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The authors are interested in estimating the angle of arrival of an RF signal by using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Software-Defined Radios (SDRs). The proposed COTS-based approach has the advantages of flexibility, low cost and ease of deployment, but - unlike traditional phased antenna arrays in which elements are already phase-aligned - they face the challenge of aligning individual SDRs during field deployment in order to ensure coherent phase detection. They propose a strategy to relax the requirement of tight phase synchronization between distributed oscillators by using a novel phase difference of arrival mechanism based on a field-deployable reference transmitter.
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