Phase and Amplitude Calculation for a Pure Complex Tone in a DFT

Cedron Dawg January 6, 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 a DFT bin value and knowing the frequency. This is a much simpler problem to solve than the corresponding case for a pure real tone which I covered in an earlier blog article[1]. In the noiseless single tone case, these equations will be exact. In the presence of noise or other tones...

Feedback Controllers - Making Hardware with Firmware. Part 7. Turbo-charged DSP Oscillators

Steve Maslen January 5, 20187 comments
This article will look at some DSP Sine-wave oscillators and will show how an FPGA with limited floating-point performance due to latency, can be persuaded to produce much higher sample-rate sine-waves of high quality. 

Comparisons will be made between implementations on Intel Cyclone V and Cyclone 10 GX FPGAs. An Intel numerically controlled oscillator

Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XII: Spread-Spectrum Fundamentals

Jason Sachs December 29, 20171 comment

Last time we looked at the use of LFSRs for pseudorandom number generation, or PRNG, and saw two things:

  • the use of LFSR state for PRNG has undesirable serial correlation and frequency-domain properties
  • the use of single bits of LFSR output has good frequency-domain properties, and its autocorrelation values are so close to zero that they are actually better than a statistically random bit stream

The unusually-good correlation properties...

An Efficient Linear Interpolation Scheme

Rick Lyons December 27, 201723 comments

This blog presents a computationally-efficient linear interpolation trick that requires at most one multiply per output sample.

Background: Linear Interpolation

Looking at Figure 1(a) let's assume we have two points, [x(0),y(0)] and [x(1),y(1)], and we want to compute the value y, on the line joining those two points, associated with the value x. 

       Figure 1: Linear interpolation: given x, x(0), x(1), y(0), and y(1), compute the value of y. ...

An Alternative Form of the Pure Real Tone DFT Bin Value Formula

Cedron Dawg December 17, 2017

This is an article to hopefully give a better understanding of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) by deriving alternative exact formulas for the bin values of a real tone in a DFT. The derivation of the source equations can be found in my earlier blog article titled "DFT Bin Value Formulas for Pure Real Tones"[1]. The new form is slighty more complicated and calculation intensive, but it is more computationally accurate in the vicinity of near integer frequencies. This...

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:

Feedback Controllers - Making Hardware with Firmware. Part 6. Self-Calibration Related.

Steve Maslen December 3, 20177 comments

This article will consider the engineering of a self-calibration & self-test capability to enable the project hardware to be configured and its basic performance evaluated and verified, ready for the development of the low-latency controller DSP firmware and closed-loop applications. Performance specifications will be documented in due course, on the project website here.

  • Part 6: Self-Calibration, Measurements and Signalling (this part)
  • Part 5:

Simplest Calculation of Half-band Filter Coefficients

Neil Robertson November 20, 20177 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...

Feedback Controllers - Making Hardware with Firmware. Part 5. Some FPGA Aspects.

Steve Maslen November 14, 2017
This part of the on-going series of articles looks at a variety of aspects concerning the FPGA device which provides the high-speed maths capability for the low-latency controller and the arbitrary circuit generator application. In due course a complete specification along with  application  examples will be maintained on the project website here.

Improved Three Bin Exact Frequency Formula for a Pure Real Tone in a DFT

Cedron Dawg November 6, 2017

This is an article to hopefully give a better understanding of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) by extending the exact two bin formulas for the frequency of a real tone in a DFT to the three bin case. This article is a direct extension of my prior article "Two Bin Exact Frequency Formulas for a Pure Real Tone in a DFT"[1]. The formulas derived in the previous article are also presented in this article in the computational order, rather than the indirect order they were...

How Discrete Signal Interpolation Improves D/A Conversion

Rick Lyons May 28, 20121 comment
This blog post is also available in pdf format. Download here.

Earlier this year, for the Linear Audio magazine, published in the Netherlands whose subscribers are technically-skilled hi-fi audio enthusiasts, I wrote an article on the fundamentals of interpolation as it's used to improve the performance of analog-to-digital conversion. Perhaps that article will be of some value to the subscribers of Here's what I wrote:

We encounter the process of digital-to-analog...

Signal Processing Contest in Python (PREVIEW): The Worst Encoder in the World

Jason Sachs September 7, 20136 comments

When I posted an article on estimating velocity from a position encoder, I got a number of responses. A few of them were of the form "Well, it's an interesting article, but at slow speeds why can't you just take the time between the encoder edges, and then...." My point was that there are lots of people out there which take this approach, and don't take into account that the time between encoder edges varies due to manufacturing errors in the encoder. For some reason this is a hard concept...

Digital PLL's -- Part 1

Neil Robertson June 7, 201616 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...

Computing Large DFTs Using Small FFTs

Rick Lyons June 23, 200815 comments

It is possible to compute N-point discrete Fourier transforms (DFTs) using radix-2 fast Fourier transforms (FFTs) whose sizes are less than N. For example, let's say the largest size FFT software routine you have available is a 1024-point FFT. With the following trick you can combine the results of multiple 1024-point FFTs to compute DFTs whose sizes are greater than 1024.

The simplest form of this idea is computing an N-point DFT using two N/2-point FFT operations. Here's how the trick...

Generating pink noise

Allen Downey January 20, 20161 comment

In one of his most famous columns for Scientific American, Martin Gardner wrote about pink noise and its relation to fractal music.  The article was based on a 1978 paper by Voss and Clarke, which presents, among other things, a simple algorithm for generating pink noise, also known as 1/f noise.

The fundamental idea of the algorithm is to add up several sequences of uniform random numbers that get updated at different rates. The first source gets updated at...

Sinusoidal Frequency Estimation Based on Time-Domain Samples

Rick Lyons April 20, 201719 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"...

Spectral Flipping Around Signal Center Frequency

Rick Lyons November 7, 20074 comments

Most of us are familiar with the process of flipping the spectrum (spectral inversion) of a real signal by multiplying that signal's time samples by (-1)n. In that process the center of spectral rotation is fs/4, where fs is the signal's sample rate in Hz. In this blog we discuss a different kind of spectral flipping process.

Consider the situation where we need to flip the X(f) spectrum in Figure 1(a) to obtain the desired Y(f) spectrum shown in Figure 1(b). Notice that the center of...

A poor man's Simulink

Markus Nentwig January 24, 20153 comments

Glue between Octave and NGSPICE for discrete- and continuous time cosimulation (download) Keywords: Octave, SPICE, Simulink


Many DSP problems have close ties with the analog world. For example, a switched-mode audio power amplifier uses a digital control loop to open and close power transistors driving an analog filter. There are commercial tools for digital-analog cosimulation: Simulink comes to mind, and mainstream EDA vendors support VHDL-AMS or Verilog-A in their...

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

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.