Summary
The pulse-repetition frequency (PRF) is the number of pulses of a repeating signal in a specific time unit. The term is used within a number of technical disciplines, notably radar. In radar, a radio signal of a particular carrier frequency is turned on and off; the term "frequency" refers to the carrier, while the PRF refers to the number of switches. Both are measured in terms of cycle per second, or hertz. The PRF is normally much lower than the frequency. For instance, a typical World War II radar like the Type 7 GCI radar had a basic carrier frequency of 209 MHz (209 million cycles per second) and a PRF of 300 or 500 pulses per second. A related measure is the pulse width, the amount of time the transmitter is turned on during each pulse. After producing a brief pulse of radio signal, the transmitter is turned off in order for the receiver units to hear the reflections of that signal off distant targets. Since the radio signal has to travel out to the target and back again, the required inter-pulse quiet period is a function of the radar's desired range. Longer periods are required for longer range signals, requiring lower PRFs. Conversely, higher PRFs produce shorter maximum ranges, but broadcast more pulses, and thus radio energy, in a given time. This creates stronger reflections that make detection easier. Radar systems must balance these two competing requirements. Using older electronics, PRFs were generally fixed to a specific value, or might be switched among a limited set of possible values. This gives each radar system a characteristic PRF, which can be used in electronic warfare to identify the type or class of a particular platform such as a ship or aircraft, or in some cases, a particular unit. Radar warning receivers in aircraft include a library of common PRFs which can identify not only the type of radar, but in some cases the mode of operation. This allowed pilots to be warned when an SA-2 SAM battery had "locked on", for instance.
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Doppler radar
A Doppler radar is a specialized radar that uses the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by bouncing a microwave signal off a desired target and analyzing how the object's motion has altered the frequency of the returned signal. This variation gives direct and highly accurate measurements of the radial component of a target's velocity relative to the radar. The term applies to radar systems in many domains like aviation, police radar detectors, navigation, meteorology, etc.
Pulse-repetition frequency
The pulse-repetition frequency (PRF) is the number of pulses of a repeating signal in a specific time unit. The term is used within a number of technical disciplines, notably radar. In radar, a radio signal of a particular carrier frequency is turned on and off; the term "frequency" refers to the carrier, while the PRF refers to the number of switches. Both are measured in terms of cycle per second, or hertz. The PRF is normally much lower than the frequency.
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