Emergency locator beacons make it possible to quickly locate aircraft, ships, and even individuals in distress. Once activated, the beacon transmits a 406 MHz radio signal to satellites in the international Cospas-Sarsat system, which relays the beacon’s position to ground stations. The beacon can also transmit signals directly to search-and-rescue teams equipped with beacon monitoring devices.
To increase localization accuracy and reduce power consumption, second-generation beacons (SGBs) will use spread-spectrum technology and offset quadrature phase-shift keying (OQPSK). Orolia has built a prototype software-defined radio (SDR) that receives, detects, processes, and decodes SGB signals. Orolia engineers used Model-Based Design with MATLAB® and Simulink® to model and simulate the receiver and worked with MathWorks engineers to implement it on an Analog Devices® SDR system on module (SoM).
“Our Simulink simulations enabled us to validate most elements of the design, such as demodulation and decoding, well before involving hardware,” says Boris Van Amerongen, senior director of R&D at Orolia. “This approach gave us a high level of confidence in our reception algorithms and enabled us to deliver a full prototype in just 12 months.”