Development of a satellite network simulator tool and simulation of AX.25, FX.25 and a hybrid protocol for nano-satellite communications

Le Roux, Jan-Hielke (2014-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Nano-satellites are mostly used in lower earth orbit applications, where communication intervals are limited, often to a combined total of less than one hour per day. With these type of inherent limitations of lower earth orbits, there are also the physical size and equipment restriction of nano-satellites to consider, especially those of the CubeSat specification. It is of critical importance to use the limited time and communication resources as effectively as possible. The network protocol has a huge influence on reliability and throughput of a satellite network. An important requisite for designing, comparing and improving network protocols is a network protocol simulator, that is able to envisage the design results. Simulation can facilitate rapid development and unforeseen discoveries. Very little information is currently available regarding communication protocols used in nano-satellites. This thesis aims to explore and improve the current status of nano-satellite network simulation, as well as to demonstrate the development of an improved communication protocol strategy. It was found that there is a lack of proper simulation tools for satellite networks, which led to the development of SatSim. SatSim is a discrete event network simulation tool, developed in Python, which can be used to develop and analyse network protocols. SatSim was verified by comparing simulation results with other published results, which made use of different software tools and theoretical throughput calculations. AX.25 is one of the most commonly used network protocols in the nano-satellite industry. It was implemented in SatSim and verified with theoretical throughput calculations, as no other simulation data on AX.25 was available. AX.25 was used as a baseline protocol to improve upon. FX.25 was developed by the Stensat Group in an attempt to improve AX.25. FX.25 adds forward error correction to AX.25, by wrapping additional data around the AX.25 frames. This method maintains backward compatibility with AX.25. FX.25 was implemented in SatSim and the simulation results proved that FX.25 was a more reliable protocol than AX.25, as it can communicate at lower elevations and over noisier communication channels. However, the drawback of the additional forward error correction is the increased overhead, which reduces the overall payload data throughput. A modular AX/FX.25 protocol was then implemented in SatSim, to exploit the strengths of both protocols. This hybrid protocol yielded significant improvements to data throughput and can enable future software defined radio or hardware developments.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nano-satelliete word hoofsaaklik gebruik in lae-aard wentelbaan toepassings waar kommunikasietyd beperk is, soms tot minder as een uur per dag. Gepaardgaande met hierdie inherente beperking van lae-aard wentelbane, is daar ook die verminderde omvang en kapasiteit van nano-satelliete, veral ten opsigte van die CubeSat spesifikasie. Effektiewe aanwending van die beperkte tyd en kommunikasie-hulpbronne is dus noodsaaklik. Die keuse van netwerk protokol het ’n beduidende invloed op die betroubaarheid en data deurset van ’n satelliet netwerk. ’n Belangrike voorvereiste vir die ontwerp, vergelyking en verbetering van netwerk-protokolle, is ’n netwerk simulator. Beperkte inligting is tans beskikbaar oor kommunikasie protokolle in nano-satelliet toepassings. Hierdie tesis fokus op die verbetering van nano-satelliet netwerk-simulasie, asook die ontwikkelling van ’n verbeterde netwerk-protokol strategie vir nano-satelliet toepassings. Dit het na vore gekom dat daar ’n leemte is in die beskikbaarheid van simulasie sagteware wat gerig is op die ondersoek van satelliet netwerke. Hierdie waarneming het die ontwikkeling van SatSim genoop. SatSim is ’n diskrete-gebeurtenis netwerk-simulasie sagtewarepakket wat in die Python programmeertaal ontwikkel is om netwerk protokolle te ontwikkel en te analiseer. SatSim was geverifieer deur simulasies te vergelyk met die resultate van ander navorsingspublikasies, wat van verskillende sagtewarepakkette gebruik gemaak het, sowel as teoretiese deursetberekeninge. AX.25 is een van die netwerk protokolle wat mees algemeen in die nano-satelliet bedryf voorkom. AX.25 was geïmplementeer in SatSim en geverifieer met teoretiese deursetberekeninge. AX.25 was gebruik as ’n grondslag om op te verbeter. FX.25 was ontwikkel deur die Stensat Group in ’n poging om op AX.25 te verbeter. FX.25 voeg vorentoefoutkorreksie by tot AX.25, deur addisionele data tot die AX.25 netwerk pakkies te voeg. Hierdie benadering bewerkstellig agteruit-verenigbaarheid met AX.25. FX.25 was geïmplementeer in SatSim en simulasieresultate dui daarop dat FX.25 ’n meer betroubare protokol is as AX.25, omdat dit teen laer elevasiehoeke en oor swakker kommunikasiekanale kan kommunikeer. Die verbeterde betroubaarheid is ten koste van datadeurset, as gevolg van die toevoeging van die vorentoe-foutkorreksiedata. ’n Modulêre AX/FX.25 protokol was geïmplemeteer om te kapitaliseer op die sterk eienskappe van beide protokolle. Hierdie hibriede protokol het ’n beduidende verbetering gelewer ten opsigte van data deurset en kan toekomstige sagteware-gedefinieerde radio en hardewaretoepassings stimuleer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96114
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