A report describes a non-standard direct digital synthesizer (DDS) implementation that can be used as part of a coherent transponder so as to allow any rational turnaround ratio to be exactly achieved and maintained while the received frequency varies. (A coherent transponder is a receiver-transmitter in which the transmitted carrier is locked to a pre-determined multiple of the received carrier’s frequency and phase. That multiple is called the turnaround ratio.)

The report also describes a general model for coherent transponders that are partly digital. A partially digital transponder is one in which analog signal processing is used to convert the signals between high frequencies at which they are radiated and relatively low frequencies at which they are converted to or from digital form, with most of the complex processing performed digitally. There is a variety of possible architectures for such a transponder, and different ones can be selected by choosing different parameter values in the general model.

Such a transponder uses a DDS to create a low-frequency quasi-sinusoidal signal that tracks the received carrier’s phase, and another DDS to generate an IF or near-baseband version of the transmitted carrier. With conventional DDS implementations, a given turnaround ratio can be achieved only approximately, and the error varies slightly as the received frequency changes. The nonconventional implementation employed here allows any rational turnaround ratio to be exactly maintained.

This work was done by Larry R. D’Addario of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-47460

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Achieving Exact and Constant Turnaround Ratio in a DDS-Based Coherent Transponder

(reference NPO-47460) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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