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Project Showcase: SWaP Optimized Satellite Beacon Receiver


Satellites broadcast a continuous carrier (CW) on a specific frequency, often called a Beacon. The Satellite Beacon has many purposes, including:

  • Serving as a basic identification
  • Enabling earth stations to track them
  • Aid in ranging of the satellite (is it in the proper orbit?)
  • Assisting earth stations in adjusting the polarity of their antennas
  • Transmitting information to control centers such as the health of the satellite, operating temperature, and how many transmitters and receivers are operating

Beacon Receivers are common components in satellite Earth Stations. Their primary function is to detect the Beacon transmission from a satellite and measure the signal strength. A DC voltage is sent from the Beacon Receiver to the antenna control unit. This enables the ground station to lock on and track the satellite to maintain maximum signal strength for data transmission quality.


The client sought to significantly reduce the physical size and weight of the electronics, reduce power consumption and increase performance under a tightly constrained schedule.


Following its standard managed services approach, Vanteon developed a small form factor Beacon Receiver Module that operated in the L-Band (1-2GHz). Reduction of technical and schedule risk was achieved by leveraging Vanteon’s field-proven vChameleon Software Defined Radio (SDR) architecture.


The project included the design of the RF receiver board consisting of a Xilinx Zynq 7020 SoC, an Analog Devices AD9361 RF Agile Transceiver and a custom RF Front end. A Custom carrier board was designed to breakout interfaces for specific product applications. Vanteon provided support for the integration of the embedded Linux-based software and system test/validation. A unique feature of this SDR-based design is that it can be configured as a Spectrum Analyzer by simply changing the software.

Vanteon Design Services

Let Vanteon assist you with your next design. Vanteon’s entire SDR line up including – Chameleon, vProtean, and vProtean+ – are fully licensable. Use our IP to reduce your project’s risk and jump-start its schedule. Contact us at for a free 30-minute consultation.

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