Conquest™ GPR
Conquest™ GPR
Conquest™ is a ground penetrating radar (GPR)
system for carrying out surveys for the following
 Locate reinforcing steel, metallic tendon ducts, and
other metallic embedments
 Measure concrete cover over reinforcement and other
 Measure the thickness of slabs and pavements
 Detect internal voids and deterioration
 Detect embedded cables carrying electrical current
Ground penetrating radar (acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging) is analogous to the
ultrasonic pulse-echo technique (see MIRA pg. 96), except that pulses of electromagnetic waves
(short radio waves or microwaves) are used instead of stress waves. An antenna that rests on the
test surface contains a transmitter and a
receiver. The transmitter emits a short pulse
of low-energy radio waves. The pulse duration
depends on the operating frequency of the
antenna. The pulse is detected immediately by
the receiver side of the antenna. As the pulse
penetrates into the test object, a portion is
reflected when it encounters an interface with
a different material. The reflected pulse is
picked up by the receiving side of the antenna
and a voltage signal is created. The signal
from the receiver is plotted as a function of
time (waveform). By convention, the time axis
is plotted in the vertical down direction. By
multiplying ½ of the round-trip travel time by
the propagation speed in the material, the
vertical axis is the depth of the reflecting
interface or target.
For materials like concrete the propagation speed
of the pulse of electromagnetic energy is given by
the following approximate relationship:
Material Portland cement concrete Asphalt‐cement concrete Gravel Sand Rock Water Range of Relative Dielectric Constant 6 to 11 3 to 5 5 to 9 2 to 6 6 to 12 80 where Co is the speed of light in air (≈300
mm/nanosecond) and ε is the relative dielectric
constant. The table to the right gives typical
values of ε for some construction materials (from ASTM D4748). The dielectric constant is a property
of electrical insulators that is related to the extent of charge alignment when the material is placed
in an electric field. By definition, the relative dielectric constant of air equals 1. The dielectric
constant of concrete and other porous materials increases with increasing internal moisture content.
When an electromagnetic pulse travelling through a material is incident on an interface with a
material having a different dielectric constant, part of the energy penetrates into the underlying
material and part is reflected. The reflection coefficient (RC) at the interface is given
approximately by the following equation:
Conquest™ GPR
RC 
1   2
1   2
where ε1 and ε2 are the relative dielectric constants of the top material and underlying material,
respectively. The reflection coefficient at a concrete-air interface is different for GPR compared with
stress-wave methods (impact-echo or ultrasonic-echo). For stress waves, the reflection is almost 100
% because the acoustic impedance of air is negligible compared with concrete. On the other hand, for
GPR the mismatch in dielectric constants at a concrete-air interface is not as drastic, and only about
50 % of the incident energy is reflected at a concrete-air interface. While GPR can detect the
presence of voids, it is not as sensitive to the presence of concrete-air interfaces as are stress-wave
methods; however, because only a portion of the energy is reflected at a concrete-air interface, the
pulse is able to penetrate beyond the interface and “see” underlying features.
Metallic objects are not insulators and Eq. (2) is not applicable for reflection at a concrete-metal
interface. Metallic objects, or targets, will totally reflect the portion of the pulse that is incident on
the target. This makes GPR very effective for locating metallic embedments. On the other hand,
strong reflections from embedded metals can obscure weaker reflections from other reflecting
interfaces that may be present, and reflections from reinforcing bars may mask signals from greater
depths. In addition, if the spacing between reinforcing bars is less than a certain value, which
depends on cover and antenna frequency, the pulse is not able to penetrate into the underlying
The pulse is attenuated as it travels through the test object, and there is a limit to the thickness that
can be inspected. For concrete, the depth of penetration depends on the characteristics of the GPR
system, the concrete moisture content, and the amount of reinforcement. With increasing moisture
content and amount of reinforcement, penetration decreases. For relatively dry unreinforced
concrete, the maximum penetration of the pulse produced by a 1-GHz antenna is about 600 mm
Signal Display
In the early development of GPR, test results obtained as the antenna
was scanned along a line were displayed using pen plotters
(oscillographs). The recorded waveforms were plotted side by side as
shown to the right. The horizontal axis is the antenna location along a
scan line and the vertical axis is the round-trip travel time, which can be
converted to depth if the wave speed is known. These so called waterfall
plots (or wiggle plots) take on a topographic appearance and provide a
cross sectional view of the targets within the object. Changes in the
pattern of the received signals are relatively easy to identify.
Modern computer-based GPR systems use a different approach for
displaying the results of a scan along a line. The basic element used to
create the display is still the waveform
output from the antenna. The principle is
illustrated in the figure on the left, which
shows a schematic of two reinforcing bars in
concrete. The shaded region below the
antenna is the influence zone of the antenna.
Any target within the influence zone has the
potential of being detected. The waveform
that is shown represents the antenna signal
when the antenna is directly over the first
bar. The waveform is transformed to a
shaded line, with the degree shading related
to the amplitude of the waveform. High
Conquest™ GPR
positive amplitude is shown as white and high negative amplitude is shown as black. Intermediate
amplitudes are shown as varying shades of gray. When the antenna is moved, a new line is
generated corresponding to the new antenna position, which is measured by a distance wheel on the
antenna. As the antenna is rolled continuously along the surface, a 2-D image is created as shown on
the right side of the figure. The image represents the cross section of the test object along the scan
line based on the antenna signal. The bands at the top of the image are due to the pulse being
received directly by the receiver as the pulse is being emitted. The inverted V patterns represent
reflections from the two bars and the dark band in the lower portion of the image is the reflection
from the back wall of the test object. The Conquest™ system permits the display to be shown in
various shades of colors as well as the traditional grayscale. In addition, a filter can be applied to
remove horizontal bands in the display and enhance the image due to reflections from embedded
Hyperbolic Patterns
As shown in the previous figure, reflections from reinforcing bars result in an inverted V pattern in
the line-scan image. This pattern occurs because the antenna has a characteristic influence zone and
it is capable of "seeing" a reinforcing bar when the center of the antenna is not directly over the bar.
When the antenna is offset with respect to
the reinforcing bar, the round-trip travel
time of the reflection is longer than when
the antenna is directly over the bar. As
result, the depth of the bar appears to be
greater than the actual depth. As shown by
the equation in the figure to the right, the
apparent depth is a hyperbolic function of
the offset. This is the reason for the
characteristic inverted Vs due to reflections
from reinforcing bars or similar circular
metallic targets such as tendon ducts, pipes,
conduits, or electrical cable.
Power Cable Detector (PCD)
A unique feature of the Conquest™ GPR system is a sensor in the antenna to detect electrical
current in embedded conductors. While cables and wires will be detected by the GPR as would other
metallic objects, the PCD measures the magnetic field that surrounds an electrical conductor
carrying alternating current. Thus the Conquest™ is able to discriminate between reinforcing bars
and cables carrying electrical current. The PCD operates while the GPR survey is performed and the
display of the PCD signal can be toggled ON/OFF. Because the PCD display indicates the variation
of the measured magnetic field surrounding the cable, the pattern is affected by the details and
relative orientation of the conducting wires. The following are examples of the image of a live
electrical cable with the PCD display turned OFF and the display turned ON. With the PCD turned
OFF, the GPR image of the cable is shown along with images of reinforcement. With the PCD turned
ON, the bars do not appear and the image of the magnetic field surrounding the live cable is shown.
Conquest™ GPR
Wave-Speed Determination
The fact that reflections from circular metallic
targets have characteristic hyperbolic shapes in
a line-scan display can be used to estimate the
wave speed in the material, which is needed to
convert the round trip travel time to depth. The
principle is illustrated in the figure to the left.
The equations in the shaded box show that the
relationship between travel time t(x) and
antenna position (X) depends on the following
parameters: (1) the location of the target (Xo)
along the scan line; (2) the target depth (Do);
and (3) the wave speed (V). The values of the
parameters can be estimated by least-squares
curve fitting to measured round-trip travel time
data. The data points in the graph are travel times obtained by analyzing the waveform records of
the line scan. The curve represents the best-fit of the t(x) equation by finding the best-fit values of
the three parameters. In this case, the estimated location of the target is 500 mm from the start of
the scan, the estimated target depth is 127 mm, and the wave speed is 101 mm/ns. In the
Conquest™ GPR system, the user can invoke the built-in software to estimate the wave speed
based on automatic analysis of well-defined hyperbolas in the line-scan display. Once the wave
speed is estimated, the vertical scale in the image will show the correct depths of the various targets.
Line Scans and Grid Scans
The Conquest™ GPR system can be operated in two modes: line
scan and grid scan. In line-scan mode, data are recorded as the
antenna is moved along a line. The cross-section is displayed in
real time as the antenna is rolled along the surface. The maximum
line-scan length that can be saved is 6.4 m (21 ft.). The optimum
image is obtained by scanning in a direction perpendicular to the
direction of the bars or tendon ducts to be detected. The line-scan
mode is used often for a preliminary investigation to establish the
orientation of the targets of interest.
The grid scan mode is used to
collect line-scan data in two
directions using a specific test
grid. The Conquest™ system
comes with plastic and paper
sheets on which a 600 x 600 mm
(or 24 x 24 in.) test grid has been
marked. A single sheet or
multiple sheets are taped to the
surface, and the antenna is scanned along the grid, first in one direction and then in the other
direction. The computer display assists the user in acquiring data in the correct sequence.
Conquest™ GPR
After the grid is scanned, the data are processed and results can be viewed as a series of slices
through the volume below the grid location. In the example on the previous page, the image in the
upper left is a plan view of a 25 mm thick slice at a depth of 100 mm (4 in.). The presence of an
orthogonal grid of reinforcement is shown clearly. The other two views represent slices in the two
vertical directions. The crosshairs are used to select the slice planes. The data can also be exported to
a memory card for additional signal processing and printing using optional PC software, as shown in
the above figure.
GPR systems can detect reinforcement and other embedded metal targets at greater depths than
electrical covermeters (see pg. 42). The size of reinforcing bars, however, cannot be determined with
commercial GPR systems Care must be exercised to avoid interpreting the bar images shown in the
displayed depth slices as actual bar sizes. A 3 mm bar and a 25 mm would both appear in the image
as 30 mm bars, which is the resolution of the Conquest™ system.
System Description
Two models are available: Conquest™ and Conquest SL™ (small and light). The SL version is
more compact and lightweight but retains the main features of the Conquest™ system, which
include the following:
 Line-scan mode for reconnaissance surveys
 Grid scan mode for detailed on-site 3-D imaging
 Real-time detection of embedded objects
 Power cable detection
 LCD display
 Rugged carrying case
There are two configurations for the Conquest™:
(1) Base Configuration, which includes:
 Control unit with 15 in. LCD display and built-in help system
 GPR sensor head with distance wheels
 Power cable detector
 5-m sensor cable
 AC power cable
 User manual
 Paper grids (set of 5)
 Rugged case with wheels and handle
(2) Enhanced Configuration, which includes the Base Configuration plus the following:
 Wireless remote to control system operation
 Attachable handle
 PC software
 Compact flash memory card and card reader
 Vinyl grids (set of 5)
The Conquest™ requires AC current and an inverter system will be required for battery operation.
The Conquest SL™ can be ordered with an optional battery pack. All systems meet regulatory
requirements for ultra wideband (UWB) devices
Conquest™ GPR
Ordering Numbers
Conquest system
System weight: 21 kg (46 lbs)
Base System:
Control unit with built in self help
15 in. LCD display
Sensor head
Power cable detector
AC mains power plug
5-m sensor cable
Paper grids (set of 5)
User manual
Rugged case w/ handle and wheels
Enhanced System
Base System
Wireless remote
Vinyl grids (set of 5)
Attachable handle
PC software
Compact flash card and reader
Optional items
10-m sensor head cable
Extra vinyl grids (set of 5)
PC software
3-D visualization software
Order #
SL System
Control unit with built in self help
TFT-LCD VGA display
Sensor head
Power cable detector
AC mains power plug
5-m Sensor cable
Paper grids (set of 5)
User manual
Rugged case
Optional items
12 V battery pack
10-m sensor head cable
Extra vinyl grids (set of 5)
PC software
3-D visualization software
Compact flash card and reader
Order #
Conquest SL system
System weight: 3.5 kg (8 lbs)
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