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Module 1.2: Radar Output Section

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Output Section

In an electronic system, the ‘output section’ refers to all parts of the system (in our case a RADAR) which are used to send a signal ‘out’ or to ‘transmit’.

Output Section

In an electronic system, the ‘output section’ refers to all parts of the system (in our case a RADAR) which are used to send a signal ‘out’ or to ‘transmit’.

Block diagram of a simple RADAR system
Block diagram of a simple RADAR system

Power Supply

The power supply provides the power for the system.

The peak transmitted power for a pulse Radar is much greater than the power that can be produced by the power supply. This is achieved through the charging of a capacitor* bank followed by the simultaneous discharge of power from all capacitors to generate the pulse.

*A capacitor is an electronic component which is able to store energy like a battery and can discharge that energy very fast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor

Synchroniser

The synchroniser is the primary electronic component of a Radar; essentially the clock of a Radar.

The synchroniser regulates the rate at which electronic pulses are sent out, or transmitted, and then measures the time delay between sending the pulse and any reflections that are received. (The time delay is later used to determine the Range, or distance from the Radar to the object which caused the reflection.)

Transmitter

The transmitter is the part of the electronics which generates the electromagnetic pulse.

The high voltage, high power pulse sent by the antenna is generated in the transmitting electronics. The transmitter is the most ‘active’ part of any Radar system and in some cases specific safety precautions and practices should be observed when in contact with a Radar transmitter.

Duplexer

The function of a Duplexer is to separate the transmitting and the receiving electronics, with the purpose that the same antenna could be used for both purposes. It is essentially a switch.

The transmitting element of the electronics are considered to be very ‘noisy’, as well as high powered. Consequently, these need to be kept isolated from the sensitive receiving electronics when a pulse is sent otherwise the receiver would be damaged. In addition, when the signal received by a Radar travels through the duplexer, there should be the lowest possible resistance so the signal is not attenuated (made smaller); it would not be possible to detect the very faint return signals whilst transmitting with such high power.

Antenna

The antenna transforms the electrical pulse into a form which can be sent through air.

When reflections are encountered, the same antenna also receives electromagnetic waves from the air and transforms them back into electrical pulses.

Block diagram showing the output section, of a simple RADAR system
Block diagram showing the output section, of a simple RADAR system

Heading: Sending a pulse

To send a signal, a Radar must make use of all the components within the ‘output section’:

  • First, the power supply powers the system, which includes the charging of the capacitor bank.
  • Next, the synchroniser tells the transmitter to generate a pulse and start the clock used to measure the time delay between sending a pulse and receiving any reflections.
  • The transmitter gathers power from the capacitor bank and shapes it into the correct pulse length and frequency to be transmitted through the air.
  • This burst of power is fed through the duplexer (the function at this stage being to ensure that none of the transmitted energy is leaked to the receiver).
  • The burst then travels to the antenna, which converts the pulse into electromagnetic energy and is transmitted through the air. (Note: this is the same antenna used for receiving reflections in the input section.)
  • The duplexer will then switch to receive mode, isolating the transmitter and diverting any received signals to the receiver.
Our Most Common Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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What can a Ground Penetrating Radar survey detect?

With GPR, you can detect a wide range of objects below ground level, including both metallic and non-metallic objects such as plastic pipework. GPR will also identify and map any voids below the surface, such as air pockets or mine shafts, as well as any other irregularities including concrete and previously excavated or back-filled areas.

Will GPR compromise safety on my site?

GPR equipment emits an electromagnetic pulse into the ground and records the reflected signals from subsurface structures and voids. It is entirely non-destructive and will not break the ground’s surface or affect any objects below. What’s more, it doesn’t emit any harmful levels of radiation, nor are there any other by-products created throughout the process. This means it’s entirely safe to use by its operators, and on sites of any type, including those open to the public.

Is a GPR survey 100% accurate?

While GPR is one of the most effective methods of non-destructive testing available, it can never be 100% accurate. One factor that can adversely affect the accuracy levels include the type of soil being surveyed. Clay soils and soils that contain high levels of salt or minerals can obstruct the GPR reading. Another factor is the experience of the equipment’s operator: interpreting the data collected can be complex, which is why it’s beneficial to commission surveys from an expert firm.

Is GPR equipment difficult to use?

The equipment itself is not difficult to use, but the interpretation of the data recorded tends to be complicated. The results of a GPR survey aren’t automatically translated into an easy-to-understand picture of what lies below the surface; instead, it’s a series of lines and waves and it can take both training and years of practice to master the art of correctly reading the output. Often, it is the experience of the equipment’s operator that plays the most significant role in the accuracy of the results GPR can achieve.

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