Sunday, December 20, 2020

HF Over-the-horizon radar processing using GNSS timestamped KiwiSDR IQ samples

OTHR parameters: 
  • Chirp repetition time Δt=20 msec
  • frequency slope=1 MHz/sec.
Its bandwidth is 20 kHz which fits nicely into the 20.25 kHz bandwidth of KiwiSDRs in 3-ch mode. 
Instantaneous frequency vs. mod(gpssec, 20 msec)

In the following we use GNSS-timestamped IQ samples for performing bi-static radar processing:
  • Dechirping and framing into 20 msec long GPS-time-aligned frames
  • interpolation in each frame (512 samples/frame)
  • compute the 1st FFT along rows -> relative range
  • compute the 2nd FFT  along columns on the result from the previous steps -> relative Doppler shift
Shown below are maps with relative Doppler frequency vs. relative range for 30 1-minute long periods, i.e., averaged over 1500 chirps each:
  • the main signal comes at two different Doppler shifts and two different ranges, corresponding to two different ionospheric propagation paths.
  • The pattern for the main signal can be found in several other places as well: this should correspond to reflections off some targets where the reflected signal then propagates with similar paths than the main component.
  • It is interesting that besides the main component there are several instances of another pattern present, having two different Doppler shifts and ranges.
  • It might also be that the secondary peaks are artifacts created by the signal processing.
Animation showing relative Doppler frequency vs. relative range.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

AM modulation index

This is not the most exciting topic, but on the KiwiSDR forum there were repeated questions on how to measure the AM modulation index.

The best reference which I have found for that is an report from the ITUR-REP-BS.2433-2018-PDF-E, where the "RMS modulation depth", i.e., the RMS ratio of side-bands and the carrier is being used as a proxy for the modulation index.

GNURadio flowgraph for measuring AM RMS modulation depth 

First, synchronous AM demodulation is performed using a PLL which locks onto the carrier. Then the RMS power in the carrier and in the side-bands is computed and their ratio is formed. Smoothed versions of this variable are shown a number and as a histogram. Note that the "RMS AM modulation depth" block consists of just a few lines of python.

The grayed out, i.e., disabled portions of this flowgraph were used to verify that the normalization is correct.

For the BBC transmitter on 198 kHz, the RMS modulation depth was found to be about 12% at the time of measurement which is consistent with the value quoted in the ITU report mentioned above. However, this number can vary by a factor of 1.5 or more (9-18%) depending on whether the program consists of speech or of music at the time of measurement. Furthermore,  the measured modulation depth indicates that dynamic carrier suppression is being used, see again the ITU report for details.

AM RMS modulation depth for BBC on 198 kHz

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

HF TDoA multilateration (2)

This is an update to the last blog post where propagation delays from VOACAP are used in addition to great-circle-derived propagation delays.

As VOACAP provides a number of propagation modes (MODE=25) the mode which is most close to the measured time difference is used.

Note that the findings in the plots below might accidentally: when there are enough closely-spaced delays available it is quite likely to match the data.

Nevertheless it can be seen that large deviation from the hypothesis of ground-wave propagation along great-circle paths are due to different reflection heights, i.e.,  1E-1F2, 2F1-1F2, etc: at a given time, a number of different propagation paths are available, and for different combinations of receivers, different propagation modes are in fact observed.

Comparison of measured time delay differences with differences based on ground-wave propagation along great-circle paths and differences based on VOACAP predictions.

Comparison of measured time delay differences with differences based on ground-wave propagation along great-circle paths and differences based on VOACAP predictions.

Friday, April 10, 2020

HF TDoA multilateration (1)

This blog post contains an analysis of TDoA multilateration applied to signal on 13413.4 kHz using a number of KiwiSDRs located in Europe.

For now the assumption used for making the KiwiSDR TDoA maps is that signals propagate with speed of light along the ground. Here we compare the measured delay differences with the ones obtained from this assumption.

All plots shown in this blog post are generated using octave/matlab .mat files available when using the updated KiwiSDR TDoA algorithm.

The cross-correlations for all combinations of used KiwiSDRs, normalized to have their maximum at unity, are shown below.


Differences between the measured values and the ones obtained from great-circle-derived time delay differences are due to ionospheric propagation. As expected, the ionospheric effects tend to cancel for pairs of KiwiSDRs which are at about the same distance to the transmitter:

Comparison of  measured with great-circle time differences

The following scatter plot shows the effect of ionospheric propagation w.r.t. great-circle propagation. It will be very interesting to re-do this analysis using propagation delays e.g. from VOACAP instead of assuming propagation along great-circles at ground level.

Scatter plot for time differences

Slightly earlier the plots looked like this:


Comparison of  measured with great-circle time differences

Scatter plot for time differences

Sunday, March 8, 2020

2400 symb/sec bursts with 256 symbol long frames

Interesting PSK-modulated burst signals were picked up recently on a KiwiSDR in the UK:
  • 2400 symb/sec
  • 8-PSK modulation
  • The 1st 6 frames show a substructure of known symbols not present in the following frames

abs(IQ) in 1280 sample frames (12 kHz sampling rate) 

arg(symb) in 256 symbol frames (2400 symb/sec) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2000 symb/sec 8PSK bursts

Today 8PSK bursts with 2000 symb/sec were received on a KiwiSDR in WCNA on 7862 kHz USB (center frequency is 7863.8 kHz).

Starting from the recorded WAV file in I/Q mode, all processing (symbol synchronization, doppler correction, symbol analysis, plotting) was done manually in GNU Octave using signal-analysis for LFSR-detection.

The bursts consist of a BPSK-modulated preamble which is a subsequence of a length-14 LFSR with period 214-1, i.e., a maximal length LFSR. The preamble is followed by 6 720-symbol-long frames, where each frame starts with 72 known 8PSK-modulated symbols, followed by 72 BPSK-modulated unknown symbols and 576 8PSK unknown symbols.

Preamble and frame structure

720 symbol frames

Monday, January 6, 2020

Some HF radar signals

7500 kHz

A number of similar HF radar signals have recently been observed on KiwiSDRs located in Europe on different frequencies.

The pulse repetition rate is 40 Hz (25 ms/pulse).


Each pulse consists of a linear chirp and of a pause.

FM demodulation

KiwiSDR TDoA multilateration indicates that these signals come from somewhere in Russia.

KiwiSDR TDoA multilateration

Bursts of what seem to be linear FM chirps have been observed on different frequencies around 8050±~50 kHz.

6390 kHz

Like the signal on 7500 kHz the pulse repetition rate is 40 Hz. However the duty cycle is smaller.


FM demodulation

8050 kHz

For this signal, the pulse repetition rate is 96 Hz.

Each pulse consists likely of a linear chirp. The spikes in the instantaneous frequency seen below are probably cause by HF propagation effects. Note that these radar-like signals are narrow-band (±1kHz variation in instantaneous frequency, only)

FM demodulation
KiwiSDR TDoA multilateration indicates a position somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean (compatible with the Azores).

KiwiSDR TDoA multilateration