Plan position indicator

Plan position indicator

The plan position indicator (PPI), is the most common type of radar display. The radar antenna is usually represented in the center of the display, so the distance from it and height above ground can be drawn as concentric circles. As the radar antenna rotates, a radial trace on the PPI sweeps in unison with it about the center point.


The radar antenna sends pulses while rotating 360 degrees around the radar site at a fixed angle. It can then change angle or repeat at the same angle according to the need. Return echoes from targets are received by the antenna and processed by the receiver and the most direct display of those data is the PPI.

It is to be noted that the height of the echoes increases with the distance to the radar, as represented in the image to the right. This change is not a straight line but a curve as the surface of the Earth is curved and "sinks" below the radar horizon. For fixed-site installations, north is usually represented at the top of the image. For moving installations, such as ship and aircraft radars, the top represents the front part of the ship or aircraft, i.e., its heading (direction of travel) and this is usually represented by a lubber line. The signal represented is the reflectivity at only one elevation of the antenna, so it is possible to have many PPIs at one time, one for each antenna elevation.


The PPI display was first used prior to the start of the Second World War in an experimental radar system outside Berlin. The first production PPI was devised at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, UK and was first introduced in the H2S radar blind-bombing system of World War II.

Originally, data was displayed in real time on a cathode ray tube, and thus the only way to store the information received was by taking a photograph of the screen. With the development of electronic radar systems, it became possible to digitize data and store it in memory, allowing access at a later date.


The PPI is used in many domains involving radars, including air traffic control, meteorology, on board ships and aircraft etc. In meteorology, a competing display system is the CAPPI (Constant Altitude Plan Position Indicator) when a multi-angles scan is available.

Using computers to process data, modern sonar and lidar installations can mimic radar PPI displays too.( [ block diagram] )


* Sir Bernard Lovell "ECHOES OF WAR : The Story of H2S Radar" ISBN 0-85274-317-3
* "Adapted from [ Microwave Radar At War (1)] . There is an open source verification for this text on the home page [ Greg Goebel / In The Public Domain] ."
* A. P. Rowe: "One Story of Radar" - Camb Univ Press - 1948
* Dudley Saward, "Bernard Lovell: A Biography" - Robert Hale - 1984
* Norman Longmate "The Bombers: the RAF offensive against Germany, 1939-1945", Hutchins & Co, (1983), ISBN 0091515807
* E. G. Bowen "Radar Days" ISBN 0-7503-0586-X

* David Atlas, "Radar in Meteorology: Battan Memorial and 40th Anniversary Radar Meteorology Conference", published by American Meteorological Society, Boston, 1990, 806 pages, ISBN 0-933876-86-6, AMS Code RADMET.

* Yves Blanchard, "Le radar, 1904-2004: histoire d'un siècle d'innovations techniques et opérationnelles ", published by Ellipses, Paris, France, 2004 ISBN 2-7298-1802-2

* R. J. Doviak et D. S. Zrnic, "Doppler Radar and Weather Observations", Academic Press. Seconde Edition, San Diego Cal., 1993 p. 562.

* Roger M. Wakimoto and Ramesh Srivastava, "Radar and Atmospheric Science: A Collection of Essays in Honor of David Atlas", publié par l'American Meteorological Society, Boston, August 2003. Series: Meteorological Monograph , Volume 30, number 52, 270 pages, ISBN 1-878220-57-8; AMS Code MM52.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • plan-position indicator — noun (radar) An apparatus in which the position of reflecting objects is shown on the screen of a cathode ray tube, as if on a plan (abbrev PPI) • • • Main Entry: ↑plan …   Useful english dictionary

  • plan position indicator — n. a circular radarscope on which signals are shown at radial distances from the center, which represents the location of the transmitter …   English World dictionary

  • Plan Position Indicator — Pour les articles homonymes, voir PPI. Animation simplifiée de l affichage sur un PPI Le PPI (Vue panoramique à angle d élévation constant) est la méthode d affichage des données qui a été développé dès le tout début de l invention du radar.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Plan Position Indicator — PPI (NOAA) El indicador de posición (acrónimo en inglés PPI para plan position indicator , es el más común tipo de salida de pantalla de radar. La antena del radar es representada usualmente en el centro del display, tal que la distancia desde él …   Wikipedia Español

  • plan-position indicator — panoraminis rodytuvas statusas T sritis radioelektronika atitikmenys: angl. plan position indicator vok. Rundsichtanzeigegerät, n; Rundsichtbildschirm, m; Rundsichtgerät, n rus. индикатор кругового обзора, m; панорамный индикатор, m pranc.… …   Radioelektronikos terminų žodynas

  • plan position indicator — panoraminis rodytuvas statusas T sritis Gynyba apibrėžtis Katodinių spindulių ekranas, kuriame radiolokatoriaus aptikti objektai vaizduojami radiolokatoriaus vietos atžvilgiu. atitikmenys: angl. plan position indicator pranc. écran radar… …   NATO terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • plan position indicator — noun : PPI * * * a radarscope on which an object reflecting radar waves shows its bearing and distance from the radar detector by causing a spot of light to appear on a screen that represents a map of the area around the detector. Abbr.: PPI… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Constant Altitude Plan Position Indicator — Cappi de réflectivité à 1,5 km d altitude par le radar de Montréal(Source Environnement Canada) La Vue Panoramique à Altitude Constante plus connue sous l acronyme de CAPPI (Constant Altitude Plan Position Indicator) est un affichage qui donne… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Constant Altitude Plan Position Indicator — The Constant Altitude Plan Position Indicator, better known as CAPPI, is a radar display which gives a horizontal cross section of data at constant altitude. It has been developed by the Canadians at McGill University in Montreal by the Stormy… …   Wikipedia

  • plan position indicator — A cathode ray tube on which radar returns are so displayed as to bear the same relationship to the transmitter as the objects giving rise to them …   Military dictionary

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