Analyzing Radar Pulses with Baudline and an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user Albert Schäferle has uploaded a short video showing his reception of some radar pulses and their corresponding echoes. He uses rtl_fm and pipes the output into Baudline which is used to display the radar waveform. On the video description he writes:

Receiving direct and (supposedly) reflected pulses from an L-band radar in Učka, HR (Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117). The receiving station was 83 km away, with clear LOS.
Center frequency is 1258 MHz (one out of four that this frequency-agile radar head is using).
The receiver is a RTL-SDR dongle (R820T tuner IC) with a 2-dipole collinear array (tuned for 403 MHz) and approx 7 m of Belden 1694A RG-6 coax.

rtl_fm output was piped to baudline, which is the software shown in the video. The IQ sampling rate is 2 MHz; the transform is a complex STFT (size=2048 samples, Blackman window).
This is a 0.008x speed playback of 15 ms of recording.
The (again, supposedly) reflected pulses are obviously more time-local with a shorter transform window size, e.g. 512 samples

The effect of pulse compression is quite evident…
The direct-reflected delay is approx 278 µs (~42 km from receiver, in a simple 2D, along beam, normal incidence model). I should add that this “reflection delay” effect does not usually show up.
There’s another fainter echo closer to the pulse, but I suspect that it could be a time-sidelobe of the main pulse: a side effect of pulse compression. Anyway, I must state that I have no formal knowledge on radar topics. So you’d better take all this with a grain of salt 😉

Link to recording: (save destination as…)

Video recorded with VLC, audio piped to stdout and saved, then synced in Blender.

Radar WGS84 coordinates: 45.286757,14.202732

Analyzing radar pulses with Baudline and RTL-SDR.


  1. anon

    anyone had any luck installing baudline recently? linux 5.2.8 arch xfce here, throws could not open font and and X error: BadWindow (inavlid window parameter)

  2. johan

    does anyone have an idea what windows program could be used instead baudline? the baudline guys are linux fascists, telling us on their website that they’ll make a windows version only if someone pays them. how effed up is that kind of thinking, as if linux isn’t appalling enough for the average user.

    • crippled_horse

      OMG, the very idea of someone expecting to get paid for doing work for someone else, can you imagine, I’m just sickened!!!! <~~~sarcasm You damn commie, if you don't like what they do with THEIR PRODUCT, build your own!

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