A Quadrature Signals Tutorial: Complex, But Not Complicated

Rick Lyons April 12, 201363 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...


Beat Notes: An Interesting Observation

Rick Lyons March 13, 20137 comments

Some weeks ago a friend of mine, a long time radio engineer as well as a piano player, called and asked me,

"When I travel in a DC-9 aircraft, and I sit back near the engines, I hear this fairly loud unpleasant whump whump whump whump sound. The frequency of that sound is, maybe, two cycles per second. I think that sound is a beat frequency because the DC-9's engines are turning at a slightly different number of revolutions per second. My question is, what sort of mechanism in the airplane...


Using the DFT as a Filter: Correcting a Misconception

Rick Lyons February 18, 201316 comments

I have read, in some of the literature of DSP, that when the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) is used as a filter the process of performing a DFT causes an input signal's spectrum to be frequency translated down to zero Hz (DC). I can understand why someone might say that, but I challenge that statement as being incorrect. Here are my thoughts.

Using the DFT as a Filter It may seem strange to think of the DFT as being used as a filter but there are a number of applications where this is...


The Little Fruit Market

Rick Lyons January 14, 20135 comments

There used to be a fruit market located at 391 San Antonio Road in Mountain View, California. In the 1990's I worked part time in Mountain View and drove past this market's building, shown in Figure 1, many times, unaware of its history. What happened at that fruit market has changed the lives of almost everyone on our planet. Here's the story.

William Shockley In 1948 the brilliant physicist William Shockley, along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, co-invented the transistor at Bell...


Coupled-Form 2nd-Order IIR Resonators: A Contradiction Resolved

Rick Lyons November 23, 20122 comments

This blog clarifies how to obtain and interpret the z-domain transfer function of the coupled-form 2nd-order IIR resonator. The coupled-form 2nd-order IIR resonator was developed to overcome a shortcoming in the standard 2nd-order IIR resonator. With that thought in mind, let's take a brief look at a standard 2nd-order IIR resonator.

Standard 2nd-Order IIR Resonator A block diagram of the standard 2nd-order IIR resonator is shown in Figure 1(a). You've probably seen that block diagram many...


Setting the 3-dB Cutoff Frequency of an Exponential Averager

Rick Lyons October 22, 20126 comments

This blog discusses two ways to determine an exponential averager's weighting factor so that the averager has a given 3-dB cutoff frequency. Here we assume the reader is familiar with exponential averaging lowpass filters, also called a "leaky integrators", to reduce noise fluctuations that contaminate constant-amplitude signal measurements. Exponential averagers are useful because they allow us to implement lowpass filtering at a low computational workload per output sample.

Figure 1 shows...


Understanding the 'Phasing Method' of Single Sideband Demodulation

Rick Lyons August 8, 201224 comments

There are four ways to demodulate a transmitted single sideband (SSB) signal. Those four methods are:

  • synchronous detection,
  • phasing method,
  • Weaver method, and
  • filtering method.

Here we review synchronous detection in preparation for explaining, in detail, how the phasing method works. This blog contains lots of preliminary information, so if you're already familiar with SSB signals you might want to scroll down to the 'SSB DEMODULATION BY SYNCHRONOUS DETECTION'...


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 dsprelated.com. Here's what I wrote:

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


How Not to Reduce DFT Leakage

Rick Lyons May 23, 201211 comments

This blog describes a technique to reduce the effects of spectral leakage when using the discrete Fourier transform (DFT).

In late April 2012 there was a thread on the comp.dsp newsgroup discussing ways to reduce the spectral leakage problem encountered when using the DFT. One post in that thread caught my eye [1]. That post referred to a website presenting a paper describing a DFT leakage method that I'd never heard of before [2]. (Of course, not that I've heard...


The History of CIC Filters: The Untold Story

Rick Lyons February 20, 20124 comments

If you have ever studied or designed a cascaded integrator-comb (CIC) lowpass filter then surely you've read Eugene Hogenauer's seminal 1981 IEEE paper where he first introduced the CIC filter to the signal processing world [1]. As it turns out, Hogenauer's famous paper was not the first formal document describing and proposing CIC filters. Here's the story.

In the Fall of 1979 Eugene Hogenauer was finalizing his development of the CIC filter, the filter now used in so many multirate signal...


Specifying the Maximum Amplifier Noise When Driving an ADC

Rick Lyons June 9, 20148 comments

I recently learned an interesting rule of thumb regarding the use of an amplifier to drive the input of an analog to digital converter (ADC). The rule of thumb describes how to specify the maximum allowable noise power of the amplifier [1].

The Problem Here's the situation for an ADC whose maximum analog input voltage range is –VRef to +VRef. If we drive an ADC's analog input with an sine wave whose peak amplitude is VP = VRef, the ADC's output signal to noise ratio is maximized. We'll...


Computing Translated Frequencies in Digitizing and Downsampling Analog Bandpass Signals

Rick Lyons October 31, 20131 comment

In digital signal processing (DSP) we're all familiar with the processes of bandpass sampling an analog bandpass signal and downsampling a digital bandpass signal. The overall spectral behavior of those operations are well-documented. However, mathematical expressions for computing the translated frequency of individual spectral components, after bandpass sampling or downsampling, are not available in the standard DSP textbooks. The following three sections explain how to compute the...


A Remarkable Bit of DFT Trivia

Rick Lyons December 26, 20133 comments

I recently noticed a rather peculiar example of discrete Fourier transform (DFT) trivia; an unexpected coincidence regarding the scalloping loss of the DFT. Here's the story.

DFT SCALLOPING LOSS As you know, if we perform an N-point DFT on N real-valued time-domain samples of a discrete sine wave, whose frequency is an integer multiple of fs/N (fs is the sample rate in Hz), the peak magnitude of the sine wave's positive-frequency spectral component will be

where A is the peak amplitude...


"Neat" Rectangular to Polar Conversion Algorithm

Rick Lyons November 15, 20105 comments

The subject of finding algorithms that estimate the magnitude of a complex number, without having to perform one of those pesky square root operations, has been discussed many times in the past on the comp.dsp newsgroup. That is, given the complex number R + jI in rectangular notation, we want to estimate the magnitude of that number represented by M as:

On August 25th, 2009, Jerry (Mr. Wizard) Avins posted an interesting message on this subject to the comp.dsp newsgroup (Subject: "Re:


Implementing Impractical Digital Filters

Rick Lyons July 19, 20162 comments

This blog discusses a problematic situation that can arise when we try to implement certain digital filters. Occasionally in the literature of DSP we encounter impractical digital IIR filter block diagrams, and by impractical I mean block diagrams that cannot be implemented. This blog gives examples of impractical digital IIR filters and what can be done to make them practical.

Implementing an Impractical Filter: Example 1

Reference [1] presented the digital IIR bandpass filter...


Above-Average Smoothing of Impulsive Noise

Rick Lyons July 10, 201724 comments

In this blog I show a neat noise reduction scheme that has the high-frequency noise reduction behavior of a traditional moving average process but with much better impulsive-noise suppression.

In practice we may be required to make precise measurements in the presence of highly-impulsive noise. Without some sort of analog signal conditioning, or digital signal processing, it can be difficult to obtain stable and repeatable, measurements. This impulsive-noise smoothing trick,...


A Useful Source of Signal Processing Information

Rick Lyons March 23, 20168 comments

I just discovered a useful web-based source of signal processing information that was new to me. I thought I'd share what I learned with the subscribers here on DSPRelated.com.

The Home page of the web site that I found doesn't look at all like it would be useful to us DSP fanatics. But if you enter some signal processing topic of interest, say, "FM demodulation" (without the quotation marks) into the 'Search' box at the top of the web page

and click the red 'SEARCH...


Computing an FFT of Complex-Valued Data Using a Real-Only FFT Algorithm

Rick Lyons February 9, 20103 comments

Someone recently asked me if I knew of a way to compute a fast Fourier transform (FFT) of complex-valued input samples using an FFT algorithm that accepts only real-valued input data. Knowing of no way to do this, I rifled through my library of hardcopy FFT articles looking for help. I found nothing useful that could be applied to this problem.

After some thinking, I believe I have a solution to this problem. Here is my idea:

Let's say our original input data is the complex-valued sequence...


Implementing Simultaneous Digital Differentiation, Hilbert Transformation, and Half-Band Filtering

Rick Lyons November 24, 20152 comments

Recently I've been thinking about digital differentiator and Hilbert transformer implementations and I've developed a processing scheme that may be of interest to the readers here on dsprelated.com.

This blog presents a novel method for simultaneously implementing a digital differentiator (DD), a Hilbert transformer (HT), and a half-band lowpass filter (HBF) using a single tapped-delay line and a single set of coefficients. The method is based on the similarities of the three N =...


Handy Online Simulation Tool Models Aliasing With Lowpass and Bandpass Sampling

Rick Lyons May 4, 20151 comment

Analog Devices Inc. has posted a neat software simulation tool on their corporate web site that graphically shows the aliasing effects of both lowpass and bandpass periodic sampling. This is a nice tutorial tool for beginners in DSP.

The tool shows four important characteristics of periodic sampling:

  Characteristic# 1: All input analog spectral components, regardless of their center frequencies, show up (appear) below half the sample rate in the digitized...