Ground penetrating radar technology is used to provide a fast and accurate method for target location compared to other geophysical sensing techniques. An existing ground penetrating radar system developed by OpenFuel (Pty) Ltd is used in the detection and avoidance of obstacles for a sub-surface horizontal directional drill mechanism. This GPR system could be implemented as a portable surface-based version of the system for geophysical applications. A factor limiting its implementation is a personal or laptop computer required to execute the human-machine interface software package for the radar system. Thus, there exists a need to produce a radar user interface to replace the computer required by the current GPR system, while maintaining the original functionality of the radar system.
The purpose of this design project was to develop a user interface for a GPR system in hardware. The radar user interface had to allow for the autonomous operation of the GPR system and the human-machine interface application software.
The objectives of the design project were to initially review existing GPR systems, generate a system specification for the radar user interface and then identify a suitable implementation technology for the radar user interface. From this we would then proceed to design the hardware for the radar user interface and finally verify, test and integrate the raadr user interface hardware.
The review of existing GPR technology showed that integrating the human-machine interface and the radar electronics was the optimum design concept to implement. We generated the system specification for the radar user interface with this design concept and the current GPR electronics system specification in mind. A survey of the current processor technology in the semiconductor industry showed us that system-on-chip processor technology would be the ideal solution for the radar user interface as it provided low-power consumption, increased operating speed, reduced size and complexity, lower manufacturing costs and increased system reliabiilty of the end-user product. From a survey of the available system-on-chip processors we selected the AMD Alchemy AU1100 MIPS32-Based processor as it had the lowest power consumption versus relative speed of all processors reviewed.
A concept design for the radar user interface was done based on the system specification and the system-on-chip processor selected. The hardware design of the radar user interface was done by initially selecting the required components, capturing the schematic diagrams based on the concept design and the components selected and then the printed circuit boards were designed from these schematic diagrams.
The required software and firmware to test the radar user interface was designed and implemented. The hardware for the radar user interface was verified and tested and then integrated with the software and firmware developed for testing. The test software and firmware were then verified and found to be operating as required. The radar user interface was then tested with the test software and firmware and compared with the user requirements and the system specification to verify that the objectives of the design project had been reached.
In conclusion, the purpose and objectives of the design project had been satisfied as a radar user interface for a GPR system had been developed successfully.