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Title: A Portable Low-Power Harmonic Radar System and Conformal Tag for Insect Tracking

item Zhu, Heping

Submitted to: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Antennas
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2008
Publication Date: 12/20/2008
Citation: Psychoudakis, D., Moulder, W., Chen, C., Zhu, H., Volakis, J.L. 2008. A Portable Low-Power Harmonic Radar System and Conformal Tag for Insect Tracking. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Antennas. 7:444-447.

Interpretive Summary: Harmonic radars have been used to track insects to study their dispersal and behavioral patterns; however, the successful tracking rate with existing radars is very low because they either use low frequencies not suitable for small tags or transmit high power severely limiting portability. This research presented development of a new harmonic radar prototype that offered a combination of portability, low-power operation, and tag miniaturization not currently available in existing insect-tracking radars. The prototype relied on a small radio frequency tag attached to a captured and released insect, and tracked the small tag up to a range of approximately 58 meters. There is a great potential to use the proposed unit for tracking of Emerald Ash Borer and other small pest insects, aiding development of appropriate treatment and management strategies.

Technical Abstract: Harmonic radar systems provide an effective modality for tracking insect behavior. This paper presents a harmonic radar system proposed to track the migration of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The system offers a unique combination of portability, low power and small tag design. It is comprised of a compact radar unit and a passive RF tag for mounting on the insect. The radar unit transmits a 5.9–6 GHz signal and detects at the 11.8–12 GHz band. A prototype of the radar unit was built and tested, and a new small tag was designed for the application. The new tag offers improved harmonic conversion efficiency and much smaller size as compared to previous harmonic radar systems for tracking insects. Unlike radio frequency identification (RFID) detectors whose sensitivity allows detection up to a few meters, the developed radar can detect a tagged insect up to 58 m (190 ft).