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6 Concepts to Know on How Radio Frequency Signal Generators Work

Radio frequency signal generators, also referred to as RF signal generators for short, provide microwave signals to radio frequency circuits. Their main job is for testing to find a signal source from a circuit that is being tested or developed. If you’re new to the world of RF signal generators, then today is your lucky day. We’re going to go over six concepts that you should know about these devices to be better informed about the world around you. Let’s get started below. 

1- There’s Two Main Types of Generators

There are two main types of RF signal generators that can be used in today’s processes. These include the free running radio frequency generators and the synthesized radio frequency signal generators. Free running RF signal generators were the initial type of generator produced and aren’t used as widely these days. 

The free running generators tend to have two levels of quality. The first is the lower end which is used for basic experimenters who were looking for an affordable option. The high end free running generators are a great option for those who want a very clear signal with no phase noise to interrupt the transmission. 

The synthesized radio frequency signal generators are the standard of today. This type of technique allows the frequencies to be entered right into the keypad of the device or through a remote control. You’ll find high-end RF signal generators come in their own enclosed cases. However, the lower-end RF signal generators are actually being powered by PCs. 

2- Synthesized RF Signal Generator Techniques

When it comes to finding the right frequency, you’ll get two different options with the synthesized RF signal generator systems that you’ll find today. These are the phase locked loop synthesizer and the direct digital synthesizer, or DDS for short. The phase locked loop synthesizer allows for signals to be generated over many frequency ranges with a low level of fake signals. The DDS or direct digital synthesizer has fine frequency increments that can be achieved for a maximum level of clarity. The DDS technique is used in conjunction with the phase locked loops to give the best radio frequency wave for the user. 

3- The Main Components of a Signal Generator

Before you get to understand how to operate these complex devices, you’ll need to understand what makes them up. There are a number of major circuit blocks and sections in these devices. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of these below. 

Oscillator – This is the part of the generator that takes commands from the controller to set the desired frequency.

Amplifier – This is the part of the device that is responsible for amplifying the signal to a level fixed by the controller. 

Attenuator – This is the part of the generator that is responsible for quieting unwanted background noise to make your signal clear. 

Control – When your signal generator has a remote control, this is added to ensure the commands are processed within the piece of equipment.

4- All RF Signal Generator Produce Spurious Signals

No matter how great technology gets for the RF signal generators, you’re still likely to pick up spurious or fake signals from time to time. This is commonly referred to as background noise. The harmonics of the generator during these spurious signals are typically programmed to be fairly low in decibels for the user. 

5- Know the Functions of the RF Signal Generator

Due to the technology that comes along with the modern age RF signal generators, there are many functions the users can perform. These are meant to help maneuver through radio frequencies with ease. Let’s take a look at what some of the more popular functions are that are included in these RF signal generator devices. 

Frequency Range – New devices will allow for a large spectrum of frequencies so users can check responses on all frequency issues may be occurring. 

Output Level – This controls the actual output level of the generator so you can set it at an optimal level for your usage. 

Modulation – This allows complex modulation formats so that the generator can support different applications.

6- There Are Two Outputs Level Accuracy Elements

The output of the signal generator has the attenuator, which allows you to vary the output level from the signal generator. There is an amplifier with a feedback loop that is positioned before the attenuator. Its job is to maintain an accurate fixed signal level.

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