A BPSK constellation in a the presence of a carrier phase offset. A hypothetical QPSK constellation is also shown for comparison

How to Detect a Carrier Lock in an SDR

We have discussed before the effect of a phase offset on the received signal. We have also seen a logical approach to solve this problem as well as one of the earliest algorithms for phase synchronization known as a Costas loop. Here, the purpose is to explain how a Rx detects whether the Phase Locked Loop (PLL) has acquired the lock. A receiver is simply a blind machine which can implement a PLL but can never get to know how it is actually doing. A lock detector is a logic signal used in the Rx to indicate successful synchronization after

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The blue line is the signal template and while red is the matched filter. Notice the same magnitude on each spectral line but exactly opposite phase

Demodulation – From Signals Back to Numbers

Remember that in the article on correlation, we discussed that correlation of a signal with proper normalization is maximum with itself and lesser for all other signals. Since the number of possible signals is limited in a digital communication system, we can use the correlation between incoming signal $r(nT_S)$ and possible choices $s_0(nT_S)$ and $s_1(nT_S)$ in a digital receiver. Consequently, a decision can be made in favor of the one with higher correlation. It turns out that the theory of maximum likelihood detection formalizes this conclusion that it is the optimum receiver in terms of minimizing the probability of error.

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A block diagram for the implementation of a digital filter and square timing recovery for L=4 samples/symbol

Digital Filter and Square Timing Recovery

We have seen before how a symbol timing offset severely impacts the constellation of the received symbols. Therefore, symbol timing recovery is one of the most crucial jobs of a digital communications receiver. In the days of analog clock recovery, a timing error detector provided the instant to sample the Rx waveform at 1 sample/symbol at the maximum eye opening. However, discrete-time processing opened the doors for better timing recovery schemes as an ever increasing number of transistors within the same area consistently keeps bringing the digital processing cost down. Consequently, the use of analog circuits to control the timing

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A matched filter

Convoluted Correlation between Matched Filter and Correlator

Now we turn out attention towards a topic that causes a lot of confusion for communications and DSP learners: what is the difference between a matched filter and a correlator in a communications receiver? Let us start with the definition of a correlator: A correlator is a device that performs correlation of a received signal with its template within a given window of time. In our context, that window of time is the symbol duration, $T_M$. So a correlator performs the following operations. It takes this sample-by-sample product and sums them together. Next, it samples the output of this accumulation

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Illustration of peak ISI and asymmetry about -3dB point

Pulse Shaping Filter

In digital logic, a stream of 1s and 0s forms a sequence of rectangular pulses, which can be easily identified at the receiver side by a threshold. In time domain, everything looks nice and perfect. Let us investigate the system characteristics in frequency domain. In a Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) system, the main component that defines the spectral contents of the signal is the pulse shape $p(nT_S)$ at the Tx. We start with our attention towards a simple rectangular pulse shape. Here is a brief outline of what we cover in this article. Table of Contents 1. Spectrum of a

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