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Platform-based design (PBD) [M. Sgroi et al., November 2003] is a relatively new methodology paradigm for the design of embedded systems. In this paper, its adoption is proposed for the design of an ad-hoc wireless sensor network (AWSN) that supports a distributed positioning application. Specifically, we move from the class of positioning algorithms introduced in G. Di Stefano et al.  and proceed to the design of the protocol stack by defining a set of abstraction layers and a set of service primitives in correspondence of any interface. The primary purpose is to abstract the set of lower layers (platform) in a way that allows its behaviour to be effectively accounted for in performance assessment of a protocol running on the upper layer. A simulation framework is presented in support of this methodology and a collection of numerical results that assess performance of a positioning algorithm is presented as well. Finally, a general view of the protocol architecture of AWSN nodes is devised.