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In the frequency-modulation method, the transmitter radiates radio-frequency waves. The frequency of these rf waves is continually increasing and decreasing from a fixed reference frequency. At any instant, the frequency of the returned signal differs from the frequency of the radiated signal. The amount of the difference frequency is determined by the time it took the signal to travel the distance from the transmitter to the object.

An example of a frequency-modulated signal, plotted against time, is shown in figure 1-21. As shown, the 420-megahertz frequency increases linearly to 460 megahertz and then quickly drops to 420 megahertz again. When the frequency drops to 420 megahertz the frequency cycle starts over again.

Figure 1-21. - Frequency-modulation chart.

The frequency regularly changes 40 megahertz with respect to time; therefore, its value at any time during its cycle can be used as the basis for computing the time elapsed after the start of the frequency cycle. For example, at T0 the transmitter sends a 420-megahertz signal toward an object. It strikes the object and returns to the receiver at T1, when the transmitter is sending out a new frequency of 440 megahertz. At T1, the 420-megahertz returned signal and the 440-megahertz transmitter signal are fed to the receiver simultaneously. When the two signals are mixed in the receiver, a beat frequency results. The beat frequency varies directly with the distance to the object, increasing as the distance increases. Using this information, you can calibrate a device that measures frequency to indicate range.

This system works well when the detected object is stationary. It is used in aircraft altimeters which give a continuous reading of the height above the earth of the aircraft. The system is not satisfactory for locating moving objects. This is because moving targets produce a frequency shift in the returned signal because of the Doppler effect; this affects the accuracy of the range measurement.


The pulse-modulation method of energy transmission was analyzed to some extent earlier in this chapter. As the previous discussions indicated, radio-frequency energy can also be transmitted in very short bursts, called pulses. These pulses are of extremely short time duration, usually on the order of 0.1 microsecond to approximately 50 microseconds. In this method, the transmitter is turned on for a very short time and the pulse of radio-frequency energy is transmitted, as shown in view A of figure 1-22. The transmitter is then turned off, and the pulse travels outward from the transmitter at the velocity of light (view B). When the pulse strikes an object (view C), it is reflected and begins to travel back toward the radar system, still moving at the same velocity (view D). The pulse is then received by the radar system (view E). The time interval between transmission and reception is computed and converted into a visual indication of range in miles or yards. The radar cycle then starts over again by transmitting another pulse (view F). This method does not depend on the relative frequency of the returned signal or on the motion of the target; therefore, it has an important advantage over cw and fm methods.

Figure 1-22. - Pulse detection.


Pulse radar systems may be modified to use the Doppler effect to detect a moving object.

A requirement for any Doppler radar is COHERENCE; that is, some definite phase relationship must exist between the transmitted frequency and the reference frequency, which is used to detect the Doppler shift of the receiver signal. Moving objects are detected by the phase difference between the target signal and background noise components. Phase detection of this type relies on coherence between the transmitter frequency and the receiver reference frequency.

In coherent detection, a stable cw reference oscillator signal, which is locked in phase with the transmitter during each transmitted pulse, is mixed with the echo signal to produce a beat or difference signal. Since the reference oscillator and the transmitter are locked in phase, the echoes are effectively compared with the transmitter in frequency and phase.

The phase relationships of the echoes from fixed objects to the transmitter is constant and the amplitude of the beat signal remains constant. A beat signal of varying amplitude indicates a moving object. This is because the phase difference between the reference oscillator signal and the echo signal changes as the range to the reflecting object changes. The constant amplitude beat signal is filtered out in the receiver. The beat signal of varying amplitude is sent to the radar indicator scope for display.

Q.28 What factor determines the difference between the transmitted frequency and the received frequency in an fm transmitter?answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.29 What type of objects are most easily detected by an fm system? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.30 What transmission method does NOT depend on relative frequency or target motion? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.31 What transmission method uses a stable cw reference oscillator, which is locked in phase with the transmitter frequency?answer.gif (214 bytes)

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