Building Radar and EW Research and Prototyping Testbeds

Radar and EW researchers and systems engineers must often spend significant time building testbed infrastructure rather than focusing on their algorithm. This wasted effort is an obstacle to moving new ideas quickly from whiteboard to hardware demonstrator to fielded system. They need flexibility to adapt to emerging requirements, scalability to multichannel architectures, artificial intelligence for cognitive capability, and open software to rapidly migrate IP from simulation to hardware, to:


  • Quickly realize a hardware testbed with minimal custom hardware and firmware development 
  • Synchronize multiple transmit and receive chains across an array and avoid bottlenecks in moving multichannel data from I/O to processors
  • Process signals inline to assess novel capability such as spectral interference avoidance, clutter suppression, and automatic target recognition
  • Implement machine learning algorithms that enable cognitive radars to adapt to new targets, countermeasures, and channel conditions

Open Architecture for Radar and EW Research

  • N320/N321 USRPs are networked software defined radios that allow sharing of local oscillators across units, providing phase coherency across an array. 
  • The USRP Hardware Driver™ (UHD) and RF Network on Chip (RFNoC™) support open-source development and simplify heterogeneous processing with FPGAs in SDR applications.
  • The OctoClock-G CDA-2990 module provides high-accuracy time and frequency reference distribution for multi-channel systems synchronized to a common timing source. 
  • Freely available application software is provided in C++ and built upon the RFNoC API in UHD 4.0, providing out-of-the-box streaming and synchronization functionality.
  • Reference architecture documentation is provided, accelerating the system-level getting started process for a multi-radio testbed.

Solution Advantages

Building Radar and EW Research and Prototyping Testbeds

See a Radar Demonstrator Built on NI’s Open Architecture

NI’s Open Architecture for Radar and EW Research helps researchers and systems engineers move from concept to proof of concept. See how to accelerate the development of pulsed Doppler radar and estimate the angle of arrival of an incoming signal. 


NI offers a variety of solution integration options customized to your application-specific requirements. You can use your own internal integration teams for full system control or leverage the expertise of NI and our worldwide NI Partner Network to obtain a turnkey solution.

NI Partner Network

The NI Partner Network is a global community of domain, application, and overall test development experts working closely with NI to meet the needs of the engineering community. NI Partners are trusted solution providers, systems integrators, consultants, product developers, and services and sales channel experts skilled across a wide range of industries and application areas.

Services and Support

NI works with customers throughout the life of an application, delivering training, technical support, consultation and integration services, and maintenance programs. Teams can discover new skills by participating in NI-specific and geographic user groups and build proficiency with online and in-person training.

Open Architecture for Radar and EW Research Brochure

See how you can use this reference architecture as a starting point for building research or prototyping testbeds for radar and EW. Discover the performance you can achieve for data streaming and synchronization of multichannel systems—and view recommended hardware configurations based on USRP.