## Learn About Transmission Lines Using a Discrete-Time Model

We don’t often think about signal transmission lines, but we use them every day. Familiar examples are coaxial cable, Ethernet cable, and Universal Serial Bus (USB). Like it or not, high-speed clock and signal traces on printed-circuit boards are also transmission lines.

While modeling transmission lines is in general a complex undertaking, it is surprisingly simple to model a lossless, uniform line with resistive terminations by using a discrete-time approach. A...

## The Discrete Fourier Transform and the Need for Window Functions

The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) is used to find the frequency spectrum of a discrete-time signal. A computationally efficient version called the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) is normally used to calculate the DFT. But, as many have found to their dismay, the FFT, when used alone, usually does not provide an accurate spectrum. The reason is a phenomenon called spectral leakage.

Spectral leakage can be reduced drastically by using a window function in conjunction...

## Modeling Anti-Alias Filters

Digitizing a signal using an Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) usually requires an anti-alias filter, as shown in Figure 1a. In this post, we’ll develop models of lowpass Butterworth and Chebyshev anti-alias filters, and compute the time domain and frequency domain output of the ADC for an example input signal. We’ll also model aliasing of Gaussian noise. I hope the examples make the textbook explanations of aliasing seem a little more real. Of course, modeling of...

## In Search of The Fourth Wave

Last year I participated in the first DSP Related online conference, where I presented a short talk called "In Search of The Fourth Wave". It's based on a small mystery I encountered when I was working on Think DSP. As you might know:

A sawtooth wave contains harmonics at integer multiples of the fundamental frequency, and their amplitudes drop off in proportion to 1/f. A square wave contains only odd multiples of the fundamental, but they also drop off...## Setting Carrier to Noise Ratio in Simulations

When simulating digital receivers, we often want to check performance with added Gaussian noise. In this article, I’ll derive the simple equations for the rms noise level needed to produce a desired carrier to noise ratio (CNR or C/N). I also provide a short Matlab function to generate a noise vector of the desired level for a given signal vector.

Definition of C/NThe Carrier to noise ratio is defined as the ratio of average signal power to noise power for a modulated...

## Third-Order Distortion of a Digitally-Modulated Signal

Analog designers are always harping about amplifier third-order distortion. Why? In this article, we’ll look at why third-order distortion is important, and simulate a QAM signal with third-order distortion.

In the following analysis, we assume that signal phase at the amplifier output is not a function of amplitude. With this assumption, the output y of a non-ideal amplifier can be written as a power series of the input signal x:

$$y=...

## Second Order Discrete-Time System Demonstration

Discrete-time systems are remarkable: the time response can be computed from mere difference equations, and the coefficients ai, bi of these equations are also the coefficients of H(z). Here, I try to illustrate this remarkableness by converting a continuous-time second-order system to an approximately equivalent discrete-time system. With a discrete-time model, we can then easily compute the time response to any input. But note that the goal here is as much to...

## Fractional Delay FIR Filters

Consider the following Finite Impulse Response (FIR) coefficients:

b = [b0 b1 b2 b1 b0]

These coefficients form a 5-tap symmetrical FIR filter having constant group delay [1,2] over 0 to fs/2 of:

D = (ntaps – 1)/2 = 2 samples

For a symmetrical filter with an odd number of taps, the group delay is always an integer number of samples, while for one with an even number of taps, the group delay is always an integer + 0.5 samples. Can we design a filter...

## Model Signal Impairments at Complex Baseband

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

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...

## Model a Sigma-Delta DAC Plus RC Filter

Sigma-delta digital-to-analog converters (SD DAC’s) are often used for discrete-time signals with sample rate much higher than their bandwidth. For the simplest case, the DAC output is a single bit, so the only interface hardware required is a standard digital output buffer. Because of the high sample rate relative to signal bandwidth, a very simple DAC reconstruction filter suffices, often just a one-pole RC lowpass. In this article, I present a simple Matlab function that models the combination of a basic SD DAC and one-pole RC filter. This model allows easy evaluation of the overall performance for a given input signal and choice of sample rate, R, and C.

## Simplest Calculation of Half-band Filter Coefficients

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...

## Design IIR Butterworth Filters Using 12 Lines of Code

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]=...## DAC Zero-Order Hold Models

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.

## The Exponential Nature of the Complex Unit Circle

IntroductionThis 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.

Complex...## Digital PLL's -- Part 2

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...## Phase or Frequency Shifter Using a Hilbert Transformer

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

## Fractional Delay FIR Filters

Consider the following Finite Impulse Response (FIR) coefficients:

b = [b0 b1 b2 b1 b0]

These coefficients form a 5-tap symmetrical FIR filter having constant group delay [1,2] over 0 to fs/2 of:

D = (ntaps – 1)/2 = 2 samples

For a symmetrical filter with an odd number of taps, the group delay is always an integer number of samples, while for one with an even number of taps, the group delay is always an integer + 0.5 samples. Can we design a filter...

## The Power Spectrum

Often, when calculating the spectrum of a sampled signal, we are interested in relative powers, and we don’t care about the absolute accuracy of the y axis. However, when the sampled signal represents an analog signal, we sometimes need an accurate picture of the analog signal’s power in the frequency domain. This post shows how to calculate an accurate power spectrum.

Parseval’s theorem [1,2] is a property of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) that...

## Evaluate Window Functions for the Discrete Fourier Transform

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...

## Digital PLL's -- Part 1

1. IntroductionFigure 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

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

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

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...

## An s-Plane to z-Plane Mapping Example

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.

...## Phase or Frequency Shifter Using a Hilbert Transformer

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 ShifterA 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

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...

## Second Order Discrete-Time System Demonstration

Discrete-time systems are remarkable: the time response can be computed from mere difference equations, and the coefficients ai, bi of these equations are also the coefficients of H(z). Here, I try to illustrate this remarkableness by converting a continuous-time second-order system to an approximately equivalent discrete-time system. With a discrete-time model, we can then easily compute the time response to any input. But note that the goal here is as much to...

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

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

## The Power Spectrum

Often, when calculating the spectrum of a sampled signal, we are interested in relative powers, and we don’t care about the absolute accuracy of the y axis. However, when the sampled signal represents an analog signal, we sometimes need an accurate picture of the analog signal’s power in the frequency domain. This post shows how to calculate an accurate power spectrum.

Parseval’s theorem [1,2] is a property of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) that...