Design a DAC sinx/x Corrector

Neil Robertson July 22, 2018

This post provides a Matlab function that designs linear-phase FIR sinx/x correctors.  It includes a table of fixed-point sinx/x corrector coefficients for different DAC frequency ranges.

A sinx/x corrector is a digital (or analog) filter used to compensate for the sinx/x roll-off inherent in the digital to analog conversion process.  In DSP math, we treat the digital signal applied to the DAC is a sequence of impulses.  These are converted by the DAC into contiguous pulses...

Digital PLL’s, Part 3 – Phase Lock an NCO to an External Clock

Neil Robertson May 27, 20184 comments

Sometimes you may need to phase-lock a numerically controlled oscillator (NCO) to an external clock that is not related to the system clocks of your ASIC or FPGA.  This situation is shown in Figure 1.  Assuming your system has an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) available, you can sync to the external clock using the scheme shown in Figure 2.  This time-domain PLL model is similar to the one presented in Part 1 of this series on digital PLL’s [1].  In that PLL, we...

ADC Clock Jitter Model, Part 2 – Random Jitter

Neil Robertson April 22, 20184 comments

In Part 1, I presented a Matlab function to model an ADC with jitter on the sample clock, and applied it to examples with deterministic jitter.  Now we’ll investigate an ADC with random clock jitter, by using a filtered or unfiltered Gaussian sequence as the jitter source.  What we are calling jitter can also be called time jitter, phase jitter, or phase noise.  It’s all the same phenomenon.  Typically, we call it jitter when we have a time-domain representation,...

ADC Clock Jitter Model, Part 1 – Deterministic Jitter

Neil Robertson April 16, 2018

Analog to digital converters (ADC’s) have several imperfections that affect communications signals, including thermal noise, differential nonlinearity, and sample clock jitter [1, 2].  As shown in Figure 1, the ADC has a sample/hold function that is clocked by a sample clock.  Jitter on the sample clock causes the sampling instants to vary from the ideal sample time.  This transfers the jitter from the sample clock to the input signal.

In this article, I present a Matlab...

How precise is my measurement?

Sam Shearman March 28, 20182 comments

Some might argue that measurement is a blend of skepticism and faith. While time constraints might make you lean toward faith, some healthy engineering skepticism should bring you back to statistics. This article reviews some practical statistics that can help you satisfy one common question posed by skeptical engineers: “How precise is my measurement?” As we’ll see, by understanding how to answer it, you gain a degree of control over your measurement time.

An accurate, precise...

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...

Phase and Amplitude Calculation for a Pure Complex Tone in a DFT using Multiple Bins

Cedron Dawg March 14, 2018

This is an article to hopefully give a better understanding of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) by deriving exact formulas to calculate the phase and amplitude of a pure complex tone from several DFT bin values and knowing the frequency. This article is functionally an extension of my prior article "Phase and Amplitude Calculation for a Pure Complex Tone in a DFT"[1] which used only one bin for a complex tone, but it is actually much more similar to my approach for real...

Coefficients of Cascaded Discrete-Time Systems

Neil Robertson March 4, 2018

In this article, we’ll show how to compute the coefficients that result when you cascade discrete-time systems.  With the coefficients in hand, it’s then easy to compute the time or frequency response.  The computation presented here can also be used to find coefficients of mixed discrete-time and continuous-time systems, by using a discrete time model of the continuous-time portion [1].

This article is available in PDF format for...

Design IIR Filters Using Cascaded Biquads

Neil Robertson February 11, 2018
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...

Design IIR Highpass Filters

Neil Robertson February 3, 2018

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...

A Fixed-Point Introduction by Example

Christopher Felton April 25, 201118 comments

The finite-word representation of fractional numbers is known as fixed-point.  Fixed-point is an interpretation of a 2's compliment number usually signed but not limited to sign representation.  It extends our finite-word length from a finite set of integers to a finite set of rational real numbers [1].  A fixed-point representation of a number consists of integer and fractional components.  The bit length is defined...

A Quadrature Signals Tutorial: Complex, But Not Complicated

Rick Lyons April 12, 201349 comments

Introduction Quadrature signals are based on the notion of complex numbers and perhaps no other topic causes more heartache for newcomers to DSP than these numbers and their strange terminology of j operator, complex, imaginary, real, and orthogonal. If you're a little unsure of the physical meaning of complex numbers and the j = √-1 operator, don't feel bad because you're in good company. Why even Karl Gauss, one the world's greatest mathematicians, called the j-operator the "shadow of...

Digital Envelope Detection: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Rick Lyons April 3, 20168 comments

Recently I've been thinking about the process of envelope detection. Tutorial information on this topic is readily available but that information is spread out over a number of DSP textbooks and many Internet web sites. The purpose of this blog is to summarize various digital envelope detection methods in one place.

Here I focus on envelope detection as it is applied to an amplitude-fluctuating sinusoidal signal where the positive-amplitude fluctuations (the sinusoid's envelope)...

Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) - A Tutorial

Qasim Chaudhari January 25, 20174 comments

Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) is one of the most spectrally efficient modulation schemes available. Due to its constant envelope, it is resilient to non-linear distortion and was therefore chosen as the modulation technique for the GSM cell phone standard.

MSK is a special case of Continuous-Phase Frequency Shift Keying (CPFSK) which is a special case of a general class of modulation schemes known as Continuous-Phase Modulation (CPM). It is worth noting that CPM (and hence CPFSK) is a...

The Exponential Nature of the Complex Unit Circle

Cedron Dawg March 10, 20152 comments

This is an article to hopefully give an understanding to Euler's magnificent equation:

$$ e^{i\theta} = cos( \theta ) + i \cdot sin( \theta ) $$

This equation is usually proved using the Taylor series expansion for the given functions, but this approach fails to give an understanding to the equation and the ramification for the behavior of complex numbers. Instead an intuitive approach is taken that culminates in a graphical understanding of the equation.


How to Find a Fast Floating-Point atan2 Approximation

Nic Taylor May 26, 20177 comments
Context Over a short period of time, I came across nearly identical approximations of the two parameter arctangent function, atan2, developed by different companies, in different countries, and even in different decades. Fascinated with how the coefficients used in these approximations were derived, I set out to find them. This atan2 implementation is based around a rational approximation of arctangent on the domain -1 to 1:

$$ atan(z) \approx \dfrac{z}{1.0 +...

Sinusoidal Frequency Estimation Based on Time-Domain Samples

Rick Lyons April 20, 201718 comments

The topic of estimating a noise-free real or complex sinusoid's frequency, based on fast Fourier transform (FFT) samples, has been presented in recent blogs here on For completeness, it's worth knowing that simple frequency estimation algorithms exist that do not require FFTs to be performed . Below I present three frequency estimation algorithms that use time-domain samples, and illustrate a very important principle regarding so called "exact"...

An s-Plane to z-Plane Mapping Example

Rick Lyons September 24, 20166 comments

While surfing around the Internet recently I encountered the 's-plane to z-plane mapping' diagram shown in Figure 1. At first I thought the diagram was neat because it's a good example of the old English idiom: "A picture is worth a thousand words." However, as I continued to look at Figure 1 I began to detect what I believe are errors in the diagram.

Reader, please take a few moments to see if you detect any errors in Figure 1.


The Most Interesting FIR Filter Equation in the World: Why FIR Filters Can Be Linear Phase

Rick Lyons August 18, 201516 comments

This blog discusses a little-known filter characteristic that enables real- and complex-coefficient tapped-delay line FIR filters to exhibit linear phase behavior. That is, this blog answers the question:

What is the constraint on real- and complex-valued FIR filters that guarantee linear phase behavior in the frequency domain?

I'll declare two things to convince you to continue reading.

Declaration# 1: "That the coefficients must be symmetrical" is not a correct

Digital PLL's -- Part 1

Neil Robertson June 7, 201610 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...