RF pertains to “Radio Frequency,” which is defined by Wikipedia as the oscillation rate of what we have known as an alternating current or voltage or electricity of an electromagnetic field. It can also be an alternating electric voltage of either a magnetic or electric field. There are even times that it is defined as a current through a mechanical system in the range of frequency from around 20 kHz to about 300 GHz.
When it comes to electric currents, there are a lot of technical terms and concepts that are difficult to understand. As for RF Signal Generators, their main goal is to test as well as find a source from a particular circuit that is either being developed or being tested.
If at this point you are still confused, don’t worry. We will be going through four facts that you may not know about RF Signal Generators:
1- There are two types of RF Signal Generators.
To make this post more cohesive, let us start with some of the basic concepts behind this signal generator. There are two main types – synthesized radio frequency signal generators and free running radio frequency generators.
Free running radio frequency generators are considered as the initial type of generators. This possesses the lower end of quality; thus, it is typically used for basic experiments on a budget. On another note, the high end free running generators are used by those that desire a much clearer signal and no phase noise whatsoever.
2- There are four components of an RF Signal Generator.
The four components of an RF Signal Generator are necessary to be understood if you want to learn about how everything works. These generators are indeed complex devices and these components can aid in an individual’s understanding of how they work. Moreover, the four components of an RF Signal Generator includes the oscillation, amplifier, controller, and attenuator.
The oscillator is the part of the signal generator responsible for taking command, such as setting the desired frequency, from the controller. The amplifier, on the other hand, is part of the actual device. As the name suggests, the amplifier is responsible for amplifying the signal to a particular level set by the controller.
The attenuator is the one responsible for silencing or quieting any unnecessary background noise so that the signal is clear. Lastly, the controller ensures that every command is processed.
3- The ability to process signals in real time.
The anniversary of Moore’s Law in 2015 was truly something to be celebrated. It was Gordon E. Moore who was able to make one simple yet very critical observation – density has the capability to be doubled over every two tears. For 50 years, Moore’s prediction was slowly being realized alongside the reliability of a more modern processor.
Over the past 50 years, there was an evident increase in the growth of the performance of this analyzer. This signal generator has evolved so much that it has now the ability to process a number of computational problems, similar to that of a supercomputer.
In 1965, the IBM 7904 computer was only capable of 100,000 floating points operations per second, which is referred to as FLOPS. Now, the iPhone 6 has the ability to process about a million times more than what the IBM 7904 could.
With this much speed, RF Signal Generators can process such immense information that it does it real time. It can perform a number of measurements in real time and it can execute signal processing algorithms in real time.
4- Modulation formats that are supported.
Do note that when it comes to these signal generators and analyzers, there are a number of tests that need to be undertaken. These are necessary so it can be modulated well. Moreover, signal generators have the capability to modulate signals in a number of ways, provided that there are particular generator specifications that possess the required capabilities.
Traditionally, signal generator possesses amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM). However, over the course of many years of technological advancement, signal generators can now support a number of modulation formations.
These include a number of phase shift keying (PSK) including BPSK, 8PSK, QPSK, and so much more. It also supports modulation formats like QAM including both 16 and 64 points QAM.
In the end, it is important to make sure that the RF Signal Generator being considered can offer the required modulation formats. Overall, these specifications define what a generator operation is.