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DAC Zero-Order Hold Models

Neil Robertson January 21, 20242 comments

This article provides two simple time-domain models of a DAC’s zero-order hold. These models will allow us to find time and frequency domain approximations of DAC outputs, and simulate analog filtering of those outputs. Developing the models is also a good way to learn about the DAC ZOH function.


Decimators Using Cascaded Multiplierless Half-band Filters

Neil Robertson November 19, 2023

In my last post, I provided coefficients for several multiplierless half-band FIR filters. In the comment section, Rick Lyons mentioned that such filters would be useful in a multi-stage decimator. For such an application, any subsequent multipliers save on resources, since they operate at a fraction of the maximum sample frequency. We’ll examine the frequency response and aliasing of a multiplierless decimate-by-8 cascade in this article, and we’ll also discuss an interpolator cascade using the same half-band filters.


Multiplierless Half-band Filters and Hilbert Transformers

Neil Robertson October 7, 202310 comments

This article provides coefficients of multiplierless Finite Impulse Response 7-tap, 11-tap, and 15-tap half-band filters and Hilbert Transformers. Since Hilbert transformer coefficients are simply related to half-band coefficients, multiplierless Hilbert transformers are easily derived from multiplierless half-bands.


Interpolator Design: Get the Stopbands Right

Neil Robertson July 6, 20236 comments

In this article, I present a simple approach for designing interpolators that takes the guesswork out of determining the stopbands.


Simple Discrete-Time Modeling of Lossy LC Filters

Neil Robertson April 19, 2023

There are many software applications that allow modeling LC filters in the frequency domain.  But sometimes it is useful to have a time domain model, such as when you need to analyze a mixed analog and DSP system.  For example, the system in Figure 1 includes an LC filter as well as a DSP portion.  The LC filter could be an anti-alias filter, a channel filter, or some other LC network.  For a design using undersampling, the filter would be bandpass [1].  By modeling...


The Discrete Fourier Transform as a Frequency Response

Neil Robertson February 4, 20236 comments

The discrete frequency response H(k) of a Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filter is the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) of its impulse response h(n) [1].  So, if we can find H(k) by whatever method, it should be identical to the DFT of h(n).  In this article, we’ll find H(k) by using complex exponentials, and we’ll see that it is indeed identical to the DFT of h(n).

Consider the four-tap FIR filter in Figure 1, where each block labeled Ts represents a delay of one...


Add the Hilbert Transformer to Your DSP Toolkit, Part 2

Neil Robertson December 4, 20225 comments

In this part, I’ll show how to design a Hilbert Transformer using the coefficients of a half-band filter as a starting point, which turns out to be remarkably simple.  I’ll also show how a half-band filter can be synthesized using the Matlab function firpm, which employs the Parks-McClellan algorithm.

A half-band filter is a type of lowpass, even-symmetric FIR filter having an odd number of taps, with the even-numbered taps (except for the main tap) equal to zero.  This...


Add the Hilbert Transformer to Your DSP Toolkit, Part 1

Neil Robertson November 22, 20224 comments

In some previous articles, I made use of the Hilbert transformer, but did not explain its theory in any detail.  In this article, I’ll dig a little deeper into how the Hilbert Transformer works.  Understanding the Hilbert Transformer involves a modest amount of mathematics, but the payoff in useful applications is worth it.

As we’ll learn, a Hilbert Transformer is just a particular type of Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filter.  In Part 1 of this article, I’ll...


Book Recommendation "What is Mathematics?"

Neil Robertson June 20, 20229 comments

What is Mathematics is a classic, lucidly written survey of mathematics by Courant and Robbins.  The first edition was published in 1941!  I have only read a portion of it, mainly the chapter on calculus.  One page of Courant is worth about five pages of my old college calculus textbook, and it’s a lot more fun to read.

The reader of this book should already be familiar with algebra and trigonometry.  For engineers, some worthwhile sections of the book are:


Evaluate Noise Performance of Discrete-Time Differentiators

Neil Robertson March 28, 20228 comments

When it comes to noise, all differentiators are not created equal.  Figure 1 shows the magnitude response of two differentiators.  They both have a useful bandwidth of a little less than π/8 radians (based on maximum magnitude response error of 2%).  Suppose we apply a signal with Gaussian noise to each of these differentiators.  The sinusoidal signal with noise is shown in the top of Figure 2.  Signal frequency is π/12.5 radians.  The output of the so-called...


Design IIR Butterworth Filters Using 12 Lines of Code

Neil Robertson December 10, 201712 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:

N= 5 % Filter order fc= 10; % Hz cutoff freq fs= 100; % Hz sample freq [b,a]=...

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

Neil Robertson January 13, 201938 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...


Design IIR Bandpass Filters

Neil Robertson January 6, 201812 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; ...

Design IIR Filters Using Cascaded Biquads

Neil Robertson February 11, 201832 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...


Digital PLL's -- Part 1

Neil Robertson June 7, 201626 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...


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...


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, 201915 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...


Phase or Frequency Shifter Using a Hilbert Transformer

Neil Robertson March 25, 201821 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. 

Phase Shifter

A conceptual diagram of a phase shifter is shown in Figure 1, where the bold lines indicate complex...


Evaluate Window Functions for the Discrete Fourier Transform

Neil Robertson December 18, 20184 comments

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...