The characterization powerline networks and investigation of communicarion performances has been the interest of several research works. Despite of its complex noise scenario and variable attenuation, narrowband powerline communication (NB-PLC) systems are key element in smart grids which provide different applications such as remote meter reading, home automation and energy management. Mainly located at the last mile communication, NB-PLC systems participate in monitoring and controlling power consumption at different level from local utilities to final customers in conjunction with wireless technology. To provide a proper communication flow over powerlines, it is primordial to get efficient designed and proven PLC systems responding to smart grids requirements. After PLC system design and development, a major task is the infield test which is a heavy task, time consuming and does not give enough information about system performance and robustness. In one hand, test and verification result are as variable as channel conditions. So, it is not obvious to get relevant information from classical infield test. In the other hand, the behavior of existing industrial PLC systems behavior cannot be accurately reproduced in simulation environment. Therefore, getting a flexible standalone platform emulating NB-PLC channel phenomena allows overcoming verification process difficulty. In literature, few research works are interested in emulating narrowband powerline.

First, the idea of emulating PLC channels using a stand-alone device has started in a broadband PLC by presenting a hardware platform based on a digital signal processor (DSP) and a field programmable gate array (FPGA). Then, algorithms have been developed and optimized to reduce complexity and improve real-time performance. Regarding NB-PLC, an emulator has been proposed for indoor channels in the frequency range between 95 and 148.5 kHz using analog to digital circuit for channel transfer function and noise scenario. More flexibility and accuracy in generating the NB-PLC channel behavior has been studied and extended to support frequencies up to 500 kHz. The main challenge was the definition of time varying reference channels and tunable sophisticated noise scenarios for emulation. Both proposed NB-PLC channel emulator only takes into consideration the attenuation as predefined function and noise phenomena. The ZC detection is supposed to be ideal that it does not affect the communication performance.

The objective of this research work consists in proposing a flexible DSP based NB-PLC channel emulator encompassing the channel bottlenecks interfering during communication. The channel attenuation is deduced using bottom up approach and appropriate noise scenarios are defined to meet as much as possible realistic phenomena. The effect of zero crossing variation is also taken into account. The overall parameters are optimized to be embedded on a DSP platform.


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