Doppler Speed Sensor Puts FFT And AGC To Work

Some people hate to revisit projects that are done and dusted. We get that; it’s a little like reading a book you’ve already read when there are so many others to choose from. But rereading a book sometimes reveals subtle nuances you missed the first time around, and revisiting projects can be much the same, as with this new and improved Doppler radar speed sensor.

We seem to have been remiss in writing up [Limpkin]’s last go-around with the CDM324 microwave module, a 24-GHz transceiver that you can pick up on the cheap from the usual sources, but we’ve featured this handy little module in plenty of other projects. [Limpkin]’s current project uses the same module to create a Doppler speed sensor, but with a little more sophistication all around. Whereas the original used a simple comparator to output a square wave that’s proportional to the Doppler shift and displayed the speed on a simple terminal session, version two takes a different tack.

First, [Limpkin] opted to implement the whole sensor in hardware. The front end is quite different — an op-amp with 84 dB of gain followed by an automatic gain control (AGC) stage built from a MAX9814 microphone preamp. Extraction of the speed from the module output is left to an STM32F301 running an FFT algorithm on the signal coming out of the analog circuit, which essentially picks out the biggest peak in the spectrum and calculates the Doppler shift from that, displaying the results on an LCD display.

Of course, as a [Limpkin] project, there’s a lot more to it than just that. The write-up is very detailed, going down a few enjoyable rabbit holes like characterizing the amplification chain and diving into the details of Johnson-Nyquist noise to chase down stray oscillations. There’s some great stuff here, and it’s well worth a deep read; there’s also the video below that lets you see (and hear) what’s going on.

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Polyphonic FM Synthesizer Uses ARM

There seems to be a direct correlation between musicians and people who can program. Even programmers who don’t play an instrument often have a profound appreciation of music and so we see quite a few musical projects pop up. [Ihsan Kehribar’s] latest project is a good example. He married an STM32F031 ARM development board, an audio codec, and a simple op amp filter to make a playable MIDI instrument. Of course, it is hard to appreciate a music project from a picture, but if you want to listen to the results, there’s always Soundcloud.

He’d started the project using an 8-bit micro, but ran into some limitations. He switched to an STM32F031, which is a low-end ARM Cortex M0 chip. [Ihsan] mentions that he could have used the DSP instructions built into larger ARM chips, but he wanted to keep the project done on minimal hardware. The audio CODEC chip is from Cirrus Logic (a WM8524), and it produces two output channels at 192 kHz. As an unexpected benefit, the CODEC uses a charge pump to generate a negative voltage (much like a MAX232 does) and [Ihsan] was able to tap that voltage to provide the op-amps in the audio filter with a negative supply rail.

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