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Differential Transmitted Reference (DTR) ultra-wideband (UWB) impulse radio (IR) system is one of the most attractive solutions for realizing non-coherent low data rate and low complexity UWB systems. Indeed, Transmitted Reference (TR) signaling, in combination with an Autocorrelation Receiver(AcR), allows a lower design complexity compared to coherent receivers. In this paper, the design of DTR-UWB radio modules for wireless sensor networks (WSN), capable of communication and localization, is addressed. Bit error rate (BER) performance of the DTR-UWB receivers conditioned on a channel realization is analyzed. The modelling of low complexity DTR-UWB systems using equivalent system models is presented. The average BER is verified through simulation for different signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) values, and is also compared to the average BER derived using the equivalent system model. We suggest a data-aided time of arrival (TOA) estimator for DTR-UWB systems, using least squares estimation technique and the equivalent system model.