DE102018219774A1 - Self-monitoring high-frequency module - Google Patents

Self-monitoring high-frequency module

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Publication number
DE102018219774A1
DE102018219774A1 DE102018219774.1A DE102018219774A DE102018219774A1 DE 102018219774 A1 DE102018219774 A1 DE 102018219774A1 DE 102018219774 A DE102018219774 A DE 102018219774A DE 102018219774 A1 DE102018219774 A1 DE 102018219774A1
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Germany
Prior art keywords
signal
frequency module
high
reference signal
delay element
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DE102018219774.1A
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German (de)
Inventor
Christian Zech
Axel Hülsmann
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Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung eV
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Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung eV
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Priority to DE102018219774.1A priority Critical patent/DE102018219774A1/en
Publication of DE102018219774A1 publication Critical patent/DE102018219774A1/en
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Abstract

The invention relates to a self-monitoring high-frequency module (10) and a method for self-monitoring such a high-frequency module (10). The high frequency module (10) has a transmitter circuit (12) and a receiver circuit (13), the transmitter circuit (12) having a signal generator (14) which is designed to generate at least one reference signal (15) with a predetermined signal shape. Furthermore, the high-frequency module (10) has a delay element (16) which is arranged between the transmitter circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13) and which is designed to increase a signal transit time of the reference signal (15) between the transmitter circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13 ) to be delayed in time, the reference signal (15) being able to be coupled into the delay element (16) on the transmitting circuit side and being able to be coupled out from the delay element (16) on the receiving circuit side.

Description

  • The invention relates to a high-frequency module, and in particular to a self-monitoring high-frequency module that can be used, for example, as a radar module.
  • High-frequency modules, such as transmitters, receivers or transceivers, can be used for example as part of a radar, such as an FMCW (frequency-modulated continuous wave) radar system, for distance measurement. Such high-frequency modules are becoming increasingly important, be it in automotive (distance radar, brake assist, parking aid), industrial (environment detection, collision protection), metrological (level measurement, cone detection, material analysis) or other applications (e.g. landing aid for helicopters).
  • The aspect of functional safety is of particular interest in many applications, since the non-recognition of an object (false negative) can have devastating effects. An example is the non-detection of an obstacle to the parking aid, which can very likely lead to an accident. Even more devastating is the fact that a person is not recognized in human-robot collaboration in an industrial environment. If humans are not recognized by the robot or the radar safety device, this can lead to life-threatening situations for robots with payloads of over a ton.
  • Typically, multiple systems are therefore used redundantly in security-relevant scenarios. If one system fails, the second system can still detect an obstacle. A simultaneous failure of both systems is assumed to be statistically unlikely. In addition to reliability, this also increases system costs and space requirements.
  • For this reason, it would be desirable to have systems that are guaranteed to register a failure of internal components, but which still take up little space and at the same time are inexpensive to manufacture.
  • Therefore, a self-monitoring high-frequency module with the features of claim 1 and a corresponding method for self-monitoring a high-frequency module with the features of claim 12 are proposed. Embodiments and further advantageous aspects are mentioned in the respective dependent claims.
  • According to one exemplary embodiment, a high-frequency module is proposed which has at least one transmitter circuit and at least one receiver circuit. The transmit circuit and the receiver circuit can be arranged on separate transmit or receive chips in the sense of a separate receiver and transmitter. Alternatively, the transmitter circuit and the receiver circuit can be arranged together on a chip in the sense of a transceiver. The transmission circuit has a signal generator which is designed to generate at least one reference signal with a predetermined signal shape. The signal generator can also be designed to generate the useful signal to be transmitted. In other words, the useful signal to be transmitted and the reference signal can be generated by the same signal generator. While the useful signal to be transmitted is transmitted by the transmitter circuit using a suitable antenna device, the reference signal can be coupled in and out of a signal path before or after the antenna device between the transmitter circuit and the receiver circuit. The signal path can be a line-based or a radio wave-based signal path. According to the invention, the high-frequency module can have a delay element arranged between the transmission circuit and the receiver circuit, which is designed to delay a signal propagation time of the reference signal between the transmission circuit and the receiver circuit, the reference signal on the transmission circuit side being able to be coupled into the delay element and the receiver circuit side being able to be decoupled from the delay element . As mentioned at the beginning, the reference signal has a predetermined signal shape. This signal form of the reference signal can differ from the signal form of the signals that can be regularly received by means of the receiver circuit (e.g. a reflected signal component of the transmitted useful signal). The reference signal can thus be distinguished from the received useful signal components. This reference signal can be an indicator of the functionality of the high-frequency module. If the reference signal is received in the receiver circuit, this indicates that components of the high-frequency module and / or components of a device coupled to the high-frequency module function without errors. However, if the reference signal is not received in the receiver circuit, this indicates that there is a defect. The information that is critical for functional safety that the system has failed can thus be derived. The error can be on the transmission circuit side and / or receiver circuit side. Using optional evaluation or analysis circuits, it can even be possible to determine which component has failed (for example a component of the high-frequency module, the signal processing or a computing error in the processor).
  • According to one exemplary embodiment, the delay element can have an electrical signal line, into which the reference signal can be coupled on the transmitter circuit side and from which the reference signal can be coupled on the receiver circuit side, the length of which is matched to a desired signal delay time of the reference signal. Electrical signal lines are simple and inexpensive to manufacture and can be easily integrated within the high-frequency module. The use of an electrical signal line to generate a signal delay is particularly suitable for signals with low frequencies.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the delay element can have an optical signal line, into which the reference signal can be coupled by means of an electro-optical conversion on the transmission circuit side and can be decoupled by means of an optical-electrical conversion on the receiver circuit side, the length of the optical signal line being matched to a desired signal delay time of the reference signal. Optical signal lines are somewhat more expensive than electrical signal lines. However, an optical signal line has significantly fewer losses. The reference signal can be transmitted over long distances with very little loss using an optical signal line. The use of an optical signal line for generating a signal delay is therefore particularly suitable for signals with medium to high frequencies compared to electrical signal lines.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the delay element can have a SAW (Surface Acoustic Wave) conductor for conducting surface acoustic waves, the reference signal in the form of an acoustic surface wave being able to be coupled into the SAW conductor on the transmission circuit side and uncoupling from the SAW conductor on the receiver circuit side, and wherein the reference signal experiences a signal propagation delay when transmitted along the SAW conductor. Acoustic surface waves are structure-borne sound waves that propagate planar on a surface and are abbreviated to AOW or SAW. According to this approach, the reference signal in the form of an acoustic surface wave could be generated directly by the signal generator, or converted into an acoustic surface wave by means of a suitable signal converter (e.g. piezo crystal). Due to the significantly lower speed of sound compared to the speed of propagation of electromagnetic waves, reference lengths in the range of several meters can be generated using small structures in the millimeter range. In other words, a SAW conductor that has dimensions in the millimeter range can generate a signal delay that is otherwise only possible with electrical or optical signal lines if these signal lines had dimensions in the meter range (e.g.> 10 m). The use of a SAW conductor for generating a signal delay is therefore particularly suitable for signals with medium to high frequencies compared to electrical or optical signal lines. The SAW leader can also be referred to as a SAW leader. Since the SAW conductor causes a signal delay, the SAW conductor can also be referred to as a SAW delay line.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the delay element can contain or have a physical component component of the high-frequency module, on which a signal emitted by the transmitter circuit, in particular a useful signal, can be reflected and a reflected portion of the signal can be received as a reference signal by the receiver circuit. While wire-bound signal paths have been described so far, this exemplary embodiment has a radio wave-based signal path for the reference signal. For example, a known reflection of the useful signal, for example on the radome, a lens, on the housing and the like, could be used as the reference signal. Depending on the application, this reflection can always be present, e.g. due to a fixed arrangement of the respective component component relative to the transmitter circuit or relative to the receiver circuit. The dimensions of the external structure (housing, lens, etc.) should be considered accordingly. In this example, a reflected portion of the transmitted useful signal is used as the reference signal. The transit time of the signal can be calculated on the basis of the geometric distances between the component (on which the useful signal is reflected) and the transmitter or receiver circuit. A signal received with a corresponding delay time can then be used as the reference signal.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the high-frequency module can be part of a radar system. The high-frequency module according to the invention is particularly suitable for use in a continuous wave radar or a frequency-modulated continuous wave radar. The high-frequency module according to the invention can thus create a self-monitoring radar.
  • According to a conceivable embodiment, the high-frequency module can be designed to receive high-frequency signals in a frequency range of centimeter waves, that is to say, for example, between 3 GHz and 30 GHz, or in a frequency range of millimeter waves, that is, for example between 30 GHz and 300 GHz to send and / or receive. The high-frequency module can be operated in different ISM bands. The frequency ranges at 24 GHz and 77 GHz are particularly interesting here, for use of the high-frequency module according to the invention in the automotive radar range.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the high-frequency module can have a signal evaluation and a control unit, the signal evaluation being designed for evaluating a reception spectrum received by means of the receiver circuit, and the control unit being designed to detect a malfunction of the high-frequency module when the reception spectrum in the transmission circuit side the delay element does not contain the coupled reference signal. The signal evaluation can therefore evaluate the signal spectrum received by means of the receiver circuit with regard to the reference signal. If the reference signal is not contained in the received signal spectrum, then this indicates a malfunction of the high-frequency module and / or a device coupled to the high-frequency module.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the control device can be designed to output a warning signal when a malfunction is detected. This means that instead of false negative events, a warning can be issued to the user, who is thus informed that the system is no longer operational. This warning can be given optically and / or acoustically and / or haptically.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the control device can alternatively or additionally be configured to deactivate the high-frequency module and / or a device coupled to it when a malfunction is detected. The control device can therefore intervene proactively in the system behavior. For example, the high-frequency module according to the invention can be used in an environment monitoring radar of an industrial robot. As soon as a malfunction of the high-frequency module is detected, the industrial robot can be switched off in order to avoid injuries or destruction of people or objects in the vicinity.
  • According to a conceivable embodiment, the delay element can be monolithically integrated with the high-frequency module. For example, in the case of a SAW conductor, the necessary SAW components could be integrated directly as a passive structure on a high-frequency circuit associated with the high-frequency module, so that no further external components would be required.
  • According to a further conceivable exemplary embodiment, the delay element hybrid can be provided as a component separate from the high-frequency module. For example, a SAW delay line can be built up as a space-saving hybrid component in addition to a high-frequency circuit associated with the high-frequency module in the system. For frequencies in the 100 GHz range, the required structure sizes for coupling surface acoustic waves are on the one hand so large that they could still be manufactured using process technology, on the other hand the required line lengths are so small that they can be integrated in a space-efficient manner.
  • The invention further relates to a method for self-monitoring a high-frequency module with a transmitter circuit and a receiver circuit, the method including generating a reference signal with a predetermined signal shape, the reference signal being able to be generated, for example, by means of a suitable signal generator. According to the method, the reference signal on the transmission circuit side is coupled into a delay element arranged between the transmission circuit and the receiver circuit, and on the receiver circuit side it is coupled out of the delay element, the delay element being designed to delay a signal propagation time of the reference signal between the transmission circuit and the receiver circuit.
  • Some exemplary embodiments are shown as examples in the drawing and are explained below. Show it
    • 1 1 shows a schematic view of a high-frequency module according to an exemplary embodiment,
    • 2nd 2 shows a schematic view of a high-frequency module according to a further exemplary embodiment,
    • 3rd 2 shows a schematic view of a high-frequency module according to a further exemplary embodiment,
    • 4th 2 shows a schematic view of a high-frequency module according to a further exemplary embodiment,
    • 5 a model reception spectrum with a reference signal, and
    • 6 a block diagram of a method according to an embodiment.
  • Exemplary embodiments are described in more detail below with reference to the figures, wherein Elements with the same or similar function are provided with the same reference symbols.
  • Method steps which are shown in a block diagram and explained with reference to the same can also be carried out in a different order than the illustrated or described order. In addition, method steps relating to a specific feature of a device are interchangeable with this feature of the device, which also applies the other way round.
  • The high-frequency module according to the invention can be a high-frequency component which is designed to be operated in the high-frequency range. For example, this can be a transmitter for transmitting a high-frequency signal, a receiver for receiving a high-frequency signal or a transceiver for combined transmission and reception of a high-frequency signal. A possible application of the high-frequency module described here is mentioned using the example of a radar, and in particular using the non-limiting example of a (frequency-modulated) continuous wave radar. However, the high-frequency module described here can also be used for other high-frequency applications.
  • A useful signal and a reference signal are also described below. The useful signal represents a signal which ensures the intended function of the high-frequency module, for example a radar signal in the case of a radar high-frequency module. In the case of frequency-modulated continuous wave radar systems in particular, the useful signal can have a predetermined signal shape. In contrast to the useful signal, a reference signal is a signal which also has a predetermined signal form, but which is not decisive for the intended functioning of the high-frequency module, but can be used for another function (for example a self-monitoring function). In some exemplary embodiments, it is conceivable that the reference signal is encoded onto the useful signal and the coding is checked on the receiver side. In still other exemplary embodiments, it is conceivable to use the useful signal, or at least a (e.g. reflected) portion of the useful signal, as a reference signal.
  • 1 shows a high frequency module 10th according to an embodiment. The high frequency module 10th has a transmission circuit 12 and a receiver circuit 13 on. The transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 can be arranged together on one and the same high-frequency circuit. Alternatively, the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 each be arranged on different high-frequency circuits. The high-frequency circuit, or the high-frequency circuits, can be part of the high-frequency module 10th be.
  • The transmission circuit 12 has a signal generator 14 on. The signal generator 14 is designed to provide at least one reference signal 15 generate with a given waveform. The reference signal 15 can be analog or digital. In 1 is a digital reference signal only as an example 15 represented with a certain bit sequence as a predetermined signal form.
  • The signal generator 14 can also be designed to generate the actual useful signal. The useful signal can be from the transmission circuit 12 can be transmitted by means of a suitable antenna device, and portions of the useful signal reflected in the surroundings can be transmitted by the receiver circuit 13 can be received again by means of a suitable antenna device. The signal generator 14 can both the useful signal and the reference signal 15 produce.
  • It is conceivable for the antenna device to be a transmitting antenna 18th for transmitting the signal and a separate receiving antenna 19th for receiving the signal. Alternatively, it would be conceivable for the antenna device to have a single antenna for the common transmission and reception of signals, in which case the transmitted signal and the received signal are internal to the high-frequency module 10th , for example after a delay element 16 , or could be combined externally.
  • The high frequency module 10th also has a delay element just mentioned 16 on. The delay element 16 is between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 arranged. The delay element 16 is configured to a signal transit time of the reference signal 15 between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 to delay.
  • The reference signal 15 can accordingly before the transmission circuit side transmission by means of the antenna device 18th in the delay element 16 be coupled. On the other hand, this can be the delay element 16 passed reference signal 15 On the receiver circuit side again from the delay element 16 be coupled out.
  • When transmitting the reference signal 15 between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 passes through the reference signal 15 that between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 arranged delay element 16 . The delay element 16 ensures a delay in the signal transit time of the reference signal 15 .
  • 2nd shows an embodiment in which the delay element 16 an electrical signal line 17th has, the length of a desired signal delay time of the reference signal 15 is coordinated.
  • The reference signal 15 is in this case a line-bound signal, which is by means of the electrical signal line 17th between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 can be transferred. In this exemplary embodiment, this differentiates among other things the reference signal 15 the previously described useful signal, which can be transmitted based on radio waves by means of the antenna devices.
  • In the in 2nd The exemplary embodiment shown can be the electrical signal line 17th even the delay element 16 form by the length of the signal line 17th to a desired signal delay of the reference signal 15 is coordinated. To reference signals 15 in the area of realistic scenarios, the length L of the reference line should 17th be high, preferably up to about L> 10 m. High-frequency signals are subject to relatively high attenuations on these line lengths, which is why they should be amplified at least once, preferably several times, in this exemplary embodiment.
  • This in 2nd illustrated embodiment of a high-frequency module 10th has a signal amplification device arranged on the transmission circuit side 21st on. This signal amplification device 21st can have, for example, an operational amplifier (OPV). The signal amplification device 21st can, as shown here purely by way of example, between the signal generator 14 and the antenna device arranged on the transmission circuit side 18th be arranged.
  • The high frequency module 10th can furthermore have a signal amplification device arranged on the receiver circuit side 22 exhibit. This signal amplification device 22 can have an OPV, for example. The signal amplification device 22 can, as shown here purely by way of example, between the antenna device arranged on the receiver circuit side 19th and a frequency mixing device 23 be arranged.
  • The frequency mixer 23 can one from the signal generator 14 Tapping the generated signal on the transmission circuit side and mixing this with a signal applied to the receiver circuit side to produce a mixed output signal 24th to create. A signal present on the receiver circuit side can, for example, a received useful signal and / or the reference signal 15 exhibit.
  • In the in 2nd In the example shown, the signal on the transmission circuit side can be used as an unamplified signal between the signal generator 14 and the signal amplification device arranged on the transmission circuit side 21st be tapped. Alternatively, however, it would also be conceivable for the signal present on the transmission circuit side to be present as an amplified signal between the signal amplification device arranged on the transmission circuit side 21st and the antenna device arranged on the transmission circuit side 18th is tapped. Such an arrangement is exemplified in 3rd shown.
  • 3rd shows a further embodiment of a high-frequency module 10th according to the concept described herein. In this embodiment, the delay element 16 a signal line 17th have, which can be configured at least in sections as an optical signal line. In other words, the signal line 17th a section 30th have, which is designed for the line of optical signals. this section 30th can for example have optical glass fibers with which the reference signal 15 can be transmitted over long distances with little loss. First of all, an electro-optical conversion is necessary, as is an electrical-optical reverse conversion at the end of the optical signal line 30th .
  • The high-frequency module 10th an electro-optical converter 31 exhibit. The electro-optical converter 31 converts the electrical reference signal 15 into an optical waveform. The reference signal 15 thus becomes the transmission circuit side in the delay element 16 coupled. The converted optical reference signal 15 is over the optical line section 30th to an electro-optical converter 32 transfer. The electrical-optical converter 32 then converts the optical reference signal 15 back into an electrical signal form. The electrical reference signal 15 then becomes the delay circuit on the receiver circuit side 16 uncoupled.
  • The delay element 16 can here at least the optical line section 30th exhibit. Optionally, the delay element 16 additionally the electrical signal line 17th exhibit. Here, the optical signal line 30th even the delay element 16 form by the length of the optical signal line 30th to a desired signal delay of the reference signal 15 is coordinated.
  • The reference signal 15 in this case is a line-bound signal, which is by means of the optical signal line 30th between the Transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 can be transferred. This distinguishes the reference signal 15 in this exemplary embodiment, inter alia, from the useful signal described above, which can be transmitted based on radio waves by means of the antenna devices.
  • The decoupled reference signal 15 can be coupled into a signal line circuit arranged on the receiver circuit side. For example, as in 3rd shown, the reference signal 15 On the receiver circuit side, between the antenna device arranged on the receiver circuit side 19th and the signal amplification device arranged on the receiver circuit side 22 be coupled into the signal line circuit arranged on the receiver circuit side.
  • According to the in 3rd The illustrated embodiment can therefore be the reference signal 15 by means of an electro-optical conversion 31 On the transmission circuit side into the optical signal line 30th can be coupled in and by means of an optical-electrical conversion 32 On the receiver circuit side from the optical signal line 30th be decoupled, the length of the optical signal line 30th to a desired signal delay of the reference signal 15 is coordinated. Also sections where the signal line is an electrical line 17th can delay the signal delay of the reference signal 15 contribute, but due to the comparatively higher signal attenuation, preferably to a lesser extent than the optical section 30th the signal line. In this exemplary embodiment, the delay element can, for example 16 at least the optical section 30th the signal line, and optionally other electrical sections 17th exhibit.
  • In the in 3rd illustrated embodiment can the aforementioned transmission circuit coupling of the reference signal 15 in the delay element 16 in front of the signal amplification device 21st respectively. The coupling in front of the signal amplification device 21st is particularly advantageous if it is in the signal amplification device 21st not just an amplifier, but even a frequency multiplier. Thus, a lower-frequency reference signal 15 are used (delayed), in which the attenuation is not as high as for the frequency of the useful signal. However, the reference signal is then multiplied 15 before decoupling from the delay element 16 (or coupling into the received signal) necessary. Compared to the previously with reference to the 1 and 2nd The exemplary embodiments described would be the signal amplification device 21st not monitored in the transmission path. Therefore, the decoupling of the signal generator 14 for the frequency mixer 23 after the signal circuit device arranged on the transmission circuit side 21st take place so that via the signal generator 14 the state of the signal amplification device arranged on the transmission circuit side 21st can be checked. This is a differentiation from the ones previously referred to 1 and 2nd described embodiments. Nevertheless, referring to this 3rd described features analogously to those in the 1 and 2nd illustrated embodiments can be applied.
  • The optical transmission is very low loss. Therefore, very long line lengths can be used, which in turn can generate correspondingly large signal delay delays.
  • At the in 4th High-frequency module shown 10th is the delay element 16 at least in sections (and alternatively completely) as a SAW delay line 17th designed to conduct surface acoustic waves.
  • Here the reference signal 15 in the form of an acoustic surface wave on the transmission circuit side in the SAW delay line 17th coupled in and receiver circuit side from the SAW delay line 17th be coupled out, the reference signal 15 when transmitting along the SAW delay line 17th experiences a signal delay. The delay element 16 to delay the signal transit time of the reference signal 15 can, for example, at least the SAW delay line mentioned 17th exhibit. The reference signal 15 in this case is again a line-bound signal, which is here by means of the SAW delay line 17th between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 can be transferred. This distinguishes the reference signal 15 in this exemplary embodiment, inter alia, from the useful signal described above, which can be transmitted based on radio waves by means of the antenna devices.
  • Due to the significantly lower speed of sound compared to the speed of propagation of electromagnetic waves, reference lengths in the range of several meters can be generated using small SAW structures in the millimeter range.
  • In the in 4th The illustrated embodiment is the high-frequency module 10th and the delay element 16 designed monolithically on a common chip. This can advantageously be achieved in particular due to the small size of SAW structures. A monolithic design of the high-frequency module 10th and the delay element 16 would be theoretically also with reference to 1 to 3rd discussed Realizable embodiments. However, due to the longer cable length required there (compared to SAW delay lines 17th in 4th ) a hybrid arrangement in which the delay element is generally preferred 16 hybrid as one of the high frequency module 10th separate external component (e.g. external electrical and / or optical cables 17th ) is realized.
  • In 4th is an example of a signal evaluation circuit 40 shown, which can also be combined with all other exemplary embodiments. The signal evaluation circuit 40 can be a signal amplification device 41 and / or an analog-to-digital converter 42 and / or a computing unit 43 (CPU). The signal evaluation circuit 40 is used to evaluate one using the receiver circuit 13 received reception spectrum, which is exemplified in 5 is shown.
  • The reception spectrum 50 is here as an analog signal spectrum with two distinct maxima 51 , 52 shown. A first maximum 51 can, for example, a signal portion of an antenna device arranged on the receiver circuit side 19th represent received useful signal. A second maximum 52 can, for example, by means of the delay element 16 delays between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 transmitted reference signal 15 represent.
  • The signal evaluation circuit 40 can this reception spectrum 50 evaluate and check whether the reference signal 15 in the reception spectrum 50 is available. Optionally, the signal evaluation circuit 40 additionally check whether the amplitude of the received reference signal 15 with the known amplitude of the transmitted reference signal 15 matches. Is the reference signal 15 in the reception spectrum 50 not present, a malfunction or malfunction can be detected.
  • The signal evaluation circuit 40 can therefore be designed to malfunction the high-frequency module 10th to detect when the reception spectrum 50 the receiver circuit side from the signal line 17th decoupled reference signal 15 does not contain.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the signal evaluation circuit 40 be configured to output a warning signal when a malfunction is detected. This can be an optical and / or acoustic and / or haptic warning signal.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, the signal evaluation circuit 40 be configured to the high-frequency module when a malfunction is detected 10th and / or a device coupled to it 45 to deactivate. For example, the high-frequency module 10th with a controller 44 for the device 45 be connected. The device 45 is in 4th shown only by way of example as an industrial robot. So if the signal evaluation circuit 40 If a malfunction is detected, the controller can 44 cause the industrial robot 45 to deactivate.
  • The concept according to the invention thus allows self-monitoring of the high-frequency module 10th using the reference signal 15 . This self-monitoring implies that the reference signal 15 is coupled out and in again. In between is the reference signal 15 delayed by it through the delay element 16 (e.g. a signal line 17th with known length) is conducted. This approach offers the possibility that all components of the high frequency module 10th , and / or a device coupled to it, can be examined for their functionality. In addition, all other components can be used in signal evaluation 40 right down to the processor 43 be monitored.
  • The delay time of the reference signal according to the invention 15 which by means of the delay element 16 achievable offers the following two advantages in particular. Would the reference signal 15 on the high frequency module 10th are coupled directly from the transmit to the receive channel, then the frequency of the reference signal would be, at least with a frequency-modulated continuous wave radar 15 due to the short signal delay very small and could therefore possibly not be sufficient of the DC component of the output signal of the frequency mixing device 23 be separated. With the by means of the delay element 16 Realizable delay, however, can be the reference signal 15 can be shifted to almost any frequency in the spectrum. Furthermore, the reference signal 15 in the case of radars which work in the close range, are pushed out of the working range of the radar in order not to overlay real targets.
  • In principle, the high-frequency module 10th be part of a radar system. This can be, for example, an environment detection radar system in industrial robots. Other conceivable areas of application would be radar systems in the automotive sector and in aerospace technology. The high-frequency module can preferably 10th be part of a continuous wave radar or a frequency-modulated continuous wave radar.
  • The high frequency module 10th can in this case be designed in particular to transmit and / or receive high-frequency signals in a frequency range of centimeter waves, for example between 3 GHz and 30 GHz, or in a frequency range of millimeter waves, for example between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. The high frequency module 10th can be operated in different ISM bands. Of particular interest here are the frequency ranges at 24 GHz and 77 GHz for using the high-frequency module according to the invention 10th in the automotive radar area.
  • As exemplified in the 2nd and 3rd is shown, the delay element 16 hybrid at least in sections as one from the chip of the high-frequency module 10th external component be designed. This applies in particular to that in 3rd shown embodiment, in which the delay element 16 at least one optical section 30th has the external, ie from the chip of the high-frequency module 10th separately, can be executed.
  • But also with the in 4th illustrated embodiment, it would be conceivable that the SAW delay line 17th as a space-saving component hybrid next to the chip of the high-frequency module 10th is built in the system. In particular for frequencies in the 100 GHz range, the required SAW structure sizes for coupling surface acoustic waves are so large on the one hand that they can still be manufactured using process technology, and on the other hand the required cable lengths are so small that they can be integrated efficiently can.
  • Alternatively, SAW components in particular could be used directly as a passive structure on the chip of the high-frequency module 10th be integrated. A monolithic integration of the delay element 16 with the chip of the high frequency module 10th would also be conceivable in the other exemplary embodiments. Electrical signal lines 17th could, for example, be integrated in a meandering manner in order to have the longest possible line length while at the same time taking up little space on the chip of the high-frequency module 10th to realize.
  • 6 shows a block diagram of a method according to an embodiment, this method for self-monitoring a high-frequency module 10th with a transmission circuit 12 and a receiver circuit 13 is provided.
  • In block 601 becomes a reference signal 15 generated with a predetermined waveform.
  • In block 602 becomes the reference signal 15 On the transmission circuit side in between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 arranged delay element 16 coupled. In addition, the reference signal 15 Receiver circuit side of the delay element 16 uncoupled. Here is the delay element 16 configured to a signal transit time of the reference signal 15 between the transmission circuit 12 and the receiver circuit 13 to delay.
  • According to one exemplary embodiment, the method can evaluate an analysis using the receiver circuit 13 received reception spectrum 50 have, and detecting a malfunction of the radio frequency module 10th when the reception spectrum 50 the transmission circuit side in the delay element 16 coupled reference signal 15 does not contain.
  • According to a further exemplary embodiment, a warning signal can be output when a malfunction is detected. Alternatively or additionally, a malfunction of the high-frequency module can be detected 10th and / or one with the high frequency module 10th paired device 45 be deactivated.
  • The invention is briefly summarized below in other words:
    • The concept described here provides a way of self-monitoring high-frequency modules 10th before, which can be used for example in radar systems. The concept provides for a reference signal 15 uncoupling and re-coupling and the transit time of the reference signal 15 Delay in between by being on a line 17th known length is performed.
  • For example, shows 2nd an embodiment of a system concept of a self-monitoring radar, in which a reference signal 15 is produced. To reference signals 15 in the area of realistic scenarios, the length L of the reference line should 17th be very high (up to L> 10 m). High-frequency signals are subject to high attenuation on these cable lengths, so they should be amplified several times.
  • Optical fibers offer an alternative 30th with which the reference signal 15 can be transmitted over long distances with little loss. First of all there is an electro-optical conversion 31 provided, as well as the optical-electrical back conversion 32 at the end of the fiber 30th . Correspondingly fast electro-optical converters are located in frequency ranges up to 100 GHz 31 , 32 available to the reference signal 15 on the fiber 30th bring to. 3rd shows an embodiment of a system concept of a self-monitoring radar, in which the reference signal 15 externally using an optical fiber 30th is delayed.
  • As an alternative, existing low-frequency signals in the system can be used as a reference. It would therefore also be conceivable to use a known reflection of the useful signal (for example on the radome, a lens, on the housing, etc.) as a reference signal, which must always be present depending on the application and to check this in the spectrum. The external structure (housing, ...) would have to be considered accordingly. That would be like an external delay ( 2nd ), just not wired. This means that the signal path would not be line-based, but radio wave-based.
  • 4th shows another approach in which the reference signal 15 using surface acoustic waves (SAW) delay lines 17th is produced. Due to the significantly lower speed of sound compared to the propagation speed of electromagnetic waves, reference lengths in the range of several meters can be generated using small structures in the mm range. Rather, SAW components can be used directly as a passive structure on a high-frequency module 10th associated high frequency circuit 11 be integrated so that no additional external components are required. 4th shows in this respect, purely by way of example, a system concept of a self-monitoring radar on the high-frequency circuit 11 included reference signal generation.
  • Alternatively, the SAW delay line 17th as a space-saving hybrid component next to the high-frequency circuit 11 be built in the system. For frequencies in the range around 100 GHz, the structure sizes required for coupling surface acoustic waves are on the one hand so large that they can still be manufactured using process technology, and on the other hand the required line lengths are small. This approach not only offers the possibility of having all components on the high frequency circuit 11 are checked for their functionality, rather all other components in the signal evaluation 40 right down to the processor 43 supervised.
  • The signal evaluation 40 is used to evaluate the reception spectrum 50 , which is exemplified in 5 is shown. 5 shows a model spectrum 50 a self-monitoring radar according to the concept described here. As long as the known reference signal 15 in the spectrum 50 with the expected performance included, all components work as expected.
  • Is the known reference signal 15 in the spectrum 50 not included, a malfunction of the radar is detected. It is primarily the information that is crucial for functional safety that the system has failed can be recognized. With suitable additional circuitry or equipment, it is even possible to differentiate which component has failed (for example a component on the high-frequency circuit 11 , signal processing 40 or a calculation error in the processor 43 ).
  • Although some aspects have been described in connection with a device, it goes without saying that these aspects also represent a description of the corresponding method, so that a block or a component of a device can also be understood as a corresponding method step or as a feature of a method step. Analogously, aspects that have been described in connection with or as a method step also represent a description of a corresponding block or details or feature of a corresponding device.
  • Some or all of the method steps can be performed by a hardware apparatus (or using a hardware apparatus) such as a microprocessor, a programmable computer, or an electronic circuit. In some embodiments, some or more of the most important process steps can be performed by such an apparatus.
  • Depending on the specific implementation requirements, exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented in hardware or in software or at least partially in hardware or at least partially in software. The implementation can be carried out using a digital storage medium, for example a floppy disk, a DVD, a BluRay disc, a CD, a ROM, a PROM, an EPROM, an EEPROM or a FLASH memory, a hard disk or another magnetic or optical Be carried out memory on which electronically readable control signals are stored, which can cooperate with a programmable computer system or cooperate in such a way that the respective method is carried out. The digital storage medium can therefore be computer-readable.
  • Some exemplary embodiments according to the invention thus comprise a data carrier which has electronically readable control signals which are able to interact with a programmable computer system in such a way that one of the methods described herein is carried out.
  • In general, exemplary embodiments of the present invention can be implemented as a computer program product with a program code, the program code being effective to carry out one of the methods when the computer program product runs on a computer.
  • The program code can, for example, also be stored on a machine-readable carrier.
  • Other embodiments include the computer program for performing one of the methods described herein, the computer program being stored on a machine-readable medium. In other words, an exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention is thus a computer program which has a program code for performing one of the methods described here when the computer program runs on a computer.
  • A further exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention is thus a data carrier (or a digital storage medium or a computer-readable medium) on which the computer program for carrying out one of the methods described herein is recorded. The data carrier or the digital storage medium or the computer-readable medium are typically tangible and / or non-volatile.
  • A further exemplary embodiment of the method according to the invention is thus a data stream or a sequence of signals which represents the computer program for performing one of the methods described herein. The data stream or the sequence of signals can, for example, be configured to be transferred via a data communication connection, for example via the Internet.
  • Another exemplary embodiment includes a processing device, for example a computer or a programmable logic component, which is configured or adapted to carry out one of the methods described herein.
  • Another embodiment includes a computer on which the computer program for performing one of the methods described herein is installed.
  • A further exemplary embodiment according to the invention comprises a device or a system which is designed to transmit a computer program for carrying out at least one of the methods described herein to a receiver. The transmission can take place electronically or optically, for example. The receiver can be, for example, a computer, a mobile device, a storage device or a similar device. The device or the system can comprise, for example, a file server for transmitting the computer program to the recipient.
  • In some embodiments, a programmable logic device (e.g., a field programmable gate array, an FPGA) can be used to perform some or all of the functionality of the methods described herein. In some embodiments, a field programmable gate array may cooperate with a microprocessor to perform one of the methods described herein. In general, in some embodiments, the methods are performed by any hardware device. This can be a universally usable hardware such as a computer processor (CPU) or hardware specific to the method, such as an ASIC.
  • The above-described embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles of the present invention. It is to be understood that modifications and variations in the arrangements and details described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, it is intended that the invention be limited only by the scope of the following claims and not by the specific details presented with the description and explanation of the embodiments herein.

Claims (15)

  1. High frequency module (10) with a transmission circuit (12) and a receiver circuit (13), wherein the transmission circuit (12) has a signal generator (14) which is designed to generate at least one reference signal (15) with a predetermined signal shape, and a delay element (16) arranged between the transmitter circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13), which is designed to delay a signal propagation time of the reference signal (15) between the transmitter circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13), the reference signal (15) The transmitter circuit side can be coupled into the delay element (16) and the receiver circuit side can be coupled out of the delay element (16).
  2. High frequency module (10) after Claim 1 , wherein the delay element (16) has an electrical signal line (17) into which the reference signal (15) can be coupled in on the transmission circuit side and from which the reference signal (15) can be decoupled on the receiver circuit side, the length of the electrical signal line (17) being matched to a desired signal delay of the reference signal (15).
  3. High frequency module (10) after Claim 1 or 2nd , wherein the delay element (16) has an optical signal line (30) into which the reference signal (15) can be coupled by means of an electro-optical conversion (31) on the transmission circuit side and from which the reference signal (15) can be coupled by means of an optical-electrical conversion (32) Can be decoupled on the receiver circuit side, the length of the optical signal line (30) being matched to a desired signal delay of the reference signal (15).
  4. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 3rd , The delay element (16) has a SAW delay line (17) for conducting surface acoustic waves, the reference signal (15) in the form of an acoustic surface wave being able to be coupled into the SAW delay line (17) on the transmission circuit side and receiving circuit side from the SAW delay line ( 17) can be decoupled, and the reference signal (15) experiences a signal propagation delay during transmission along the SAW delay line (17).
  5. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 4th The delay element (16) has a physical component of the high-frequency module (10), on which a signal emitted by the transmission circuit (12) can be reflected and a reflected portion of the signal can be received as a reference signal (15) by the receiver circuit (13).
  6. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 5 , wherein the radio frequency module (10) is a component of a radar system, and in particular a continuous wave radar or a frequency modulated continuous wave radar.
  7. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 6 comprising a signal evaluation circuit (40) for evaluating a reception spectrum (50) received by means of the receiver circuit (13), the signal evaluation circuit (40) being designed to detect a malfunction of the radio-frequency module (10) when the reception spectrum (50) on the transmission circuit side not included in the delay element (16) coupled reference signal (15).
  8. High frequency module (10) after Claim 7 , wherein the signal evaluation circuit (40) is designed to output a warning signal when a malfunction is detected.
  9. High frequency module (10) after Claim 7 or 8th The signal evaluation circuit (40) is designed to deactivate the high-frequency module (10) and / or a device (45) coupled to it when a malfunction is detected.
  10. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 9 , wherein the delay element (16) is monolithically integrated with the high-frequency module (10).
  11. High-frequency module (10) according to one of the Claims 1 to 9 , wherein the delay element (16) is provided hybrid as a component external to the high-frequency module (10).
  12. Method for self-monitoring a high-frequency module (10) with a transmitter circuit (12) and a receiver circuit (13), the method comprising the following steps: Generating a reference signal (15) with a predetermined signal shape, and Coupling the reference signal (15) on the transmission circuit side into a delay element (16) arranged between the transmission circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13) and decoupling the reference signal (15) on the receiver circuit side from the delay element (16), the delay element (16) being designed, in order to delay a signal transit time of the reference signal (15) between the transmitter circuit (12) and the receiver circuit (13).
  13. Procedure according to Claim 12 , comprising an evaluation of a reception spectrum (50) received by means of the receiver circuit (13), and detection of a malfunction of the radio-frequency module (10) if the reception spectrum (50) does not contain the reference signal (15) coupled into the delay element (16) on the transmission circuit side.
  14. Procedure according to Claim 13 , a warning signal being output when a malfunction is detected, and / or the high-frequency module (10) and / or a device coupled to the high-frequency module (10) being deactivated when a malfunction is detected.
  15. Computer program with a program code for performing the method according to one of the Claims 12 to 14 if the program runs on a computer.
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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080252513A1 (en) * 2007-04-16 2008-10-16 Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. Radar system
US8994586B1 (en) * 2013-11-27 2015-03-31 Agency For Defense Development Apparatus and method for detecting target in near field
US20180175831A1 (en) * 2016-12-21 2018-06-21 Nxp B.V. Cascaded transceiver integrated circuit

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080252513A1 (en) * 2007-04-16 2008-10-16 Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. Radar system
US8994586B1 (en) * 2013-11-27 2015-03-31 Agency For Defense Development Apparatus and method for detecting target in near field
US20180175831A1 (en) * 2016-12-21 2018-06-21 Nxp B.V. Cascaded transceiver integrated circuit

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