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Radar as an alternative to ultrasonic sensors


Radar is an important sensor technology for determining distances. In the field of fill level measurement, it impresses through its precision and robustness. But this performance comes at a price – which has given low-cost ultrasonic sensors a market advantage for use in cost-effective and simple applications until now. The new IDR-2050 radar from InnoSenT, however, has an optimised price-performance ratio, making it an alternative to ultrasonic fill level sensors.

Precise, short-distance measurement

The IDR-2050 is a 60 GHz FMCW radar sensor with a range of 10 m that can be ideally integrated into smaller silos or tanks as a stationary fill level system. InnoSenT developed the product specifically for distance measurement at short ranges and for cost-effective applications.

The system boasts impressive detection precision in the millimetre range (±5 mm). The company achieves this precision through a combination of special product and antenna design, innovative DSP algorithms, and advanced calibration technology. The coverage area is optimised for the typical locations of use: the focused, 6° radar beam detects moving and stationary objects within a narrow coverage area. This almost punctual measurement enables distances to be determined in a focused manner without interference from reflective walls, installed mixers, or other interfering factors present within a container, within its machine, or in the measuring environment of the filling material.

Outstanding design
The IDR-2050 radar sensor is extremely flat and small. This allows the product to be installed in standardised housings with little space. The optimised and flat shape of the radome fits perfectly into typical designs of fill level measurement systems without causing any drop in performance. Since it’s easier to position this sensor, that eliminates the need for complicated assembly work. The integrated signal processing and the GUI provided by InnoSenT make commissioning the product easier and minimise development work for integrating the sensor. The IDR-2050 has a UART interface and uses it to output the assessed detection results in the form of a target list. Through an EVAL kit, the sensor can be connected directly to a PC using an FTDI cable for initial configuration.

Ideal functionality
As an FMCW radar, the sensor measures distance, speed, and detects direction of movement. The product also determines the signal strength of the detection targets. InnoSenT offers customers various filter and configuration options for individual adjustments. One example is the range, which the user can set to be smaller or larger depending on the on-site conditions. Defined filters are used to ignore irrelevant detections and to refine information transmission. The IDR-2050 has three different operating modes that have proven themselves for the different application areas of distance measurement: a measurement mode for fast motion with high speed resolution, normal mode, and a mode with a longer measurement timeframe. InnoSenT has also integrated an energy-saving function.

Putting the IDR-2050 to use
This radar is approved for use in Europe and the USA in accordance with ETSI and FCC requirements. With the IDR-2050, the company is expanding its portfolio in the 60 GHz range. In addition to the iSYS-6030 long-range radar system, InnoSenT now also offers a high-precision alternative for near-range distance measurement.

Thanks to its functions, the product can be used in many different ways. Its short range makes the IDR-2050 ideal for distance measurements in smaller silos, cisterns, or tanks. The sensor reliably detects a wide range of materials – from liquid to solid ones. Even dust from finely ground goods or granular substances and foam from mash cause no problems with measurement. Extreme conditions such as heat or cold, dirt, vapour, or darkness don’t impede the radar equipment’s performance.

Instead of for fill level detection, the sensor can also be used for to prevent collisions. In this use case, the IDR-2050 transmits distance warnings, while continuously monitoring the distance to moving or stationary objects. If the radar is mounted on a vehicle, this enables collisions to be prevented between forklift trucks and persons or objects, for instance.

The high-performance radar’s low price makes this new product a serious competitor to ultrasonic sensors. With the IDR-2050, InnoSenT is offering a new radar solution for cost-effective applications in the field of fill level measurement that now for the first time boasts the advantages of radar technology, such as maintenance-free, weather- and light-independent operation as well as precise and comprehensive data acquisition. As a non-guided radar, it also is easy to integrate into a customer-friendly system thanks to its compact design. You will find more information about the product on InnoSenT GmbH’s company website and blog.

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