PA8W Amateur Radio

Wil, PA8W,  E-mail:           

The PA8W Doppler RDF Main Diagram
(with soft switched antenna driver, may 9, 2012)

We start with the power supply, which is just a 7812 voltage regulator followed by an op-amp set to 6V to create a half way supply voltage for the audio op-amp stages.
A 12V regulator seems to be too high for a battery fed application.
However, in real life, this proves not to be any problem, the RDF works fine down to 12V input voltage.
There's two reasons why I decided not to run the RDF at a lower supply voltages:
1, I need around 5 volts to bias the FET in the automatic gain control, so total supply voltage would have to be at least + and - 5V = 10V.
2, Below 10V the C-Mos IC family quickly loses some important qualities, such as low on-resistance in the 4051 analog multiplexer/demultiplexer.
The heart of the RDF is the clock/timebase, made of a 4060B clock/divider.
It provides 4 address bits to address the LED driver, the digital filter, and the antenna controller.
Note: there's a switch S1B called "antenna check" that will put a 470nF capacitor parallel to the 100pF clock capacitor.
This slows down the clock dramatically to a level where you can listen to all 4 antenna elements one after the other, to check for any defects.
There's a second switching contact S1A for this function in the input of the data latch, which will be described further below.

The antenna driver consists of a 4556B 2x 4-bit demultiplexer, of which only the first half is used for the antenna driver.
With every increment of the clock the next output will be activated. (active zero!)
These 4 outputs are all followed by a op-amp set up as an integrator, and the R/C circuitry around these op-amps ensures a very soft transition to the next antenna element.
A network of two resistors feeding the + inputs of the op-amps is used to bias the op-amps; the voltage on the + inputs is determining the output waveforms and therefore the resulting transition from one to the next antenna.
This soft drive method produces less noise and less additional mixing products than the commonly used hard switching.
Additionally, there's a substantial overlap period of time in which two sequential antenna elements are active, resulting in even better noise reduction. 
The actual switching is done with PIN-diodes or 1N4148 switching diodes.
See the antenna driver page for comments on that.

So now, we enter the diagram at another point:

The Audio Input is feeding the speaker first, and additionally audio is fed into the first stage of the audio chain.
This first stage has a FET transistor in its feedback circuit, so it can be used as a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier).
It offers about 20dB gain initially, down to less than 0dB on big input signals.
The last audio stage drives the control loop which controls the VCA, thus providing a fully automatic gain control.

This is quite important for normal operation; in existing designs very small input signals will not give a stable reading, and signals that are too big will clip in the last filter stages resulting in serious bearing deviations. Therefore, the automatic gain control in the PA8W Doppler is a valuable addition.

Then the audio is fed into the 8-stage digital filter, built around a 4051B 8-bit analogue multiplexer/demultiplexer. 
This filter connects 8 capacitors in sequence to a high impedance point in the audio chain.
This sequence is controlled by the timebase, as is the antenna rotation and thus the audio frequency.
So, in 8 following time parts of the audio period, 8 capacitors are connected to the signal path sequentially.

That means that a constant audio signal exactly on frequency will hardly be affected by the capacitors that will already have been charged to the right voltage over some time. Only parts in the audio that deviate from average will be reduced extremely because the capacitors will have to be charged or discharged to the new value. 
In fact, this filter resist to any change in the audio. Random deviations will be reduced extremely.
In this way, this filter is reducing a lot of noise, reflections as well as modulation on the tracked transmitter.
It wil only allow for slow changes to pass, such as a change in direction of the transmitter.
Without a similar filter, the RDF would only work properly in extremely clean situations, with no signal reflections and no transmitter modulation.

The digital filter Q is adjustable for the best possible performance.
A high Q will provide best reduction of disturbances, but will yield a rather slow response.
Short, pulse-like transmitter bursts will need a low-Q for the RDF to be fast enough to catch the direction of the transmitter.

After the digital filter there's a double low pass filter designed to polish the signal further until it is ready to be fed into the 

Zero Crossing Detector
which marks a specific point in the audio every single antenna rotation.
This specific point does not have to be the right moment to light a LED in the pelorus display:
All kinds of parameters, such as group delay in your receiver and phase shift in the RDF low pass filter stages will shift this point away from the truth, 
so what we need is some form of compensation, which can be used to calibrate the RDF in the current setup.
Additionally, the zero crossing detector can be switched from normal to inverting, giving an extra 180 degrees of direction change, 
sometimes necessary for calibration.

The actual compensation/calibration is provided by the 555 timer.
Triggered by the zero crossing detector it prolongs the trigger impulse by an adjustable amount of time.
At the end of this prolonged impulse the fast transition of its output to zero triggers the next IC:

the 4042B Data-Latch.
When triggered, this 4042B copies the current address data to its outputs, so it's "pointing" at the proper LED to light up.
(note there's a switch contact S1A in the trigger circuit of the data latch, necessary for the "antenna check mode")

The latched address data is passed to the actual LED Driver, a 4051B 8-bit analogue multiplexer/demultiplexer.
Depending on the address data, It connects one single LED series resistor to the correct LED feeding it with about 7mA of current.
As the 4051B has only 8 outputs, it can only drive 8 LED's, so I divided the 16 LED's in two rows of 8.
The anodes of a row of LED's are all connected to a PNP transistor which is driven by the most significant bit of the address bus.
The other row is driven the same way by the complement of that MS-bit, so always only one row is being activated.

I picked a 4051 for this task because a normal digital multiplexer out of the 4000 family doesn't provide the necessary 7mA output current to drive the LED's. 

Whether you use PIN diodes or the 1N4148, the performance of the RDF will hardly be degraded by these components.
Both types work fine in my arrays.

73, Wil