A compact, high-performance, programmable Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) system is described based on an impulse generator transmitter, a full waveform sampling single shot receiver, and high directivity antennas. The digital programmable pulse generator is developed for the transmitter circuit and both the pulse width and pulse shape are tunable to adjust for different modes of operation. It utilizes a step-recovery diode (SRD) and short-circuited microstrip lines to produce sub-nanosecond wide ultra-wideband (UWB) pulses. Sharp step signals are generated by periodic clock signals that are connected to the SRD's input node. Up to four variable width pulses (0.8, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.1 ns) are generated through a number of PIN switches controlling the selection of different microstrip lengths. A schottky diode is used as a rectifier at the output of the SRD in order to pass only the positive part of the Gaussian pulses while another group of short-circuit microstrips are used to generate amplitude-reversed Gaussian pulses. The addition of the two pulses results in a Gaussian monocycle pulse which is more energy efficient for emission. The pulse generator is connected to a number of UWB antennas. Primarily, a UWB Vivaldi antenna (500 MHz to 5 GHz) is used, but a number of other high-performance GPR-oriented antennas are investigated as well. All have linear phase characteristic, constant phase center, constant polarization and flat gain. A number of methods including resistive loading are used to decrease any resonances due to the antenna structure and unwanted reflections from the ground. The antennas exhibit good gain characteristics in the design bandwidth.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.