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Multiple input multiple output (MIMO) techniques hold the potential of dramatically increasing the data rates and spectral efficiency of wireless communications systems. Even with extensive research on the design of transmission and reception algorithms, little is known as to how much of the predicted gains are actually achievable on real wireless channels. In this paper, we present a MIMO testbed, which enables the rapid prototyping of MIMO transceivers for wideband channels. Such prototypes provide experimental quantification of achievable gains from MIMO algorithms. The testbed design allows real-time operation of baseband processing and RF up/down-conversion. The choice of testbed components is made to allow maximum, flexibility for research purposes, including monitoring and control of all subsystems. In addition to discussing the testbed's design, we present the implementation of two wireless systems. The first is a spread-spectrum system based on IEEE 802.11b. The second is an implementation of Alamouti's transmit diversity scheme.