Broadband marine radar systems operate using a continuous transmission of the microwaves as opposed to the common traditional method of pulse transmission.
How it works:
Radar works on a simple principle of reflection. Radar systems contain transmitters that transmit microwaves that travel towards an object and hit the object at a certain angle and then the echo is transmitted back to the radar sensor through reflection. Radar will also need to calculate the rage of the objects upon which the reflected signals hit.
Until recently, small boats did this the same way using the earliest radar technology. However, the new technology works a bit differently. Rather than use a continuous transmission, they use pulses of microwave radiation. They then measure the time difference between sending out the radar pulses and the time it takes to receive the echo from the object. The distance traveled by the pulse and its echo can then be calculated using a predetermined formula.
Broadband radars use a continuous transmission of microwaves. In addition to that, they also listen continuously for echoes. However, the frequency of the microwave transmission is never constant. It increases steadily at a steady rate in a “sawtooth” pattern. Even though there is no pulse recorded when using broadband, there is still a method of timing the interval between the transmission of the microwave and the detection of the echo. Once the wave leaves the transmission antenna, the frequency does not change. They continue at an increasing rate to the object, get reflected and then return to the radar’s receiving antenna.
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By then, the radar will be transmitting more microwaves at a higher frequency. It will then observe the difference between the frequency it is transmitting currently and the frequency of the echo being reflected. Knowing the rate at which the transmission frequency is increasing, it will calculate the time delay. It is important to note that with Broadband transmission, the transmitter and the receiver operate continuously which means that they require separate antennas contained under the same dome. Pulse radars on the other hand switch from transmitting to receiving which means that they can easily use the same antennas for both functions.
The new radar technology, the Broadband technology does not come with glairing differences from the other radar systems. In fact most of the technology remains the same as the previous radar technology. The picture with broadband radar system will still return the same quality with little if any change in clarity. The usage of the new technology will still remain as the pulse radar system including all the technical facts such as the beam width, the side lobes, and multiple echoes and so on.
The fact that the technology is relatively new on the market means that not much is known of the new technology and the system performance. However, there are obvious advantages that broadband radar systems bring to the market that users will benefit from. Likewise, there are also inherent disadvantages that users will have to content with especially on the part of implementation. It is incumbent upon the manufacturers of the new technology to market and present it to the world in a manner that will be acceptable as the technology of the future. The implementation will also determine how well it is received by users especially in the marine radar sector.
Broadband marine radar systems are definitely the technology of the future. This is not to say that the current “proven” radar systems that use pulse technology are dead. It is also not obvious that the current technology will be swept away by the new technology of the future. But it is fair to assume that it will be a welcome break from the past if the broadband marine radar technology is adopted and accepted among major industry players not as a replacement to the pulse technology but as an alternative to the magnetron technology.