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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: November 2016

5 - Configuration of atmospheric radars – antennas, beam patterns, electronics, and calibration

Summary

Introduction

In earlier chapters, we have discussed radars in a general sense, and dealt with some of the techniques available to optimize signal detection. We have discussed the conceptual difference between CW and pulsed systems, and concepts like range resolution and sampling strategies. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at the electronics and engineering that is required to develop a radar, and the associated hardware. Key topics will include antennas, transmitters, receivers, and controllers. Some topics from the previous chapter may be repeated, but generally in greater detail.

One thing that all radars have in common is a need for a transmit antenna and a receive antenna. These may or may not be located at separate sites. The transmitter transmits radiowaves through a transmitter antenna into the air, and receives echoes from a target, or from multiple targets, with the receiver antenna. When the transmitter and receiver are co-located, the radar is referred to as a “monostatic radar,” while the term “bistatic radar” refers to the case that the transmitter and receiver are physically separated. If two or more receivers which detect echoes from a common target are located at different places, the system is called a “multistatic radar.” The degree of separation can be an important factor as well – if the transmitter and receiver are within maybe a few wavelengths of each other, they may be referred to as either monostatic or bistatic, depending on the application, even though, in the strictest sense, they are bistatic/multistatic. An example is the so-called “spaced antenna method” for measuring winds, in which case there are multiple receiver antennas but the theoretical development is often done in a quasi-monostatic sense. Generally, if the separation between the transmitting and the receiving antennas can be neglected compared with the distance to the target, the system is considered as monostatic, although even then the meaning of “small” and “large” distances depends on the objectives of the experiment. Experiments requiring detailed phase information between receivers may need to be considered multistatic, whereas if no phase information is needed the same configuration might be considered as monostatic, for example.