Radar Detection: A Research of the Science, History, and Uses

Ever since Bryce K. Brown first invented the radar detection unit back in 1954 (Edgar, 2006, p. 53), the numerous uses of his technology has allowed for more than just police in speed traps to benefit from the technology. Police revenue from speed tickets that use the radar gun is in the billions of dollars. They can use this technology as an evidence product in court rooms, thus solidifying the speeders guilt. Yes, the police and court rooms should be thanking Mr. Brown for this invention, but this writer will also expose the other uses of this technology.

The applications of the radar and the technology, helps many sports and record seekers gauge the speed and skill of many athletes in all sports. How fast does the pitcher in baseball or softball pitch? How fast do the fastest sprinters in the world run? With the radar detector, none of this knowledge would be known. This report delves into the technology of the radar, applications, science and history. The use of Radar has been around since the 1950s. Radar stands for Radio Detection and Ranging and was first developed for military purposes. The word Detection stands for finding an object or target by sending out a radio signal.

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Merriam Webster defines radar as “a device or system consisting usually of a synchronized radio transmitter and receiver that emits radio waves and processes their reflections for display and is used especially for detecting and locating objects (as aircraft) or surface features (as of a planet). (Merriam Webster, 2012) The word Ranging means measuring the distance to the target from the radar device. In this paper this writer will explain how Radar works, the Science of Radar, the History of Radar and the different uses of Radar, specifically Radar Detectors.

Radar is when a signal is transmitted, then bounces off an object and later received by some type of receiver. Radar can see hundreds of miles even through fog, rain, snow, clouds, and darkness. It is similar to what happens when sound echo’s off a wall except instead of sound, Radar uses electromagnetic waves. Two types of electromagnetic waves are radio waves and microwaves. (Bureau of Meteorology, 2012) Radio waves have wavelengths that are 10 cm and greater. Microwaves have wavelengths that range from 10 cm to 1/10 mm. Bureau of Meteorology, 2012) When the radar receives the signal, it lets you know the time taken for it to be received, the strength of the signal and the change in frequency.

The use of this data would be an image, a position or the speed of your car. Radars have four main components: a transmitter that creates the energy pulse, a transmit/receive switch that tells the antenna when to transmit and when to receive the pulses, an antenna to send the pulses into the atmosphere and receive the reflected pulse back and a receiver that detects, amplifies and transforms the received signals into a video. Institute of Geophysics, 2004) Radar output comes in two forms: reflectivity and velocity. Reflectivity measures how much exist in an area. German Heinrich Hertz discovered the behavior of radio waves in 1887. He showed that the invisible electromagnetic waves radiated by electrical circuits travel with the speed of light and reflected in a similar way. This is why data received from radar is called reflectivity. (Institute of Geophysics, 2004) Velocity measures the speed and direction. You need a Doppler radar to measure velocity. In 1842, Austrian physicist Christian Doppler discovered what is now called the Doppler Effect.

This theory is that sound waves will change in pitch when there is a shift in the frequency. (Institute of Geophysics, 2004) Radar was further developed during World War II and the technology was released to the public after World War II. Radar is used all around us but is mostly invisible. Radar is used to detect an object at a distance, to detect the speed of an object, and to map something. When detecting the presence of an object at a distance it is usually moving but it can also detect objects that are not moving and buried underground. It can sometimes tell you what the object is.

Detecting the speed of an object is why police use radar. The space shuttle and satellites create maps of planets and moons. This is accomplished by Echo and Doppler Shift. Echo occurs when you shout into a well or canyon and the sound waves in your shout reflect off of a surface and come back to your ears. Doppler Shift occurs when sound is generated or reflected off of a moving object. There are many ways Radar is used. Air Traffic Control uses radar to track and help guide planes. Meteorologists use radar to track storms. The Military uses radar to find enemies and guide weapons.

NASA uses radar to map the earth and other planets and to track satellites and space debris. Police use radar to detect the speed of your car. This writer has seen radar used in sporting applications such as softball, baseball, tennis, golf, and track & field. The measurement of how fast a ball is thrown, a ball is hit, or how fast someone can run would not have been possible without the invention of radar detection. A radar detector is a simple radio receiver like the ones we use in our vehicles to pick up FM and AM radio stations. A radar detector is used to detect a radar gun.

A radar gun is a radio transmitter and receiver in one unit. A radio transmitter is a device that oscillates an electrical current so the voltage goes up and down at a certain frequency. “When the current is oscillated, the energy travels through the air as an electromagnetic wave. A transmitter also has an amplifier to increase the intensity and an antenna to broadcast it into the air. A radio receiver is the reverse of the transmitter. The receiver picks up the electromagnetic waves with the antenna and converts them back into an electrical current.

A radio is the transmission of electromagnetic waves through space. Radio waves move through the air at the speed of light. The speed of an object can be measured by radar by using the Doppler Shift. Radio waves have a certain frequency. ” (DiFranco, p. 654) Each part of the radio signal is reflected at a different point in space when a car is moving which will change the wave pattern. A radar gun can tell us how fast a car is moving toward it or away from it by how much the frequency changes. If the police car is moving while using a radar gun, the movement must also be factored in.

Speeders have been getting caught this way for over 50 years. Some police departments have started using a speed detector that uses light instead of radio waves. These are called laser speed guns or radar gun which stands for light detection and ranging. A radar gun clocks the time it takes infrared light to reach a car, bounce off the car and return back to the starting point. A radar gun does not measure the change in wave frequency like a radar gun, instead it sends out a lot of infrared laser bursts in a short period of time to collect a lot of distances.

It can calculate how fast a car is going by comparing the different distance samples it has collected. These guns can take several hundred samples in less than half a second making them extremely accurate. A radar detector helps speeders by letting them know a police officer is a radar gun. It is pretty easy to detect a conventional radar gun. Since a radar detector is just a simple radio receiver and the air is full of radio signals, it must pick up only signals in a certain range to be useful. “A radar detector receiver is tuned to the frequency range that is used by radar guns.

Sometimes, the frequency range is expanded which means that a driver might have to purchase new detection equipment. A radar detector only works if the radar detector has been on for a long time and the speeding car’s detector picks up the signal before it can be tracked. If the radar gun is turned on the moment the police officer drives up, the detector will let you know, but the officer will already have the information needed. ” (DiFranco, p. 554) Since the radar gun only monitors the speed of a certain target, chances are a detector will pick up the signal long before the radar gun sees the car.

With this type of detector, you are caught if a police officer picks your car before any other car. There are more high level detectors that can actually jam a police’s radar. They have their own radio transmitter that releases a jamming signal. The signal duplicates the original signal from the police’s radar gun and mixes it with more radar noise. The radar receiver gets an unclear echo signal which doesn’t allow the police to get a clear reading of the speed. Since these radar detectors are not 100% effective, the police may still be able to catch a speeder.

Police also update their technology ever once in a while, which will stop your detector from working and make you have to buy all new equipment. Radar is a very important part of everyday life. It is used all around us but is mostly invisible. Radar has been around since the 1950s. It was introduced to the public after World War II by inventor Bryce K. Brown. (Edgar, 2006, p. 53) It is used by meteorologists, the military, air traffic control, and the police. Radar Guns are used to detect the speed of cars and used by police to catch speeders.

Radar detectors help drivers detect when the police are using their radar guns so that they do not get caught speeding. This writer also explained how radar can be used in other applications such as sports. Many speed records that have been recorded because of this technology could not have been calibrated before its invention. As recently as 2012, the Air Force awarded “Raytheon Company a contract to produce four radar pods with ground moving target indication and synthetic aperture radar technology for the U. S. Air Force.

The dismount detection radar will deliver accurate information in adverse weather, day and night, for U. S. Air Force intelligence. ” (McQueen, 2012) In just over 60 years, the radar detection invention has seen huge jumps in not only the use of the technology, but improvement as well. Mr. Brown himself could not have detected the many uses of his invention and his mark in science history.


Bureau of Meteorology. (2012, January). How Radar Works. Retrieved from http://www. bom. gov. au/australia/radar/about/what_is_radar. shtml. DiFranco, J. V. (1968). Radar Detection. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. , Prentice-Hall Publishers. Edgar, J. (2006, March 1). Finish Line. Military & Aerospace Electronics, p. 58. Volume 17 Issue 3. Institute for Geophysics. (2004, December). Radar Calibration and Comparison. Retrieved from http://www. ig. utexas. edu/research/publications. htm McQueen, Chandra. (2012, July 10). Raytheon Awarded Dismount Detection Rade for U. S. Air Force. PR Newswire, Academic OneFile Web 18. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary (2012). Merriam-Webster. com. Retrieved on November 13, 2012 from http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/radar.

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Radar Detection: A Research of the Science, History, and Uses. (2016, Dec 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/radar-detection-a-research-of-the-science-history-and-uses/