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Everyday DSP for Programmers: The DFT in Use

Last week we built up the DFT (Discrete Fourier Transform) from fundamentals, and while that exercise provides a good way to remember how to calculate the DFT and how the DFT works under the hood, looking at some examples is a good way to get a sense of how the DFT behaves with different types of signals. We'll take a look at the frequency response of a few basic signals by calculating their DFTs, but first, we'll briefly explore a way to calculate the DFT much faster than we did with the direct algorithm from the last post. This optimized DFT is called the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform), and if you can conform your problem to its restrictions, it's the transform that you want to use because, well, it's fast.

Everyday DSP for Programmers: The Discrete Fourier Transform

Last week we covered how to measure the frequency of a periodic signal with a single dominant frequency. This week we'll cover a way to measure the full frequency spectrum of a signal that can have any number of frequencies in it, up to the Nyquist frequency, of course. This tool is called the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT), and we can derive it from the basic concepts of sine waves, signal transforms, and averaging.

The DFT may seem like a complicated, confusing thing at first, but fundamentally, it's actually fairly straightforward, if a bit tedious to calculate by hand. We'll explore the DFT by building it from the ground up using a signal with some known frequencies in it as a starting point. That way, we'll have a way to check that the results we're getting are reasonable. As for the tedious parts, we can write code to take care of that.

Everyday DSP for Programmers: Frequency Measurement

In DSP, when you're not calculating averages, you're calculating frequencies. Much of DSP involves frequency analysis, and for that task we have the Fourier Transform, a calculation that translates a signal from the time domain to the frequency domain. We don't always have the resources or the need to resort to that heavy handed operation, though. Sometimes the signal we're dealing with is made up of a single frequency that varies over time, and the value of that frequency is what's of the most interest. That is what we'll be exploring today.

Everyday DSP for Programmers: Signal Envelopes

Sometimes we don't care so much about the exact details of a signal as we do about whether a signal is even present or not. If the signal is periodic, it can be difficult to directly detect when the signal is there and when it goes away because when it is present, it's oscillating between various values. In cases like these, what we want to calculate is the envelope of the signal, which gives us the information about whether the signal is there or not and what its approximate amplitude is. As an added bonus, calculating a signal envelope can be done in real-time, so other DSP functions can be done on the signal as soon as it's detected.