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Attenuators

Attenuators

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Published by: aldabash on Mar 01, 2010
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04/14/2013

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Attenuators
Attenunators
 Required equipment 
1 Basic unit7370211 Gunn oscillator737
Attenuators
Calibrating the attenuator, measuring relative microwave power 
Definition and properties
Attenuators are among the linear, reciprocalcomponents of electrical lines (four-pole).They are frequently realized like reflection-free waveguide terminals in the form odissipating resistances. As such the operating principle comprises the transformation of RF power into thermal energy. With theexception of a few high-load attenuatorsreciprocity always exists. Only in the former isthe input designed to take more power than theoutput, which is why any interchanging of thegates is not permitted. A distinction is drawn between fixed attenuators and variableattenuators. Variable attenuators can beadjusted mechanically or manufactured withelectronically controllable line components. Theelectronic attenuators are designed using, for ex-ample, PIN diodes. The PIN diode is usedhere as an electrically controllable resistance for microwaves. For that reason a PIN diodeattenuator has variously high transmission andreflection coefficients depending on thecontrol voltage. The function of the PIN diodeis explained in greater detail in ExperimentEx 1 “Principle of the PIN modulator” inMTS 7.4.5, for that reason we will only focushere on passive attenuating elements. Fig. 4.1 presents 2 conventional principles for theassembly of mechanically tuneable attenuators.The basic idea involves inserting an absorbingmedium into the waveguide. The rectangular waveguide depicted in Fig. 4.1 guides the funda-mental mode (
TE 
10
 ).
You can either insert avane attenuator into the waveguide through amiddle slot along the waveguide's longitudinalside, or slide the attenuator vane into thefield from the side. The latter possibility isimplemented in the attenuator 737 09. Theshift movement of the attenuator vane is performed backlash-free using a micrometer screw. In order to attain low insertion loss thevane is inserted in such a manner that theabsorbing layer lies against the waveguidewall (
 E 
= 0) for a shift of 
 x
= 0 mm. Becauseof scarfing the reflection coefficient caused by the vane is kept as small as possible. Theattenuating vane itself can consist of coatedfiber glass, mica or plastics like mylar or Kapton. Nickle-chrome or tantalum alloysare deposited as layered coatings in vacuummetallization processes. These metal layershave inherent absorbtion properties (asopposed to reflecting ones) as long as their layer thicknesses are smaller than the penetrat-ing depth
ä 
of the electrical field at the desiredoperating wavelengths. Resistance film cardsare manufactured with varying resistance per square unit (surface resistance). Standardvalues lie between 50 and 377 Ω/square(Square means that the resistance is the same for any random square surface and is given aspecific value. Thus the resistance isdependent on the geometry, not on the surfacearea). The surface resistance in an attenuator inconjunction with the field distribution of themode in question (often
TE 
10)
determines theattenuation characteristic as a function of theshift
 x.
Fig. 4.2 contains a cross-sectionthrough the adjustable attenuator 737 09.The calibration of the attenuator is performedin the experiment using the power scale of the SWR meter. The microwave power iscon-
Fig. 4.1: On the principle of attenuation by means of insertion with an attenuating vaneFig. 4.2: Cross-section through the attenuator 737 09
 
 
7370951 Variable attenuator737091 Transition waveguide/coax7370351 Coax detector737031 Set of thumb screws (4 each)737399
 Additionally required equipment 
2 Stand bases301212 Supports for waveguide components737151 Stand rod 0.25 m301262 Coaxial cable with BNC/BNC plugs, 2 m501022
 Recommended 
1 PIN modulator737051 Isolator73706
Fig. 4.3: Detector output voltage as a function of themicrowave power 
1
Saturation range
2
Linear range
3
Quadratic range
4
 Noise
verted into a LF signalwith the coax detector.As long as the coaxdetector is operated in therange of square-lawcharacteristic there is a proportionalrelationship between itsoutput signal and theincidenting microwave power. A correct readingof the dB scale is only possible under theseconditions. Generallyspeaking when itcomes to detectors, low power levels are the precondition for thesquare law characteristicrange. Fig. 4.3 shows the principle characteristiccurve of the outputsignal versus themicrowave power.
 
Experimentprocedure
 Note:
When using the PINmodulator and isolator complete theexperiment setup asspecified in Fig. 0.5(Preface).
1. Calibration of theattenuator 
Experiment setup asspecified in Fig. 4.4
 Note:
The fixedattenuator isrequired to attenu-ate the microwavesignal present atthe coax detector  by approx. 10 dB.This is how thedetector is supposedto be operated in itssquare-lawcharacteristics range.Connect the coaxdetector to theSWR receiver “INPUT”.Modulate themicrowave signal(generally performed bymeans of directmodulation of theGunn oscillator). Setthe variableattenuator to
 x
= 0.00mm. Calibrate thedisplay
a
of thehomodyne SWmeter to
Fig. 4.4: Experiment setup

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