## 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...

## A Quadrature Signals Tutorial: Complex, But Not Complicated

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...

## A Fixed-Point Introduction by Example

IntroductionThe 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...

## Use Matlab Function pwelch to Find Power Spectral Density – or Do It Yourself

In my last post, we saw that finding the spectrum of a signal requires several steps beyond computing the discrete Fourier transform (DFT)[1]. These include windowing the signal, taking the magnitude-squared of the DFT, and computing the vector of frequencies. The Matlab function pwelch [2] performs all these steps, and it also has the option to use DFT averaging to compute the so-called Welch power spectral density estimate [3,4].

In this article, I’ll present some...

## Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) - A Tutorial

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...

## 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...

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

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)...

## 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...

## 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]=...## 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...

## 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...## A Fixed-Point Introduction by Example

IntroductionThe 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

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...

## Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) - A Tutorial

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...

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

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)...

## 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]=...## Use Matlab Function pwelch to Find Power Spectral Density – or Do It Yourself

In my last post, we saw that finding the spectrum of a signal requires several steps beyond computing the discrete Fourier transform (DFT)[1]. These include windowing the signal, taking the magnitude-squared of the DFT, and computing the vector of frequencies. The Matlab function pwelch [2] performs all these steps, and it also has the option to use DFT averaging to compute the so-called Welch power spectral density estimate [3,4].

In this article, I’ll present some...

## 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...## How to Find a Fast Floating-Point atan2 Approximation

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 +...

## Design IIR Bandpass Filters

In this post, I present a method to design Butterworth IIR bandpass filters. My previous post [1] covered lowpass IIR filter design, and provided a Matlab function to design them. Here, we’ll do the same thing for IIR bandpass filters, with a Matlab function bp_synth.m. Here is an example function call for a bandpass filter based on a 3rd order lowpass prototype:

N= 3; % order of prototype LPF fcenter= 22.5; % Hz center frequency, Hz bw= 5; ...## Design IIR Filters Using Cascaded Biquads

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...