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Design and implementation of a high data rate QPSK demodulator for nanosatellites
This dissertation presents the development of a quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) demodulator for nanosatellites that complies with both the limited resources associated with nanosatellites as well as the flexibility and configurability required for a software defined radio (SDR) platform. This research project is a component of a bigger project, which is to develop a high-speed receiver for nanosatellites, and aims to provide a practical solution to the need for communication technologies that support emerging nanosatellite applications, such as Earth observation and communications. The development of the QPSK demodulator follows an all-digital implementation approach. The main reason for selecting this approach is to have a system that is flexible and reconfigurable to comply with the SDR requirements. Another reason for selecting this approach is to comply with the low noise system, low power consumption as well as the small size and weight requirements associated with nanosatellites. The QPSK demodulator is implemented on an IGLOO2 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), due to its robustness to radiation and high-speed capability. Initially, the techniques used to design each subsystem of the QPSK demodulator are selected. Then, algorithms to digitally implement the designed subsystems are produced. Thereafter, the code for the digital QPSK demodulator is written and verified in Matlab first. The simulation of the Matlab-based QPSK demodulator performs satisfactorily. Subsequently, the code to implement the QPSK demodulator on an FPGA (IGLOO2) has been written in Libero, using VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL). The resulting FPGA-based QPSK demodulator has been emulated in Libero (an integration and development environment (IDE) for Microsemi FPGAs) using a test-bench as well as other analysis tools. The test-bench results are visualized using Modelsim. The results show that the demodulator can support data rates up to 13.25 Mbps if 16 samples-per-symbols are used, and up to 26.5 Mbps if 8 samples-per-symbols are used. It also has a very good bit-error-rate performance, which is simulated to be within a factor of 5 of the theoretical limit of QPSK modulation. Finally, the demodulator consumes less than 15 mW at the maximum operating speed. and has been coded to mitigate the effects of space radiation and noise contriution by the demodulator itself.