Radar is an electromagnetic system for the detection and location of target objects such as aircraft, ships, spacecraft, vehicles, people and the natural environment which can reflect a signal back. It uses electromagnetic radio waves to determine the angle, range or velocity of an object.
Radar is a prime example of an electronic engineering system that incorporates many different aspects of technology practiced by engineers.
Developed by various nations before and during World War II, radar was originally used for military applications. But today, radar technology has advanced to the point where it is useful in many different ways including air traffic control, forest and climate monitoring and the monitoring of natural disasters.
How Radar Works
Radar employs a magnetron to generate radio waves characterized by longer wavelengths and higher frequencies. These waves are capable of traveling a long distance without attenuation.
Once the radio waves are generated and are transmitted, they keep traveling until they encounter an obstruction/object of any nature. On contact with an obstruction/object, some of the waves reflect back to the radar. An antenna is usually curved so it focuses only on a narrow beam, but a radar antenna usually rotates so that it can track movements over a large area.
The antenna also serves the purpose of a receiver. The reflected waves received by the antenna are directed to electronic equipment which processes and converts them into a video format and displays on the output system for an operator to understand.
Key hardware components are similar in most units. The most essential component is the transmitter, which generates radio waves and transmits them. The Duplexer module acts as a switch to toggle the antenna between sending and receiving modes. This way the transmitter doubles up as a receiver and only one antenna is used.
A receiver module is employed to receive the signals, amplify them and convert them into video format. The radar antenna beams the radio waves into the air with the necessary distribution and efficiency.
Like so many areas of technology, new radar architectures are also being developed such as the Ultra-Wideband-Technology (UWB). This is a new radar application especially designed for sensor techniques. UWB has enabled new, more compact and less expensive radars, which can be seen in many areas of our everyday life. Using UWB sensors environmental information such as geometrical size, material characteristics and its derivable data can be received with a high resolution and without having to destroy or touch the object.
For example, UWB-radar sensors are used for position detection of an object in a close-up range, as geo-radars and to analyze material (impedance spectroscopy). These sensors are now used in civil engineering, building materials, food and agricultural industries, bio technology, medicine, environment protection, production monitoring, monitoring and security techniques and in traffic and vehicle technology.
Auto manufacturers also make use of radar technology in the design or modern vehicles. Anti-collision systems for instance incorporate a kind of radar system that combines UWB-radars and Doppler-radars. They can be used to detect obstacles in a distance of around 30 meters and measure their speed.
They are placed in bumpers or on the sides of a vehicle and warn about possible collisions with objects or persons. In addition, they can be used to support the parking process.
Want to know more about radar systems? Tonex offers several training courses in Radar Systems.
Additionally, Tonex offers nearly 400 classes, seminars and workshops in close to four dozen categories of systems engineering training.
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