Evaluation of multiple-channel OFDM based airborne ultrasonic communications

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Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation has been extensively used in both wired and wireless communication systems. The use of OFDM technology allows very high spectral efficiency data transmission without using complex equalizers to correct the effect of a frequency-selective channel. This work investigated OFDM methods in an airborne ultrasonic communication system, using commercially available capacitive ultrasonic transducers operating at 50 kHz to transmit information through the air. Conventional modulation schemes such as binary phase shift keying (BPSK) and quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) were used to modulate sub-carrier signals, and the performances were evaluated in an indoor laboratory environment. Line-of-sight (LOS) transmission range up to 11 m with no measurable errors was achieved using BPSK at a data rate of 45 kb/s and a spectral efficiency of 1 b/s/Hz. By implementing a higher order modulation scheme (16-QAM), the system data transfer rate was increased to 180 kb/s with a spectral efficiency of 4 b/s/Hz at attainable transmission distances up to 6 m. Diffraction effects were incorporated into a model of the ultrasonic channel that also accounted for beam spread and attenuation in air. The simulations were a good match to the measured signals and non-LOS signals could be demodulated successfully. The effects of multipath interference were also studied in this work. By adding cyclic prefix (CP) to the OFDM symbols, the bit error rate (BER) performance was significantly improved in a multipath environment.

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