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Joe Wu

Envelope detector design

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I am working on a project in which we are trying to design and build an ultrasonic thickness gauge that will calculate the thickness of a given part based on the time difference between sending a signal and receiving a reflection back (using the known speed of sound through the medium).

As we are in the initial stages of prototyping, we are currently using an Arduino nano as the MCU for our prototype. We have successfully amplified the pulse generated by the MCU to a higher voltage, which is then used to excite the ultrasonic transducer (which is in contact with the part that is being measured). The reflection is then detected by the second element of the transducer and converted into an electric signal that is centred around the natural frequency of the transducer (5MHz). This signal is then processed (amplified and filtered) into a level that would be detectable by the MCU (circuit and scope screenshot as shown below). However due to MCU's limited sampling rate, the signal will not be reliably detected. Therefore I was wondering if we would be able to devise an envelope detector that would extract the amplitude modulation of the reflection signal, effectively converting a very high frequency into a lower frequency signal, which I am hoping would be detected by the MCU.

Amplifier and Filter.png

According to what I have read so far, this would be achieved by first rectifying the signal using a “super-diode” (precision rectifier configuration as shown below) and then integrate it through an op-amp integrator. However, it seems that because I am relying on single supply and the frequency of the signal of interest is very high, the rectifier will not work as I expected, in fact I did not get anything out of it. Is there perhaps a way of designing an envelope detector entirely from transistors instead of op-amps?

Precision Rectifier.png

Any pointers or suggestions will be highly appreciated!!

Thanks in advance!


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