Error getting Fourier transform of a 1d signal

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Hello,
I have an almost-sinusoidal signal (see attached file), which I believe is composed of a mixture of maybe 2 (or 3) Fourier modes:
I wanted to verify this by plotting its Fourier transform. I expected a flat signal with a bunch of peaks at the signal harmonics. However, using fft() on the signal gives me a 2d plot that makes absolutely no sense to me. Can someone please help me to understand what is going on?
  4 Comments
Star Strider
Star Strider on 2 Mar 2020
Remember that you need to plot the absolute value (use the abs function) of the fresult fo the fft.
Also, since the signal has a D-C offset, subtract the mean of the signal before taking the fft in order to see the peaks more clearly:
FTsignal = fft(signal - mean(signal))/numel(signal);
assuming that ‘signal’ is a vector.
Anshuman Pal
Anshuman Pal on 3 Mar 2020
Thank you, this is precisely what I needed!
One final question --- I expect the wavenumber of one peak to be an integer multiple of the other. How can I verify/disprove this?

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Accepted Answer

Star Strider
Star Strider on 3 Mar 2020
The easiest way to determine the location of the peaks is to use the findpeaks function (with the appropriate name-value pairs to isolate your peaks of interest). I cannot guarantee that the frequencies will be integer multiples of each other, however findpeaks is the best way to identify them.
Improve the frequency resolution by increasing the length of the fft itself. Specify an appropriately large value for ‘n’ (the second argument) to increase the frequency resolution to whatever you want.
  6 Comments
Anshuman Pal
Anshuman Pal on 5 Mar 2020
Thank you. And on what basis do you choose the values for the parameters MinPeakProminence in findpeaks and the number of bins in histfit?
Star Strider
Star Strider on 5 Mar 2020
As always, my pleasure!
I experimented with them until I got the result I wanted.
With respect to peak prominences, it is possible to get those directly from findpeaks by requesting extra outputs, then choosing the minimum that returns what you want. Here, I just experimented.
The same for histfit. I experimented with different bin numbers until I got what appeared to me to be an acceptable result.

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