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For ultra-wideband (UWB) communications with signal energy dispersed by a large number of multipath compnents, the design of a Rake receiver that can provide a desirable output signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) using only a moderate number of fingers becomes an important issue. In this paper, we propose a pilot-channel-assisted log-likelihood-ratio selective combining (PCA-LLR-SC) scheme for UWB Rake receivers to be used in long-range low-rate UWB communications envisioned by the IEEE 802.15.4a PHY specification. The pilot and data channels are constructed using quadrature sinusoidal bursts that have the same Gaussian envelope. The system parameters are optimized through jointly minimizing the channel estimation mean square error and maximizing the receiver output SNR. Extensive simulations confirm that the proposed PCA-LLR-SC scheme is capable of providing robust low-rate UWB communications in fast-fading multipath channels and in the presence of multi-user interference.