Model Signal Impairments at Complex Baseband

Neil Robertson December 11, 2019

In this article, we develop complex-baseband models for several signal impairments: interfering carrier, multipath, phase noise, and Gaussian noise.  To provide concrete examples, we’ll apply the impairments to a QAM system. The impairment models are Matlab functions that each use at most seven lines of code.  Although our example system is QAM, the models can be used for any complex-baseband signal.

I used a very simple complex-baseband model of a QAM system in my last


Compute Modulation Error Ratio (MER) for QAM

Neil Robertson November 5, 20192 comments

This post defines the Modulation Error Ratio (MER) for QAM signals, and shows how to compute it.  As we’ll see, in the absence of impairments other than noise, the MER tracks the signal’s Carrier-to-Noise Ratio (over a limited range).  A Matlab script at the end of the article computes MER for a simplified QAM-64 system.

Figure 1 is a simplified block diagram of a QAM system.  The transmitter includes a source of QAM symbols, a root-Nyquist pulse-shaping filter and a...


Plotting Discrete-Time Signals

Neil Robertson September 15, 20195 comments

A discrete-time sinusoid can have frequency up to just shy of half the sample frequency.  But if you try to plot the sinusoid, the result is not always recognizable.  For example, if you plot a 9 Hz sinusoid sampled at 100 Hz, you get the result shown in the top of Figure 1, which looks like a sine.  But if you plot a 35 Hz sinusoid sampled at 100 Hz, you get the bottom graph, which does not look like a sine when you connect the dots.  We typically want the plot of a...


Interpolation Basics

Neil Robertson August 20, 20199 comments

This article covers interpolation basics, and provides a numerical example of interpolation of a time signal.  Figure 1 illustrates what we mean by interpolation.  The top plot shows a continuous time signal, and the middle plot shows a sampled version with sample time Ts.  The goal of interpolation is to increase the sample rate such that the new (interpolated) sample values are close to the values of the continuous signal at the sample times [1].  For example, if...


A Direct Digital Synthesizer with Arbitrary Modulus

Neil Robertson June 3, 20195 comments

Suppose you have a system with a 10 MHz sample clock, and you want to generate a sampled sinewave at any frequency below 5 MHz on 500 kHz spacing; i.e., 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, … MHz.  In other words, f = k*fs/20, where k is an integer and fs is sample frequency.  This article shows how to do this using a simple Direct Digital Synthesizer (DDS) with a look-up table that is at most 20 entries long.   We’ll also demonstrate a Quadrature-output DDS.  A note on...


IIR Bandpass Filters Using Cascaded Biquads

Neil Robertson April 20, 20196 comments

In an earlier post [1], we implemented lowpass IIR filters using a cascade of second-order IIR filters, or biquads.  This post provides a Matlab function to do the same for Butterworth bandpass IIR filters.  Compared to conventional implementations, bandpass filters based on biquads are less sensitive to coefficient quantization [2].  This becomes important when designing narrowband filters.

A biquad section block diagram using the Direct Form II structure [3,4] is shown in...


Demonstrating the Periodic Spectrum of a Sampled Signal Using the DFT

Neil Robertson March 9, 201920 comments

One of the basic DSP principles states that a sampled time signal has a periodic spectrum with period equal to the sample rate.  The derivation of can be found in textbooks [1,2].  You can also demonstrate this principle numerically using the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT).

The DFT of the sampled signal x(n) is defined as:

$$X(k)=\sum_{n=0}^{N-1}x(n)e^{-j2\pi kn/N} \qquad (1)$$

Where

X(k) = discrete frequency spectrum of time sequence x(n)


Compute the Frequency Response of a Multistage Decimator

Neil Robertson February 10, 20192 comments

Figure 1a shows the block diagram of a decimation-by-8 filter, consisting of a low-pass finite impulse response (FIR) filter followed by downsampling by 8 [1].  A more efficient version is shown in Figure 1b, which uses three cascaded decimate-by-two filters.  This implementation has the advantages that only FIR 1 is sampled at the highest sample rate, and the total number of filter taps is lower.

The frequency response of the single-stage decimator before downsampling is just...


Use Matlab Function pwelch to Find Power Spectral Density – or Do It Yourself

Neil Robertson January 13, 20198 comments

In my last post, we saw that finding the spectrum of a signal requires several steps beyond computing the discrete Fourier transform (DFT)[1].  These include windowing the signal, taking the magnitude-squared of the DFT, and computing the vector of frequencies.  The Matlab function pwelch [2] performs all these steps, and it also has the option to use DFT averaging to compute the so-called Welch power spectral density estimate [3,4].

In this article, I’ll present some...


Evaluate Window Functions for the Discrete Fourier Transform

Neil Robertson December 18, 2018

The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) operates on a finite length time sequence to compute its spectrum.  For a continuous signal like a sinewave, you need to capture a segment of the signal in order to perform the DFT.  Usually, you also need to apply a window function to the captured signal before taking the DFT [1 - 3].  There are many different window functions and each produces a different approximation of the spectrum.  In this post, we’ll present Matlab code that...


Design IIR Butterworth Filters Using 12 Lines of Code

Neil Robertson December 10, 201711 comments

While there are plenty of canned functions to design Butterworth IIR filters [1], it’s instructive and not that complicated to design them from scratch.  You can do it in 12 lines of Matlab code.  In this article, we’ll create a Matlab function butter_synth.m to design lowpass Butterworth filters of any order.  Here is an example function call for a 5th order filter:


Design IIR Bandpass Filters

Neil Robertson January 6, 201810 comments

In this post, I present a method to design Butterworth IIR bandpass filters.  My previous post [1] covered lowpass IIR filter design, and provided a Matlab function to design them.  Here, we’ll do the same thing for IIR bandpass filters, with a Matlab function bp_synth.m.  Here is an example function call for a bandpass filter based on a 3rd order lowpass prototype:

N= 3; % order of prototype LPF fcenter= 22.5; % Hz center frequency, Hz bw= 5; ...

Digital PLL's -- Part 1

Neil Robertson June 7, 201618 comments
1. Introduction

Figure 1.1 is a block diagram of a digital PLL (DPLL).  The purpose of the DPLL is to lock the phase of a numerically controlled oscillator (NCO) to a reference signal.  The loop includes a phase detector to compute phase error and a loop filter to set loop dynamic performance.  The output of the loop filter controls the frequency and phase of the NCO, driving the phase error to zero.

One application of the DPLL is to recover the timing in a digital...


Design IIR Filters Using Cascaded Biquads

Neil Robertson February 11, 201817 comments
This article shows how to implement a Butterworth IIR lowpass filter as a cascade of second-order IIR filters, or biquads.  We’ll derive how to calculate the coefficients of the biquads and do some examples using a Matlab function biquad_synth provided in the Appendix.  Although we’ll be designing Butterworth filters, the approach applies to any all-pole lowpass filter (Chebyshev, Bessel, etc).  As we’ll see, the cascaded-biquad design is less sensitive to coefficient...

Simplest Calculation of Half-band Filter Coefficients

Neil Robertson November 20, 20179 comments

Half-band filters are lowpass FIR filters with cut-off frequency of one-quarter of sampling frequency fs and odd symmetry about fs/4  [1]*.  And it so happens that almost half of the coefficients are zero.  The passband and stopband bandwiths are equal, making these filters useful for decimation-by-2 and interpolation-by-2.  Since the zero coefficients make them computationally efficient, these filters are ubiquitous in DSP systems.

Here we will compute half-band...


Use Matlab Function pwelch to Find Power Spectral Density – or Do It Yourself

Neil Robertson January 13, 20198 comments

In my last post, we saw that finding the spectrum of a signal requires several steps beyond computing the discrete Fourier transform (DFT)[1].  These include windowing the signal, taking the magnitude-squared of the DFT, and computing the vector of frequencies.  The Matlab function pwelch [2] performs all these steps, and it also has the option to use DFT averaging to compute the so-called Welch power spectral density estimate [3,4].

In this article, I’ll present some...


Peak to Average Power Ratio and CCDF

Neil Robertson May 17, 20162 comments

Peak to Average Power Ratio (PAPR) is often used to characterize digitally modulated signals.  One example application is setting the level of the signal in a digital modulator.  Knowing PAPR allows setting the average power to a level that is just low enough to minimize clipping.

However, for a random signal, PAPR is a statistical quantity.  We have to ask, what is the probability of a given peak power?  Then we can decide where to set the average...


Phase or Frequency Shifter Using a Hilbert Transformer

Neil Robertson March 25, 201819 comments

In this article, we’ll describe how to use a Hilbert transformer to make a phase shifter or frequency shifter.  In either case, the input is a real signal and the output is a real signal.  We’ll use some simple Matlab code to simulate these systems.  After that, we’ll go into a little more detail on Hilbert transformer theory and design. 

This article is available in PDF format for easy printing.

Phase Shifter

A conceptual diagram...


Digital PLL's -- Part 2

Neil Robertson June 15, 20162 comments

In Part 1, we found the time response of a 2nd order PLL with a proportional + integral (lead-lag) loop filter.  Now let’s look at this PLL in the Z-domain [1, 2].  We will find that the response is characterized by a loop natural frequency ωn and damping coefficient ζ. 

Having a Z-domain model of the DPLL will allow us to do three things:

Compute the values of loop filter proportional gain KL and integrator gain KI that give the desired loop natural...

Design IIR Highpass Filters

Neil Robertson February 3, 20182 comments

This post is the fourth in a series of tutorials on IIR Butterworth filter design.  So far we covered lowpass [1], bandpass [2], and band-reject [3] filters; now we’ll design highpass filters.  The general approach, as before, has six steps:

Find the poles of a lowpass analog prototype filter with Ωc = 1 rad/s. Given the -3 dB frequency of the digital highpass filter, find the corresponding frequency of the analog highpass filter (pre-warping). Transform the...