Several years ago, I was privileged to work with Dr. Greg Charvat on a variety of radar projects. Greg initiated my undergraduate research experience with radar systems. Inspired by Greg’s graduate research and with substantial guidance from Greg, I was able in my sophomore undergraduate year to design and build a FMCW radar for less than $35. Using coffee can antennas and hand-built circuit boards with COTS transistors, I was able to make a radar covering from approximately 1.6GHz-2.0GHz that was useful for detecting the radial distance to humans through walls.
As an undergraduate senior design project (which, thanks to the hard work of my teammates took First Place with a substantial cash reward), we developed a much more robust version of this system with Vivaldi antennas (inspired from Greg’s PhD dissertation research).
I was delighted to see that Greg has developed this system into not only an MIT IAP course, but also something that has been presented by Greg and colleagues quite literally worldwide.
I presented my prototype of this radar at the 2007 URSI conference in Ottawa, and may someday incorporate such a system into my own STEM outreach.