Winter 2016 • Vol. 25, No. 1
Pentek, Inc.
One Park Way, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Tel: (201) 818-5900 • Fax: (201) 818-5904
© 2015 Pentek, Inc.
Trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Specifications are subject to change without notice.
A quarterly publication for engineering system design and applications.
In This Issue
• Feature: The feature article in this issue
describes how Giga-tronics, Incorporated
used Pentek Model 78620 boards with Gigatronics products to simulate radar systems.
“This article explores a fully modular system
that is highly reconfigurable and can be used
to create emitters, not only for
testing purposes,
but versatile
enough for rapid
prototyping or
for meeting the
needs of fastcycle technology
Mark Elo, Vice President of Marketing,
Giga-tronics, Incorporated
• Product Focus: Model 78620 and
Talon RTR 2750
Q&A with Pentek
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Simulation of Modern Radar Systems using
Pentek Model 78620 Boards with the Giga-tronics
GT-ASGM18A Advanced Signal Generator and
GT-ASAM18A Advanced Signal Analyzer
by Mark Elo, Vice President of Marketing, Giga-tronics, Incorporated
o simulate a modern, frame-based
radar, a system needs to rapidly create or schedule signals that are fundamentally complex in nature and can vary
considerably over time based on mission,
mode, and environmental considerations.
Multiple Pulse Repetition Intervals (PRIs),
different types of Modulation on Pulse
(MOP), as well as rapid changes in amplitude and frequency (which include the
effects of Doppler, group delay, and clutter)
need to be taken into account and combined
with multi-mission operations such as communications, electronic attack, or counter
measures scheduling.
This article explores a fully modular
(and COTS1) hardware system that is highly
reconfigurable and can be used to create
emitters, not only for testing purposes, but
versatile enough architecturally for rapid
prototyping or for meeting the needs of fastcycle technology procurements.
Introduction: Radar Systems
A radar system can be broken down into
four distinct areas of operation:
1. Waveform creation: The ability to
create a specific waveform and schedule
its playout in the form of a radar mode
with specific RF characteristics (pulse
width, modulation) and an applicable
2. Microwave transmission system:
The ability to upconvert the waveform
with sufficient frequency and amplitude
1. COTS - Commercial-Off-The-Shelf
3. A microwave downconversion
system with sufficient frequency and
amplitude agility.
4. An IF processing system providing the
appropriate signal processing to
determine range, velocity, and any other
environmental conditions that will affect
the radar’s next set of waveforms or
If we consider technology evolution,
computer processing has technology
changes yearly, signal processing and IF
technology every five years, and microwave
moves at a slower, ten-year pace. The four
areas listed above can be mapped to physical
hardware modules – each with defined
characteristics and known physical interfaces – allowing the creation of a system that
maps to the appropriate technology life
cycles more efficiently than a traditional
radar design.
1. Waveform creation: Pentek Cobalt®
Model 78620 PCIe module with signal
development software.
2. Microwave transmitter: Giga-tronics
GT-ASGM18A ultra-fast frequency
switching Advanced Signal Generator.
3. Microwave receiver: Giga-tronics
GT-ASAM18A ultra-fast frequency
switching Advanced Signal Analyzer.
4. Signal processing: Pentek Model
78620 PCIe module with signal processing software/firmware. „
Simulation of Modern Radar Systems using Pentek and Giga-tronics Products
Waveform Creation and
Signal Processing
The Pentek Model 78620 high-performance PCIe board is based on the Xilinx
Virtex-6 FPGA. Pentek Model 78620 is
used in many EW (electronic warfare)
applications, and can be mounted in most
modern COTS PCs. As a multichannel,
high-speed data converter, Model 78620 is
suitable for connecting with the IF input of
a microwave up/downconverter such as
the Giga-tronics GT-ASGM18A
Advanced Signal Generator and GTASAM18A Advanced Signal Analyzer.
The Pentek Model 78620’s built-in data
acquisition and waveform generation features offer an ideal turnkey solution for
radar and electronic warfare baseband signal simulation.
Each Model 78620 includes three
A/Ds, two D/As, and four banks of memory. In addition to supporting PCI Express
Gen. 2 as a native interface, Model 78620
also includes optional general-purpose
and gigabit serial card edge connectors for
application-specific I/O (see Figure 1).
Microwave Up- and Downconversion
The Giga-tronics GT-ASGM18A
Advanced Signal Generator and GTASAM18A Advanced Signal Analyzer are
high-fidelity, coherent, fast-frequencyswitching, up- and downconverters ideal
for transmitting and receiving signals at
frequencies between 100 MHz and 18
GHz. These units are based on AXIe, an
open system modular instrumentation
standard, which is an extension of
AdvancedTCA® (a trademark of PICMG).
The Giga-tronics GT-ASGM18A and
GT-ASAM18A have built-in, high-speed,
high-signal-fidelity, local oscillators,
allowing for broadband, extremely agile,
coherent frequency switching. Because
these units are based on the industry standard AXIe modular platform, multiple
phase-coherent channels of upconversion
and downconversion can be used to emulate specific types of radars or create a
wave-front and emulate the angle of
arrival. „
Figure 1. Pentek Model 78620 Block Diagram
Simulation of Modern Radar Systems using Pentek and Giga-tronics Products
The Giga-tronics GT-ASGM18A and
GT-ASAM18A can take an IF signal from
a Pentek Model 78620 and up- or downconvert it to any frequency within an 18
GHz range. The GT-ASGM18A and GTASAM18A can coherently retune to any
frequency in less than a microsecond and
can maintain an amplitude flatness typically within +/- 1 dB over that frequency
range. The optional high-speed microwave output attenuator extends the range
of the output by 90 dB, allowing for a signal creation range that exceeds 100 dBc.
IF Conversion
Matching the IF signals from Pentek’s
Model 78620 requires IF conversion to
take a 30 MHz IF signal chosen to utilize
the best performance from the 78620 and
match that to the 1200 MHz IF of the
microwave up- and downconverters. The
Giga-tronics GT-SRM100A System Refer-
ence Module provides 10 MHz, 100 MHz,
and 1200 MHz outputs that can be used as
LOs (local oscillators) to drive IF up- and
downconverters, as shown in Figure 4 (on
page 4).
Putting it all Together
Figure 5 (on page 4) shows an example
system using four independent RF channels. A similar block diagram can be used
for the receiver. The radar control and „
Figure 2. GT-ASGM18A
Simplified Block Diagram
Figure 3. GT-ASAM18A
Simplified Block Diagram
Simulation of Modern Radar Systems using Pentek and Giga-tronics Products
scheduling software schedules the waveform playout times, and a LAN connection
from the receiver PC and RF subsystem
determines the next mode (PRI or waveform) based on the nature of the received
signal. The waveforms are scheduled
within the Pentek Model 78620 AWG
(arbitrary waveform generator) and the
frequency and amplitude of the waveform
is controlled in real time across PCIe.
Optionally, fine timing resolution can be
maintained by taking a trigger line from
the Pentek boards and using that to deter-
ministically control frequency and amplitude changes in the RF chassis.
A range of radars and radar emulators,
from simple single-channel radars to complex multichannel frequency-agile radars,
can be created using state-of-the-art waveform creation and processing technologies. All the hardware components are
commercially available off-the-shelf and
no custom hardware is required. Testing
complex devices, such as radar warning
receivers or electronic counter measure
systems, is simplified with this platform
approach, and new types of radar prototypes can be rapidly created and shared
between various programs.
For more information about the
Giga-tronics GT-ASGM18A and
GT-ASAM18A, contact Giga-tronics
For more information about Pentek’s
Model 78620, go to 
Figure 4
Figure 4. System Block Diagram Showing an IF Up and Downconverter
Figure 5
A four-channel system with
two GT-ASGM18A upconverters
and two GT-ASAM18A
Figure 5. Radar Simulation System Block Diagram
3-Channel 200 MHz A/D, 2-Channel 800 MHz D/A,
Virtex-6 FPGA -x8 PCIe Board
• Complete radar and software radio interface solution
• Three 200 MHz 16-bit A/Ds and two 800 MHz 16-bit D/As
Model 78620
Model 78620 is a member of the
Cobalt® family of high performance PCIe
boards based on the Xilinx Virtex-6
FPGA. A multichannel, high-speed data
converter, it is suitable for connection to
HF or IF ports of a communications or
radar system. Its built-in data capture and
playback features offer an ideal turnkey
It includes three A/Ds, two D/As and
four banks of memory. In addition to
supporting PCI Express Gen. 2 as a native
interface, the Model 78620 includes
optional general-purpose and gigabit
serial card edge connectors for application-specific I/O .
The Cobalt Architecture
The Pentek Cobalt architecture features a Virtex-6 FPGA. All of the board’s
data and control paths are accessible by the
FPGA, enabling factory-installed functions including data multiplexing, channel
selection, data packing, gating, triggering,
and memory control. The Cobalt architecture organizes the FPGA as a container for
data processing applications where each
function exists as an intellectual property
(IP) module.
Each member of the Cobalt family is
delivered with factory-installed applications ideally matched to the board’s analog
interfaces. The 78620 factory-installed
functions include three A/D acquisition
and a D/A waveform playback IP modules,
ideally matched to the board’s analog
interfaces. IP modules for either DDR3 or
QDRII+ memories, a controller for all data
clocking and synchronization functions, a
test signal generator, and a PCIe interface
complete the factory-installed functions
and enable the 78620 to operate as a complete turnkey solution, without the need to
develop any FPGA IP.
• One digital upconverter
• Up to 2 GB of DDR3 SDRAM or 32 MB of QDRII+ SRAM
Sample clock synchronization to an external system reference
• LVPECL clock/sync bus for multiboard synchronization
Supports Xilinx Virtex-6 LXT and SXT FPGAs
PCI Express (Gen. 1& 2) interface up to x8
• Optional user-configurable gigabit serial interface
Optional LVDS connections to the Virtex-6 FPGA for custom I/O
Extendable IP Design
For applications that require specialized functions, users can install
their own custom IP for data processing. Pentek GateFlow FPGA
Design Kits include all of the factory-installed modules as documented source code. Developers can
integrate their own IP with the Pentek factory-installed functions or use
the GateFlow kit to completely
replace the Pentek IP with their own.
Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA
The Virtex-6 FPGA site can be
populated with a variety of different
FPGAs to match the specific requirements of the processing task. Supported FPGAs include: LX130T,
LX240T, or SX315T. The SXT part
features 1344 DSP48E slices and is
ideal for modulation/demodulation,
encoding/decoding, encryption
decryption, and channelization of
the signals between transmission
and reception. For applications not
requiring large DSP resources, one
of the lower-cost LXT FPGAs can be
For more information, go to: 
Model 78620
Talon RTR 2750 Doubles Channels and Performance
while Reducing Cost of Talon Rugged Recorders
Talon RTR 2750
Pentek’s new Talon® RTR 2750 rackmount recorder, which is optimized for
rugged operating environments, increases
the performance of the Talon rackmount
series with twice the number of channels,
over 50% more storage capacity, 25% faster
sampling rates, and nearly twice the sustained aggregate recording rate.
The RTR 2750 is a turnkey recording
system in a single 4U rackmount chassis. It
provides phase-coherent, synchronous
recording of sixteen independent input
channels at a sustained aggregate data rate
up to 8 GB/sec. Transient signals and radar
pulses can be precisely captured through
external gating and triggering inputs.
Each input channel includes a 250
MHz 16-bit A/D and an FPGA-based digital downconverter with independent tuning and programmable decimation from 2
to 65536 to capture RF signal bandwidths
ranging from 3 kHz to 100 MHz. The RTR
2750 offers a storage capacity up to 61 TB,
utilizing up to 32 hot-swappable solidstate drives (SSDs) that can be easily
removed or exchanged during a mission to
retrieve recorded data.
"The RTR 2750 is the most size- and
space-efficient of our recorders," stated
Chris Tojeira, product director of Recording Systems, "System cost is significantly
reduced by doubling the channels in a 4U
configuration and the sustained recording
rate is double over our existing model."
The RTR 2750 is ideal for multi-channel radar, signal intelligence, and communications applications, with the flexibility
of common or independent signal tuning
and bandwidth.
Ease of Operation
All Talon recorders are built on a Windows 7 Professional workstation and
include Pentek’s SystemFlow® software,
featuring a GUI (graphical user interface),
signal viewer, and API (Application Programming Interface). The GUI provides
intuitive controls for out-of-the-box turnkey operation using point-and-click configuration management. Configurations
are easily stored and recalled for singleclick setup. User settings to configure data
format for the signal viewer provide a virtual oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer to
monitor signals before, during, and after
data collection. The C-callable API allows
users to integrate the recorder control into
larger application systems. Enhancements
to the GUI allow more efficient configuration of the recording channels.
The data format used for storage follows the NTFS standard, allowing users to
remove drives from the instrument and
read the data using standard Windowsbased systems, eliminating the need for
file format conversion. For more information, go to
pipe2750. 
Q&A with Pentek
Q: What is the difference between the RTV, RTS, RTR, and RTX series of recorders?
The RTV series is the value series of Talon recorders. These are the least expensive
Talon recorders and are intended for laboratory use. They are limited in storage and
streaming data rates to disk and have very few options available. In addition to their
low cost, they also have the advantage of shipping from stock, unlike the other series
that typically have lead times from six to eight weeks. These recorders come in a
rackmountable PC server chassis.
The RTS series is the commercial series of Talon recorders. These are intended for
benign environments, have great flexibility in channel count and are capable of holding
large volumes of data storage. These systems use HDDs (hard disk drives) for data
storage and are limited in their sustained data rate to disk. These recorders come in a
rackmountable PC server chassis.
The RTR series is the rugged series of Talon recorders. RTR recorders come in both a
portable (briefcase style) and rackmountable PC server chassis form factor. Both use
SSDs (solid state drives) to help the systems tolerate shock and vibration. They also
include enhanced cooling to allow them to operate in higher-temperature environments
(up to 55 deg C.) The RTR series recorders provide the highest streaming data rates to
disk of all of the Talon series.
The RTX series is the extreme rugged series of Talon recorders. RTX recorders are
flight certified, capable of handling high levels of shock and vibration as well as high
altitude use. RTX series chassis use Pentek’s QuickPac® drive packaging technology
that provides the ability to quickly remove and replace 8 data storage SSDs from
the Talon recorder. This is especially useful during flight missions where aircraft time
is expensive.
The RTX series chassis comes in two different form factors. A rackmountable chassis uses high-powered fans to air cool system
components. This chassis includes a shock-isolated inner chassis, EMI filters, and a modular rear panel to allow for customized
signal connectors.The alternate style RTX chassis focuses on SWaP and is available in a 1/2 ATR style chassis.This conductioncooled chassis is extremely rugged and is able to operate in the harshest of environments. This chassis uses QuickPac drive
packaging technology to provide up to 7.6 TB of storage in a very small package.
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