DIY radar

  1. Hi all,
    For an applied electronics class I'm currently taking, we have to come up with and build an electronics project of our choosing from scratch. I think it would be cool to build some sort of radar device. I have been looking into phased array radars, radar speed detectors, etc., but a lot of it seems to require the purchase of expensive standalone parts. Is there anything I could build in this area that I could make mostly from scratch? Generally, these projects fill up a 9"x9" or so breadboard, just to give a general idea of the scale (although there are no limits). Looking for ideas.

  2. jcsd
  3. Is there any reason it has to operate at the typical radar frequencies? It is pretty easy to build stuff that operates at HF, and you can make antennas out of wire.
  4. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    To build a working radar, you would need to get an FCC license for the microwave band used by speed gun radar systems.

    If you are in the US, you could probably use the unlicensed 2.4GHz "microwave oven" band, but you still are going to have to deal with some pretty sophisticated RF circuitry in order to get it to work.

    You could build a sonar / sonic ranging device much more easily. Have you thought about that instead? There are sound-based distance measuring devices on the market (like for home builders and home improvement) -- you could look at them and their specifications to see if you can build something similar from scratch.

    You might also brainstorm project ideas that can link up with your smartphone or tablet, and maybe write an app to go along with it. That would be a pretty cool synergy...
  5. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Same problem with requiring an FCC license, and ensuring no interference with other licensed users of bands around where you are wanting to transmit.
  6. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

  7. dlgoff

    dlgoff 3,158
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    Much better than my laser idea; which has legal aspects, albeit different than RF and microwave band use.
  8. No, I should have been more careful with my words, I'm not thinking about a specific frequency.

    I was thinking I could use some unregistered bands.

    I'm also open to making a receiver and transmitter from scratch just to do something simple like turn on an LED, etc.

    I found some circuits here, but with little documentation:

    I assume I will become familiar with this stuff as I move on with my class. Particularly, the one one titled "Short Range Wireless Data Communication" looks interesting. So the antennas would just be pieces of wire? And I assume the frequency is controlled by some component of the circuit, but I have no idea about that.
  9. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    If you are in the US or Europe, there aren't really any practical "unregistered" bands. The airwaves are pretty full. There are some bands that do not require a license, like the 2.4GHz "microwave oven band" that I mentioned earlier.

    That link is to HAM radio transceivers. You will need to get your HAM license before you can start building those projects. It's very easy to get your HAM license (see my signature below), but you may not have enough time to do that in time for this project.

    All good things to learn, but probably not in time for this project.
  10. Thanks for all the info. This project isn't due for a while, so I may have time. Going to spend more time looking into this stuff.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
  11. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

  12. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

  13. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,244
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  14. Baluncore

    Baluncore 3,305
    Science Advisor

    Licensing in the RF spectrum will get you every time because the EIRP needed for pulse or chirp radar will get you every time.

    I would suggest you consider LIDAR, using a cheap high power LED.
  15. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

  16. sophiecentaur

    sophiecentaur 14,693
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'd be inclined to look at an optical approach - or even to use ultrasound signals. The nice thing about sound signals is that the circuitry is a lot easier (a simple oscilloscope as an output display) and the test range could be in metres rather than in hundreds of metres. Is there any reason not to use models for this exercise?
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