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Breaking Down Wireless, the Hard-Ware Way.

Jeff Jensen (Raven Standard LLC.), Greg Huff (Raven Standard LLC.), Jean-Francois Chamberland (Raven Standard LLC.)
Tools
Location: C260

The “Internet of Things”, home automation, and smart electronics share a common thread in that they most often require some type of wireless connection. And while many improvements currently affect the communications side of wireless such as the introduction of the 802.11ac standard, little is being done to promote and educate on the hardware side of wireless in a way that both unleashes the creativity of the DIY and hobbyist communities and inspires future engineers and system designers.

We see an “Arduino” opportunity for the commercial, academic and DIY users for wireless electronics. Our goal is to make electromagnetics, through a combination of hardware and software, easier to conceptually understand, use and build. The first successful attempt dates to the 1980s where a software program called Puff was released to the academic community. Puff allowed a user to design a hardware circuit, for example an antenna or a resonator, conduct simulations on the circuit, and then export a hardware design file that could be created with a machine. The final revision to Puff was made open source in the early 2000s.

Puff Mobile, however, is a new generational multiplatform (including phones and tablets) tool that is currently being developed to bring development tools to the wireless world. The software will be released open source in combination with hardware electronics that find their roots in the DIY movement that followed the amalgamation of Processing and Wiring in Arduino, and will allow a user to design anything from a software radio to an antenna. It is our goal that a user who knows nothing about wireless electronics or electromagnetics could foreseeably build wireless systems without having to take a university-level engineering courses on the supporting subject material. We are also excited that Puff Mobile is at its core an engineering tool that is broad enough to be used as a university classroom tool to help encourage young scientists and engineers to become more versed in the subject and capable of performing hands-on development of wireless and other electromagnetic systems.

Some notable examples that have been created in a Puff Mobile framework include a Wi-Fi router which can phase and control a beam/signal from an Android phone, and a small antenna radiation pattern mapping system which allows a user to design an antenna, place it on a measurement system, and then observe its radiation pattern.

A live demonstration of the beta Puff Mobile software will show a common wireless circuit example and how it can be translated to a physical design, which can be etched by any PCB producer. We plan on bringing an additional completed hardware design as an example, which demonstrates the antenna measurement system for anyone interested in learning more about the project.

Photo of Jeff Jensen

Jeff Jensen

Raven Standard LLC.

Jeff Jensen is currently a Ph.D student at Texas A&M University in the field of electromagnetics studying mobile random networks and arrays. Previous work and notable projects include Android software development for the military, phased and random array control, and additional industry experience gained with Siemens AG in software research and development. Jeff received his bachelors and masters degrees from Texas A&M in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

Photo of Greg Huff

Greg Huff

Raven Standard LLC.

Dr. Greg Huff is currently a professor at Texas A&M University specializing in electromagnetics. His research interests are reconfigurable antennas, novel high frequency antennas and other passive devices (from microwave to terahertz) for radar, sensing and communications applications, and EMI, EMC and waveform distortion from radiating structures on fixed and portable platforms for wireless applications. Greg received his bachelors, masters and Ph.D degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

Photo of Jean-Francois Chamberland

Jean-Francois Chamberland

Raven Standard LLC.

Dr. Jean-Francois Chamberland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University. He was born and raised in Quebec City, Canada. He completed a Bachelor of Engineering degree at McGill University and a Master of Science degree at Cornell University. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Electrical Engineering. His research interests are in the areas of communication and information theory, decision and control, computer systems and networks, statistical inference, learning, and applied probability. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and practicing sports, especially martial arts, snowboarding and biking.