How precise is my measurement?

Sam Shearman March 28, 20183 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...

Embedded World 2018 - More Videos!

Stephane Boucher March 27, 20181 comment

After the interview videos last week, this week I am very happy to release two more videos taken at Embedded World 2018 and that I am proud of.  

For both videos, I made extensive use of my two new toys, a Zhiyun Crane Gimbal and a Sony a6300 camera.

The use of a gimbal like the Zhiyun makes a big difference in terms of making the footage look much more stable and cinematographic.

As for the Sony camera, it takes fantastic slow-motion footage and...

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...

Feedback Controllers - Making Hardware with Firmware. Part 8. Control Loop Test-bed

Steve Maslen March 21, 2018

This part in the series will consider the signals, measurements, analyses and configurations for testing high-speed low-latency feedback loops and their controllers. Along with basic test signals, a versatile IFFT signal generation scheme will be discussed and implemented. A simple controller under test will be constructed to demonstrate the analysis principles in preparation for the design and evaluation of specific controllers and closed-loop applications.

Additional design...

Embedded World 2018 - The Interviews

Stephane Boucher March 21, 2018

Once again this year, I had the chance to go to Embedded World in Nuremberg Germany.  And once again this year, I brought my video equipment to try and capture some of the most interesting things at the show.  

Something new this year, I asked Jacob Beningo if he would partner with me in doing interviews with a few vendors.  I would operate the camera while Jacob would ask the right questions to the vendors to make them talk about the key products/features that...

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

Cedron Dawg March 14, 201812 comments

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...

Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XIII: System Identification

Jason Sachs March 12, 20181 comment

Last time we looked at spread-spectrum techniques using the output bit sequence of an LFSR as a pseudorandom bit sequence (PRBS). The main benefit we explored was increasing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) relative to other disturbance signals in a communication system.

This time we’re going to use a PRBS from LFSR output to do something completely different: system identification. We’ll show two different methods of active system identification, one using sine waves and the other...

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, 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...

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...

Some Observations on Comparing Efficiency in Communication Systems

Eric Jacobsen March 17, 2011

Engineering is usually about managing efficiencies of one sort or another. One of my favorite working definitions of an engineer says, "An engineer is somebody who can do for a nickel what any damn fool can do for a dollar." In that case, the implication is that the cost is one of the characteristics being optimized. But cost isn't always the main efficiency metric, or at least the only one. Consider how a common transportation appliance, the automobile, is optimized...

Wavelets I - From Filter Banks to the Dilation Equation

Vincent Herrmann September 28, 20169 comments

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts about wavelets, particularly about the Fast Wavelet Transform (FWT). The FWT is extremely useful in practice and also very interesting from a theoretical point of view. Of course there are already plenty of resources, but I found them tending to be either simple implementation guides that do not touch on the many interesting and sometimes crucial connections. Or they are highly mathematical and definition-heavy, for a...

Online DSP Classes: Why Such a High Dropout Rate?

Rick Lyons October 7, 201718 comments

Last year the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine published a lengthy article describing three university-sponsored online digital signal processing (DSP) courses [1]. The article detailed all the effort the professors expended in creating those courses and the courses' perceived values to students. 

However, one fact that struck me as important, but not thoroughly addressed in the article, was the shocking dropout rate of those online courses. For two of the courses the article's...

Benford's law solved with DSP

Steve Smith February 22, 20087 comments

I have a longtime interest in the mystery of 1/f noise. A few years ago I came across Benford’s law, another puzzle that seemed to have many of the same characteristics.

Suppose you collect a large group of seemingly random numbers, such as might appear in a newspaper or financial report. Benford’s law relates to the leading digit of each number, such as "4" in 4.268, "3" in 0.0312, and "9" in -932.34. Since there are nine possible leading digits...

Two jobs

Stephane Boucher December 5, 201223 comments

For those of you following closely embeddedrelated and the other related sites, you might have noticed that I have been less active for the last couple of months, and I will use this blog post to explain why. The main reason is that I got myself involved into a project that ended up using a better part of my cpu than I originally thought it would.

edit - video of the event:

I currently have two jobs: one as an electrical/dsp engineer recycled as a web publisher and the other...

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 PDF version of this post 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...

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...

Time-Domain Periodicity and the Discrete Fourier Transform

Eric Jacobsen July 13, 2012


The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) and it's fast-algorithm implementation, the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), are fundamental tools for processing and analysis of digital signals. While the continuous Fourier Transform and its inverse integrate over all time from minus infinity to plus infinity, and all frequencies from minus infinity to plus infinity, practical application of its discrete cousins can only be made over finite time and frequency intervals. The discrete nature...

Design study: 1:64 interpolating pulse shaping FIR

Markus Nentwig December 26, 20115 comments

This article is the documentation to a code snippet that originated from a discussion on comp.dsp.

The task is to design a root-raised cosine filter with a rolloff of a=0.15 that interpolates to 64x the symbol rate at the input.

The code snippet shows a solution that is relatively straightforward to design and achieves reasonably good efficiency using only FIR filters.

Motivation: “simple solutions?”

Design IIR Band-Reject Filters

Neil Robertson January 17, 20182 comments

In this post, I show how to design IIR Butterworth band-reject filters, and provide two Matlab functions for band-reject filter synthesis.  Earlier posts covered IIR Butterworth lowpass [1] and bandpass [2] filters.  Here, the function br_synth1.m designs band-reject filters based on null frequency and upper -3 dB frequency, while br_synth2.m designs them based on lower and upper -3 dB frequencies.   I’ll discuss the differences between the two approaches later in this...