Radar Using Chirp Signals

Radar using chirp signals

Chirp signal has increasingly become one of the most used Radar signals, especially with the introduction of the pulse compression technology. We can define a chirp signal as a signal whose frequency is prone to fluctuations with time. It can increase or decrease. It’s called a chirp signal because when it is played on a speaker, it sounds much like the chirp of a bird. The name chirp signal has been used interchangeably with the term sweep signal. Apart from being applied in radar, it has its applications in Laser, Sonar, and spread-spectrum communications.

Before understanding what pulse compression is, let us first start with the requirements of a radar system. First, the pulse has to be as short as possible. This will give a better resolution distance. Secondly, the radar systems need more energy if it’s to detect a faraway object. These two requirements are conflicting.  The energy requirement could be a limiting factor in a system as they have different power requirements. However, chirp signals offer a breakthrough in this and provide a better resolution to a longer pulse.

Pulse compression is a wave-shaping method that is produced when a propagating waveform is modified using electrical network properties in the transmission line. Consider a semiconductor technology made with high-power transmitters. Such transmitters are unable to transmit high- power pulses. Therefore, we need the transmission to be stronger. We can modulate the pulse to improve its range resolution. There are two types of modulation that we can perform. They are the frequency modulation and phase modulation. Frequency modulation can be linear or non-linear.  If the modulation is non-linear, a higher performance is achieved.   Phase modulation has a distinct difference with the frequency modulation. The long pulses received are divided into sub-pulses, each corresponding to a wave bin. The sub-pulses have an equal duration. A typical form of phase modulation is binary coding. The main advantage of pulse modulation is that it combines the advantage of short pulses with that of long pulses.

Radar using chirp signals Matlab

If you want to generate a linear chirp signal for simulating a radar signal, the best Matlab function that you can use is the CHIRP. However, this function has a few disadvantages. First, it only generates real chirp, but if you are interested in a more complex band, then you have to do it twice. Secondly, it does not generate a pulse, and therefore you cannot carry simulations with it.  Another way to generate a radar using chirp signals Matlab code is by exploring the Phased Array system toolbox.

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