A flexible millimeter-wave channel sounder with absolute timing

George R. MacCartney, Theodore S. Rappaport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a novel ultrawideband wireless spread spectrum millimeter-wave (mmWave) channel sounder that supports both a wideband sliding correlator mode and a real-time spread spectrum mode, also known as wideband correlation or direct correlation. Both channel sounder modes are capable of absolute propagation delay (time of flight) measurements with up to 1 GHz of radio frequency null-to-null bandwidth, and can measure multipath with a 2-ns time resolution. The sliding correlator configuration facilitates long-distance measurements with angular spread and delay spread for up to 185 dB of maximum measurable path loss. The real-time spread spectrum mode is shown to support short-range, small-scale temporal, and Doppler measurements (minimum snapshot sampling interval of $32.753~\mu \text{s}$ ) with a substantial dynamic fading range of 40 dB for human blockage and dynamic urban scenarios. The channel sounder uses field programmable gate arrays, analog-to-digital converters, digital-to-analog converters, and low-phase-noise rubidium standard references for frequency/time synchronization and absolute time delay measurements. Using propagation theory, several methods are presented here to calibrate and verify the accuracy of the channel sounder, and an improved diffraction model for human blockage, based on the METIS model but now including directional antenna gains, is developed from measurements using the channel sounder. The mmWave channel sounder described here may be used for accurate spatial and temporal ray-tracing calibration, to identify individual multipath components, to measure antenna patterns, for constructing spatial profiles of mmWave channels, and for developing statistical channel impulse response models in time and space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7887768
Pages (from-to)1402-1418
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Channel sounder
  • KED
  • absolute propagation time
  • diffraction
  • human blockage
  • millimeter-wave
  • mmWave
  • multipath
  • power delay profile
  • propagation
  • time of flight
  • ultra-wideband

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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