Bootstrapped quick-start for Red Pitaya radar measurements

The coffee-can radar systems have the advantage of operating at a 13 cm wavelength, so antennas are small and quite directional, relevant for clutter reduction and high spatial resolution. Without external hardware, Red Pitaya output/input resides in the 0-50 MHz range. You can build a radar in this range with nothing more than two Red Pitayas and some dipole antennas you make yourself.

The radar topology is using frequency translation via the second Red Pitaya acting as a bent-pipe transponder. This is a high-tech, long-range version of harmonic radar. Let’s start.

  1. build dipole antennas for each Red Pitaya
  2. Configure Red Pitaya 2 for GNU Radio
  3. Configure Red Pitaya 2 for transponder
  4. Configure Red Pitaya 1 as radar, with TX and RX frequencies corresponding to transponder.

That’s it! You will get strong (high SNR) return signals from the transponder, limited by the transmit power of the radar.