Controls Display Errors Antenna Plotting






Anti-clutter rain control (FTC)

The echo energy due to an individual raindrop is very small but the combined effect of returns from rainstorm cause rain clutter, which is displayed, on the indicator as a bright indistinct area of paint.

In addition, the video signal can be passed through a differentiating or fast time-constant (FTC) circuit.

The FTC circuit is generally a combination of capacitance and resistance having a time-constant much shorter than the returned video pulse length. 

Such pulses will therefore be differentiated when passed through the filter.

Rain clutter builds up a Root Mean Square (RMS) voltage due to the volume of the rainstorm and behaves as if the rain was returning a much longer pulse than that transmitted. 

The act of passing all video signals through such a circuit is to considerably reduce the effect of the rain on the display whilst having little effect on a discrete target return which echoes a consistent pulse. 

The degree of control may be fixed or variable; variable controls must be used with care since loss of signal can occur due to maladjustment.

The video signal after amplification is used to intensity modulate the cathode ray tube. 

Range ring generator and control

Range ring generation is a mandatory requirement.

The range scales provided for such sets have as a minimum requirement range scales of 1.5, 3, 6, 12 and 24 nm, and one range scale of not less than 0.5 and not greater than 0.8 nm. 

On the 0.5 to 0.8-nm scale at least two range rings are specified and on the other mandatory ranges six range rings must be provided. 

Rings are generated from the output of a stable oscillator, which is in some cases crystal controlled.  The waveform generated is shaped to give short duration pulses at the generator frequency and synchronize to the timebase sweep. 

These pulses are superimposed on the video information in the combining circuit and appear on the screen at equal intervals of time and therefore range, along the timebase sweep as bright dots of light.

Rotation of the sweep produces a series of concentric rings from which the range of a target may be interpolated. 

The range ring generator switched to the appropriate frequency by the action of the range selector switch which also controls receiver bandwidth, pulse length and PRF selection for the particular range in use.

Variable range marker

A circuit is provided which generates a marker synchronized to the timebase sweep. 

A manual control varies the delay between timebase initiation and the time at which the VRM pulse is produced. 

Because the sweep is rotated the range marker pip will produce a bright circle on the PPI having a variable radius. 

The range scale of the VRM should coincide with the calibrated range rings value when the VRM is overlaid with each ring on the PPI.  Fixed range rings and variable range markers found in type tested equipment’s must enable the range of a target to be measured with an error not greater than 1.5 per cent of the maximum range of the scale in use or 70 metres, whichever is greater.  Variable ring and calibrated range rings must be capable of removal from the PPI, usually achieved by turning the appropriate brilliance control fully anticlockwise.

Electronic bearing indicator

The electronic bearing indicator circuit generates a brightened radial line, sometimes broken into dashes on the PPI and emanating from the sweep origin

Many EBL circuits generate the bearing line only once per antenna revolution which can make the application of the indicator a slow process, since in moving the line the operator has to wait one antenna revolution to ascertain its new position. 

Modern radar sets generate the bearing line during the interscan period, which is the time between the end of one timebase sweep and the beginning of the next sweep. 

In this method the EBL is continuously displayed on the screen at all periods of an antenna rotation, facilitating more rapid application of the line for bearing measurement. 

There are certain mandatory requirements for the EBL in type tested equipment.

It must have controllable brilliance,

be free to rotate clockwise and anticlockwise continuously through 360 degrees,

the direction of turning being the same as that of the control,

have a maximum thickness not exceeding 0.5º measured at the edge of the display,

be updated at least once per antenna revolution and be clearly distinguishable from the ship’s heading marker. 

An accuracy of ± 1º in bearing measurement is required for a target having an echo lying at the edge of the display.


Off centring is achieved by adjustment of current passing through a set of fixed deflection coils on the PPI tube neck.

Timebase generator

It is the circuit where a sawtooth current waveform is generated which when passed through the PPI deflection coils causes linear deflection of the electron beam and linear movement of the luminous spot on the PPI. 

When the range switch is changed, the timebase is also changed to provide the necessary beam deflection. 

At short ranges the deflecting current amplitude necessary to deflect the spot from the scan origin to the edge of the screen has to be reached in a very much shorter time than on one of the longer ranges. 

Assuming a centred display for the 0.5-nm range it will be 6.2 μs and for the 48-nm range it will be

595.2 μs.

If the tube radius is eight inches, the luminous spot on the screen will travel at a velocity 96 times greater on the shorter range than on the longer range and would produce a very faint trace if the same brightness level were used in both cases. 

A brightening waveform known as the brightening pulse is generated and applied to the grid of the CRT. This pulse is rectangular waveform acting in synchronism with the timebase waveform and serves to lift the trace to the threshold of visibility.

IF gain control - contrast and brilliance

Receiver gain control acts on the IF amplifier allowing the radar user to adjust the overall signal amplification. 

Excessive gain will cause background noise to intrude upon the target paint.

Acceptable adjustment is obtained by turning the gain up to a point where only a faint speckled background is visible.

The brilliance control should be adjusted to suit the ambient light conditions in the vicinity of the PPI. 

Excessive brightness in addition to affecting the eyes and the paint of the targets, can cause defocusing of the screen image, an effect known as blooming where the target paint is saturated by electron bombardment causing a bright halo to form around the paint. 

Excess brilliance demands higher beam current than normal levels; it will ultimately reduce the tube life and can result in the tube phosphor being burned. 

To some extent tube brilliance control is interactive with the contrast control.  The contrast control adjusts the video level at the cathode, and careful adjustment selects the best level to provide a sharp contrast between the paint and the darker unpainted background.  Maladjustment of brilliance can destroy the contrast and negate the effect of the contrast control.

Swept gain

A manually controlled swept gain circuit operates on the head amplifier.

The purpose of the circuit is to suppress signal return from the sea (sea clutter), which tends to obscure the centre of the display. 

The swept gain control reduces the gain of the head amplifier at short range on each transmitted pulse and as the timebase generator sweeps the electron beam across the tube face the gain is progressively increased with range. 

Excessive anti-sea clutter control can cause loss of small short-range targets at the PPI.

The manual anti-sea clutter control acts on each timebase sweep, treating the received signal information as though sea clutter was equal through 360 degrees of azimuth. 

In practice, the sea returns vary as the scanner rotates and an automatic swept gain circuit can be employed which dynamically adjusts the correct level of sea clutter control by rapidly sampling signal returns from short ranges.

It is a mandatory requirement in type tested radars that automatic anti-sea clutter control can be switched off by the user.

Local oscillator tuning

Although the L.O. is structured to operate at one particular frequency, it can be ‘tuned’ by placing it in a resonant cavity and then tuning the cavity, which is an integral part of the local oscillator. 

Cavities are coarse tuned to a particular resonant value by means of a mechanical screw projecting into the cavity.

Fine electronic tuning is done by use of a variable capacitance diode placed in the cavity and having its capacitance varied by means of bias applied from the manual tuning control at the display position.

The fine tuning facility enables the user to produce the best possible display of target returns. 

Heading mark switch

Different Radars have different arrangements for the heading marker switch.

In a magnetically operated reed switch, the contacts are operated whenever a small permanent magnet mounted on the antenna drive passes over the switch. 

The switch is invariably mounted on a small adjustable base plate carrying a scale graduated in degrees of azimuth. 

An overall possible adjustment of ±5º is adequate, to a required accuracy of at least 0.5º. Switch action and magnet are mutually arranged to coincide when the main lobe of the antenna beam is pointing along the ship’s heading.  This action produces a bright radial line at the display with own ship at the scan origin by brightening a few consecutive traces, to show the ship’s heading on the indicator. 

Type tested radars display heading lines whose thickness is 0.5º or less at the tube periphery.  The maximum error permitted of the heading marker line is ±1º.

Adjustment of heading mark

The display is unstabilized (relative motion ship’s head up). A small target is selected on which visual bearings may be taken, its range being such that the radar will display the target echo as a separate paint lying near the edge of the PPI on one of the shorter displayed ranges (say 1.5 nm).

Own-ship is then aligned and a visual bearing on the target is taken.  When the ship’s head and the visual bearing coincide, any error on the heading marker bearing at the PPI is noted (should be reading zero). 

Adjusting the heading mark contacts in the scanner housing compensates error and the visual and radar bearings once more checked.  In some equipment the heading marker can be adjusted by rotating the stator housing of the synchro transmitter.

Power monitor

The main purpose of this is to give at the display an indication that power is being radiated in the main beam. 

Sensitive and accurate methods employ crystal detectors, which can be calibrated to indicate fall-off in relative performance of the transmitter compared to some optimum level attained at installation of the equipment.

A neon tube situated in the scanner housing if exposed to the main beam is ionised. The ionisation of the tube varies with power irradiating it and the subsequent change of tube resistance can be used as a direct indication of the power in the beam.

The performance monitor

It comprises a resonant cavity, with dimensions, which allow it to resonate within the marine band.  Radio frequency energy due to a transmitted pulse is fed into the cavity via an aperture causing the cavity to resonate; the resonant oscillations will persist in the cavity for some time after the pulse has terminated.  During the resting period of the transmitter (receive period) the cavity couples energy out of its aperture forming a return echo signal for the duration of the cavity oscillations.

This cavity signal is processed by the receiver and display circuits and appears on the display, brightening the timebase traces from the scan origin and extending for a measurable distance radially from that origin. 

Since the energy radiated from the performance monitor resonant cavity is directly proportional to the power injected into it (losses being constant) the length of the brightened trace is measure of the overall transmitted and received power. 

Should the transmitter, the receiver or both be operating at less than so measured optimum value, then the length of the displayed trace indicates a fall-off in the overall performance.

Plume and sunburst patterns

With the PM switch depressed, the cavity re-radiates energy directly into the waveguide during the magnetron quiescent period and, due to the sweep actions involved produces a sunburst pattern.

The length of the major ‘spokes’ in the pattern occur when the echo box is resonating at magnetron frequency, measurement of this length from the scan origin is a direct representation of the power received.

Some installations use separate echo boxes installed above deck. Energy enters the box via an aperture whenever the main beam of the antenna sweeps over it.

And the box, when switched on, re-radiates the energy. In this case the returned signal displays a plume on the indicator approximately twice the width of the horizontal antenna beam. 

Whilst PM echoes are being displayed, some target echoes may be obliterated, since the receiver received most of the echo from the PM echo box. Use of the monitor is therefore limited to occasional performance checks and for optimum tuning procedures.

Using the performance monitor

During use, controls such as the anti-sea clutter or anti-rain clutter control are set to a minimum so that they have no effect on the displayed PM plume.

Gain and brightness are adjusted as required.

The same pulse length is chosen each time the performance monitor is used.  A low range is selected, such as the 1.5-nm range, and the VRM is adjusted to lie as close as can be visually estimated to the extremities of the pattern. Correct tuning of the radar receiver will produce optimum observed length. 

When the radar is first commissioned the extent of the PM pattern is entered in the radar log, and comparison can be made with this initial value obtained when the set is considered to be at its best performance level.  The radar observer quickly becomes familiar with particular radar set and any shrinkage of pattern in subsequent checks indicates reduction in overall performance of the set. 

This could be due to a variety of causes:

ageing of the crystal, TR cell or magnetron,

receiver detuned,

water in the waveguide, etc. 


The PM is used when a radar set is first switched on and is particularly useful for spot checks on overall performance and tuning in conditions when there may be no visible returns on the display to immediately indicate the set is correctly tuned. 

Because the transmitted and the returned power are proportional, the reduction of the performance monitor plumes to one half of its length would indicate a fall off of 3dB in overall signal performance.  Under these circumstances the possibility of losing many of the weaker target returns is high.

In the case where there is good return of targets and yet the PM plume is lesser than at installation then the PM itself may be faulty.

The common causes of performance reduction are:

(1)        incorrect receiver tuning

(2)        defective receiver crystal(s)

(3)        obscured antenna window

(4)        ageing T/R cell (active types of cell)

(5)        magnetron ageing

(6)        water in waveguide

(7)        damaged waveguide, loose choke joints - leaking.