Nomadic Communications - aa 2014-15

Past academic year courses: bottom page

The course is held jointly with Dr. Francesco Gringoli.

I will cover mostly the theoric/descriptive parts, while Francesco will take care of the labs. The program is described on the official Faculty page. Labs are mandatory, part of the exam will be based on Lab reports. This year the labs will be centered on protocol design and manipulation on OpenFWWF-enabled devices.

OpenFWWF is a project that provides an easy and inexpensive platform to implement new Medium Access Control (MAC) mechanism, and it is a valid alternative to expensive ad-hoc platforms for protocol experiments in the ISM bands. The combination of OpenFWWF and b43 driver is a complete and cheap tool that makes testing of new MAC easy achievable. Francesco Gringoli is the main developer of OpenFWWF.

Bill Board

  • Monday April 27 there is no theory lesson. Labs in the afternoon are regular.
  • Course Opening: The course starts Wednesday Feb. 18, from 14-16 PM. Since we will do theory if there is a more suitable room than the labs at level -1 we will use it, check this site the days before to know the room.


  • We begin the course with a rush on theory, in order to have enough knowledge of Wireless Networks, WIFI and 802.11 standard and systems before we start the Labs. This means that weeks 2 and 3 we have 4 hours of theory:
    • Wednesday Feb. 18, 14:00-16:00 room A108
    • Monday Feb. 23, 9:00-11:00 room A108
    • Wednesday Feb. 25, 14:00-16:00 room A108
    • Monday Mar. 2, 9:00-11:00 room A108
    • Wednesday Mar. 4, 14:00-16:00 room A108
    March 9 we start the regular calendar
    • Theory: Mondays 9:00-11:00 room A108
    • Labs
      • Mondays 14:00-18:00, Networking Teaching Labs at level -2 in Povo 2.
        These are the "official hours" in calendar for the lab. Francesco Gringoli will normally be be present, will explain the laboratory topic, help you setup experiments and answer all questions. I will also be there sometimes.
      • Wednesdays 14:00-18:00, Networking Teaching Labs at level -2 in Povo 2. The lab is reserved for you to complete experiments, play with devices, start writing reports. Me or Francesco may drop-by from time to time, but our presence is not guaranteed. You will have to take the lab keys and responsibility on the devices.


The formal exams dates during the summer will be defined later during the course.

You have to subscribe via ESSE3 when you want to take the exam, however the actual date of the exam is free, you just have to take an appointment with me. I strongly encourage groups to take the oral together, but there is no fromal requirement on this.

The oral can be taken when the lab reports are delivered in their final form, but you have to allow me 3-4 days minimum to correct the reports. I can receive and correct reports via e-mail also when I'm not in Trento in July, but in June.

Labs Organization

This year the labs are centered on actual impementation and design of MAC protocols on embedded Linux devices featuring the OpenFWWF platform.

OpenFWWF is a reverse-engineered platform that provides an easy and inexpensive platform to implement new Medium Access Control (MAC) mechanisms and protocols, and is a valid alternative to simulations and expensive ad-hoc platforms. The combination of OpenFWWF and b43 driver is a complete and cheap tool that makes testing of new MAC easy achievable, which let us run true lab work on nomadic systems and appreciate differences between design chioces and various options in wireless protocol design.

Labs are best done in groups. Groups of three are the best, but two or even singles can be accepted. More than three the work bocomes too dispersive.

Here is a template and LaTeX style to write decent reports, with some hints on the organization.

Teaching and Support Material

We don't have any "official textbook." Here are the printouts of the slides I use to follow a predefined course while teaching. They are by no means a textbook and I will spend maybe half a lesson on a single slide and ... surf over the next 10 in 10 minutes. They are intended to help you in scribbling notes, not to substitute the lessons. They are posted before the lesson, sometimes the evening before, but normally with a couple of days advance. If you want to have an idea of the whole material you can check the material of the past years, but I normally change part of the course, so do not entirely rely on old material.

  • Introduction, general notions and rehearsal of known concepts: MAC protocols and protocol architectures.
  • 802.11: The WLAN standard. Generalities, the base access protocol and the different PHY layers.
  • 802.11e: Changing the MAC to differentaite service, enchance fairnes and performance and differentiate services.
  • 802.11n: Using Space diversity to enchance capacity and resilience.
  • Vehicular Networks
  • Wireless Mesh and Community Networks Seminar by Leonardo Maccari


The 802.11 standard and related documents are available for free download (but you need to register) from the IEEE 802.11 website It includes all parts of the standard including MACs and PHYs definitions: 802.11b/g/a/h/n; 802.11e and much more. You can consider it the ultimate source of information, but it is unfortunately a bit hard to read and ... it is 2793 pages! Use it to check values of parameters or to determine the exact meaning of fields etc.

  • Introduction to packet handling and OpenFWWF
  • Text of the first experiment
  • Text of the second experiment
  • Text of the third experiment
  • Text of the fourth experiment
  • Text of the fifth experiment - last update: May 18, 2015
  • Text of the sixth experiment - last update: May 18, 2015
  • Text of the seventh experiment - last update: May 18, 2015

Academic Years