in advance. Appointments can be scheduled up to seven days in advance. [As of July 2, 2021: Appointments must be booked at least 18 hours in advance, and can be scheduled up to 15 days in advance.]
  • When you sign up for a time slot, you must write down what you want to talk about. It is important that you be specific so that the POWDER team can pair you with the most appropriate expert(s).
  • After you have signed up, a member of the POWDER team will contact you via email to set up the meeting details, e.g., the Zoom meeting URL.

To schedule an office-hours appointment, please visit the signup page.

The POWDER team is looking forward to meeting with you!

To enable testing and data collection in a "clean" RF environment, we have temporarily deployed a 48-radio version of our Skylark massive MIMO base-station, with a couple of endpoints, in an anechoic chamber. We will be working with the RENEW team to collect data from this configuration, which will then be made available to the community. The equipment in the anechoic chamber is remotely accessible, like all other POWDER equipment, and will also be made available to POWDER users who want to perform their own experiments using this setup. The equipment will eventually be deployed in an outdoor rooftop configuration like the other POWDER mMIMO base-stations.

All it takes to do "cloud RAN" in POWDER is a sunny Utah spring day!

A photo of the CBRS-capable Skylark massive MIMO base-station deployed in POWDER.

The photos below show details of a mobile endpint deployed in a campus shuttle.

We are still actively deploying these and currently have 15 deployed units. A map with various options to show POWDER equipped shuttles is available here.

We are pleased to announce the formation of the POWDER Advisory Board!

We are delighted to have this exceptional and diverse group of individuals be involved in advising POWDER:

The first photo below shows a logical diagram of the components that make up a mobile endpoint.

The remaining photos show the "creation" of a mobile endpoint as all the components are put together into the structure that is deployed into an enclosure on a campus shuttle.

As more of the POWDER mobile endpoints are coming online, we have been able to do some initial experiments using this platform capability.

The map below shows some of the shuttle routes with active POWDER mobile endpoints indicated with green circled dots. (A live version of the map is available here.)

The other plots show results from initial experiments, specifically:

  • Using rooftop nodes as transmitters and mobile endpoints as receivers, the maps shows the received signal strength from a mobile endpoint.
  • The experiment used a modified version of the Shout measurement framework.
  • The transmit signal involved I/Q samples from a file that was generated using GNURadio with random source and QAM mod blocks. The number of constellations points was set to 16 and samples/symbols was set to 2.
  • The sample rate for both transmitting and receiving was 2 MHz.

To illustrate the utility of the POWDER platform we have submitted three papers to the Workshop on Computer and Networking Experimental Research using Testbeds (CNERT). Pleased to report that all three were accepted:

  • BoTM: Basestation-on-the-move, a Radio Access Network Management Primitive, Aashish Gottipati and Jacobus Van der Merwe
  • Towards using the POWDER platform for RF propagation validation, Jose Monterroso, Jacobus Van der Merwe, Kirk Webb and Gary Wong
  • WiMatch: Wireless Resource Matchmaking, Kirk Webb, Sneha Kumar Kasera, Neal Patwari and Jacobus Van der Merwe

Following our successful prototyping efforts with a high-power RF frontend in November 2020, we are now deploying these frontends on all our rooftop nodes. These frontends will significantly improve our coverage and the quality of our "RF links".

The photos show the deployment on the USTAR building.

The formal bid package for our planned dense deployment is out and we expect the contract for its construction to be awarded soon.

In the mean time smart poles from our PAWR Industry Consortium partner, Commscope, is being stored in a temporary staging area.

Our original mMIMO basestation has been upgraded/refurbished by Skylark Wireless and is being (re)deployed on a different rooftop in preparation for our multi-node mMIMO deployment. The mMIMO node will now be co-located with our "Honors" Rooftop basestation. (See map.)

We are developing TDD RF frontends for our radios. Photos below show lab testing and over-the-air testing of the connectorized prototype.

To improve our RF coverage we have been experimenting with a new high power RF frontend. The photos below show the prototype unit being tested in one of our rooftop nodes. We will be deploying this solution to all rooftop nodes in Q1 2021.

We are continually adding content to our website. Recent additions:

  • We have added a Research section to feature research efforts using the POWDER platform. If you are using POWDER for your research and have some results to share, please contact us and we'd be happy to add it to our Research page.
  • We started adding POWDER related content to our Videos page. These include general POWDER talks as well as shorter videos explaining specific aspects of the platform.

We have updated our O-RAN profile based on the latest "Bronze" release from the O-RAN Software Community (OSC).

We have also been working on adding O-RAN E2 agent functionality to the open source RAN stacks we have available in POWDER. (I.e., srsLTE and OAI.) The srsLTE E2 agent is furthest along and includes support for the O-RAN KPM service module (i.e., the E2SM-KPM specification.)

POWDER O-RAN profile including initial version of the srsLTE E2 agent and demo instructions. (Note: Access requires logging into the POWDER portal.)

POWDER (virtual) Research Experience as an Undergraduate (REU) program wrapped up with demos and presentations!

Figure shows screenshots of some of the presentations.

Presentation titles:

  • Multiplexing RAN Control: A Step Towards Next Generation Network Security
  • Service Specific Routing: A Novel Approach
  • System Level Optimization of Massive MIMO Antenna Array
  • Too Hot to Talk: A Dynamic Study of Weather and Received Signal Strength on Wireless Transmission
  • ICN Networking in the 5G Core: Benefits of In-Network Caching
  • Snow: An Experiment Management System for POWDER
  • Implementation of a Timed-domain Channel Sounder in GNU Radio
  • NDN and 5G Combined: How the Two Network Strategies Combined Affect Security
  • Addressing Signal Integrity Through Programmability in the RAN
  • Analysis of Message Brokering Performance in MQTT Implementations

We have completed the network upgrade (to 200Gbps) between the POWDER campus compute cluster (Emulab) and the CloudLab cluster in the University of Utah Downtown Datacenter.

The first pair of images shows an experiment with six logical links in ''ping-pong'' fashion between the two clusters and the resulting delay from a traceroute run.

The second pair of images shows an experiment with the (emulated) RAN executing in the Emulab cluster and the EPC executing in the CloudLab cluster. The profile for this setup is here.

POWDER (virtual) Research Experience as an Undergraduate (REU) program under way.

Prototype mobile endpoint (full prototype) deployed.

The POWDER platform is open for general over-the-air operation on the current platform deployment on the University of Utah campus.

POWDER users will be able to experiment with our general purpose software-defined-radios (SDRs), as well as our massive MIMO (mMIMO) equipment. Our general purpose SDRs are deployed on eight rooftop nodes and eight "fixed-endpoint" configurations. We also have one 64x64 mMIMO base station, with compatible endpoints, deployed and available for use.

To kick-start over-the-air use of the platform we have developed a number of starter profiles and we have updated our documentation to provide details of the deployment, the over-the-air experimental workflow, equipment details etc.

In recognition of the implications of allowing over-the-air transmission on POWDER, we have also updated our acceptable use policy (AUP).

Implications for current POWDER users:

  • The next time you log into the POWDER portal, you will be prompted to agree to the new acceptable use policy (and possibly to update the personal information associated with your account).
  • Given the need to comply with FCC regulations for over-the-air operation, experiments that use radio resources will need to go through an explicit resource reservation phase. (I.e., over-the-air POWDER experiments cannot be instantiated in on-demand fashion.)
  • Permission to use radio equipment for over-the-air operation will be granted on a per-project basis. Please send email to powder-support@powderwireless.net to request to have your project enabled for over-the-air operation.

RF frontend, with heat sink and fan in 3D printed casing.

Prototype mobile endpoint (telemetry node) deployed.

First version of RF frontend for LTE band-7.

Attendees of the POWDER-RENEW Mobile and Wireless Week executed 12 "mini-projects" during the week and presented their progress and results on the last day.

The best three mini-projects (as selected by the MWW attendees) were:

  • First prize: Application-aware Scheduling Optimization
    • Can (John) Carlak - University of Michigan
    • Xumiao Zhang - University of Michigan
  • Second prize: MMSE Beamforming
    • Brent Kenney - University of Utah
    • Liangping Ma - InterDigital
    • Hamed Hosseiny - University of Utah
    • Yongce Chen - Virginia Tech
    • Nima Taherkhani - UT Dallas
    • John Kaewell - InterDigital
  • Third prize: Modulation Classification
    • Joshua Bassey - Prairie View A&M University
    • Ajeya Anand - SUNY Buffalo
    • Sabarish Krishna Moorthy - SUNY Buffalo

One of the mini-projects involved the design and manufactoring a spiral antenna which was tested on the POWDER platform.

The POWDER-RENEW Mobile and Wireless Week (MWW2019) took place on the University of Utah campus from September 9-13, 2019. MWW2019 was attended by a number of industrial researchers and 44 graduate students from more than 20 universities across the US.

The MWW schedule included:

  • An overview of the POWDER-RENEW project and the POWDER platform
  • Lectures and hands-on sessions on:
    • End-to-end mobile networking
    • RAN Softwarization
    • Spectrum monitoring
    • RF exploration using UHD and GNU Radio
    • Wireless Communications Basics
    • Antenna design
    • Wireless Communications Research

    Attendees also teamed up to execute a variety of "mini-projects" during the week and took a "field-trip" to view the POWDER deployment.

    Attendees use of the platform's over-the-air capabilities is the first such use by non POWDER-RENEW team members. This included use of the rooftop base-stations, the fixed-endpoints and the massive-MIMO equipment.

    The POWDER-RENEW Mobile and Wireless Week is planned for the week of September 9th 2019!

    For more information and to apply see the MWW2019 page.

    The POWDER-RENEW project was well represented at the Open Air Interface Workshop at NOKIA Bell-Labs.

    We did a hands-on training session during the training day using the POWDER platform; had demos of both the POWDER platform and the RENEW massive MIMO equipment and software; and presented a talk on using POWDER for RAN research.

    Deploying radio equipment in some of our more challenging rooftop locations.

    Successfully deployed out-of-band access to our fixed-endpoints using commercial LTE from AT&T.

    Single POWDER experiment with ten X310s (in rooftop nodes) and four B210s (in fixed endpoints).

    Successfully tested srsLTE in this configuration.

    Massive MIMO deployment on Merrill Engineering Building.

    Rooftop deployment on Marriott Honors Community building, with partial equipment deployment.

    We hosted an external company who performed (indoor) over-the-air measurements of our OpenAirInterface 5G NR profile.

    Screenshot from an off-the-shelf UE connected to an OAI-based eNodeB in POWDER. For this test the eNodeB was an X310 USRP with a d430 compute node, running OpenAirInterface software in TDD mode, in the POWDER rooftop node on the Merrill Engineering Building. The UE was a Nexus-5 off-the-shelf smartphone.

    Upcoming POWDER-RENEW events:

    B210 being calibrated.

    Fixed-endpoint electronics being assembled.

    Fixed endpoint with antenna panels.

    Streetview of rooftop deployment. (POWDER antennas are the smaller ones on the right.)

    More rooftop base station deployments.

    High performance compute nodes being deployed.

    A "halfstack" of "blades" for our Skylark massive MIMO base station.

    Inside view of one of the blades showing the four Iris units, each with two radios. Each massive MIMO base station will have eight blades for a total of 64 radios.

    More fixed endpoint deployments.

    Screenshots (uplink and downlink) of a successful over-the-air test using srsLTE software on POWDER. For this test the UE hardware was a National Instruments B210 SDR attached to an omni Taoglas GSA.8841 antenna. The eNodeB was a National Instruments X310 SDR attached to a Commscope VVSSP-360S-F antenna.

    Fixed-endpoint enclosure with antenna panels and experimental/control equipment.

    Base station with multi-band antenna and broadband antenna in the back, and network and SDR equipment in enclosure.

    Rooftop enclosures delivered.

    Compute nodes delivered.

    CWDM mux/demux equipment and ethernet switches installed.

    Multi-band antenna cabling.

    Compute nodes installed.

    Base station with broadband antenna.

    Fully populated fixed-endpoint enclosure (at temporary location).

    Screenshot of basic over-the-air end-to-end testing between base station and fixed endpoint. The image shows a 5 MHz FFT centered at 2.45 GHz of a receiver running on a fixed endpoint, picking up a transmission from a base station. The transmitted signal was a 500 KHz wide channel of uniform random noise centered at 2.45 GHz. RX and TX were performed using GNU Radio, with transmission via an X310 driving an attached Keysight N6850A omni antenna, and reception on a B210 attached to an omni Taoglas GSA.8841 antenna. The units were spaced about 100 feet apart for this test. The X310 was paired with a Dell D430 rackmount server, connected via fiber (approximately 500 feet), while the B210 was paired with a directly connected Intel NUC.

    Radio equipment from National Instruments arriving.

    First rooftop enclosure installed on the roof of the Merrill Engineering Building.

    First NI X310 in rooftop enclosure.

    The POWDER platform featured in a LightReading article by Carol Wilson.

    Powder Offering Powerful Wireless Testbed.

    Our initial deployment will include fixed endpoints. I.e., endpoints at fixed locations with reasonable RF coverage to one or more rooftop base stations.

    Each fixed endpoint will have two experimental SDRs and an SDR for spectrum monitoring. Fixed endpoints in coverage area of our massive MIMO equipment will also have an Iris radio.

    The images on the left show a prototype fixed endpoint, in a lab environment and on a temporary mount for outdoor testing.

    The POWDER platform was used for the Hands-On Experiences session at the recent ONAP Academic Summit in New York City.

    The POWDER team worked with ONAP member organizations to instantiate an ONAP instance on the POWDER platform. This instance was used by approximately forty Summit attendees to explore aspects of the ONAP platform.

    The POWDER team is working with ONAP member organizations to make an ONAP profile available to POWDER users.

    ONAP is a project of Linux Foundation Networking.

    To determine expected RF coverage in our campus deployment area, we performed measurements from various rooftop locations. Each measurement activity involved setting up transmitters on the target rooftop and then driving around campus to measure the received signal.

    The photos on the left show an example rooftop transmitter setup, the vehicle receiver setup and a composite image (combining data from all measurement runs) of the received signal strength (at 2.5 GHz) along campus shuttle routes.

    Our rooftop base stations will include a broadband omni-directional antenna as well as a multi-band antenna with 360 degree coverage in each band.

    The photo on the right shows outdoor testing of the multi-band antenna.

    As far as possible we will be using existing rooftop mounts, such as the Crown Castle mount shown in the photo on the left.

    Our initial deployment will be on the University of Utah campus. We have been doing lots of site surveys which includes getting on tall buildings with nice views!

    The photos on the right shows views towards the west and the east from the Social and Behavioral Science Building.

    Salt Lake City skyline