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Electromagnetic Waves and Antenna Basics

- An overview, summary, tutorial about the basics of electromagnetic waves and the way in which they affect RF antenna and RF antenna design. Antenna basics includes: E/M waves & antenna operation Antenna polarization Antenna feed impedance Antenna resonance & bandwidth Antenna directivity & gain Radio signals are a form of electromagnetic wave, and as they are the way in which radio signals travel, they have a major bearing on RF antennas themselves and RF antenna design. Electromagnetic waves are the same type of radiation as light, ultra-violet and infra-red rays, differing from them in their wavelength and frequency. Electromagnetic waves have both electric and magnetic components that are inseparable. The planes of these fields are at right angles to one another and to the direction of motion of the wave.

An electromagnetic wave

The electric field results from the voltage changes occurring in the RF antenna which is radiating the signal, and the magnetic changes result from the current flow. It is also found that the lines of force in the electric field run along the same axis as the RF antenna, but spreading out as they move away from it. This electric field is measured in terms of the change of potential over a given distance, e.g. volts per meter, and this is known as the field strength. Similarly when an RF antenna receives a signal the magnetic changes cause a current flow, and the electric field changes cause the voltage changes on the antenna. There are a number of properties of a wave. The first is its wavelength. This is the distance between a point on one wave to the identical point on the next. One of the most obvious points to choose is the peak as this can be easily identified although any point is acceptable.

Wavelength of an electromagnetic wave

The wavelength of an electromagnetic wave The second property of the electromagnetic wave is its frequency. This is the number of times a particular point on the wave moves up and down in a given time (normally a second). The unit of frequency is the Hertz and it is equal to one cycle per second. This unit is named after the German scientist who discovered radio waves. The frequencies used in radio are usually very high. Accordingly the prefixes kilo, Mega, and Giga are often seen. 1 kHz is 1000 Hz, 1 MHz is a million Hertz, and 1 GHz is a thousand million Hertz i.e. 1000 MHz Originally the unit of frequency was not given a name and cycles per second (c/s) were used. Some older books may show these units together with their prefixes: kc/s; Mc/s etc. for higher frequencies. The third major property of the wave is its velocity. Radio waves travel at the same speed as light. For most practical purposes the speed is taken to be 300 000 000 meters per second although a more exact value is 299 792 500 meters per second. Frequency to Wavelength Conversion Although wavelength was used as a measure for signals, frequencies are used exclusively today. It is very easy to relate the frequency and wavelength as they are linked by the speed of light as shown: lambda = c / f where lambda = the wavelength in meters f = frequency in Hertz c = speed of radio waves (light) taken as 300 000 000 meters per second for all practical purposes. Field measurements It is also interesting to note that close to the RF antenna there is also an inductive field the same as that in a transformer. This is not part of the electromagnetic wave, but it can distort measurements close to the antenna. It can also mean that transmitting antennas are more likely to cause interference when they are close to other antennas or wiring that might have the signal induced into it. For receiving antennas they are more susceptible to interference if they are close to house wiring and the like. Fortunately this inductive field falls away fairly rapidly and it is barely detectable at distances beyond about two or three wavelengths from the RF antenna. Antenna Polarization - Overview, summary, tutorial about RF antenna or aerial polarization and the effect polarization has on RF antennas and radio communications. Polarization is an important factor for RF antennas and radio communications in general. Both RF antennas and electromagnetic waves are said to have a polarization. For the electromagnetic wave the polarization is effectively the plane in which the electric wave vibrates. This is important when looking at antennas because they are sensitive to polarization, and generally only receive or transmit a signal with a particular polarization.

For most antennas it is very easy to determine the polarization. It is simply in the same plane as the elements of the antenna. So a vertical antenna (i.e. one with vertical elements) will receive vertically polarized signals best and similarly a horizontal antenna will receive horizontally polarized signals.

An electromagnetic wave

It is important to match the polarization of the RF antenna to that of the incoming signal. In this way the maximum signal is obtained. If the RF antenna polarization does not match that of the signal there is a corresponding decrease in the level of the signal. It is reduced by a factor of cosine of the angle between the polarization of the RF antenna and the signal. Accordingly the polarization of the antennas located in free space is very important, and obviously they should be in exactly the same plane to provide the optimum signal. If they were at right angles to one another (i.e. cross-polarized) then in theory no signal would be received. For terrestrial radio communications applications it is found that once a signal has been transmitted then its polarization will remain broadly the same. However reflections from objects in the path can change the polarization. As the received signal is the sum of the direct signal plus a number of reflected signals the overall polarization of the signal can change slightly although it remains broadly the same. Polarization categories Vertical and horizontal are the simplest forms of antenna polarization and they both fall into a category known as linear polarization. However it is also possible to use circular polarization. This has a number of benefits for areas such as satellite applications where it helps overcome the effects of propagation anomalies, ground reflections and the effects of the spin that occur on many satellites. Circular polarization is a little more difficult to visualize than linear polarization. However it can be imagined by visualizing a signal propagating from an RF antenna that is rotating. The tip of the electric field vector will then be seen to trace out a helix or corkscrew as it travels away from the antenna. Circular polarization can be seen to be either right or left handed dependent upon the direction of rotation as seen from the transmitter. Another form of polarization is known as elliptical polarization. It occurs when there is a mix of linear and circular polarization. This can be visualized as before by the tip of the electric field vector tracing out an elliptically shaped corkscrew. However it is possible for linearly polarized antennas to receive circularly polarized signals and vice versa. The strength will be equal whether the linearly polarized antenna is mounted vertically, horizontally or in any other plane but directed towards the arriving signal. There will be some degradation because the signal level will be 3 dB less than if a circularly polarized antenna of the same sense was used. The same situation exists when a circularly polarized antenna receives a linearly polarized signal.

Applications of Antenna Polarization Different types of polarization are used in different applications to enable their advantages to be used. Linear polarization is by far the most widely used for most radio communications applications. Vertical polarization is often used for mobile radio communications. This is because many vertically polarized antenna designs have an Omni-directional radiation pattern and it means that the antennas do not have to be re-orientated as positions as always happens for mobile radio communications as the vehicle moves. For other radio communications applications the polarization is often determined by the RF antenna considerations. Some large multi-element antenna arrays can be mounted in a horizontal plane more easily than in the vertical plane. This is because the RF antenna elements are at right angles to the vertical tower of pole on which they are mounted and therefore by using an antenna with horizontal elements there is less physical and electrical interference between the two. This determines the standard polarization in many cases. In some applications there are performance differences between horizontal and vertical polarization. For example medium wave broadcast stations generally use vertical polarization because ground wave propagation over the earth is considerably better using vertical polarization, whereas horizontal polarization shows a marginal improvement for long distance communications using the ionosphere. Circular polarization is sometimes used for satellite radio communications as there are some advantages in terms of propagation and in overcoming the fading caused if the satellite is changing its orientation. Antenna feed impedance - Overview, summary, tutorial about RF antenna or aerial feed impedance and the importance of matching RF antennas to feeders. Radiation resistance, loss resistance, and efficiency are also detailed. When a signal source is applied to an RF antenna at its feed point, it is found that it presents load impedance to the source. This is known as the antenna "feed impedance" and it is complex impedance made up from resistance, capacitance and inductance. In order to ensure the optimum efficiency for any RF antenna design it is necessary to maximize the transfer of energy by matching the feed impedance of the RF antenna design to the load. This requires some understanding of the operation of antenna design in this respect. The feed impedance of the antenna results from a number of factors including the size and shape of the RF antenna, the frequency of operation and its environment. The impedance seen is normally complex, i.e. consisting of resistive elements as well as reactive ones. Antenna feed impedance resistive elements The resistive elements are made up from two constituents. These add together to form the sum of the total resistive elements. Loss resistance: The loss resistance arises from the actual resistance of the elements in the RF antenna, and power dissipated in this manner is lost as heat. Although it may appear that the "DC" resistance is low, at higher frequencies the skin effect is in evidence and only the surface areas of the conductor are used. As a result the effective resistance is higher than would be measured at DC. It is proportional to the circumference of the conductor and to the square root of the frequency.

The resistance can become particularly significant in high current sections of an RF antenna where the effective resistance is low. Accordingly to reduce the effect of the loss resistance it is necessary to ensure the use of very low resistance conductors. Radiation resistance: The other resistive element of the impedance is the "radiation resistance". This can be thought of as virtual resistor. It arises from the fact that power is "dissipated" when it is radiated from the RF antenna. The aim is to "dissipate" as much power in this way as possible. The actual value for the radiation resistance varies from one type of antenna to another, and from one design to another. It is dependent upon a variety of factors. However a typical half wave dipole operating in free space has a radiation resistance of around 73 Ohms. Antenna reactive elements There are also reactive elements to the feed impedance. These arise from the fact that the antenna elements act as tuned circuits that possess inductance and capacitance. At resonance where most antennas are operated the inductance and capacitance cancel one another out to leave only the resistance of the combined radiation resistance and loss resistance. However either side of resonance the feed impedance quickly becomes either inductive (if operated above the resonant frequency) or capacitive (if operated below the resonant frequency). Efficiency It is naturally important to ensure that the proportion of the power dissipated in the loss resistance is as low as possible, leaving the highest proportion to be dissipated in the radiation resistance as a radiated signal. The proportion of the power dissipated in the radiation resistance divided by the power applied to the antenna is the efficiency. A variety of means can be employed to ensure that the efficiency remains as high as possible. These include the use of optimum materials for the conductors to ensure low values of resistance, large circumference conductors to ensure large surface area to overcome the skin effect, and not using designs where very high currents and low feed impedance values are present. Other constraints may require that not all these requirements can be met, but by using engineering judgment it is normally possible to obtain a suitable compromise. It can be seen that the antenna feed impedance is particularly important when considering any RF antenna design. However by maximizing the energy transfer by matching the feeder to the antenna feed impedance the antenna design can be optimized and the best performance obtained. Antenna resonance and bandwidth - Overview, summary, tutorial about antenna or aerial resonance and bandwidth and the impact of RF antenna resonance and bandwidth on radio communications systems. Two major factors associated with radio antenna design are the antenna resonant point or center operating frequency and the antenna bandwidth or the frequency range over which the antenna design can operate. These two factors are naturally very important features of any antenna design and as such they are mentioned in specifications for particular RF antennas. Whether the RF antenna is used for broadcasting, WLAN, cellular telecommunications, PMR or any other application, the performance of the RF antenna is paramount, and the antenna resonant frequency and the antenna bandwidth are of great importance.

Antenna resonance An RF antenna is a form of tuned circuit consisting of inductance and capacitance, and as a result it has a resonant frequency. This is the frequency where the capacitive and inductive reactance cancel each other out. At this point the RF antenna appears purely resistive, the resistance being a combination of the loss resistance and the radiation resistance.

Impedance of an RF antenna with frequency

The capacitance and inductance of an RF antenna are determined by its physical properties and the environment where it is located. The major feature of the RF antenna design is its dimensions. It is found that the larger the antenna or more strictly the antenna elements, the lower the resonant frequency. For example antennas for UHF terrestrial television have relatively small elements, while those for VHF broadcast sound FM have larger elements indicating a lower frequency. Antennas for short wave applications are larger still. Antenna bandwidth Most RF antenna designs are operated around the resonant point. This means that there is only a limited bandwidth over which an RF antenna design can operate efficiently. Outside this the levels of reactance rise to levels that may be too high for satisfactory operation. Other characteristics of the antenna may also be impaired away from the center operating frequency. The antenna bandwidth is particularly important where radio transmitters are concerned as damage may occur to the transmitter if the antenna is operated outside its operating range and the radio transmitter is not adequately protected. In addition to this the signal radiated by the RF antenna may be less for a number of reasons. For receiving purposes the performance of the antenna is less critical in some respects. It can be operated outside its normal bandwidth without any fear of damage to the set. Even a random length of wire will pick up signals, and it may be possible to receive several distant stations. However for the best reception it is necessary to ensure that the performance of the RF antenna design is optimum. Impedance bandwidth One major feature of an RF antenna that does change with frequency is its impedance. This in turn can cause the amount of reflected power to increase. If the antenna is used for transmitting it may be that beyond a given level of reflected power damage may be caused to either the transmitter or the feeder, and this is quite likely to be a factor which limits the operating bandwidth of an antenna. Today most transmitters have some form of SWR protection circuit that prevents damage by reducing the output power to an acceptable level as the levels of reflected power increase. This in turn means that the efficiency of the station is reduced outside a given bandwidth. As far as receiving is concerned the impedance changes of the antenna are not as critical as they will mean that the signal transfer from the antenna itself to the feeder is reduced and in turn the efficiency will fall.

For amateur operation the frequencies below which a maximum SWR figure of 1.5:1 is produced is often taken as the acceptable bandwidth. In order to increase the bandwidth of an antenna there are a number of measures that can be taken. One is the use of thicker conductors. Another is the actual type of antenna used. For example a folded dipole which is described fully in Chapter 3 has a wider bandwidth than a non-folded one. In fact looking at a standard television antenna it is possible to see both of these features included. Radiation pattern Another feature of an antenna that changes with frequency is its radiation pattern. In the case of a beam it is particularly noticeable. In particular the front to back ratio will fall off rapidly outside a given bandwidth, and so will the gain. In an antenna such as a Yagi this is caused by a reduction in the currents in the parasitic elements as the frequency of operation is moved away from resonance. For beam antennas such as the Yagi the radiation pattern bandwidth is defined as the frequency range over which the gain of the main lobe is within 1 dB of its maximum. For many beam antennas, especially high gain ones it will be found that the impedance bandwidth is wider than the radiation pattern bandwidth, although the two parameters are inter-related in many respects. Antenna directivity and gain - an overview, summary, tutorial about the basics of RF antenna directivity (aerial directivity) and gain including isotropic radiators, polar diagrams and antenna dBi figures and antenna dBi figures. RF antennas or aerials do not radiate equally in all directions. It is found that any realizable RF antenna design will radiate more in some directions than others. The actual pattern is dependent upon the type of antenna design, its size, the environment and a variety of other factors. This directional pattern can be used to ensure that the power radiated is focused in the desired directions. It is normal to refer to the directional patterns and gain in terms of the transmitted signal. It is often easier to visualize the RF antenna is terms of its radiated power, however the antenna performs in an exactly equivalent manner for reception, having identical figures and specifications. In order to visualize the way in which an antenna radiates a diagram known as a polar diagram is used. This is normally a two dimensional plot around an antenna showing the intensity of the radiation at each point for a particular plane. Normally the scale that is used is logarithmic so that the differences can be conveniently seen on the plot. Although the radiation pattern of the antenna varies in three dimensions, it is normal to make a plot in a particular plane, normally either horizontal or vertical as these are the two that are most used, and it simplifies the measurements and presentation. An example for a simple dipole antenna is shown below.

Polar diagram of a half wave dipole in free space

Antenna designs are often categorized by the type of polar diagram they exhibit. For example an Omnidirectional antenna design is one which radiates equally (or approximately equally) in all directions in the plane of interest. An antenna design that radiates equally in all directions in all planes is called an isotropic antenna. As already mentioned it is not possible to produce one of these in reality, but it is useful as a theoretical reference for some measurements. Other RF antennas exhibit highly directional patterns and these may be utilized in a number of applications. The Yagi antenna is an example of a directive antenna and possibly it is most widely used for television reception.

Polar diagram for a Yagi antenna

RF antenna beamwidth There are a number of key features that can be seen from this polar diagram. The first is that there is a main beam or lobe and a number of minor lobes. It is often useful to define the beam-width of an RF antenna. This is taken to be angle between the two points where the power falls to half its maximum level, and as a result it is sometimes called the half power beam-width. Antenna gain An RF antenna radiates a given amount of power. This is the power dissipated in the radiation resistance of the RF antenna. An isotropic radiator will distribute this equally in all directions. For an antenna with a directional pattern, less power will be radiated in some directions and more in others. The fact that more power is radiated in given directions implies that it can be considered to have a gain. The gain can be defined as a ratio of the signal transmitted in the "maximum" direction to that of a standard or reference antenna. This may sometimes be called the "forward gain". The figure that is obtained is then normally expressed in decibels (dB). In theory the standard antenna could be almost anything but two types are generally used. The most common type is a simple dipole as it is easily available and it is the basis of many other types of antenna. In this case the gain is often expressed as dBi i.e. gain expressed in decibels over a dipole. However a dipole does not radiated equally in all directions in all planes and so an isotropic source is sometimes used. In this case the gain may be specified in dBi i.e. gain in decibels over an isotropic source. The main drawback of using an isotropic source (antenna dBi) as a reference is, that it is not possible to realize them in practice and so that figures using it can only be theoretical. However it is possible to relate the two gains as a dipole has a gain of 2.1 dB over an isotropic source i.e. 2.1 dBi. In other words, figures expressed as gain over an isotropic source will be 2.1 dB higher than those relative to a dipole. When choosing an antenna and looking at the gain specifications, be sure to check whether the gain is relative to a dipole or an isotropic source, i.e. the antenna dBi figure of the antenna dBi figure. Apart from the forward gain of an antenna another parameter which is important is the front to back ratio. This is expressed in decibels and as the name implies it is the ratio of the maximum signal in the forward direction to the signal in the opposite direction. This figure is normally expressed in decibels. It is found that the design of an

antenna can be adjusted to give either maximum forward gain of the optimum front to back ratio as the two do not normally coincide exactly. For most VHF and UHF operation the design is normally optimized for the optimum forward gain as this gives the maximum radiated signal in the required direction. RF Antenna Gain / Beamwidth Balance It may appear that maximizing the gain of an antenna will optimize its performance in a system. This may not always be the case. By the very nature of gain and beamwidth, increasing the gain will result in a reduction in the beamwidth. This will make setting the direction of the antenna more critical. This may be quite acceptable in many applications, but not in others. This balance should be considered when designing and setting up a radio link. Antenna Diplexer - An overview summary, tutorial about the basics of an antenna diplexer or RF diplexer used for purposes including enabling a single RF antenna to be used by multiple transmitters.. An antenna diplexer or RF diplexer is a unit that in one application can be used to enable more than one transmitter to operate on a single RF antenna. Sometimes these units may be called antenna duplexers. Typically an antenna diplexer would enable transmitters operating of different frequencies to use the same antenna. In another application, an antenna diplexer may be used to allow a single antenna to be used for transmissions on one band of frequencies and reception on another band. Antenna diplexers find many uses. In one common example an antenna diplexer or RF diplexer is used in a cellular base station to allow it to transmit and receive simultaneously. The antenna diplexer enables the same antenna system to be used while preventing the transmitted signal from reaching the receiver and blocking the input. In another application a diplexer may be used by a broadcast station transmitting on several different frequencies at the same time using the same antenna. The use of the diplexer enables a single antenna to be used, while preventing the output from one transmitter being fed back into the output of the other. Small antenna diplexers may be used in domestic environments to allow several signals to run along a single feeder. In one application this may allow a single feeder to be used for television and VHF FM radio reception, or to allow terrestrial television signals and this from a satellite low noise box (LNB) to pass down the same lead. These RF diplexers are normally relatively low cost as the specifications are not nearly as exacting as those used for professional RF diplexer installations.

Basic antenna diplexer concepts There are a number of ways of implementing RF diplexers. They all involve the use of filters. In this way the paths for the different transmitters and receivers can be separated according to the frequency they use. The simplest way to implement a diplexer is to use a low pass and a high pass filter although band-pass filters may be used. In this way the diplexer routes all signals at frequencies below the cut-off frequency of the low pass filter to one port, and all signals above the cut-off frequency of the high pass filter to the other port. Also here is no path from between the two remote connections of the filters. All signals that can pass through the low pass filter in the diplexer will not be able to pass through the high pass filter and vice versa.

Basic concept of a high / low pass filter diplexer

A further feature of an RF diplexer is than it enables the impedance seen by the receiver or transmitter to remain constant despite the load connected to the other port. If the filters were not present and the three ports wired in parallel, neither the antenna nor the two transmitters / receiver ports would see the correct impedance. RF Diplexer Filter Requirements When designing an antenna diplexer a number of parameters must be considered. One is the degree of isolation required between the ports labeled for the high and low frequency transmitter / receiver. If the diplexer is to be used purely for receiving, then the requirement for high levels of isolation is not so high. Even comparatively simple filters give enough isolation to ensure each receiver sees the right impedance and the signals are routed to the correct input without any noticeable loss. Even levels of isolation of 10 dB would be adequate for many installations. For diplexers that are used to split and combine television and VHF FM radio along a single line, the levels of isolation are likely to be very low. The next case is when the diplexer is to be used for transmitting only. It will be necessary to ensure that the levels of power being transferred back into a second transmitter are small. Power being fed into the output of a transmitter in this way could give rise to intermodulation products that may be radiated and cause interference. It is also important to ensure that the transmitters see the correct impedance, and that the presence of the second transmitter does not affect the impedance seen by the first. Typically levels of isolation between the transmitter ports of 60 - 90 dB may be required. The final case is where one of the ports is used for transmitting, and the other for receiving simultaneously. In this instance very high levels of isolation are required to ensure that the minimum level of the transmitter power reaches the receiver. If high levels of the transmitter signal reach the receiver, then it will be desensitized preventing proper reception of the required signals. Levels of isolation in excess of 100 dB are normally required for these applications. Band pass filters Under some circumstances band pass filters may be used. These may be used where comparatively narrow bandwidth is required for either or both of the transmitter / receiver ports. Sometimes a very high Q resonant circuit may be used. By using this approach high degrees of rejection can be achieved. Often repeater stations which receive on one channel and transmit on another simultaneously use diplexers that utilize this approach.

Summary Although antenna diplexers are mainly used in specialized applications, allowing a single RF antenna to be used by more than one transmitter or receiver, they are nevertheless a crucial element of many installations. For example cellular technology would be significantly different if they could not be used and the cellular RF

antennas for base stations would be considerably more complicated. Similarly antenna diplexers are used in many broadcast applications allowing a single large RF antenna to be used by more than one transmitter. Balanced Antenna Feeder - including open wire, two-wire, twin, and ribbon feeders Balanced feeder is a form of feeder that can be used for feeding balanced antennas (i.e. antennas that do not have one connection taken to ground). It is mainly used on frequencies below 30 MHz can offer the advantage of very low levels of loss. The feeder or transmission line is also referred to by other names including twin, two wire, open wire, and sometimes even ribbon feeder. These names often depend upon the type of construction of the particular form. It is used less than coaxial feeder or coax, although it is able to offer some significant advantages over coax in some applications. Balanced Feeder Basics A balanced or twin feeder consists of two parallel conductors unlike coax that consists of two concentric conductors.. The currents flowing in both wires run in opposite directions but are equal in magnitude. As a result the fields from them cancel out and no power is radiated or picked up. To ensure efficient operation the spacing of the conductors is normally kept to within about 0.01 wavelengths. The feeder exists in a variety of forms. Essentially it is just two wires that are closely spaced in terms of the radio frequency of operation. In practical terms manufactured feeder is available and it consist of two wires contained within a plastic sheath that is also used as a spacer between them to keep the spacing, and hence the impedance constant. Another form commonly called open wire feeder simply consists of two wires kept apart by spacers that are present at regular intervals along the feeder. It has an appearance a little akin to a rope ladder.

Twin feeder a form of balanced feeder

Balanced Feeder Impedance Like coaxial cable, the impedance of twin feeder is governed by the dimensions of the conductors, their spacing and the dielectric constant of the material between them. The impedance can be calculated from the formula given below. Where: D is the distance between the two conductors d is the outer diameter of the conductors Epsilon is the dielectric constant of the material between the two conductors

Types of balanced feeder This type of feeder can take a variety of forms. An "open wire" feeder can be made by having two wires running parallel to one another. Spacers are used every fifteen to thirty centimeters to maintain the wire spacing. Usually these are made from plastic or other insulating material. Typically this feeder may have an impedance of around 600 ohms, although it is very dependent upon the wire, and the spacing used. The feeder may also be bought as flat 300 ohm ribbon feeder consisting of two wires spaced with a clear plastic. This is the most common form and is the type that is used for manufacturing temporary VHF FM antennas. If used outside this type absorbs water into the plastic dielectric. Not only does this significantly increase the loss on damp days, but the moisture absorbed causes the wire to oxidase which in turn leads to increased losses over the longer term. The feeder can also be bought with a black plastic dielectric with oval holes spaced at intervals in spacing. This type gives far better performance than the clear plastic varieties which absorb water if used outside. Coaxial Feeder or RF Coax Cable - an overview of coax cable often called coaxial feeder or RF cable, used to feed antennas and deliver radio frequency power from one point to another. The most common type of antenna feeder used today is undoubtedly coaxial feeder or coax cable. Coax cable, often referred to as RF cable, offers advantages of convenience of use while being able to provide a good level of performance. In view of these vast amounts of coax cable, coax feeder are manufactured each year, and it is also available in a wide variety of forms for different applications. Applications of Coax Cable Coax cable or coaxial feeder is used in many applications where it is necessary to transfer radio frequency energy from one point to another. Possibly the most obvious use of coax cable is for domestic television downleads, but it is widely used in many other areas as well. While it is sued for domestic connections between receivers and aerials, it is likewise also used for commercial and industrial transmission lines connecting receivers and transmitters to antennas. However it is also sued where any high frequency signals need to be carried any distance. Its construction means that the signals levels of loss and stray pick-up are minimized. In view of this it is also used in many computer applications. Coax cable was used for some early forms of Ethernet local area networks, although now optical fibers are used for higher data rates, or twisted pairs where frequencies are not so high as these cables are much cheaper than coax.

History of RF Coax Cable RF coax cable is a particularly important part of today's RF and electronics scene. It is a component that could easily be overlooked with little thought of how it appeared. In the late 1800s there were a huge number of basic discoveries being made in the field of electricity. Radio, or wireless as it was originally called was not understood well, and the first transmissions were made in the 1890s. Some transmissions were made earlier but not understood. The first known implementation of coax cable was in 1884 when Ernst von Siemens (one of the founders of the Siemens empire), patented the idea, although there were no known applications at this time. It then took until

1929 before the first modern commercial coax cables were patented by Bell Laboratories, although its use was still relatively small. Nevertheless it was used in 1934 to relay television pictures of the Berlin Olympics to Leipzig. Then in 1936 a coaxial cable was installed between London and Birmingham in the UK to carry 40 telephone calls, and in the USA an experimental coaxial cable was installed between New York and Philadelphia to relay television pictures. With the commercial use of RF coax cable establishing it, many other used the cable for shorter runs. It quickly established itself, and now it is widely used for both commercial and domestic applications. Coax Cable Basics Coax cable, coaxial feeder is normally seen as a thick electrical cable. The cable is made from a number of different elements that when together enable the coax cable to carry the radio frequency signals with a low level of loss from one location to another. The main elements within a coax cable are: 1. Centre conductor 2. Insulating dielectric 3. Outer conductor 4. Outer protecting jacket or sheath The overall construction of the coax cable or RF cable can be seen in the diagram below and from this it can be seen that it is built up from a number of concentric layers. Although there are many varieties of coax cable, the basic overall construction remains the same:

Cross section of Coaxial Cable 1. Centre conductor - the center conductor of the coax is almost universally made of copper. Sometimes it may be a single conductor whilst in other RF cables it may consist of several strands. 2. Insulating dielectric - between the two conductors of the coax cable there is an insulating dielectric. This holds the two conductors apart and in an ideal world would not introduce any loss, although it is one of the chief causes of loss in reality. This coax cable dielectric may be solid or as in the case of many low loss cables it may be semi-airspace because it is the dielectric that introduces most of the loss. This may be in the form of long "tubes" in the dielectric, or a "foam" construction where air forms a major part of the material. 3. Outer conductor - the outer conductor of the RF cable is normally made from a copper braid. This enables the coax cable to be flexible which would not be the case if the outer conductor was solid, although in some varieties made for particular applications it is. To improve the screening double or even triple screened coax cables are sometimes used. Normally this is accomplished by placing one braid directly over another although in

some instances a copper foil or tape outer may be used. By using additional layers of screening, the levels of stray pick-up and radiation are considerably reduced. The loss is marginally lower. 4. Outer protecting jacket or sheath Finally there is a final cover or outer sheath to the coax cable. This serves little electrical function, but can prevent earth loops forming. It also gives a vital protection needed to prevent dirt and moisture attacking the cable, and prevent the coax cable from being damaged by other mechanical means. How RF Coax Cable works A coaxial cable carries current in both the inner and the outer conductors. These current are equal and opposite and as a result all the fields are confined within the cable and it neither radiates nor picks up signals. This means that the cable operates by propagating an electromagnetic wave inside the cable. As there are no fields outside the coax cable it is not affected by nearby objects. Accordingly it is ideal for applications where the RF cable has to be routed through or around buildings or close to many other objects. This is a particular advantage of coaxial feeder when compared with other forms of feeder such as two wire (open wire, or twin) feeder. Coax Impedance / Coaxial Cable Impedance - Details of the calculation, application and determination of coax impedance - coax cable impedance. All forms of feeder including coax cable have characteristic impedance. The coax impedance is one of the main parameters in its specification, one that governs which type of coax cable is obtained. Coax Impedance / Characteristic Impedance All feeders possess characteristic impedance. For RF coax cable there are two main standards that have been adopted over the years, namely 75 and 50 ohms. 75 ohm coax cable is used almost exclusively for domestic TV and VHF FM applications. However for commercial, amateur and CB applications 50 ohms coax cable has been taken as the standard. The reason for the choice of these two standards is largely historical but arises from the fact that 75 ohm coax cable gives the minimum weight for a given loss, while 50 ohm coax cable gives the minimum loss for a given weight. These two standards are used for the vast majority of coax cable which is produced but it is still possible to obtain other impedances for specialist applications. Higher values are often used for computer installations, but other values including 25, 95 and 125 ohms are available. 25 ohm miniature RF cable is extensively used in magnetic core broadband transformers. These values and more are available through specialist coax cable suppliers. Coax Impedance Determination The impedance of the RF coax cable is chiefly governed by the diameters of the inner and outer conductors. On top of this the dielectric constant of the material between the conductors of the RF coax cable has a bearing. The relationship needed to calculate the impedance is given simply by the formula:

D = Inner diameter of the outer conductor d = Diameter of the inner conductor Capacitance and Inductance The capacitance of a line varies with the spacing of the conductors, the dielectric constant, and as a result the impedance of the line. The lower the impedance the higher the capacitance for a given length because the conductor spacing is decreased. The capacitance also increases with increasing dielectric constant, as in the case of an ordinary capacitor.

It is also often necessary to know the inductance of a line as well.

Importance of Coax Impedance The coax impedance is one of the major specifications associated with any piece of coax cable. As it will determine the matching within the system and hence the level of standing waves and power transfer, it is a crucial element. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the correct coax impedance is chosen for any system. Coax Cable Attenuation / Loss - An overview of the effects and causes of attenuation or loss in coax cable. Attenuation is a key specification for all coax cables. The function of a coax cable is to transfer radio frequency power from one point to another. In doing so, in the ideal world, the same amount of power should exit from the remote end of the coax cable as enters it. However in the real world this is not so, and some power is lost along the length of the RF cable, and less power reaches the remote end than enters the RF cable. Coax Cable Attenuation The power loss caused by a coax cable is referred to as attenuation. It is defined in terms of decibels per unit length, and at a given frequency. Obviously the longer the coax cable, the greater the loss, but it is also found that the loss is frequency dependent, broadly rising with frequency, although the actual level of loss is not linearly dependent upon the frequency. For virtually all applications the minimum level of loss is required. The power is lost in a variety of ways: Resistive loss Dielectric loss Radiated loss Of all these forms of loss, the radiated loss is generally the least important as only a very small amount of power is generally radiated from the cable. Accordingly most of the focus on reducing loss is placed onto the conductive and dielectric losses. Resistive loss: Resistive losses within the coax cable arise from the resistance of the conductors and the current flowing in the conductors results in heat being dissipated. The actual area through which the current flows in the conductor is limited by the skin effect, which becomes progressively more apparent as the frequency rises. To help overcome this multi-stranded conductors are often used.

To reduce the level of loss due in the coax cable, the conductive area must be increased and this results in low loss coax cables being made larger. However it is found that the resistive losses increase as the square root of the frequency. Dielectric loss: The dielectric loss represents another of the major losses arising in most coax cables. Again the power lost as dielectric loss is dissipated as heat. It is found that the dielectric loss is independent of the size of the RF cable, but it does increase linearly with frequency. This means that resistive losses normally dominate at lower frequencies. However as resistive losses increase as the square root of frequency, and dielectric losses increase linearly, the dielectric losses dominate at higher frequencies. Radiated loss: The radiated loss of a coax cable is normally much less than the resistive and dielectric losses. However some very cheap coax cables may have a very poor outer braid and in these cases it may represent a noticeable element of the loss. Power radiated, or picked up by a coax cable is more of a problem in terms of interference. Signal radiated by the coax cable may result in high signal levels being present where they are not wanted. For example leakage from a coax cable carrying a feed from a high power transmitter may give rise to interference in sensitive receivers that may be located close to the coax cable. Alternatively a coax cable being used for receiving may pick up interference if it passes through an electrically noisy environment. It is normally for these reasons that additional measures are taken in ensuring the outer screen or conductor is effective. Double, or even triple screened coax cables are available to reduce the levels of leakage to very low levels. Coax Cable Attenuation With Time It is found that the attenuation of coax cables increases over a period of time for a number of reasons. The main reasons are as a result of flexing, and moisture entry into the RF cable. As the degradation and increase in loss depends to some degree on the construction of the coax cable, this may affect he choice of which cable to employ. Although many coax cables are flexible, the level of loss or attenuation will increase, particularly if the RF cable is bent sharply, even if within the makers recommended bend radius. This increase in loss can arise as a result of disruption to the braid or screen, and as a result of changes to the dielectric. At frequencies of 1 GHz with RF cables normally exhibiting a loss of 10 dB, there could be an increase of a decibel or so. Even if a cable is not flexed, there can be a gradual degradation in performance over time. This can be caused by contamination of the braid by the plasticizers in the outer sheath. Additionally moisture penetration can affect both the braid where it causes corrosion, and it may enter the dielectric where the moisture will tend to absorb power. It is found that the loss in coax cables that use either bare copper braid, or tinned copper braid exhibit more degradation than those with silver plated braids, although the later are more expensive. Additionally it is found that braids using tinned copper exhibit about 20% greater loss than those using bare copper, but they are more stable over time. The dielectric also has an effect. It is found that some versions of polythene can absorb moisture more readily than other types. Although foam polythene offers a lower level of loss or attenuation when new, it absorbs

moisture more readily than the solid types. Accordingly coax cables with solid dielectric polythene are more suited to environments where the level of loss needs to remain constant, or where moisture may be encountered. Although RF cables are enclosed in a plastic sheath, many of the plastics used will allow some moisture to pass through them. For applications where moisture may be encountered, specialized cables should be used otherwise the performance will degrade. The loss introduced by a coax cable is of paramount importance. Any power that is lost in the RF cable will degrade the performance of the system in which it is used. However the decision of which RF cable to use may not just rest in deciding which cable provides the lowest loss, but in a variety of parameters including its size, weight and also its long term stability. RF Coax Cable Power Rating - An overview of the maximum power levels that an RF coax cable may be able to carry. Although for receiver applications the level of power that coax cable can handle is not an issue, when it comes to medium or high power transmitters, the power handling capacity of the coax cable becomes very important. If the incorrect type of coax cable is used, it can result in a failure of the cable, and possible damage to the transmitter. For most applications where the power is applied continuously, the limiting factor arises from the heat loss within the cable. If the power in the RF cable is to be pulsed, then it is necessary to check that the operating voltage is not exceeded. RF Coax Cable Power Loss The major root cause for the limit in power handling capacity of an RF cable is the level of heat caused by the power losses occurring in the cable. If the temperature of the coax cable rises too high, the cable my become deformed and be permanently damaged. For the resistive losses in the coax cable, it is found that most of the heat is generated in the center conductor. Additionally any heat generated as a result of dielectric losses will be dissipated within the dielectric. It is therefore the construction of the dielectric that is of key importance in determining the power handling capability of the coax cable. Its maximum operating temperature, and its heat transfer coefficient both have a major effect. It can be seen that the lower the losses of the cable the smaller the temperature rise, and the greater the power handling capability is for the cable. As a broad rule of thumb, lower loss cables will have a higher power rating than higher loss RF cables. RF Coax Cable Derating Although a power rating may be given for a particular coax cable, it is often necessary to de-rate it to cater for non-optimal operating conditions. The temperature of the environment is one factor. If the coax cable is operating in a high temperature environment, it will not be able to dissipate as much heat, and therefore the operating temperature will rise.

Even at the highest foreseeable environmental operating temperature, the RF cable must be able to remain within its maximum internal temperature. Accordingly a de-rating factor is normally applied if the coax cable to be use on high temperatures. If the coax cable is operated under conditions where the VSWR is high, the cable rating needs to be reduced. The reason for this is that when there is a high level of VSWR, there are positions of high and low current along the coax cable. These may be such that they cause the power dissipation to rise significantly in some areas causing higher levels of power to be dissipated locally. Altitude also has an effect, although at significant heights. If the cable is to be operated at altitude and hence under reduced pressure, the any cooling will be less effective. Therefore the temperature rise within the cable will be greater. Although the power handling capability of RF coax cable may not be an issue for many installations, when using medium or high power transmitters the power rating or handling capability of RF coax cable needs to be carefully considered. Coax Cable Velocity Factor - An overview of coax velocity factor and propagation speed of signals within a coax cable. The speed at which a signal travels within a coax cable is not the same as an electromagnetic wave travelling in free space. Instead it is affected by the dielectric that is used within the coax cable, and this has the effect of slowing the signal down. This can be of great importance in some applications, although for many purposes it does not need to be known. Velocity Factor The speed at which the signal travels is normally given the designation Vp or Vg and this is the faction of the speed at which the signal travels when compared to a signal travelling in free space. Thus Vp for a signal travelling at the speed of light would be 1.0, and for one travelling at half the speed of light it would be 0.5. The velocity factor of the cable is found to the reciprocal of the square root of the dielectric constant: Vp = 1 / SQRT (dielectric constant)

Coax Cable Electrical Length One important factor of a coax cable in some applications is the wavelength of the signals travelling in it. In the same way that the wavelength of a signal is the speed of light divided by the frequency for free space, the same is also true in any other medium. As the speed of the wave has been reduced, so too is the wavelength reduced by the same factor. Thus if the velocity factor of the coax cable is 0.66, then the wavelength is 0.66 times the wavelength in free space. In some instances lengths of coax cable are cut to a specific length to act as impedance transformed or a resonant circuit, then this needs to be taken into consideration when determining the required length of coax cable.

The advantage of using a coax cable with a low velocity factor is that the length of coax cable required for the resonant length is shorter than if it had a figure approaching 1. Not only does this save on cost, but it can also be significantly more convenient to use and house. Dielectric Materials There is a variety of materials that can be successfully used as dielectrics in coax cables. Each has its own dielectric constant, and as a result, coax cables that use different dielectric materials will exhibit different velocity factors. Material Polyethylene Foam polyethylene Solid PTFE Dielectric Constant 2.3 1.3 - 1.6 2.07 Velocity Factor 0.659 0.88 - 0.79 0.695

Dielectric constants and velocity factors of some common dielectric materials used in coax cables. If resonant lengths of RF coax cable are to be used, then it is necessary to know the velocity factor of the coax cable. It is often possible to determine this to a sufficient degree of accuracy from knowledge of the dielectric material. Coax Cable Environmental Resistance - An overview of the environmental elements associated with coaxial cables and the precautions to take when using them. Coax cable, or as it is sometimes called RF cable can be expensive, but it is also required to withstand some harsh environmental conditions. In view of its cost, care needs to be taken otherwise the performance of the coax cable will deteriorate and the RF cable will require replacement. By taking suitable precautions, the life of the coax cable can be maximized and the periodic replacement costs for RF cables can be reduced. There are many factors that affect coax cables to greater or lesser degrees: Humidity and water vapor Sunlight Corrosive vapors and liquids Effect of Humidity and Water Vapor on Coax Cables One of the biggest enemies for coaxial cable is that of water vapor. If it enters a coax cable then it can significantly degrade its performance, requiring the cable to be replaced. Moisture causes two main effects that give rise to an increase in the level of attenuation or loss in the cable. The first is an increase in resistive loss arising from oxidation of the braid that gives rise to an increase in the resistance of the braid or outer conductor in the coax cable. The second is an increase in the loss arising in the dielectric. Water absorbed into the dielectric heats up when power is passed along the coax cable. This heat is as a result of power loss in the cable. Water vapor or even water itself can enter the coax cable through a number of ways: 1. Through the termination of the coax cable (i.e. through connector or other termination method) 2. Through pin-holes in the jacket

3. By water vapor transmission through the jacket. 1. Moisture entry through coax cable termination The most obvious method of humidity entering a coax cable is through the termination. One very good example is the small termination box provided with many TV antennas. When used externally these termination enclosures provide little protection against the elements and the coax will quickly deteriorate. Even when a connector is used to terminate the coax cable there will be problems if the coax is used externally. Very few connectors are weather proofed, and even if they are supposedly weatherproof, then it is wise to take additional precautions. Normally the best method is to use self-amalgamating tape. This tape comes in the form of a roll and appears like thick PVC tape but it has a thin paper backing on one side to keep each layer separate and prevents it amalgamating with itself before use. It is used in a similar way to insulating tape. The backing strip is peeled off and then it is wrapped around whatever it is to be waterproofed - in this case a coax cable termination overlapping each winding by about 50% of its width to ensure a good seal. When applying the tape keep it stretched so that it is applied under tension. Also it is best to start from the thinner end of the job, i.e. where the diameter of whatever it is being applied to is smallest. Where there is a connector on a cable, start on the cable and work towards the connector. Also when winding ensure that there are no holes of voids in which water could condense or enter. Keep the self-amalgamating tape in intimate contact with whatever it is to be waterproofed. 2. Moisture entry though pin holes in coax cable jacket Most coax cables have some small holes in their jacket along their length. It is therefore quite possible that moisture will enter through any imperfection in the coax cable jacket. If the pin holes are located externally where they can be affected by the weather then moisture will enter. Unfortunately it is very easy for small abrasions to occur during the installation of a cable and these can include small pin holes right through the jacket. Great care must therefore be taken when installing a cable, and in particular when the coax cable is passed through a wall or other barrier. 3. Water vapor transmission through the coax cable jacket All materials exhibit a finite vapor transmission rate. Accordingly if a coax cable is constantly in contact with moisture, then this will permeate through the jacket. In view of this coax cable should never be buried directly in the ground. Either use some external protection such as a waterproof pipe, and ensure that no water enters it so that small patches of water form in it. Alternatively use the "bury direct" cables that are available. It is also found in airborne applications that the large temperature extremes encountered cause water condensation in the coax cables. This moisture can collect in low areas of the cable causing local areas of corrosion. One method of overcoming this is to fill any voids in the aircraft where coax cable are carried with non-hardening moisture-proof compound. Effect of Sunlight on Coax Cables Sunlight has an effect on many substances, and the same is true of coax cable jackets or sheaths. It is particularly the ultra-violet light that causes the degradation to the cables. To increase the life of coax cables, manufacturers use high molecular weight polythene. Polyvinylchloride (PVC) jackets exhibit less than half the life expectancy of the high molecular weight polythene. Effect of Corrosive Vapors on Coax Cables Using a coax cable in the vicinity of corrosive liquids and vapors can reduce the life of a cable faster than if it was used externally. Salt water is a common problem on sea going vessels, and chemical vapors may be present on other installations requiring coax cables. Although the rigors of the weather can be very tough, some vapors and

liquids can speed the deterioration of the coax cable even faster. The use of tin or silver coatings can provide some additional protection but this is not permanent. However, it is recommended that especially environmentally hardened cables are used where extreme conditions are anticipated. Coax cables are normally quite tolerant to being used in a variety of conditions. However to ensure the longest operational life it is best to ensure that they are not exposed to environmental conditions that would cause their performance to deteriorate. If they are then it is necessary to adopt a few precautions to ensure that the coax cable life is maintained for as long as possible. RF Coax Cable Data and Specifications - An overview along with a table of specifications and data for the more commonly available types of RF coax cable, i.e. RF cable. There is a variety of different types of coax or coaxial cable that are in widespread use. Different types of coax cable or feeder are needed for different purposes and applications and accordingly it is necessary have specifications and data to be able to determine the required coax type or RF cable type easily. While it would be possible to manufacture an infinite variety of RF cables, standard varieties are specified. There are two basic systems that are used for defining RF cables. One originated in the United Kingdom and its type numbers all start with UR. The other system is American with type numbers commencing with the letters RG. The RG series was originally used to specify the types of coax cables for military use, and the specification took the form RG (RG from Radio Guide) plus two numbers. In some instances these numbers were followed by the letter U which indicated it was for multiple uses. These types of coax cable were all listed in the MIL-HDBK-216 which is now obsolete. Although full MIL specifications are now officially used for specifying most components for military use, the RG series of RF cables continued to be used because of its widespread acceptance. However it should be noted that the RG specifications are no longer maintained so there is no complete guarantee to the exact specification for the particular type of coax cable. A summary of data for some of the more commonly used types of coax or coaxial cable is given below. Most of these RF cables are easily available from RF cable stock lists: Coax Type Characteristic impedance Outside diameter Velocity factor Atten @ 100 MHz Atten @ 1000 MHz Comments

RG5/U RG6A/U RG9/U RG10A/U RG11A/U RG12A/U RG20A/U RG22 RG23 RG24 RG34 RG58C/U

52.5 75 51.0 50 75 75 50 95 125 125 75 50

8.4 8.4 10.7 12.1 10.3 12.1 30.4 10.7 24.0 25.5 16.0 5.0

0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66

0.66

1.0 1.0 0.66 0.66 0.76 0.76 0.22 0.75 0.52 0.52 0.46 1.8

3.8 3.7 2.4 2.6 2.6 2.6 1.2 1.5 2.0 2.0 1.8 7.6

Coax Type

Characteristic impedance

Outside diameter

Velocity factor

Atten @ 100 MHz

Atten @ 1000 MHz

Comments

RG62A/U RG63 RG79 RG108 RG111 RG114 RG119 RG120 RG122 RG213/U RG214/U

93 125 125 78 95 185 50 50 50 50 50

6.1 10.3 12.1 6.0 12.1 10.3 11.8 13.3 4.1 10.3 10.8

0.84

0.66 0.66

0.9 0.6 0.6 1.1 0.75 1.1 0.5 0.5 1.7 0.62 0.76

2.8 2.1 2.1 3.8 2.6 3.8 1.8 1.8 5.5 2.6 2.9

Polythene dielectric Double screened, silver plated copper wire

RG223/U UR43 UR57 UR67 UR74 UR76 UR77 UR79 UR90

50 50 75 50 51 51 75 50 75

5.5 5 10.2 10.3 22.1 5 22.1 21.7 6.1

0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.66 0.96 0.66

1.58 1.3 0.63 0.66 0.33 1.7 0.33 0.17 1.2

5.4 4.46 2.3 2.52 1.4 7.3 1.4 0.6 4.1

Similar to RG11A/U Similar to RG213/U Similar to RG58C/U

Similar to RG59B/U

Data for attenuation figures are typical figures and measured in dB / 10 meter dimensions in mm. The RF cables described above are all flexible types. For microwave applications where very low loss is needed, semi rigid coaxial RF cable using a solid copper outer sheath may be used. This type of coax offers superior screening compared to RF cables with a braided outer conductor, especially at microwave frequencies. As the name implies, though, it is not particularly flexible and is not intended to be flexed after it has been formed to the required shape. This RF cable data has been presented as a guide and no liability can be taken for any errors or mistakes in the data. Naturally every care has been taken to ensure the data concerning these RF cables is correct. RF Coax Cable Installation Guide - essential points about how to install RF coax cable and the key points to note to ensure the best performance is obtained from the coaxial cable installation.

RF coax cable is widely used for a variety of professional RF applications where RF power either from a transmitter or to a receiver needs to be transferred from one point to another. While RF coaxial cable is very easy to install, it is necessary to ensure that a number of points are observed to ensure the coax cable installation is satisfactory initially, and then lasts. This is particularly important because many coax cable installations are external and need to withstand the rigors of the environment. While coax cable may perform perfectly well when first installed, factors such as the ingress of moisture may cause the performance to degrade over time. Accordingly this performance reduction may pass un-noticed until the performance has reduced to a point where it may not be usable. By adopting a few simple precautions, the performance of the RF coaxial cable installation can be preserved and a much slower rate of degradation seen. Coax Cable Areas to Address The hints and tips to help install coax cable can be grouped into a number of categories: 1. Choosing the right coaxial cable 2. Weatherproofing the coax 3. General installation 4. Terminations / connections for the RF cable Choosing the right Coax Cable There is an enormous variety of coax cables on the market, and at first sight the choice may not appear easy. The first decision to make, prior to any installation is to choose the required impedance. Domestic hi-fi and video antenna feeds use 75 ohm coax cable. Professional, CB, and amateur radio standardize on 50 ohm cable. Once this choice has been made the next decision will probably be made on the level of signal loss that is acceptable. The lower the loss the greater the diameter of the cable and also its cost. Typically there are several cables with similar performance figures and often the decision of the exact type number will depend on the stock position of suppliers. Once a suitable cable has been found then it can be purchased and installed. Weather proofing the coaxial cable When installing coax cable externally it is very important to ensure the cable is adequately weatherproofed. This is critical because any moisture entering the RF coax cable will produce a considerable increase in the level of loss. If any moisture passes into the dielectric material spacing the inner and outer conductors, this will impair the performance of the dielectric, and increase the level of loss. Moisture will also cause the outer braid to oxidize, and reduce the conductivity between the small conductors making up the braid. It is therefore very important to seal the end of the cable if it is to be used externally, and ensure that no moisture enters. It is also necessary to ensure that the outer sheath of the cable remains intact and is not damaged during installation or further use. An additional method of preventing large amounts of moisture entering the cable is to loop it up and down. In this way it is more difficult for water to enter the cable and then move along it. However if some moister enters the cable it will move into it by capillary action, so it is always best to ensure that the ends are properly sealed and protected.

General installation tips for RF coax cable All cables have a bend radius. In order to prevent damage they should not be bent into curves tighter than this. If RF coax cable is bent beyond its limit then damage to the inner construction of the cable may result. In turn this can lead to much higher levels of loss. In a similar line, care should be taken to ensure that the cable is not crushed, or likely to be crushed. If the RF cable does suffer damage in this way, the dimensions of the cable will be changed and it will not maintain its characteristic impedance. Additionally if the dielectric between the two concentric conductors in the coax cable is damaged, then there is the likelihood of an increase in the level of loss. While on the subject of physical damage to the cable, it is necessary to ensure that the sheath of the cable remains intact. If it is broken in any place, then this may allow moisture to enter if it is used externally, and this will cause oxidation and moisture retention in the dielectric that will increase the level of loss. On some occasions it is necessary to bury coaxial cable. Ideally, normal cable should not be buried directly as this relies purely on the outer sheath for protection and it is not designed for these conditions. Instead it can be run through buried conduit manufactured for carrying buried cables. This has the advantage that it is easy to replace. However ensure that the conduit does not become water logged. Alternatively solution to using some form of conduit is to use a form of coax cable known as "bury direct". This is designed for being buried, and its outer sheath can withstand these conditions. Coax Terminations / Connections When installing RF coax cable, it is important to terminate the cable correctly. In most instances the coax cable will be physically terminated using an RF connector, the electrical termination being either at the antenna or in the receiver. Accordingly the connections to the connectors must be made correctly and the right quality RF connectors should be used. Although connectors for domestic installations are often poor in terms of their electrical radio frequency performance, there is little alternative to using them in view of the fact that they have to mate with the RF connectors on the equipment. For professional applications, RF connectors can be far better, although it is necessary to ensure that the connectors are suitable for the frequencies used. Some cheap versions of RF connectors may not meet the full specification and can thereby impair the performance of the RF coax cable. It is therefore wide to always buy connectors from reputable sources. By correctly installing a RF coax cable it can provide many years of satisfactory service. However wear, and exposure to the elements will mean that after some time it may be prudent to replace the RF coax cable. As the degradation in performance will be slow, it may mean that this is not noticed. Only when it is ultimately replaced will a major difference be seen. RF Coax Cable Connectors - an overview of the different types of RF connectors that can be used with coax cable or feeder including the UHF (SO239 / PL259), BNC, TNC, N-type, SMA, SMB, SMC, MCX, etc.. Coax cable connectors, often called RF connectors are in widespread use. Wherever radio frequency or RF connections need to be made there is the possibility of using coaxial connectors. Where signals reach frequencies above a few million Hertz, these coaxial connectors need to be used. The need for their use arises

because it is necessary to transfer radio frequency, RF, energy from one place to another using a transmission line. The most convenient and hence the most commonly used form of transmission line is coaxial cable which consists of two concentric conductors, an inner conductor and an outer conductor, often called the screen. Between these two conductors there is an insulating dielectric. Coaxial cable has a number of properties, one of which is the characteristic impedance. In order that the maximum power transfer takes place from the source to the load, the characteristic impedances of both should match. Thus the characteristic impedance of a feeder is of great importance. Any mismatch will result in power being reflected back towards the source. It is also important that RF coaxial cable connectors have characteristic impedance that matches that of the cable. If not, a discontinuity is introduced and losses may result. There is a variety of connectors that are used for RF applications. Impedance, frequency range, power handling, physical size and a number of other parameters including cost will determine the best type for a given applications. UHF Connector The UHF connector, also sometimes known as the Amphenol coaxial connector was designed in the 1930s by a designer in the Amphenol company for use in the radio industry. The plug may be referred to as a PL259 coaxial connector, and the socket as an SO239 connector. These are their original military part numbers These coaxial connectors have a threaded coupling, and this prevents them from being removed accidentally. It also enables them to be tightened sufficiently to enable a good low resistance connection to be made between the two halves. Read more about the UHF connector . . . . N-Type Connector The N-type connector is a high performance RF coaxial connector used in many RF applications. This coax connector was designed by Paul Neill of Bell Laboratories, and it gained its name from the first letter of his surname. The N-type coaxial connector is used for many radio frequency applications including broadcast and communications equipment where its power handling capability enables it to be used for medium power transmitters, however it is also used for many receivers and general RF applications. Read more about the Ntype connector . . . . BNC Connector The BNC coax connector is widely used in professional circles being used on most oscilloscopes and many other laboratory instruments, although it is widely used for many other RF applications. The BNC connector has a bayonet fixing to prevent accidental disconnection while being easy to disconnect when necessary. This RF connector was developed in the late 1940s and it gains its name from a combination of the fact that it has a bayonet fixing and from the names of the designers, the letters BNC standing for Bayonet Neill Concelman. In fact the BNC connector is essentially a miniature version of the C connector which was a bayonet version of the N-type connector. Read more about the BNC connector . . . .

TNC Connector The TNC connector is very similar to the BNC connector. The main difference is that it has a screw fitting instead of the bayonet one. The TNC connector was developed originally to overcome problems during vibration. As the bayonet fixing moved slightly there were small changes to the resistance of the connections and this introduced noise. To solve the problem a screw fixing was used and the TNC coax cable connector gains its name from the words Threaded Neill Concelman. Like the BNC connector, the TNC connector has constant impedance, and in view of the threaded connection, its frequency limit can be extended. Most TNC connectors are specified to 11 GHz, and some may be able to operate to 18 GHz. Read more about the TNC connector . . . . SMA Connector This sub-miniature RF and microwave coaxial cable connector takes its name from the words Sub-Miniature A connector. It finds many applications for providing connectivity for RF assemblies within equipment. It is often used for providing RF connectivity between boards, and many microwave components including filters, attenuators, mixers and oscillators, use SMA connectors. The connectors have a threaded outer coupling interface that has a hexagonal shape, allowing it to be tightened with a spanner. The SMA connector was originally designed for use with 141 semi-rigid coax cable. However its use extended to other flexible cables, and connectors with center pins were introduced. Read more about the SMA connector . . . . SMB Connector The SMB connector derives its name as it is termed a Sub-Miniature B connector. It was developed as a result of the need for a connector that was able to connect and disconnect swiftly. It does not require nuts to be tightened when two connectors are mated. Instead the connectors are brought together and they snap fit together. Additionally the connector utilizes an inner contact and overlapping dielectric insulator structures to ensure good connectivity and constant impedance. SMB coaxial connectors are not as widely used as their SMA counterparts. They are used for inter board or assembly connections within equipment, although they are not widely used for purchased microwave assemblies in view of their inferior performance. Read more about the SMB connector . . . . SMC Connector A third SM type connector is not surprisingly the Sub Miniature C or SMC coaxial cable connector. It is similar to the SMB connector, but it uses a threaded coupling interface rather than the snap-on connection. This provides a far superior interface for the connection and as a result, SMC coaxial cable connectors are normally specified to operate at frequencies up to 10 GHz. SMC coaxial cable connectors provide a good combination of small size and performance. They may also be used in environments where vibration is anticipated. In view of their performance they find applications in microwave equipment, although they are not normally used for military applications where SMA connectors tend to be preferred.

MCX Connector A number of mico-miniature RF connectors have been developed by a variety of manufacturers to meet the growing demand for cost effective, high quality smaller connectors. These are finding high levels of use, for example in the cellular phone industry, where size, cost and performance are all important. In fact the MCX is about 30% smaller in both size and weight than an SMB connector to which it has many similarities. One connector that falls into this category is the MCX (Micro Coax) coax connector. This was developed in the 1980s by Huber and Suhner of which MCX is a trade name. The MCX connector has many similarities with the construction of the SMB connector using a quick snap-on interface, and utilizing an inner contact and an overlapping dielectric insulator structure. The MCX connector is normally specified for operation up to 6 GHz, and it finds applications in a variety of arenas including equipment for cellular telecommunications, data telemetry, Global positioning (GPS) and other applications where size and weight are important and frequencies are generally below 5 GHz. MMCX Connector Another connector which is being widely used is the MMCX connector. Being some 45% smaller than an SMB connector, the MMCX is ideal where a low profile outline is a key element. It is therefore ideal for applications where board height is limited, including applications where boards may be stacked. As such it is being widely used in many cellular telecommunications applications. The connector provides a snap fitting and also utilizes a slot-less design to minimize leakage. There is a great variety of RF coaxial cable connectors in use today. The list above describes some of the more popular types of RF connector, but there are nevertheless more varieties available. When choosing a coaxial cable connector, the requirements should be carefully matched to the available options to see which RF connector will provide the best choice. In this way the best compromise between size, weight, performance and cost can be achieved. BNC Connector - details and information about the BNC connector, - BNC socket, plug and adapter with links to suppliers. The BNC coax connector is a form of RF connector that is one of the most widely used coaxial connectors. The BNC connector is intended as an RF connector that can be used in a wide number of applications from any form of RF equipment including radio communications equipment to test equipment including everything from oscilloscopes to audio generators, and power meters to function generators. In fact BNC connectors are used in applications where coaxial or screened cable is required. The BNC connector has many attributes. One is that it has a bayonet fixing. This is particularly useful because it prevents accidental disconnection if the cable is pulled slightly or repeatedly moved. Another advantage is that it is what is termed a constant impedance connector. This is particularly important for RF applications and means that the connector presents the same impedance throughout its length. BNC Development The BNC connector was developed in the late 1940s and it gains its name from a combination of the fact that it has a bayonet fixing and from the names of the designers, the letters BNC standing for Bayonet Neill Concelman.

In fact the BNC connector is essentially a miniature version of the C connector which was a bayonet version of the N-type connector. It was developed as a result of the need to provide a high quality, robust connector that would be capable of being used in a wide variety of applications. Additionally it needed to be smaller than either the N-type or C-type connectors which were much larger BNC connector specifications The specifications of the BNC connector naturally vary from one manufacturer to another and it is always best to ensure that the particular component being purchased is suitable for the intended application. However there are a number of guidelines that can be used. The connector comes in two basic types: 50 ohm 75 ohm Of the two versions of the BNC connector, the 50 ohm version is more widely used. Often the BNC connector is specified for operation at frequencies up to 4 GHz and it can be used up to 10 GHz provided the special top quality versions specified to that frequency are used. However it is wise to fully check the specification. BNC connector formats BNC connectors come in a variety of formats. Not only are there plugs and sockets but there are also adapters and also other items such as attenuators. BNC plugs are designed not only for the required impedance, but also to accept a particular coax cable format. In this way all the internal piece parts are compatible with the coaxial cable used. It is therefore necessary to specify the BNC plug for use the cable to be used. Although there is some latitude, it is naturally best to select the correct cable format. In addition to this there are straight and right angled variants. Of these the straight connectors are the most widely used, although right angled connectors where the cable leaves the plug at right angles to the center of the connector center line are also available. These are ideal in many applications where the cables need to leave the connector in this manner to ensure cables are in a tidy fashion, or where space is at a premium. Unfortunately right-angled connectors have a marginally higher level of loss than their straight through counterparts. This may not be significant for most applications, but at frequencies near the operational limit of the connector there may be a small difference. The sockets or female BNC connectors also come in a number of flavors. The very basic BNC connector consists of a panel mounting assembly with a single connection for the coax center. The earthing is then accomplished via the panel to which the connector is bolted using a single nut. Large washers can be used to provide an earth connection directly to the connector. Some of these connectors may also use four nuts and bolts to fix them to the panel. These arrangements are only suitable for low frequency applications, and not for RF. Where impedance matching and full screening is required. Bulkhead mounting connectors where coaxial cable entry is provided are available for this. Again these are available for a variety of cable dimensions and the correct type should be used. There are two main variants of the BNC connector assembly method: Compression gland type

Crimp type The compression gland type has the center pin of the connector which is usually a solder pin and the braid and sheath of the cable are held by an expanding compression gland fixed by a nut at the rear of the connector. This type of connector by its nature can cope with a (limited) range of cable sizes and requires no specialized tooling to assemble. This makes it ideal for small quantity production, either for one off cables for laboratory use of for limited production runs. The crimp connector has the center pin which is normally crimped to the center conductor. This crimped pin is then pushed into position through an inner ferrule which separates the inner insulation sheath and the braid of the cable. An outer ferrule is then crimped over the braid and outer insulation which fixes the cable to the connector. Greater accuracy is required for the crimp style connectors and therefore the correct connector variant must be chosen for the cable being used. This may result in a crimp style connector not being practicable for some cable types. In addition to this the assembly requires the use of the correct crimping tools to ensure that the connector is correctly crimped. While these connectors are always preferred for large production runs because they are much faster to assemble, it is not possible for them to be reworked for obvious reasons. For both styles of BNC connector it is essential that the exact amount of insulation is stripped from each section to ensure accurate assembly and the required RF performance. Finally a variety of BNC adapters and other ancillary items are available. One popular BNC adapter is the straight through adapter, allowing two cables with male connectors fitted to be connected end to end. Other "T" adapters are also available. These have a male plug at the bottom of the "T" and two female connections at either end of the horizontal of the "T". These are ideal for use with oscilloscopes where a through connection needs to be measured, and the "T" BNC adapter enables the required connections to be made. In addition to this a variety of inter-series adapters are available to enable transitions to be made between different connector types. TNC connector - details and information about the TNC connector, - TNC socket and plug with links to suppliers. The TNC connector is very similar to the BNC connector although it is not nearly as widely used. The main difference between then is that the TNC connector has a screw fitting instead of the bayonet. The screw fitting means that the RF connection of the TNC connector is generally more robust and accordingly it can operate more reliably at higher frequencies.

TNC Development The TNC connector was developed originally to overcome problems during vibration. As the bayonet fixing moved slightly there were small changes to the resistance of the connections and this introduced noise. To solve the problem a screw fixing was used and the TNC coax cable connector gains its name from the words Threaded Neill Concelman.

TNC connector performance Like the BNC connector, the TNC connector has a constant impedance, and in view of the threaded connection, its frequency limit can be extended. Most TNC connectors are specified to 11 GHz, and some are able to operate to 18 GHz. TNC connector formats TNC connectors come in a variety of formats. Not only are there plugs and sockets but there are also adapters and also other items such as attenuators. TNC plugs are designed not only for the required impedance, but also to accept a particular coax cable format. In this way all the internal piece parts are compatible with the coaxial cable used. It is therefore necessary to specify the TNC plug for use the cable to be used. Although there is some latitude, it is naturally best to select the correct cable format. In addition to this there are straight and right angled variants. Of these the straight connectors are the most widely used, although right angled connectors where the cable leaves the plug at right angles to the center of the connector center line are also available. These are ideal in many applications where the cables need to leave the connector in this manner to ensure cables are in a tidy fashion, or where space is at a premium. Unfortunately right-angled connectors have a marginally higher level of loss than their straight through counterparts. This may not be significant for most applications, but at frequencies near the operational limit of the connector there may be a small difference. The sockets or female BNC connectors also come in a number of flavors. The very basic BNC connector consists of a panel mounting assembly with a single connection for the coax center. The earthing is then accomplished via the panel to which the connector is bolted using a single nut. Large washers can be used to provide an earth connection directly to the connector. Some of these connectors may also use four nuts and bolts to fix them to the panel. These arrangements are only suitable for low frequency applications, and not for RF. Where impedance matching and full screening is required. Bulkhead mounting connectors where coaxial cable entry is provided are available for this. Again these are available for a variety of cable dimensions and the correct type should be used. There are two main variants of the TNC connector assembly method: Compression gland type Crimp type The compression gland type has the center pin of the connector which is usually a solder pin and the braid and sheath of the cable are held by an expanding compression gland fixed by a nut at the rear of the connector. This type of connector by its nature can cope with a (limited) range of cable sizes and requires no specialized tooling to assemble. This makes it ideal for small quantity production, either for one off cables for laboratory use of for limited production runs. The crimp TNC connector has the center pin which is normally crimped to the center conductor. This crimped pin is then pushed into position through an inner ferrule which separates the inner insulation sheath and the braid of the cable. An outer ferrule is then crimped over the braid and outer insulation which fixes the cable to the connector. Greater accuracy is required for the crimp style connectors and therefore the correct connector variant must be chosen for the cable being used. This may result in a crimp style connector not being practicable

for some cable types. In addition to this the assembly requires the use of the correct crimping tools to ensure that the connector is correctly crimped. While these connectors are usually preferred for large production runs because they are faster to assemble, it is not possible for them to be reworked for obvious reasons. For both styles of TNC connector it is essential that the exact amount of insulation is stripped from each section to ensure accurate and successful assembly. The sockets or female TNC connectors also come in a number of flavors. In view of the fact that TNC connectors are normally used for RF applications, bulkhead mounting connectors where coaxial cable entry is provided are normally used. Again these are available for a variety of cable dimensions and the correct type should be used. C-type connector - details and information about the C-type connector, - C-type socket and plug with links to suppliers. Although not widely used these days, one form of connector that can be used for higher power applications where quick mating and release are required is the C-type connector. The C-type connector was designed by Amphenol engineer Carl Concelman who also designed several other types of connector. The C-type connector uses a bayonet fitting using two studs to enable the connector to be fully located and locked in position. The C-type connector is weatherproof, although if it is to be used externally, then it is always wise to use self-amalgamating tape or other protection. The C-type connector is not widely used, but it can be obtained from a variety of suppliers should it be needed for any given application. N-type connector - details and information about the N-type connector, - N-type socket and plug with links to suppliers. The N-type connector is a high performance RF coaxial connector. The N-type connector is used in many applications, particularly where RF performance is of paramount importance. N-type development This coax connector was designed by Paul Neill of Bell Laboratories, and it gained its name from the first letter of his surname. Its development arose out of the need for a high performance RF connector with a constant impedance.

N-type connector performance The connector has a threaded coupling interface to ensure that it mates correctly to provide the optimum performance. Two versions are available: 50 ohm 75 ohm The two versions of the N-type connector have subtle mechanical differences that do not allow the two types to mate. This can be an advantage in preventing the wrong standard connectors being used by mistake.

The connector able to withstand relatively high powers when compared to the BNC or TNC connectors. The standard versions are specified for operation up to 11 GHz, although precision versions are available for operation to 18GHz. The N-type coaxial connector is used for many radio frequency applications including broadcast and communications equipment where its power handling capability enables it to be used for medium power transmitters, however it is also used for many receivers and general RF applications. Connector formats N-type connectors come in a variety of formats. Not only are there plugs and sockets but there are also adapters and also other items such as attenuators. N-type plugs are designed not only for the required impedance, but also to accept a particular coax cable format. In this way all the internal piece parts are compatible with the coaxial cable used. It is therefore necessary to specify the N-type plug for use the cable to be used. Although there is some latitude, it is naturally best to select the correct cable format. N-type connectors are often used where performance is of paramount importance, and under these circumstances large cables are often needed to ensure the levels of loss are minimized. In view of the fact that N-type connectors are slightly larger than either BNC or TNC connectors this makes them ideal for these applications. Accordingly a variety of N-type connector versions capable of accommodating larger types of coax cable are available. In addition to this there are straight and right angled variants. Of these the straight connectors are the most widely used, although right angled connectors where the cable leaves the plug at right angles to the center of the connector center line are also available. These are ideal in many applications where the cables need to leave the connector in this manner to ensure cables are in a tidy fashion, or where space is at a premium. Unfortunately right-angled connectors have a marginally higher level of loss than their straight through counterparts. This may not be significant for most applications, but at frequencies near the operational limit of the connector there may be a small difference. The sockets or female N-type connectors also come in a number of flavors. In view of the fact that TNC connectors are normally used for RF applications, bulkhead mounting connectors where coaxial cable entry is provided are normally used. Again these are available for a variety of cable dimensions and the correct type should be used. SMA connector - details and information about the SMA RF connector, including the SMA socket and plug, SMA adapters and links to suppliers. The SMA connector is a sub-miniature coaxial cable connector and it takes its name from the words SubMiniature A connector. It finds many applications for providing connectivity for RF assemblies within equipments where coaxial connections are required. It is often used for providing RF connectivity between boards, and many microwave components including filters, attenuators, mixers and oscillators, use SMA connectors.

The connectors have a threaded outer coupling interface that has a hexagonal shape, allowing it to be tightened with a spanner. Special torque spanners are available to enable them to be tightened to the correct tightness, allowing a good connection to be made without over-tightening them. The torque required is typically 8 inch pounds. The SMA coaxial RF connector was originally designed in the 1960s by the Bendix Scintilla Corporation and Omni-Spectra Corporation. The first SMA connectors were designed for 141 semi-rigid coax. The original SMA connector was what could be termed a minimal connector because the center of the coax formed the center pin for the connection, removing the necessity for a transition between the coax center conductor and a special connector center pin. It also had the advantage that the cable dielectric was taken directly to the interface without air gaps. The disadvantage of the connector was that only a limited number of connect / disconnect cycles were possible. However for applications where semi-rigid coax was used, it was unlikely that this would be a problem as the installations were normally fixed after initial assemble.. However its use extended to other flexible cables, and full connectors with center pins were introduced. These connectors were manufactured to high standards and also allowed greater numbers of connect / disconnect cycles to be performed. SMA connector performance SMA connectors are designed to have a constant have 50 ohm impedance across the connector. The SMA connectors are designed and specified for operation up tom12.4 GHz, although many high quality versions are useable up to 18 GHz. Also it may be possible to sue them to 24 GHz with a greater level of loss and a lower return loss. In general, SMA connectors have a higher reflection coefficient than other connectors used up to 24 GHz. This arises from the difficulty in accurately anchoring the dielectric support, but despite this difficulty, some manufacturers have managed to suitably overcome this problem and are able to specify their connectors for operation to 26.5 GHz. For flexible cables, the frequency limit is normally determined by the cable and not the connector. This is because the cables accepted by SMA connectors are small and their loss is naturally much greater than that of the connectors, especially at the frequencies at which they are likely to be used. Connector formats The SMA connector is available in a variety of forms. The plugs are available in straight and right-angled formats and the sockets are available as cable entry or single pin center solder contacts. Typically the cable entry types have a single nut fixing to enable them to be attached to a panel. They may also be free connectors. The center pin types either have a two or four screw fixing capability to enable them to attach to a panel. SMB connector - details and information about the SMB connector - a useful RF connector- including the SMB socket and plug, SMB adapters and links to suppliers. The SMB connector derives its name as it is termed a Sub-Miniature version B connector. It was developed as a result of the need for a connector that was able to connect and disconnect swiftly. It does not require nuts to be tightened when two connectors are mated. Instead the connectors are brought together and they snap fit

together. Additionally the connector utilizes an inner contact and overlapping dielectric insulator structures to ensure good connectivity and constant impedance. The SMB connector is not as robust as the SMA connector, and although they perform well under moderate levels of vibration, they are not suitable for harsh environmental conditions where the levels of vibration rise. SMB connector impedance The SMB connector is specified in tow impedances, namely 50 and 75 ohms. The 50 ohm version of the SMB connector is generally specified up to 4 GHz, but the 75 ohm versions of the SMB connector are normally only specified to 2 GHz. SMB applications SMB coaxial connectors are not as widely used as their SMA counterparts. They are used for inter board or assembly connections within equipment, although they are not widely used for purchased microwave assemblies in view of their inferior performance. Although the SMB connector is not as widely used as its SMA cousin, large quantities are nevertheless used. The connector is much easier to connect and this can be a distinct advantage in applications where its performance is sufficiently good. As a result the SMB connector is a very successful design and used for many applications. UHF connector, including the PL259 plug, and SO239 socket - details and information about the UHF RF connector, including the SO239 UHF socket and PL259 plug, UHF connector adapters and links to suppliers. The UHF connector is a coaxial RF connector that is used in low cost applications for frequencies often in the HF and the bottom end of the VHF spectrum. Although it does not offer a particularly high level of performance, this RF connector is nevertheless satisfactory for many applications where cost may be an issue. The UHF RF connector was designed in the 1930s by E. Clark Quackenbush, a design engineer working for the Amphenol company. This RF connector design was aimed to cover frequencies in the range 0.6 to 300 MHz and it was aimed at use within the radio industry. In view of the fact that the frequency of operation for the connector extended to 300MHz - the bottom of the UHF band of frequencies, it was given the name of UHF connector. Connector designations In view of the fact that the UHF connector was designed in the Amphenol company, it is also sometimes referred to as the Amphenol connector. In addition to this the plugs and sockets may be referred to by different designations. The plug may be referred to as a PL259 coaxial connector, and the socket as an SO239 connector. These numbers arise from the original military numbers given to the UHF connectors Basic description These coaxial connectors have a threaded coupling, and this prevents them from being removed accidentally. It also enables them to be tightened sufficiently to enable a good low resistance connection to be made between the two halves.

The basic RF connector (PL259) is has a relatively large threaded hole through which the coax cable enters. This is suitable for large, low loss cable, and also make the connector suitable for relatively high power applications. However where smaller cable is to be used, versions with a thinner hole are available or a reducer sleeve can be used. This reducer sleeve screws into the threaded coax cable entry hole may be used to make the cable entry diameter suite the size of the cable being used. Limitations The drawback of the UHF or Amphenol connector is that it has non-constant impedance. This limits their use to frequencies of up to 300 MHz, but despite this these UHF connectors provide a low cost RF connector suitable for many applications, provided that the frequencies do not rise. Also very low cost versions are available for applications such as CB operation, and these are not suitable for operation much above 30 MHz In view of their non-constant impedance, these RF connectors, of any quality, are now rarely used for many professional applications, being generally limited to CB, amateur radio and some video and public address systems. Soldering PL259 connectors Soldering PL259 connectors is not always easy. Start by stripping back about 1.5 inches (35mm) of the outer coating or sheath of the cable, taking care not to cut too deeply and score any of the fibers of the conductive braid. Leave around 0.5 inch (13mm) of the copper braid or shielding in place and then remove about 0.5 inch (13mm) of the plastic core. Tin the exposed central copper core. To do this, heat the core with the soldering iron and apply a thin even coating of solder to it. Take care not to keep the soldering iron on the conductor for too long otherwise the dielectric spacing between the outer and inner conductors of the coax will melt. Once the cable has cooled slide the inner part of the PL259 plug over the cable with a screwing action until the copper core appears at the end of the center pin. The trimmed shield will have become trapped between the core and the inside of the PL259. The outer sheath or covering or covering of the coax cable will ensure a snug fit and any protruding shielding should be removed with the sharp knife. The UHF connector has been available for many years, and it is likely to remain in use for many years to come. These days it is not normally used in many professional applications as other connector types are generally more suitable. Nevertheless the UHF connector is still used in some more niche applications where the highest performance is not required, and where its rugged mechanical construction and low cost are important. Waveguide Basics Tutorial - Overview, summary, tutorial about the basics of what is a waveguide and the basic waveguide theory. RF waveguides are a form of RF feeder used for microwave applications. For use, the basics of waveguide technology are easy to comprehend, although the mathematics involved can become complicated when wave theory and the like are used. Waveguides are a guide for electromagnetic waves and this gives rise to the name waveguide. Waveguides effectively confirm and direct a wave within a given boundary. Within many electronic circles, waveguides are most commonly used for microwave RF signals, the same principles can be used for many forms of wave from sound to light.

RF Waveguide Basics Waveguides are used in a variety of applications to carry radio frequency energy from one pint to another. In their broadest terms a waveguide is described as a system of material that is designed to confine electromagnetic waves in a direction defined by its physical boundaries. This definition gives a very broad view of waveguides, but indicates that waveguide theory can be applied in a number of areas and in a variety of different ways. Electromagnetic waves propagating in open space travel out in all directions and can be thought of as spherical waves travelling out from a central source. As a result the power intensity decreases as the distance increases it is proportional to the power of the source divided by the square of the distance. The waveguide operates by confining the electromagnetic wave so that it does not spread out and losses resulting from this effect are eliminated. Typically a waveguide is thought if as a transmission line comprising a hollow conducting tube, which may be rectangular or circular within which electromagnetic waves are propagated. Unlike coaxial cable, there is no center conductor within the waveguide. Signals propagate within the confines of the metallic walls that act as boundaries. The signal is confined by total internal reflection from the walls of the waveguide.

Rectangular Waveguide Waveguides will only carry or propagate signals above a certain frequency, known as the cut-off frequency. Below this the waveguide is not able to carry the signals. The cut-off frequency of the waveguide depends upon its dimensions. In view of the mechanical constraints this means that waveguides are only used for microwave frequencies. Although it is theoretically possible to build waveguides for lower frequencies the size would not make them viable to contain within normal dimensions and their cost would be prohibitive. As a very rough guide to the dimensions required for a waveguide, the width of a waveguide needs to be of the same order of magnitude as the wavelength of the signal being carried. As a result, there is a number of standard sizes used for waveguides as detailed in another page of this tutorial. Also other forms of waveguide may be specifically designed to operate on a given band of frequencies Types of RF Waveguide There are a number of different types of RF waveguide that can be used, bought and designed. Typically waveguides are thought of as being rectangular in cross section as this is the most common form of waveguide. However other types and approaches may be used. Rectangular waveguide: This is the most commonly used form of waveguide and has a rectangular cross section. Circular waveguide: Circular waveguide is less common than rectangular waveguide. They have many similarities in their basic approach, although signals often use a different mode of propagation. Circuit board stripline: This form of waveguide is used on printed circuit boards as a transmission line for microwave signals. It typically consists of a line of a given thickness above an earth plane. Its thickness defines the impedance.

In addition to these basic forms, there are also flexible waveguides. These are most widely seen in the rectangular format. Flexible waveguide is often used to connect to antennas, etc that may not be fixed or may be moveable. Waveguides are more expensive than other forms of RF feeder. However waveguides offer a number of advantages that mean they are the only feasible solution in many applications. Although waveguide is not nearly as widely used as other forms of feeder such as coax, it still forms and essential method of transferring RF power, especially are microwave frequencies. Waveguide Theory - The basics of RF waveguide theory including TE waves, TM waves and TEM waves, etc. including waveguide propagation constant. In order to be able to use waveguides to their best effect, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of waveguide theory, including waveguide propagation and the waveguide propagation constant. While waveguide theory can become particularly involved, it is not the aim here to delve too deeply into the waveguide theory mathematics. Waveguide theory is based around electromagnetic wave theory because the waves propagating along waveguides are electromagnetic waves that have been constrained, typically within a hollow metal tube. The constraining boundaries of the metal tube prevent the electromagnetic wave from spreading out and thereby reducing in intensity according to the inverse square law. As a result, losses are very low. Waveguide Theory of Propagation According to waveguide theory there are a number of different types of electromagnetic wave that can propagate within the waveguide. These different types of waves correspond to the different elements within an electromagnetic wave. TE waves: Transverse electric waves, also sometimes called H waves, are characterized by the fact that the electric vector (E) is always perpendicular to the direction of propagation. TM waves: Transverse magnetic waves, also called E waves are characterized by the fact that the magnetic vector (H vector) is always perpendicular to the direction of propagation. TEM waves: The Transverse electromagnetic wave is cannot be propagated within a waveguide, but is included for completeness. It is the mode that is commonly used within coaxial and open wire feeders. The TEM wave is characterized by the fact that both the electric vector (E vector) and the magnetic vector (H vector) are perpendicular to the direction of propagation. Text about waveguide theory often refers to the TE and TM waves with integers after them: TEm,n. The numerals M and N are always integers that can take on separate values from 0 or 1 to infinity. These indicate the wave modes within the waveguide. Only a limited number of different m, n modes can be propagated along a waveguide dependent upon the waveguide dimensions and format. For each mode there is a definite lower frequency limit. This is known as the cut-off frequency. Below this frequency no signals can propagate along the waveguide. As a result the waveguide can be seen as a high pass filter.

It is possible for many modes to propagate along a waveguide. The number of possible modes for a given size of waveguide increases with the frequency. It is also worth noting that there is only one possible mode, called the dominant mode for the lowest frequency that can be transmitted. It is the dominant mode in the waveguide that is normally used. It should be remembered, that even though waveguide theory is expressed in terms of fields and waves, the wall of the waveguide conducts current. For many calculations it is assumed to be a perfect conductor. In reality this is not the case, and some losses are introduced as a result. Waveguide Theory Rules of Thumb There are a number of rules of thumb and common points that may be used when dealing with waveguides. For rectangular waveguides, the TE10 mode of propagation is the lowest mode that is supported. For rectangular waveguides, the waveguide width, i.e. the widest internal dimension of the cross section, determines the lower cut-off frequency and is equal to 1/2 wavelength of the lower cut-off frequency. For rectangular waveguides, the TE01 mode occurs when the height equals 1/2 wavelength of the cut-off frequency. For rectangular waveguides, the TE20, occurs when the width equals one wavelength of the lower cut-off frequency. Waveguide Propagation Constant A quantity known as the propagation constant is denoted by the Greek letter gamma, . The waveguide propagation constant defines the phase and amplitude of each component of the wave as it propagates along the waveguide. The factor for each component of the wave cane be expressed by: exp*j t - m,n z+ Where: z = direction of propagation = angular frequency, i.e. 2 x frequency It can be seen that if propagation constant, m,n is real, the phase of each component is constant, and in this case the amplitude decreases exponentially as z increases. In this case no significant propagation takes place and the frequency used for the calculation is below the waveguide cut-off frequency. It is actually found in this case that a small degree of propagation does occur, but as the levels of attenuation are very high, the signal only travels for a very small distance. As the results are very predictable, a short length of waveguide used below its cut-off frequency can be used as an attenuation with known attenuation. The alternative case occurs when the propagation constant, m,n is imaginary. Here it is found that the amplitude of each component remains constant, but the phase varies with the distance z. This means that propagation occurs within the waveguide. The value of m,n is contains purely imaginary when there is a totally lossless system. As in reality some loss always occurs, the propagation constant, m,n will contain both real and imaginary parts, m,n and m,n respectively.

Accordingly it will be found that: m,n = m,n + j m,n This waveguide theory and waveguide equations are true for any waveguide regardless of whether they are rectangular or circular. Waveguide Impedance and Impedance Matching - Details of waveguide impedance, how waveguide impedance is defined, waveguide impedance matching including the use of a waveguide iris or a waveguide post. Waveguide impedance can be important in a number of applications. In the same way that the characteristic impedance is important for other forms of feeder, the same can be true in a number of instances with waveguides. Techniques including the use of a waveguide iris, or a waveguide post can be used to provide the required level of waveguide impedance matching. The waveguide impedance needs to be known on a number of instances to ensure the optimum power transfer and the minimum level of reflected power is obtained. Waveguide Impedance Definition There are several ways to define the waveguide impedance - it is not as straightforward as that of a more traditional coaxial feeder. To determine the waveguide impedance by using the voltage to be the potential difference between the top and bottom walls in the middle of the waveguide, and then take the value of current to be the integrated value across the top wall. As expected the ratio gives the impedance. Measure the waveguide impedance is to utilizing the voltage and then use the power flow within the waveguide. The waveguide impedance can be determined by taking the ratio of the electric field to the magnetic field at the center of the waveguide. All the methods tend to give results that are within a factor of two of the free space impedance of 377 ohms. Waveguide Impedance and Reflection Coefficient In just the same that more common coaxial and other feeder systems need to have loads closely matched to the source impedance to obtain the maximum power transfer, the same is true with waveguides. If the waveguide impedance is matched to the source or load, then a greater level of power transfer will occur. When waveguides are not accurately matched to their loads, standing waves result, and not all the power is transferred. To overcome the mismatch it is necessary to use some waveguide impedance matching techniques. Waveguide Impedance Matching In order to ensure the optimum waveguide impedance matching is obtained, small devices are placed into the waveguide close to the point where the matching is needed to change its characteristics.

There are a number of ways in which waveguide impedance matching can be achieved: Use of gradual changes in dimensions of waveguide. Use of a waveguide iris Use of a waveguide post or screw Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages and can be used in different circumstances. The use of elements including a waveguide iris or a waveguide post or screw has an effect which is manifest at some distance from the obstacle in the guide since the fields in the vicinity of the waveguide iris or screw are disturbed. Waveguide impedance matching using gradual changes It is found that abrupt changes in a waveguide will give rise to a discontinuity that will create standing waves. However gradual changes in impedance do not cause this. This approach is used with horn antennas - these are funnel shaped antennas that provide the waveguide impedance match between the waveguide itself and free space by gradually expanding the waveguide dimensions. There are basically three types of waveguide horn that may be used: E plane H plane Pyramid The different types of gradual matching using a waveguide horn can be seen in the diagram below:

E, H plane and pyramid Horn antennas used for waveguide matching

Impedance Matching Using a Waveguide Iris Irises are effectively obstructions within the waveguide that provide a capacitive or inductive element within the waveguide. This enables the waveguide impedance matching to occur. The obstruction or waveguide iris is located in either the transverse plane of the magnetic or electric field. A waveguide iris places a shunt capacitance or inductance across the waveguide and it is directly proportional to the size of the waveguide iris. An inductive waveguide iris is placed within the magnetic field, and a capacitive waveguide iris is placed within the electric field. These can be susceptible to breakdown under high power conditions - particularly the electric

plane irises as they concentrate the electric field. Accordingly the use of a waveguide iris or screw / post can limit the power handling capacity.

Impedance matching using a waveguide iris

The waveguide iris may either be on only one side of the waveguide, or there may be a waveguide iris on both sides to balance the system. A single waveguide iris is often referred to as an asymmetric waveguide iris or diaphragm and one where there are two, one either side is known as a symmetrical waveguide iris.

Symmetrical and asymmetrical waveguide iris implementations

A combination of both E and H plane waveguide irises can be used to provide both inductive and capacitive reactance. This forms a tuned circuit. At resonance, the iris acts as a high impedance shunt. Above or below resonance, the iris acts as a capacitive or inductive reactance.

Impedance Matching Using a Waveguide Post or Screw In addition to using a waveguide iris, post or screw can also be used to give a similar effect and thereby provide waveguide impedance matching. The waveguide post or screw is made from a conductive material. To make the post or screw inductive, it should extend through the waveguide completely making contact with both top and bottom walls. For a capacitive reactance the post or screw should only extend part of the way through. When a screw is used, the level can be varied to adjust the waveguide to the right conditions. Flexible Waveguide - Summary of the construction, applications and limitations of flexible waveguide or flex waveguide. Flexible waveguide is often used to connect two elements using rigid waveguide systems together, especially when they cannot be accurately located or positioned.. For example, flexible waveguide is often used to connect antenna systems, especially when they may not be fixed, to the base transmitter receiver system.

Flexible waveguide may not have the same level of performance that is provided by rigid waveguide, but the mechanical advantages offered normally well outweigh the electrical performance limitations. Flexible waveguide is also used to allow for mechanical movement. Often flexible waveguide may be used to allow for thermal expansion and contraction, or it may be used to allow for mechanical vibration. Flexible Waveguide Construction Flexible waveguide is available in a variety of different forms. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages; The flexible waveguide may be made from flat ribbons would on a rectangular mandrel. The edges are then convoluted or folded in and interlocked. The convoluted flexible waveguide may be left unsoldered or it may be soldered - the flexibility of the waveguide results from the flexing of each arm and not the relative sliding of the ribbons. However if it is soldered it does loose some flexibility and it is not able to be twisted to any degree. A form of corrugated flexible waveguide may be constructed. It is manufactured by shaping thin wall rectangular tubing. It may also be made by bending and soldering corrugated sheet metal. It is also possible to construct a bellows-style flexible waveguide using a flexible alloy. Another common form of flexible waveguide construction is to use a helically wound system. This form of flexible waveguide is manufactured by a process of helical winding a silver coated, brass strip to form a continuous, uniform rectangular tube. In general flexible waveguide is jacketed in Neoprene, Silicone, Viton, Devcon or other similar materials to provide additional protection from mechanical damage while still allowing flexibility. Limitations of Flexible Waveguide As might be expected the performance of flexible waveguide is not as good as rigid waveguide. Some reductions in performance may be noticed in the following areas: Increased loss: The walls of the flexible waveguide will not be able to provide the same level of conductivity as that provided by solid / rigid waveguide. As the waveguide attenuation and loss will depend upon the conductivity, the performance of the flexible waveguide will inferior to that of the rigid style. Possible introduction of passive intermodulation products: As some types of flexible waveguide have jointed sections, these can allow any corrosion to form non-linear joints that can give rise to low levels of passive intermodulation products. These can be of great importance on systems such as full duplex satcom or other systems when the diplexer is situated close to the antenna and one feeder is used. Any passive intermodulation products generated by the transmitter could fall within the receive band and impair the receive performance. Minimum bend radius: There will be a minimum bend radius specification for the flexible waveguide. This should not be exceeded otherwise there permanent damage to the waveguide. Flexible waveguide is an essential item for many waveguide installations. The flexible waveguide provides the required degree of flexibility to enable a degree of mechanical movement either for vibration, allow for other movement, or just to take up the mechanical tolerances which might otherwise not be possible. However care must be taken when using flexible waveguide as losses are higher, it can be expensive and it may have higher levels of passive intermodulation distortion. As a result, most lengths of flexible waveguide are relatively short. A signal can be entered into the waveguide in a number of ways. The most straightforward is to use what is known as a launcher. This is basically a small probe which penetrates a small distance into the centre of the

waveguide itself as shown. Often this probe may be the center conductor of the coaxial cable connected to the waveguide. The probe is orientated so that it is parallel to the lines of the electric field which is to be set up in the waveguide. An alternative method is to have a loop which is connected to the wall of the waveguide. This encompasses the magnetic field lines and sets up the electromagnetic wave in this way. However for most applications it is more convenient to use the open circuit probe. These launchers can be used for transmitting signals into the waveguide as well as receiving them from the waveguide.

Waveguide launcher

WG and WR Waveguide Dimensions and Sizes - RF waveguide dimensions, waveguide sizes, cut off frequencies and other waveguide data for WR waveguide and WG waveguide systems. RF waveguides used for the transmission of radio frequency energy come in a variety of sizes and designations such as WG waveguide and WR waveguide are seen in the specifications and literature.Waveguide sizes and waveguide dimensions determine the properties of the RF waveguide, including parameters such as the waveguide cut off frequency and many other properties. Waveguide sizes are standardised to enable waveguides from different manufacturers to be used together. In this way the industry is able to benefit from the ability to use waveguide with known properties, etc.

Waveguide size standards There are a number of different standards for waveguides. These tend tob e country specific. Some of the major standards include: WR waveguide system: EIA designation (Standard US) using a WR designator to indicate the size WG waveguide system: RCSC Designation (Standard UK) Both systems are in widespread use and enable the waveguide sizes to be matched and known>.

WG waveguide sizes and dimensions The figures given below are for rigid rectangular waveguides, as these are the most common form of waveguide used.

WG Design WG00 WG0 WG1 WG2 WG3 WG4 WG5 WG6 WG6 WG7 WG8 WG8 WG9A WG9A WG10 WG10 WG11A WG12 WG12 WG13 WG14 WG14 WG15 WG15

Freq range* 0.32 - 0.49 0.35 - 0.53 0.41 - 0.625 0.49 - 0.75 0.64 - 0.96 0.75 - 1.12 0.96 - 1.45 1.12 - 1.70 1.12 - 1.70 1.45 - 2.20 1.70 - 2.60 1.70 - 2.60 2.20 - 3.30 2.20 - 3.30 2.60 - 3.95 2.60 - 3.95 3.30 - 4.90 3.95 x 5.85 3.95 x 5.85 4.90 - 7.05 5.85 - 8.20 5.85 - 8.20 7.05 - 10.0 7.05 - 10.0

Waveguide cut off * 0.256 0.281 0.328 0.393 0.513 0.605 0.766 0.908 0.908 1.157 1.372 1.372 1.736 1.736 2.078 2.078 2.577 3.152 3.152 3.711 4.301 4.301 5.26 5.26

Theoretical attn dB / 30m 0.051 - 0.031 0.054 - 0.034 0.056 - 0.038 0.069 - 0.050 0.128 - 0.075 0.137 - 0.095 0.201 - 0.136 0.317 - 0.212 0.269 - 0.178 0.588 - 0.385 0.501 - 0.330 0.877 - 0.572 0.751 - 0.492 1.102 - 0.752 0.940 - 0.641 2.08 - 1.44 1.77 - 1.12 2.87 - 2.30 2.45 - 1.94 4.12 - 3.21 3.50 - 2.74

Material Alum Alum Alum Alum Alum Alum Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum Brass Alum

Band B B,C B,C C C C,D D D D D,E E E E,F E,F E,F E,F F,G F,G F,G G,H H H I I

Waveguide dimensions (mm) 584 x 292 533 x 267 457 x 229 381 x 191 292 x 146 248 x 124 196 x 98 165 x 83 165 x 83 131 x 65 109 x 55 109 x 55 86 x 43 86 x 43 72 x 34 72 x 34 59 x 29 48 x 22 48 x 22 40 x 20 35 x 16 35 x 16 29 x 13 29 x 13

WG waveguide dimensions, sizes and waveguide cut-off frequencies for rigid rectangular RF waveguides * waveguide cut off frequency in GHz and for TE10 mode Alum = Aluminium

US WR Waveguide Sizes The WR waveguide designation system is used within the USA and is also widely used in many other areas around the globe. Like the WG waveguide sizes, the WR waveguide designations start with the letters WR.

WR Designation WR340 WR284 WR229 WR187 WR159 WR137 WR112 WR90 WR75 WR62

WG Equivalent WG9A WG10 WG11A WG12 WG13 WG14 WG15 WG16 WG17 WG18

Standard Freq Range GHz 2.20 - 3.30 2.60 - 3.95 3.30 - 4.90 3.95 - 5.85 4.90 - 7.05 5.85 - 8.20 7.05 - 10.00 8.2 - 12.4 10.0 - 15.0 12.4 - 18.0

Inside dimensions (inches) 3.400 x 1.700 2.840 x 1.340 2.290 x 1.150 1.872 x 0.872 1.590 x 0.795 1.372 x 0.622 1.122 x 0.497 0.900 x 0.400 0.750 x 0.375 0.622 x 0.311

WR51 WR42 WR28 WR22 WR19 WR15 WR12

WG19 WG20 WG22 WG23 WG24 WG25 WG26

15.0 - 22.0 18.0 - 26.5 26.5 - 40.0 33 - 50 40 - 60 50 - 75 60 - 90

0.510 x 0.255 0.420 x 0.170 0.280 x 0.140 0.224 x 0.112 0.188 x 0.094 0.148 x 0.074 0.122 x 0.061

WR waveguide dimensions, sizes and waveguide cut-off frequencies for rigid rectangular RF waveguides It can be seen from the table that the WR number is taken from the internal measurement in mils of the wider side of the waveguide. The waveguide dimensions are of great importance as they determine the operating range of the waveguide. The standard waveguide sizes also enable complete coverage of the frequency spectrum, and choice of the particular waveguide size for a given application should take account of the frequency range required as well as other considerations including loss, mechanical size and weight, etc.. Waveguide Flanges - Details of RF waveguide flanges, their use, performance, and standards used when describing waveguide flanges. In order that sections of waveguide may be joined, waveguide flanges are used. These waveguide flanges come in a variety of standard formats, enabling the right types of waveguide flange to be used for the given application, but also being standardized, flanges from different manufacturers can mate together, provided they conform to the same style or standard. Waveguide flange designations and terminology There are a number of different designations for waveguide flange types and also different abbreviations that apply to them. These are summarized in the table below:

Waveguide Flange Designation or Terminology Choke CMR CPRF CPRG Cover or Plate UG

Waveguide Flange Designation or Terminology Details and Information UG style waveguide flanges with an O-ring groove and a choke cavity. CMR waveguide flanges are the miniature version of the Connector Pressurized Rectangular (CPR) style flanges. Connector Pressurized Rectangular (CPR) refers to a range of commercial rectangular waveguide flanges. CPRF is flat CPR flange. Connector Pressurized Rectangular (CPR) refers to a range of commercial rectangular waveguide flanges. CPRG is Grooved CPR flange. Square, flat UG style waveguide flanges UG is the military standard MIL-DTL-3922 for a range of waveguide flange types

Waveguide flange leakage One aspect of waveguide flanges that is of particular importance is the leakage that occurs across the joint. As the joints across the waveguide flanges are metal to metal contact, and they may not be completely flat and perfect some leakage will always occur. In order to improve the waveguide flange leakage caused by imperfect metal surfaces joining together, many waveguide flanges incorporate a grove cut in either surface so that a gasket can be added. The measurement of the actual leakage from a waveguide flange is very difficult. To attain a level of consistency across measurements a standard procedure with defined test equipment and a given environment need to be adopted.However it is found that in general measurements made of the fields made using probes show a sharp peak around the edge of the waveguide flange connection. Levels are typically around -130dBc, which indicates a low level of leakage. To achieve this, the waveguide flange surfaces must be clean and bolts must be tightened to the required torque level. Good RF gaskets also ensure these levels are maintained or improved upon.

Waveguide flange insertion loss As is likely to be anticipated there will always be some loss, even if small, caused by the introduction of a joint, including the flange. The waveguide flange insertion loss will arise mainly from two main factors: Loss arising from leakage: The leakage through the joint between two waveguide flanges is normally small, but in some instances a poor joint may give rise to measurable levels of loss due to leakage. Loss arising from flange resistance: If the two waveguide flanges are not bolted together tightly enough, there will be resistance between the flanges. As the waveguide relies on the conduction in the surface of the waveguide for its transmission, the resistance between the two waveguide flanges is critical. Additionally the resistance of the waveguide surface is crucial because of the skin effect which is very pronounced at these frequencies. Accordingly the resistance of the waveguide flanges is particularly important in the region closes to the cavity. Normally losses are low, but precautions must be taken when using waveguide flanges to ensure that the joints are well made - the surfaces should be clean and free from oxide and small particles. Also gaskets should be used with the waveguide flanges if appropriate. Waveguide Flange Resistance and Bolt Torque To ensure that a waveguide flange does not leak and also provides a low level of loss across the join, the force between the two adjacent waveguide flange faces must be sufficient to prevent leakage. In turn this means that the bolts must be torqued to the recommended specification. It is generally accepted that there must be a force of 1000 lb / linear inch of waveguide flange connection to give a satisfactory seal for high power applications. Also for low power applications, this will provide for lower levels of loss.

Waveguide Junction - details of RF waveguide junctions including E-Type, H-Type and Magic T waveguide junction types. Waveguide junctions are used when power in a waveguide needs to be split or some extracted. There are a number of different types of waveguide junction that can be use, each type having different properties - the different types of waveguide junction affect the energy contained within the waveguide in different ways. When selecting a waveguide junction balances between performance and cost need to be made and therefore an understanding of the different types of waveguide junction is usedful.

Waveguide junction types There are a number of different types of waveguide junction. The major types are listed below: H-type T Junction: This type of waveguide junction gains its name because top of the "T" in the T junction is parallel to the plane of the magnetic field, H lines in the waveguide. E-Type T Junction: This form of waveguide junction gains its name as an E- type T junction because the tope of the "T" extends from the main waveguide in the same plane as the electric field in the waveguide. Magic T waveguide junction: The magic T waveguide junction is effectively a combination of the E-type and Htype waveguide junctions. Hybrid Ring Waveguide Junction: This form of waveguide junction is another form of waveguide junction that is more complicated than either the basic E-type or H-type waveguide junction.

E-type waveguide junction It is called an E-type T junction because the junction arm, i.e. the top of the "T" extends from the main waveguide in the same direction as the E field. It is characterized by the fact that the outputs of this form of waveguide junction are 180 out of phase with each other.

Waveguide E-type Junction The basic construction of the waveguide junction shows the three port waveguide device. Although it may be assumed that the input is the single port and the two outputs are those on the top section of the "T", actually any port can be used as the input, the other two being outputs. To see how the waveguide junction operates, and how the 180 phase shift occurs, it is necessary to look at the electric field. The magnetic field is omitted from the diagram for simplicity.

Waveguide E-type Junction E Fields It can be seen from the electric field that when it approaches the T junction itself, the electric field lines become distorted and bend. They split so that the "positive" end of the line remains with the top side of the right hand section in the diagram, but the "negative" end of the field lines remain with the top side of the left hand section. In this way the signals appearing at either section of the "T" are out of phase. These phase relationships are preserved if signals enter from either of the other ports. H-type Waveguide Junction This type of waveguide junction is called an H-type T junction because the long axis of the main top of the "T" arm is parallel to the plane of the magnetic lines of force in the waveguide. It is characterized by the fact that the two outputs from the top of the "T" section in the waveguide are in phase with each other.

Waveguide H-type Junction To see how the waveguide junction operates, the diagram below shows the electric field lines. Like the previous diagram, only the electric field lines are shown. The electric field lines are shown using the traditional notation a cross indicates a line coming out of the screen, whereas a dot indicates an electric field line going into the screen. Magic T hybrid Waveguide Junction The magic-T is a combination of the H-type and E-type T junctions. The most common application of this type of junction is as the mixer section for microwave radar receivers.

Magic T waveguide Junction

The diagram above depicts a simplified version of the Magic T waveguide junction with its four ports. To look at the operation of the Magic T waveguide junction, take the example of when a signal is applied into the "E plane" arm. It will divide into two out of phase components as it passes into the leg consisting of the "a" and "b" arms. However no signal will enter the "E plane" arm as a result of the fact that a zero potential exists there - this occurs because of the conditions needed to create the signals in the "a" and "b" arms. In this way, when a signal is applied to the H plane arm, no signal appears at the "E plane" arm and the two signals appearing at the "a" and "b" arms are 180 out of phase with each other.

Magic T Waveguide Junction Signal Directions When a signal enters the "a" or "b" arm of the magic t waveguide junction, then a signal appears at the E and H plane ports but not at the other "b" or "a" arm as shown. One of the disadvantages of the Magic-T waveguide junction are that reflections arise from the impedance mismatches that naturally occur within it. These reflections not only give rise to power loss, but at the voltage peak points they can give rise to arcing when sued with high power transmitters. The reflections can be reduced by using matching techniques. Normally posts or screws are used within the E-plane and H-plane ports. While these solutions improve the impedance matches and hence the reflections, they still reduce the power handling capacity. Hybrid Ring Waveguide Junction This form of waveguide junction overcomes the power limitation of the magic-T waveguide junction. A hybrid ring waveguide junction is a further development of the magic T. It is constructed from a circular ring of rectangular waveguide - a bit like an annulus. The ports are then joined to the annulus at the required points. Again, if signal enters one port, it does not appear at allt he others. The hybrid ring is used primarily in high-power radar and communications systems where it acts as a duplexer allowing the same antenna to be used for transmit and receive functions.

During the transmit period, the hybrid ring waveguide junction couples microwave energy from the transmitter to the antenna while blocking energy from the receiver input. Then as the receive cycle starts, the hybrid ring waveguide junction couples energy from the antenna to the receiver. During this period it prevents energy from reaching the transmitter. Waveguide junctions are an essential element within waveguide technology. Enabling signals to be combined and split, they find applications in many areas as discussed in the text. The waveguide T junctions are the simplest, and possibly the most widely used, although the magic-T and hybrid ring versions of the waveguide junction are used in particular applications where their attributes are required. Waveguide Directional Coupler - Details of RF waveguide directional couplers and bi-directional couplers, what they are, how they work and applications for using a directional coupler. A waveguide directional coupler is only a directional coupler realised in a format using waveguide technology. A waveguide coupler provides a means of sampling the energy travelling within a waveguide, and as most couplers are directional in nature, sampling energy travelling in one direction, they are called waveguide directional couplers. Waveguide couplers are available that sample the energy travelling in both directions - these are known as waveguide bi-directional couplers. Waveguide Bends - Details of RF waveguide bends allowing changes in the direction of the transmission line - waveguide E bend and waveguide H bend. Waveguide is normally rigid, except for flexible waveguide, and therefore it is often necessary to direct the waveguide in a particular direction. Using waveguide bends and twists it is possible to arrange the waveguide into the positions required. When using waveguide bends and waveguide twists, it is necessary to ensure the bending and twisting is accomplished in the correct manner otherwise the electric and magnetic fields will be unduly distorted and the signal will not propagate in the manner required causing loss and reflections. Accordingly waveguide bend and waveguide twist sections are manufactured specifically to allow the waveguide direction to be altered without unduly destroying the field patterns and introducing loss. Types of Waveguide Bend There are several ways in which waveguide bends can be accomplished. They may be used according to the applications and the requirements. Waveguide E bend Waveguide H bend Waveguide sharp E bend Waveguide sharp H bend Each type of bend is achieved in a way that enables the signal to propagate correctly and with the minimum of disruption to the fields and hence to the overall signal.

Ideally the waveguide should be bent very gradually, but this is normally not viable and therefore specific waveguide bends are used. Most proprietary waveguide bends are common angles - 90 waveguide bends are the most common by far. Waveguide E bend This form of waveguide bend is called an E bend because it distorts or changes the electric field to enable the waveguide to be bent in the required direction.

Waveguide E Bend To prevent reflections this waveguide bend must have a radius greater than two wavelengths. Waveguide H Bend This form of waveguide bend is very similar to the E bend, except that it distorts the H or magnetic field. It creates the bend around the thinner side of the waveguide.

Waveguide H Bend As with the E bend, this form of waveguide bend must also have a radius greater than 2 wavelengths to prevent undue reflections and disturbance of the field. Waveguide sharp E Bend In some circumstances a much shorter or sharper bend may be required. This can be accomplished in a slightly different manner. The techniques is to use a 45 bend in the waveguide. Effectively the signal is reflected, and using a 45 surface the reflections occur in such a way that the fields are left undisturbed, although the phase is inverted and in some applications this may need accounting for or correcting.

Waveguide sharp E Bend Waveguide Sharp H Bend This form of waveguide bend is the same as the sharp E bend, except that the waveguide bend affects the H field rather than the E field.

Waveguide Sharp H Bend

Waveguide Twists There are also instances where the waveguide may require twisting. This too, can be accomplished. A gradual twist in the waveguide is used to turn the polarization of the waveguide and hence the waveform. In order to prevent undue distortion on the waveform a 90 twist should be undertaken over a distance greater than two wavelengths of the frequency in use. If a complete inversion is required, e.g. for phasing requirements, the overall inversion or 180 twist should be undertaken over a four wavelength distance. Waveguide bends and waveguide twists are very useful items to have when building a waveguide system. Using waveguide E bends and waveguide H bends and their scrap bend counterparts allows the waveguide to be turned through the required angle to meet the mechanical constraints of the overall waveguide system. Waveguide twists are also useful in many applications to ensure the polarization is correct. Distributed Antenna System DAS - Overview, summary, tutorial about the DAS, Distributed Antenna Systems technology used for gaining better coverage and using a lower power.

The concept of a Distributed Antenna System, DAS has many advantages in some applications. A Distributed antenna system, DAS is a network of antennas spaced apart from each other, but connected to a common source. In this way the DAS is able to provide wireless or radio coverage within a given area. The idea of a distributed antenna system is being adopted increasingly as it enables a number of advantages to be gained. However this is at the cost of a larger more complicated system. Nevertheless, distributed antenna systems are being used in a variety of areas to enable the right coverage to be gained for several applications. Although the concept of distributed antenna systems has been known about for many years, it is with the increased deployment of wireless systems within buildings and other difficult coverage areas that the idea of distributed antenna systems has come to the fore. Distributed antenna system advantages and disadvantages Advantages of using a distributed antenna system Better defined coverage Fewer coverage holes Same coverage using a lower overall power Lowers health risk as a result of using lower overall power levels Individual antennas do not need to be as high as a single antenna for the equivalent coverage Disadvantages of using a distributed antenna system Higher cost as a result of additional infrastructure required Possible greater visual impact in some applications as a result of greater number of antennas, although they are likely to be much lower in height. Basic concept of a distributed antenna system The basic idea behind the distributed antenna system is to utilise several different antennas over the required coverage area. Using this approach the overall power required is less because these more localised antennas can be placed more effectively for a small area, rather than having a single, larger antenna that is a compromise for the wider coverage needed. By adopting a distributed antenna system approach, this helps overcome the shadowing and penetration losses because a line of sight link is available more frequently. As a result the levels of absorption are lower and this means the overall power levels can be reduced. MIMO Technology Tutorial - Overview or tutorial about MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output technology that uses multiple antennas to provide gains in channel robustness and throughput. Multiple-input multiple-output, or MIMO, is a radio communications technology or RF technology that is being mentioned and used in many new technologies these days. Wi-Fi, LTE (3G long term evolution) and many other radio, wireless and RF technologies are using the new MIMO wireless technology to provide increased link capacity and spectral efficiency combined with improved link reliability using what were previously seen as interference paths. Even now many there are many MIMO wireless routers on the market, and as this RF technology is becoming more widespread, more MIMO routers and other items of wireless MIMO equipment will be seen.

MIMO development and history MIMO technology has been developed over many years. Not only did the basic MIMO concepts need to be formulated, but in addition to this, new technologies needed to be developed to enable MIMO to be fully implemented. New levels of processing were needed to allow some of the features of spatial multiplexing as well as to utilize some of the gains of spatial diversity. Up until the 1990s, spatial diversity was often limited to systems that switched between two antennas or combined the signals to provide the best signal. Also various forms of beam switching were implemented, but in view of the levels of processing involved and the degrees of processing available, the systems were generally relatively limited. However with the additional levels of processing power that started to become available, it was possible to utilize both spatial diversity and full spatial multiplexing. The initial work on MIMO systems focused on basic spatial diversity - here the MIMO system was used to limit the degradation caused by multipath propagation. However this was only the first step as system then started to utilize the multipath propagation to advantage, turning the additional signal paths into what might effectively be considered as additional channels to carry additional data. Two researchers: Arogyaswami Paulraj and Thomas Kailath were first to propose the use of spatial multiplexing using MIMO in 1993 and in the following year their US patent was granted. However it fell to Bell Labs to be the first to demonstrate a laboratory prototype of spatial multiplexing in 1998. MIMO -Multiple Input Multiple Output basics A channel may be affected by fading and this will impact the signal to noise ratio. In turn this will impact the error rate, assuming digital data is being transmitted. The principle of diversity is to provide the receiver with multiple versions of the same signal. If these can be made to be affected in different ways by the signal path, the probability that they will all be affected at the same time is considerably reduced. Accordingly, diversity helps to stabilize a link and improves performance, reducing error rate. Several different diversity modes are available and provide a number of advantages: Time diversity: Using time diversity, a message may be transmitted at different times, e.g. using different timeslots and channel coding. Frequency diversity: This form of diversity uses different frequencies. It may be in the form of using different channels, or technologies such as spread spectrum / OFDM. Space diversity : Space diversity used in the broadest sense of the definition is used as the basis for MIMO. It uses antennas located in different positions to take advantage of the different radio paths that exist in a typical terrestrial environment. MIMO is effectively a radio antenna technology as it uses multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver to enable a variety of signal paths to carry the data, choosing separate paths for each antenna to enable multiple signal paths to be used.

General Outline of MIMO system One of the core ideas behind MIMO wireless systems space-time signal processing in which time (the natural dimension of digital communication data) is complemented with the spatial dimension inherent in the use of multiple spatially distributed antennas, i.e. the use of multiple antennas located at different points. Accordingly MIMO wireless systems can be viewed as a logical extension to the smart antennas that have been used for many years to improve wireless. It is found between a transmitter and a receiver, the signal can take many paths. Additionally by moving the antennas even a small distance the paths used will change. The variety of paths available occurs as a result of the number of objects that appear to the side or even in the direct path between the transmitter and receiver. Previously these multiple paths only served to introduce interference. By using MIMO, these additional paths can be used to advantage. They can be used to provide additional robustness to the radio link by improving the signal to noise ratio, or by increasing the link data capacity. The two main formats for MIMO are given below: Spatial diversity: Spatial diversity used in this narrower sense often refers to transmit and receive diversity. These two methodologies are used to provide improvements in the signal to noise ratio and they are characterized by improving the reliability of the system with respect to the various forms of fading. Spatial multiplexing: This form of MIMO is used to provide additional data capacity by utilizing the different paths to carry additional traffic, i.e. increasing the data throughput capability. As a result of the use multiple antennas, MIMO wireless technology is able to considerably increase the capacity of a given channel while still obeying Shannon's law. By increasing the number of receive and transmit antennas it is possible to linearly increase the throughput of the channel with every pair of antennas added to the system. This makes MIMO wireless technology one of the most important wireless techniques to be employed in recent years. As spectral bandwidth is becoming an ever more valuable commodity for radio communications systems, techniques are needed to use the available bandwidth more effectively. MIMO wireless technology is one of these techniques. MIMO Formats - SISO, SIMO, MISO, MU-MIMO - Overview and definitions about MIMO formats or configurations: SISO, SIMO, MISO and MIMO for receiver diversity and transmitter diversity, etc..

There is a number of different MIMO configurations or formats that can be used. These are termed SISO, SIMO, MISO and MIMO. These different MIMO formats offer different advantages and disadvantages - these can be balanced to provide the optimum solution for any given application. The different MIMO formats - SISO, SIMO, MISO and MIMO require different numbers of antennas as well as having different levels of complexity. Also dependent upon the format, processing may be needed at one end of the link or the other - this can have an impact on any decisions made. SISO, SIMO, MISO, MIMO terminology The different forms of antenna technology refer to single or multiple inputs and outputs. These are related to the radio link. In this way the input is the transmitter as it transmits into the link or signal path, and the output is the receiver. It is at the output of the wireless link. Therefore the different forms of single / multiple antenna links are defined as below: SISO - Single Input Single Output SIMO - Single Input multiple output MISO - Multiple Input Single Outputs MIMO - Multiple Input multiple Output The term MU-MIMO is also used for a multiple user version of MIMO as described below. MIMO - SISO The simplest form of radio link can be defined in MIMO terms as SISO - Single Input Single Output. This is effectively a standard radio channel - this transmitter operates with one antenna as does the receiver. There is no diversity and no additional processing required.

SISO - Single Input Single Output The advantage of a SIS system is its simplicity. SISO requires no processing in terms of the various forms of diversity that may be used. However the SISO channel is limited in its performance. Interference and fading will impact the system more than a MIMO system using some form of diversity, and the channel bandwidth is limited by Shannon's law - the throughput being dependent upon the channel bandwidth and the signal to noise ratio. MIMO - SIMO The SIMO or Single Input Multiple Output version of MIMO occurs where the transmitter has a single antenna and the receiver has multiple antennas. This is also known as receive diversity. It is often used to enable a receiver system that receives signals from a number of independent sources to combat the effects of fading. It has been used for many years with short wave listening / receiving stations to combat the effects of ionospheric fading and interference.

SIMO - Single Input Multiple Output SIMO has the advantage that it is relatively easy to implement although it does have some disadvantages in that the processing is required in the receiver. The use of SIMO may be quite acceptable in many applications, but where the receiver is located in a mobile device such as a cellphone handset, the levels of processing may be limited by size, cost and battery drain. There are two forms of SIMO that can be used: Switched diversity SIMO: This form of SIMO looks for the strongest signal and switches to that antenna. Maximum ratio combining SIMO: This form of SIMO takes both signals and sums them to give the a combination. In this way, the signals from both antennas contribute to the overall signal. MIMO - MISO MISO is also termed transmit diversity. In this case, the same data is transmitted redundantly from the two transmitter antennas. The receiver is then able to receive the optimum signal which it can then use to receive extract the required data.

MISO - Multiple Input Single Output The advantage of using MISO is that the multiple antennas and the redundancy coding / processing is moved from the receiver to the transmitter. In instances such as cellphone UEs, this can be a significant advantage in terms of space for the antennas and reducing the level of processing required in the receiver for the redundancy coding. This has a positive impact on size, cost and battery life as the lower level of processing requires less battery consumption.

MIMO Where there are more than one antenna at either end of the radio link, this is termed MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output. MIMO can be used to provide improvements in both channel robustness as well as channel throughput.

MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output

In order to be able to benefit from MIMO fully it is necessary to be able to utilize coding on the channels to separate the data from the different paths. This requires processing, but provides additional channel robustness / data throughput capacity. There are many formats of MIMO that can be used from SISO, through SIMO and MISO to the full MIMO systems. These are all able to provide significant improvements of performance, but generally at the cost of additional processing and the number of antennas used. Balances of performance against costs, size, processing available and the resulting battery life need to be made when choosing he correct option. MIMO Spatial Multiplexing - Overview of MIMO - Multiple Input Multiple Output, spatial multiplexing used to provide additional data bandwidth in multipath radio scenarios. One of the key advantages of MIMO spatial multiplexing is the fact that it is able to provide additional data capacity. MIMO spatial multiplexing achieves this by utilizing the multiple paths and effectively using them as additional "channels" to carry data. The maximum amount of data that can be carried by a radio channel is limited by the physical boundaries defined under Shannon's Law. Shannon's Law and MIMO Spatial Multiplexing As with many areas of science, there a theoretical boundaries, beyond which it is not possible to proceed. This is true for the amount of data that can be passed along a specific channel in the presence of noise. The law that governs this is called Shannon's Law, named after the man who formulated it. This is particularly important because MIMO wireless technology provides a method not of breaking the law, but increasing data rates beyond those possible on a single channel without its use. Shannon's law defines the maximum rate at which error free data can be transmitted over a given bandwidth in the presence of noise. It is usually expressed in the form: C = W log2(1 + S/N ) Where C is the channel capacity in bits per second, W is the bandwidth in Hertz, and S/N is the SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio). From this it can be seen that there is an ultimate limit on the capacity of a channel with a given bandwidth. However before this point is reached, the capacity is also limited by the signal to noise ratio of the received signal. In view of these limits many decisions need to be made about the way in which a transmission is made. The modulation scheme can play a major part in this. The channel capacity can be increased by using higher order modulation schemes, but these require a better signal to noise ratio than the lower order modulation schemes. Thus a balance exists between the data rate and the allowable error rate, signal to noise ratio and power that can be transmitted.

While some improvements can be made in terms of optimizing the modulation scheme and improving the signal to noise ratio, these improvements are not always easy or cheap and they are invariably a compromise, balancing the various factors involved. It is therefore necessary to look at other ways of improving the data throughput for individual channels. MIMO is one way in which wireless communications can be improved and as a result it is receiving a considerable degree of interest. MIMO spatial multiplexing To take advantage of the additional throughput capability, MIMO utilizes several sets of antennas. In many MIMO systems, just two are used, but there is no reason why further antennas cannot be employed and this increases the throughput. In any case for MIMO spatial multiplexing the number of receive antennas must be equal to or greater than the number of transmit antennas. To take advantage of the additional throughput offered, MIMO wireless systems utilize a matrix mathematical approach. Data streams t1, t2, tn can be transmitted from antennas 1, 2, n. Then there are a variety of paths that can be used with each path having different channel properties. To enable the receiver to be able to differentiate between the different data streams it is necessary to use. These can be represented by the properties h12, travelling from transmit antenna one to receive antenna 2 and so forth. In this way for a three transmit, three receive antenna system a matrix can be set up:

r1 = h11 t1 + h21 t2 + h31 t3 r2 = h12 t1 + h22 t2 + h32 t3 r3 = h13 t1 + h23 t2 + h33 t3

Where r1 = signal received at antenna 1, r2 is the signal received at antenna 2 and so forth. In matrix format this can be represented as: [R] = [H] x [T] To recover the transmitted data-stream at the receiver it is necessary to perform a considerable amount of signal processing. First the MIMO system decoder must estimate the individual channel transfer characteristic hij to determine the channel transfer matrix. Once all of this has been estimated, then the matrix [H] has been produced and the transmitted data streams can be reconstructed by multiplying the received vector with the inverse of the transfer matrix. [T] = [H]-1 x [R] This process can be likened to the solving of a set of N linear simultaneous equations to reveal the values of N variables.

In reality the situation is a little more difficult than this as propagation is never quite this straightforward, and in addition to this each variable consists of an ongoing data stream, this nevertheless demonstrates the basic principle behind MIMO wireless systems. MIMO Space Time Block Coding and Alamouti Codes - Overview of MIMO coding including MIMO precoding, MiMo diversity coding, space time diversity coding and Alamouti codes. In order that MIMO spatial multiplexing can be utilized, it is necessary to add coding to the different channels so that the receiver can detect the correct data. There are various forms of terminology used including Space-Time Block Code - STBC, MIMO precoding, MIMO coding, and Alamouti codes. Space time block codes Space-time block codes are used for MIMO systems to enable the transmission of multiple copies of a data stream across a number of antennas and to exploit the various received versions of the data to improve the reliability of data-transfer. Space-time coding combines all the copies of the received signal in an optimal way to extract as much information from each of them as possible. Space time block coding uses both spatial and temporal diversity and in this way enables significant gains to be made. Space-time coding involves the transmission of multiple copies of the data. This helps to compensate for the channel problems such as fading and thermal noise. Although there is redundancy in the data some copies may arrive less corrupted at the receiver. When using space-time block coding, the data stream is encoded in blocks prior to transmission. These data blocks are then distributed among the multiple antennas (which are spaced apart to de-correlate the transmission paths) and the data is also spaced across time. A space time block code is usually represented by a matrix. Each row represents a time slot and each column represents one antenna's transmissions over time.

Within this matrix, Sij is the modulated symbol to be transmitted in time slot i from antenna j. There are to be T time slots and nT transmit antennas as well as nR receive antennas. This block is usually considered to be of 'length' T.

MIMO Alamouti Coding A particularly elegant scheme for MIMO coding was developed by Alamouti. The associated codes are often called MIMO Alamouti codes or just Alamouti codes. The MIMO Alamouti scheme is an ingenious transmit diversity scheme for two transmit antennas that does not require transmit channel knowledge. The MIMO Alamouti code is a simple space time block code that he developed in 1998. Differential space time block code Differential space time block coding is a form of space time block coding that does not need to know the channel impairments in order for the signal to be decoded. The differential space time block codes are normally based upon the more standard space-time block codes. One block-code is transmitted from a set in response to a change in the input signal. This enables the system to work because the differences among the blocks in the set are designed to allow the receiver to extract the data with good reliability. MIMO Antenna Beamforming - Overview of the basics of MIMO antenna technology including MIMO beamforming antenna technology. The MIMO antenna technologies used are key to the overall MIMO performance. Additionally MIMO beamforming is an option that is coming to the fore. As various forms of technology improve the MIMO antenna technology can be pushed further allowing techniques like MIMO beamforming to be considered. MIMO antenna & MIMO Beamforming Development For many years antenna technology has been used to improve the performance of systems. Directive antennas have been used for very many years to improve signal levels and reduce interference. Directive antenna systems have, for example, been used to improve the capacity of cellular telecommunications systems. By splitting a cell site into sector where each antenna illuminates 60 or 120 the capacity can be greatly increased - tripled when using 120 antennas. With the development of more adaptive systems and greater levels of processing power, it is possible to utilise antenna beamforming techniques with systems such as MIMO. MIMO beamforming smart antennas Beamforming techniques can be used with any antenna system - not just on MIMO systems. They are used to create a certain required antenna directive pattern to give the required performance under the given conditions. Smart antennas are normally used - these are antennas that can be controlled automatically according the required performance and the prevailing conditions. Smart antennas can be divided into two groups: Phased array systems: Phased array systems are switched and have a number of pre-defined patterns - the required one being switched according to the direction required.

Adaptive array systems (AAS): This type of antenna uses what is termed adaptive beam forming and it has an infinite number of patterns and can be adjusted to the requirements in real time. MIMO beamforming using phased array systems requires the overall system to determine the direction of arrival of the incoming signal and then switch in the most appropriate beam. This is something of a compromise because the fixed beam is unlikely to exactly match the required direction. Adaptive array systems are able to direct the beam in the exact direction needed, and also move the beam in real time - this is a particular advantage for moving systems - a factor that often happens with mobile telecommunications. However the cost is the considerable extra complexity required. MU-MIMO Multi-User MIMO - An overview of the basics of MU-MIMO Multi-User MIMO - a form of advanced Multiple Input Multiple Output technology including MIMO-BC and MIMO-MAC. Multi-user MIMO or MU-MIMO is an enhanced form of MIMO technology that is gaining acceptance. MUMIMO, Multi-user MIMO enables multiple independent radio terminals to access a system enhancing the communication capabilities of each individual terminal. MU-MIMO exploits the maximum system capacity by scheduling multiple users to be able to simultaneously access the same channel using the spatial degrees of freedom offered by MIMO. To enable MU-MIMO to be used there are several approaches that can be adopted, and a number of applications / versions that are available. MU-MIMO Basics MU-MIMO provides a methodology whereby spatial sharing of channels can be achieved. This can be achieved at the cost of additional hardware - filters and antennas - but the incorporation does not come at the expense of additional bandwidth as is the case when technologies such as FDMA, TDMA or CDMA are used. When using spatial multiplexing, MU-MIMO, the interference between the different users on the same channel is accommodated by the use of additional antennas, and additional processing when enable the spatial separation of the different users. There are two scenarios associated with MU-MIMO, Multi-user MIMO: Uplink - Multiple Access Channel, MAC: The development of the MIMO-MAC is based on the known single user MIMO concepts broadened out to account for multiple users. Downlink - Broadcast Channel, BC : The MIMO-BC is the more challenging scenario. The optimum strategy involves pre-interference cancellation techniques known as "Dirty Paper Coding", DPC - see below. This is complemented by implicit user scheduling and a power loading algorithm MU-MIMO Multi-User MIMO advantages MU-MIMO, Multi-user MIMO offers some significant advantages over other techniques: MU-MIMO systems enable a level of direct gain to be obtained in a multiple access capacity arising from the multi-user multiplexing schemes. This is proportional to the number of base station antennas employed.

MU-MIMO appears to be affected less by some propagation issues that affect single user MIMO systems. These include channel rank loss and antenna correlation - although channel correlation still affects diversity on a per user basis, it is not a major issue for multi-user diversity. MU-MIMO allows spatial multiplexing gain to be achieved at the base station without the need for multiple antennas at the UE. This allows for the production of cheap remote terminals - the intelligence and cost is included within the base station. The advantages of using multi-user MIMO, MU-MIMO come at a cost of additional hardware - antennas and processing - and also obtaining the channel state information which requires the use of the available bandwidth. MIMO-MAC This form of MU-MIMO is used for a multiple access channel - hence MIMO and it is used in uplink scenarios. For the MIMO-MAC the receiver performs much of the processing - here the receiver needs to know the channel state and uses Channel Sate Information at the Receiver, CSIR. Determining CSIR is generally easier than determining CSIT, but it requires significant levels of uplink capacity to transmit the dedicated pilots from each user. However MIMO MAC systems outperform point-to-point MIMO particularly if the number of receiver antennas is greater than the number of transmit antennas at each user. MIMO-BC This form of MU-MIMO is used for the MIMO broadcast channels, i.e. the downlink. Of the two channels, BC and MAC, it is the broadcast channel that is the more challenging within MU-MIMO. Transmit processing is required for this and it is typically in the form of pre-coding and SDMA, Space Division Multiple Access based downlink user scheduling. For this the transmitter has to know the Channel State Information at the Transmitter, CSIT. This enables significant throughput improvements over that of ordinary point to point MIMO systems, especially when the number of transmit antennas exceeds that of the antennas at each receiver. Dirty Paper Coding, DPC Dirty Paper Coding, DPC is a technique used within telecommunications scenarios, particularly wireless communications to provide efficient transmission of digital data through a channel that is subject to interference, the nature of which is known to the transmitter. The Dirty Paper Coding, DPC, technique consists of pre-coding the data so the interference data can be read in the presence of the interference. The pre-coding normally uses the Channel State Information. To explain Dirty Paper Coding, DPC, an analogy of writing on dirty paper can be used. Normally black ink would be used, but if the paper is dirty, i.e. black, then the writing cannot be read. However if the writing was in white, although it could not be read on white paper, it would be perfectly legible on black, or dirty paper. The same technique is used on the data transmission, although the nature of the interference must be known so that the pre-coding can be incorporated to counter the effect of the interference. Multi-user MIMO is still in its infancy, and many developments are underway to determine the optimum formats for its use. Coding types as well as levels of channel state indication are being determined as these use up valuable resource and can detract from the overall data throughput available. However the significant gains that can be made by using MU-MIMO, multi-user MIMO mean that it will be introduced in the foreseeable future.

Smart Antennas Tutorial - An overview, summary, or tutorial about the basics of smart antennas or the adaptive antenna array and smart antenna technology used with SDR, cognitive radio, MIMO, and other new technologies. Smart antennas and smart antenna technology using an adaptive antenna array are being introduced increasingly with the development of other technologies including the software defined radio, cognitive radio, MIMO and many others. Smart antenna technology or adaptive antenna array technology enables the performance of the antenna to be altered to provide the performance that may be required to undertake performance under specific or changing conditions. The smart antennas include signal processing capability that can perform tasks such as analysis of the direction of arrival of a signal and then the smart antenna can adapt the antenna itself using beam-forming techniques to achieve better reception, or transmission. In addition to this, the overall antenna will use some form of adaptive antenna array scheme to enable the antenna to perform is beam formation and signal direction detection. Smart antenna functions While the main purposes of standard antennas are to effectively transmit and receive radio signals, there are two additional functions that smart antennas or adaptive antennas need to fulfill: Direction of arrival estimation: In order for the smart antenna to be able provide the required functionality and optimization of the transmission and reception, they need to be able to detect the direction of arrival of the required incoming signal. The information received by the antenna array is passed to the signal processor within the antenna and this provides the required analysis. Beam steering: With the direction of arrival of the required and any interfering signals analyzed, the control circuitry within the antenna is able to optimize the directional beam pattern of the adaptive antenna array to provide the required performance. Types of smart antenna With considerable levels of functionality being required within smart antennas, two main approaches or types of smart antenna technology have been developed: Switched beam smart antennas: The switched beam smart or adaptive antennas are designed so that they have several fixed beam patterns. The control elements within the antenna can then select the most appropriate one for the conditions that have been detected. Although this approach does not provide complete flexibility it simplifies the design and provides sufficient level of adaptivity for many applications. Adaptive array smart antennas: Adaptive antenna arrays allow the beam to be continually steered to any direction to allow for the maximum signal to be received and / or the nulling of any interference. Both types of antenna are able to provide the directivity, although decisions need to be made against cost, complexity and the performance requirements regarding which type should be used. Summary With many applications including MIMO, Software Defined Radio - SDR, and Cognitive Radio - CR requiring antenna systems to be more adaptive and provide greater levels of adaptivity, Smart antenna technology or adaptive antenna technology will become more widely used.