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Spread spectrum technology reveals its secrets to empower commercial sonar

by Rusti 2011-12-14 12:57

Spread Spectrum TechnologySpread-spectrum radio communication signal technology has been widely used for a long time only for military communication systems because spread-spectrum resists jamming and is hard for an enemy to intercept. The reason is spread-spectrum signals which are distributed over a wide range of frequencies and then collected onto their original frequency at the receiver. They are not readily noticeable and almost transparent to other communication systems. Being inconspicuous the spread-spectrum communications are unlikely to interfere with other signals. Spread Spectrum uses wide band signals which which are hard to detect as they are noise-like signals. They are also hard to intercept or demodulate. Further, Spread Spectrum signals are harder to jam or interfere with than narrow band signals. These Low Probability of Intercept and anti-jam features are why the military has used Spread Spectrum for so many years. 

Spread spectrum signals are intentionally made to be much wider band than the information they are carrying to make them look like just as noise which is not used for radio communication. Moreover spread spectrum based systems could work independently even when they are transmitting and receiving signals on the same frequencies. Such an advantage opens up crowded frequency spectra to vastly expanded use. Just as they are unlikely to be intercepted by a military opponent they open new opportunities and become of interest for use in business and consumer communication systems. Recently spread-spectrum technology positioned itself on the verge of explosive commercial development of most advanced digital sonar systems for marine vessel navigation systems market. 

Spread Spectrum CHIRP sonarMost recent commercial innovations have been using spread spectrum with Chirp technology. One of the most powerful devices in this class has been developed by Garmin, the GSD 26 digital sonar featuring Spread-Spectrum Chirp technology. Dual mode allows marine enthusiasts to fish with Chirp enabled or without it just as a traditional sonar. As the most advanced sonar technology available today GSD 26 adjusts to user needs to help vessel crew fish with unprecedented clarity and detail from shallow to deep water. Target details so extreme, the user can actually distinguish between small and closely spaced fish at key fishing depths. Sweeping across many frequencies from 28kHz to 210kHz or adjusting to specific frequencies allows to focus on certain fish at predefined depths. Equivalent sound energy transmitted is much greater than in earlier generation sonars for rendering detailed bottom contours at depths up to then thousand feet. More energy put on the target delivers incredibly precise and detailed sonar imagery with five fold higher resolution, even at low frequencies. The device uses plug and play feature to conveniently connect to the onboard Marine Network segment which could be further extended to adapt to the NMEA 2000 compatible network marine vessel onboard backbone.  

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