A weather radar is a pulse-doppler radar that detects the motion and intensity of snow, rain, and or hail to analyze and provide information about various weather conditions. Due to the increase in fluctuations in weather conditions such as thunderstorms, cyclones, ice storms, and snowstorms, there is a demand for more reliable and accurate weather radar systems worldwide.
Crossing the Chasm
Despite vacuum-tubes technical maturity, its shortcomings make developers looking to improve Radar performance turn to other technologies. Solid-state technology has been continuously evolving over the past few years, has caught radar developers’ eyes, and has become the global trend in recent and future radar system development.
Existing tube-type transmitters require high voltage power supply units ranging from 14kV to 38kV. Operating at such high voltages requires extra caution to system operations, requiring specialized personnel to handle such systems. Also, increasing the number of high voltage systems increases the safety risk within a production facility.
With the shift towards autonomous learning and lean manufacturing, cutting downtime is key for all radar manufacturers. Current radar transmitter systems that utilize tube-based systems (magnetrons and klystrons) have lifetimes around 4,000 to 6,000 hrs. Due to their short lifespan, the transmitter system requires replacements every half year to 1 year. These limitations result in a halt in observation times/ downtime, frequent maintenance, and a high maintenance cost.
On the other hand, solid-state-based transmitters provide a much longer lifetime (avg. 50,000 to 100,000 hrs. *lifetimes can differ based on operational use) compared to magnetrons and klystrons. Due to its combining and redundant architecture, the system provides graceful degradation in case of amplifier failure. The user can replace the failed power amplifier module while the transmitter operates with less power. Mitigating the need for a complete transmitter system to be secured at the radar site. Even hot-swap function can be implemented, which allows continuous operation while maintenance without shutting down the system during the replacement of defective parts, thereby securing overall stability of the system operation. This also res in far fewer component breakdowns resulting in less downtime, maintenance, and maintenance cost.
Conventional tube-based transmitter systems provide higher peak powers with short and limited pulse width capability. On the other hand, solid-state transmitter systems provide much longer pulse capabilities providing higher sensitivity and excellent range resolution, meaning solid-state radar systems will get better information at greater distances.
With solid-state technology, narrower beam widths can allow for higher resolution imagery. Resulting in better and more accurate detection for the user.
Forerunners in the Weather Radar Industry
RFHIC is a part of numerous radar development projects worldwide currently within the development and mass production. Weather radar is one of RFHIC’s target applications among these numerous projects due to the exponential growth and demand.
With that being said, we’ve provided our customers with a broad product portfolio of products targeted for next-generation weather radar applications. Providing a portfolio of both COTS and customizable gallium-nitride (GaN) on silicon-carbide (SiC) based solid-state power amplifiers (SSPAs) operable in S-band, C-band, and X-band with power levels up to multi-kW.
We offer the following GaN solid-state power amplifiers within the C-band range: the RRP54591K2-42 and RRP54592K4-24. The RRP54591K2-42 provides an output power of 1.2kw, and the RRP54592K4-24 provides an output power of 2.4kW. Again, through RFHIC’s proprietary combining technology, we can scale up and design multi-kW transmitter systems for next-generation radar systems.
RFHIC provides a variety of GaN solid-state power amplifiers for X-band radar applications, ranging from 200 to 800W. X-band radars often target high resolution with relatively lower power, and these products are designed to help secure power levels to meet various demands.
For more information please contact us at https://rfhic.com/rfhic-contacts/