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Build a Radar

About This Course

This self-paced course introduces students to radar through different topic modules that are centered on building and collecting data with a small radar. The course uniquely provides students with a hands-on opportunity to learn about radar and its core components, which include electromagnetics, analog design and digital signal processing. These areas are presented by subject matter experts from MIT Lincoln Laboratory through video-recorded lectures accompanied by review questions that verify student understanding of the concepts. During the course, students are guided through the process of building an experimental radar using a detailed set of instructions. Additionally, students are shown how to collect and interpret real-world data with their radar in Doppler, ranging and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) modes.


While this course is taught at a college level, students have ranged from high schoolers to experienced professionals. We have found that participants do not need to have a specific background – only the interest to learn about radar!

Course Staff

Patrick Bell

Dr. Patrick J. Bell is a technical staff member in the RF Technology Group. His interests include the design of advanced wideband millimeter-wave radar technology, wideband electronic warfare and electronic intelligence (EW/ELINT) systems, wideband active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs), microwave circuit and system design, and advanced packaging techniques. Dr. Bell has led several project teams and his involvement spans concept development, architecture and design, fabrication and integration, and demonstration in the field. He received a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia, and MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Alan Fenn

Dr. Alan J. Fenn (Fellow IEEE) is a senior staff member in the RF Technology Group at Lincoln Laboratory, and he has been involved in the development of ultrawideband antennas and arrays for radar and communications applications. He is currently serving as Technical Program Chair for the 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems and Technology. He is an author of several books and numerous papers on the subject of antennas and arrays. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois–Chicago and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University, all in electrical engineering.

Kenneth Kolodziej

Mr. Kenneth E. Kolodziej is a technical staff member in the RF Technology Group, where he a principal investigator on wideband electronic and simultaneous transmit and receive (STAR) systems. Since joining Lincoln Laboratory, Mr. Kolodziej has conducted research on RF, microwave and photonic circuits, including antenna, radar and communication systems. Mr. Kolodziej also teaches an electromagnetics course to undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and several "Build-a-Radar" courses on MIT campus. Mr. Kolodziej received his BE and ME degrees in electrical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Elizabeth Kowalski

Dr. Elizabeth Kowalski is a technical staff member in the RF technology group. Her research is focused on the design, simulation, development, and testing of RF systems. Dr. Kowalski received her B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Throughout her career, Dr. Kowalski has pursued electromagnetics research with many applications. She is currently researching phased array radar and RF integrated circuits and systems. She has also worked on RF systems involving ground penetrating radar, direction finding, gradiometry, waveguides, and high frequency vacuum electronics.

John Meklenburg

John W. Meklenburg is an associate member of the technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. Since joining the Laboratory’s Airborne Radar Systems and Techniques group in 2011, John has contributed to the development of signal processing algorithms, simulations, and hardware for ISR radar and Electronic Warfare systems. His current work involves the development of advanced jammer systems and he has led several flight test campaigns supporting both Department of Defense acquisition programs and small-scale research efforts. He received his BS and MS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

William Moulder

Dr. William F. Moulder is a technical staff member in the RF Technology Group. His research interests include wideband antenna systems, phased arrays, microwave imaging, and Simultaneous Transmit and Receive (STAR) technology. He received BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Ohio State University.

Julia Mullen

Dr. Julie Mullen is a member of the technical staff in the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center (LLSC) where she assists researchers in maximizing their use of high performance computing resources in order to minimize their time to solution. Additionally, Dr. Mullen leads the design and creation of online professional education courseware for the LLSC, where she pursues research in learning analytics for adaptive learning design and the integration of hands-on physical construction and experimentation with MOOC platforms and technologies. Her work has been published in both the scientific computing and educational domains.

Bradley Perry

Dr. Bradley T. Perry is an assistant leader of the RF Technology Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he currently leads programs on the development of next-generation systems and technology related to isolation improvement. These programs include work in the areas of microwave circuit and antenna design, and compact receiver and transmitter designs for electronic warfare systems and active decoys, along with work on techniques for simultaneous transmit and receive (STAR) applications. Dr. Perry received BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Michigan State University, where he focused on antenna design and electromagnetic propagation through layered media.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to purchase the radar parts?

While the lectures and other course material can be viewed for free, the radar construction component of the course requires purchasing the radar parts kit. The complete hardware kit can be purchased online through a parts distributor (the current link is provided within the Course Overview section of the course site).

What do I need to build and test the radar?

We recommend having a soldering iron, Dremel tool, wire stripper and screwdrivers to help build the radar as well as a multimeter and oscilloscope to help test the radar. Finally, you will need a laptop with a USB port to collect and process the radar data. A more detailed list of these requirements is provided within the Course Overview section of the course site.