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Upon completion of this chapter, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose of the A scope, the range-height indicator (rhi), and the plan position indicator (ppi).
  • State the relationship between range and sweep speed and length on a radar indicator.
  • Explain the purpose of timing triggers, video, and antenna position inputs to a radar indicator.
  • List the major units of a ppi and describe their functions.
  • Describe the basic operation of sweep deflection and sweep rotation in a ppi.
  • List and describe the operation of the three range measurement circuits.
  • Describe antenna directivity and power gain characteristics.
  • Describe the focusing action of a basic parabolic antenna.
  • Describe the basic radiation patterns of the most common parabolic reflectors.
  • Describe the basic characteristics of horn radiators.


Radar systems require an antenna to both transmit and receive radar energy and an indicator system to display the video information generated. This chapter will briefly describe some commonly used indicators and antenna systems. Antenna systems are described in more detail in NEETS, Module 10, Introduction to Wave Generation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas, and Module 11, Microwave Principles.


The information available from a radar receiver may contain as many as several million separate data bits per second. From these and other data, such as the orientation of the antenna, the indicator should present to the observer a continuous, easily understandable, graphic picture of the relative position of radar targets. It should provide size, shape, and insofar as possible, indications of the type of targets. A cathode-ray tube (crt) fulfills these requirements to an astonishing degree. The cathode-ray tube's principal shortcoming is that it cannot present a true three-dimensional picture.

The fundamental geometrical quantities involved in radar displays are the RANGE, AZIMUTH ANGLE (or BEARING), and ELEVATION ANGLE. These displays relate the position of a radar target to the origin at the antenna. Most radar displays include one or two of these quantities as coordinates of the crt face.

The actual range of a target from the radar, whether on the ground, in the water, or in the air is known as SLANT RANGE. The majority of displays use as one coordinate the value of slant range, its horizontal projection (GROUND RANGE), or its vertical projection (ALTITUDE). Since slant range is involved in every radar situation, it inevitably appears in at least one display on every set. Slant range is the coordinate that is duplicated most often when more than one type of display is used. This is partly because displays presenting range have the highest signal-to-noise discrimination and partly for geometrical reasons.

Range is displayed by means of a linear time-base sweep, starting from a given point or line at a definite time in each pulse cycle. Thus, distances along this range sweep actually measure slant range. The sweep speed determines the scale factor, which relates the distance on the tube to actual range. The sweep length is the total distance represented. Distances are expressed in miles (statute or nautical) or yards. The origin of the range sweep may be on or off the tube face.

The angle at which the antenna is pointing, either in azimuth or elevation, may provide two-dimensional information in the display; that is, range and azimuth, or range and elevation.

A radar indicator, sometimes called a radar repeater, acts as the master timing device in analyzing the return of the video in a radar system. It also provides that capability to various other locations physically remote from the radar system. Each indicator should have the ability to select the outputs from any desired radar system aboard the ship. This is usually accomplished by the use of a RADAR DISTRIBUTION SWITCHBOARD. The switchboard contains a switching arrangement that has inputs from each radar system aboard ship and provides outputs to each repeater. The radar desired is selected by means of a selector switch on the repeater. For the repeater to present correct target position data, the indicator must have the following three inputs from the selected radar:

Trigger timing pulses.

These pulses ensure that the sweep on the repeater starts from its point of origin each time the radar transmits. As discussed earlier, the repeater displays all targets at their actual range from the ship based on the time lapse between the instant of transmission and the instant the target's echo is received. The returning echo. The echo, in rf form, is detected (converted to a video signal) by the radar receiver and applied to the repeater. Antenna information. The angular sweep position of a plan position indicator (ppi) repeater must be synchronized to the angular position of the radar antenna to display target bearing (azimuth) information.

The three most common types of displays, called scopes, are the A-scope, the RANGE-HEIGHT INDICATOR (RHI) SCOPE, and the PLAN POSITION INDICATOR (PPI) SCOPE. The primary function of these displays will be discussed in this section. However, detailed descriptions will be limited to the ppi scope, which is the most common display.


The A-scope display, shown in figure 3-1, presents only the range to the target and the relative strength of the echo. Such a display is normally used in weapons control radar systems. The bearing and elevation angles are presented as dial or digital readouts that correspond to the actual physical position of the antenna.

Figure 3-1. - A scope.

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The A-scope normally uses an electrostatic-deflection crt. The sweep is produced by applying a sawtooth voltage to the horizontal deflection plates. The electrical length (time duration) of the sawtooth voltage determines the total amount of range displayed on the crt face.

The ranges of individual targets on an A-scope are usually determined by using a movable range gate or step that is superimposed on the sweep. Ranging circuits will be discussed in more detail later in this section.


The range-height indicator (rhi) scope, shown in figure 3-2, is used with height-finding search radars to obtain altitude information. The rhi is a two-dimensional presentation indicating target range and altitude. The sweep originates in the lower left side of the scope. It moves across the scope, to the right, at an angle that is the same as the angle of transmission of the height-finding radar. The line of sight to the horizon is indicated by the bottom horizontal line. The area directly overhead is straight up the left side of the scope. Target echoes are displayed on the scope as vertical PIPS or BLIPS (spots of increased intensity that indicate a target location). The operator determines altitude by adjusting a movable height line to the point where it bisects the center of the blip. Target height is then read directly from an altitude dial or digital readout. Vertical range markers are also provided to estimate target range.

Figure 3-2. - RHI scope.

Q.1 What are the three fundamental quantities involved in radar displays? wpe1.jpg (945 bytes)
Q.2 What are the required radar inputs for proper indicator operation? wpe1.jpg (945 bytes)
Q.3 What coordinates are displayed on an rhi scope? wpe1.jpg (945 bytes)

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