Helicopter identification has been an attractive topic. In this paper, we applied radar micro-Doppler signatures to identify helicopter. For identifying the type of a helicopter, besides its shape and size, the number of blades, the length of the blade, and the rotation rate of the rotor are important features, which can be estimated from radar micro-Doppler signatures of the helicopter’s rotating rotor blades. In our study, K-band CW/FMCW radars are used for collecting returned signals from helicopters. By analyzing radar micro-Doppler signatures, we can estimate the number of blades, the length of the blade, the angular rotation rate of the rotating blade, and other necessary parameters for identifying the type of a helicopter.
In this paper, we investigate the use of software defined radar (SDR) to analyze the micro-Doppler signatures. The first SDR we use is based on the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) and GNU Radio, and another SDR which has several operation modes is based on field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA). Typically, the USRP-based SDR is not optimized for radar applications due to its narrow bandwidth and time-varying additional delay caused by USRP components and operating system. The FPGA-based SDR is more suitable for applications where high-resolution range information is required. Our studies indicate that both of the SDR systems are capable of producing the micro-Doppler signatures. System design challenges and measurement results will be discussed in detail.