Radio-frequency engineering

Last updated
Radio-frequency engineering
Occupation
NamesRadio-frequency engineer
Occupation type
Profession
Description
CompetenciesTechnical knowledge, Management skills, Professionalism
Education required
Mathematics, Physics, Electronics, Information technology
Fields of
employment
Radio, Television, Military
Related jobs
Technologist, Broadcast engineer, Engineering technician, Technical Operator

Radio-frequency engineering, or RF engineering, is a subset of electrical and electronic engineering involving the application of transmission line, waveguide, antenna and electromagnetic field principles to the design and application of devices that produce or utilize signals within the radio band, the frequency range of about 20  kHz up to 300  GHz. [1] [2] [3]

Transmission line specialized cable or other structure designed to carry alternating current of radio frequency

In radio-frequency engineering, a transmission line is a specialized cable or other structure designed to conduct alternating current of radio frequency, that is, currents with a frequency high enough that their wave nature must be taken into account. Transmission lines are used for purposes such as connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, distributing cable television signals, trunklines routing calls between telephone switching centres, computer network connections and high speed computer data buses.

Waveguide (electromagnetism) waveguide for the transmission of electromagnetic waves; linear structure that conveys electromagnetic waves between its endpoints

In electromagnetics and communications engineering, the term waveguide may refer to any linear structure that conveys electromagnetic waves between its endpoints. However, the original and most common meaning is a hollow metal pipe used to carry radio waves. This type of waveguide is used as a transmission line mostly at microwave frequencies, for such purposes as connecting microwave transmitters and receivers to their antennas, in equipment such as microwave ovens, radar sets, satellite communications, and microwave radio links.

Antenna (radio) electrical device which converts electric power into radio waves, and vice versa

In radio engineering, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in metal conductors, used with a transmitter or receiver. In transmission, a radio transmitter supplies an electric current to the antenna's terminals, and the antenna radiates the energy from the current as electromagnetic waves. In reception, an antenna intercepts some of the power of a radio wave in order to produce an electric current at its terminals, that is applied to a receiver to be amplified. Antennas are essential components of all radio equipment.

Contents

It is incorporated into almost everything that transmits or receives a radio wave, which includes, but is not limited to, mobile phones, radios, Wi-Fi, and two-way radios. RF engineering is a highly specialized field that typically includes the following areas of expertise:

Radio wave type of electromagnetic radiation

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies as high as 300 gigahertz (GHz) to as low as 30 hertz (Hz). At 300 GHz, the corresponding wavelength is 1 mm, and at 30 Hz is 10,000 km. Like all other electromagnetic waves, radio waves travel at the speed of light in vacuum. They are generated by electric charges undergoing acceleration, such as time varying electric currents. Naturally occurring radio waves are emitted by lightning and astronomical objects.

Mobile phone Portable device to make telephone calls using a radio link

A mobile phone, cell phone, cellphone, or hand phone, sometimes shortened to simply mobile, cell or just phone, is a portable telephone that can make and receive calls over a radio frequency link while the user is moving within a telephone service area. The radio frequency link establishes a connection to the switching systems of a mobile phone operator, which provides access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Modern mobile telephone services use a cellular network architecture, and, therefore, mobile telephones are called cellular telephones or cell phones, in North America. In addition to telephony, 2000s-era mobile phones support a variety of other services, such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications, business applications, video games, and digital photography. Mobile phones offering only those capabilities are known as feature phones; mobile phones which offer greatly advanced computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.

Wi-Fi wireless local area networks technology based on IEEEs 802.11 standards

Wi-Fi is a family of radio technologies commonly used for wireless local area networking (WLAN) of devices. It is based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards. Wi‑Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which restricts the use of the term Wi-Fi Certified to products that successfully complete interoperability certification testing. The Wi-Fi Alliance includes 3Com, Aironet, Harris Semiconductor, Lucent, Nokia and Symbol Technologies.

  1. Design of antenna systems to provide radiative coverage of a specified geographical area by an electromagnetic field or to provide specified sensitivity to an electromagnetic field impinging on the antenna.
  2. Design of coupling and transmission line structures to transport RF energy without radiation.
  3. Application of circuit elements and transmission line structures in the design of oscillators, amplifiers, mixers, detectors, combiners, filters, impedance transforming networks and other devices.
  4. Verification and measurement of performance of radio frequency devices and systems. [4]

To produce quality results, the RF engineer needs an in-depth knowledge of mathematics, physics and general electronics theory as well as specialized training in areas such as wave propagation, impedance transformations, filters and microstrip printed circuit board design.

Mathematics Field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and change. It has no generally accepted definition.

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.

Radio electronics

Radio electronics is concerned with electronic circuits which receive or transmit radio signals.

Electrical network Assemblage of connected electrical elements

An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical components or a model of such an interconnection, consisting of electrical elements. An electrical circuit is a network consisting of a closed loop, giving a return path for the current. Linear electrical networks, a special type consisting only of sources, linear lumped elements, and linear distributed elements, have the property that signals are linearly superimposable. They are thus more easily analyzed, using powerful frequency domain methods such as Laplace transforms, to determine DC response, AC response, and transient response.

Typically, such circuits must operate at radio frequency and power levels, which imposes special constraints on their design. These constraints increase in their importance with higher frequencies. At microwave frequencies, the reactance of signal traces becomes a crucial part of the physical layout of the circuit.

Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency range from around twenty thousand times per second to around three hundred billion times per second. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies; these are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.

Microwave form of electromagnetic radiation

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm). Different sources define different frequency ranges as microwaves; the above broad definition includes both UHF and EHF bands. A more common definition in radio engineering is the range between 1 and 100 GHz. In all cases, microwaves include the entire SHF band at minimum. Frequencies in the microwave range are often referred to by their IEEE radar band designations: S, C, X, Ku, K, or Ka band, or by similar NATO or EU designations.

In electronics, a signal trace on a printed circuit board (PCB) is the equivalent of a wire for conducting signals. Each trace consists of a flat, narrow part of the copper foil that remains after etching. Signal traces are usually narrower than power or ground traces because the current carrying requirements are usually much less.

List of radio electronics topics:

Voltage-controlled oscillator

A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) is an electronic oscillator whose oscillation frequency is controlled by a voltage input. The applied input voltage determines the instantaneous oscillation frequency. Consequently, a VCO can be used for frequency modulation (FM) or phase modulation (PM) by applying a modulating signal to the control input. A VCO is also an integral part of a phase-locked loop.

Transmitter Electronic device that emits radio waves

In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating current, the antenna radiates radio waves.

RF connector any electrical connector designed to work at radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range

A coaxial RF connector is an electrical connector designed to work at radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range. RF connectors are typically used with coaxial cables and are designed to maintain the shielding that the coaxial design offers. Better models also minimize the change in transmission line impedance at the connection in order to reduce signal reflection and power loss. As the frequency increases, transmission line effects become more important, with small impedance variations from connectors causing the signal to reflect rather than pass through. An RF connector must not allow external signals into the circuit through electromagnetic interference and capacitive pickup.

Duties

Radio-frequency engineers are specialists in their respective field and can take on many different roles, such as design, installation, and maintenance. Radio-frequency engineers require many years of extensive experience in the area of study. This type of engineer has experience with transmission systems, device design, and placement of antennas for optimum performance. The RF engineer job description at a broadcast facility can include maintenance of the station's high-power broadcast transmitters and associated systems. This includes transmitter site emergency power, remote control, main transmission line and antenna adjustments, microwave radio relay STL/TSL links, and more.

In addition, a radio-frequency design engineer must be able to understand electronic hardware design, circuit board material, antenna radiation, and the effect of interfering frequencies that prevent optimum performance within the piece of equipment being developed.

See also

Related Research Articles

Electronic oscillator electronic circuit that produces a repetitive, oscillating electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave

An electronic oscillator is an electronic circuit that produces a periodic, oscillating electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave. Oscillators convert direct current (DC) from a power supply to an alternating current (AC) signal. They are widely used in many electronic devices ranging from simplest clock generators to digital instruments and complex computers and peripherals etc. Common examples of signals generated by oscillators include signals broadcast by radio and television transmitters, clock signals that regulate computers and quartz clocks, and the sounds produced by electronic beepers and video games.

Amplifier electronic device that can increase the power of a signal

An amplifier, electronic amplifier or (informally) amp is an electronic device that can increase the power of a signal. It is a two-port electronic circuit that uses electric power from a power supply to increase the amplitude of a signal applied to its input terminals, producing a proportionally greater amplitude signal at its output. The amount of amplification provided by an amplifier is measured by its gain: the ratio of output voltage, current, or power to input. An amplifier is a circuit that has a power gain greater than one.

Superheterodyne receiver common type of radio receiver that shifts the received signal to an easily-processed intermediate frequency

A superheterodyne receiver, often shortened to superhet, is a type of radio receiver that uses frequency mixing to convert a received signal to a fixed intermediate frequency (IF) which can be more conveniently processed than the original carrier frequency. It was invented by US engineer Edwin Armstrong in 1918 during World War I. Virtually all modern radio receivers use the superheterodyne principle.

Electromagnetic compatibility

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the ability of electrical equipment and systems to function acceptably in their electromagnetic environment, by limiting the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or even physical damage in operational equipment. The goal of EMC is the correct operation of different equipment in a common electromagnetic environment. It is also the name given to the associated branch of electrical engineering.

This is an index of articles relating to electronics and electricity or natural electricity and things that run on electricity and things that use or conduct electricity.

Regenerative circuit

A regenerative circuit is an amplifier circuit that employs positive feedback. Some of the output of the amplifying device is applied back to its input so as to add to the input signal, increasing the amplification. One example is the Schmitt trigger, but the most common use of the term is in RF amplifiers, and especially regenerative receivers, to greatly increase the gain of a single amplifier stage.

Radio receiver radio device for receiving radio waves and converting them to a useful signal

In radio communications, a radio receiver, also known as a receiver, wireless or simply radio is an electronic device that receives radio waves and converts the information carried by them to a usable form. It is used with an antenna. The antenna intercepts radio waves and converts them to tiny alternating currents which are applied to the receiver, and the receiver extracts the desired information. The receiver uses electronic filters to separate the desired radio frequency signal from all the other signals picked up by the antenna, an electronic amplifier to increase the power of the signal for further processing, and finally recovers the desired information through demodulation.

Resonator Device or system that exhibits resonance

A resonator is a device or system that exhibits resonance or resonant behavior. That is, it naturally oscillates with greater amplitude at some frequencies, called resonant frequencies, than at other frequencies. The oscillations in a resonator can be either electromagnetic or mechanical. Resonators are used to either generate waves of specific frequencies or to select specific frequencies from a signal. Musical instruments use acoustic resonators that produce sound waves of specific tones. Another example is quartz crystals used in electronic devices such as radio transmitters and quartz watches to produce oscillations of very precise frequency.

Armstrong oscillator

The Armstrong oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit which uses an inductor and capacitor to generate an oscillation. It is the earliest oscillator circuit, invented by US engineer Edwin Armstrong in 1912 and independently by Austrian engineer Alexander Meissner in 1913, and was used in the first vacuum tube radio transmitters. It is sometimes called a tickler oscillator because its distinguishing feature is that the feedback signal needed to produce oscillations is magnetically coupled into the tank inductor in the input circuit by a "tickler coil" (L2, right) in the output circuit. Assuming the coupling is weak, but sufficient to sustain oscillation, the oscillation frequency f is determined primarily by the tank circuit (L1 and C in the figure on the right) and is approximately given by

This is an alphabetical list of articles pertaining specifically to electrical and electronics engineering. For a thematic list, please see List of electrical engineering topics. For a broad overview of engineering, see List of engineering topics. For biographies, see List of engineers.

A radio transmitter is an electronic device which, when connected to an antenna, produces an electromagnetic signal such as in radio and television broadcasting, two way communications or radar. Heating devices, such as a microwave oven, although of similar design, are not usually called transmitters, in that they use the electromagnetic energy locally rather than transmitting it to another location.

Radio receiver design includes the electronic design of different components of a radio receiver which processes the radio frequency signal from an antenna in order to produce usable information such as audio. The complexity of a modern receiver and the possible range of circuitry and methods employed are more generally covered in electronics and communications engineering. The term radio receiver is understood in this article to mean any device which is intended to receive a radio signal in order to generate useful information from the signal, most notably a recreation of the so-called baseband signal which modulated the radio signal at the time of transmission in a communications or broadcast system.

An EMC problem occurs when one piece of electronic equipment or an electromagnetic system is adversely affected by the operation of another. One example might be breakthrough by the high field strengths produced by a nearby radio transmitter. EMC problems are not always due to defects in the transmitter, and so do not necessarily require improvements in the radio transmitter design, such as reducing its radiated harmonics. It may be that the immunity of the affected equipment is poor due to inadequate shielding, or filtering of sensitive inputs. EMC problems can have a range of effects on equipment, and there are ways to mitigate or eliminate them in practice. Effective EMC mitigation techniques may differ by the type of equipment that malfunctions, and by the nature of the strong radio frequency field.

RF power amplifier

A radio frequency power amplifier is a type of electronic amplifier that converts a low-power radio-frequency signal into a higher power signal. Typically, RF power amplifiers drive the antenna of a transmitter. Design goals often include gain, power output, bandwidth, power efficiency, linearity, input and output impedance matching, and heat dissipation.

RF microwave CAE CAD is computer-aided design (CAD) using computer technology to aid in the design, modeling, and simulation of an RF or microwave product. It is a visual and symbol-based method of communication whose conventions are particular to RF/microwave engineering.

Electronic engineering electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, and their systems

Electronic engineering is an electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, VLSI devices and their systems. The discipline typically also designs passive electrical components, usually based on printed circuit boards.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:

Distributed element circuit Electrical circuits composed of lengths of transmission lines or other distributed components

Distributed element circuits are electrical circuits composed of lengths of transmission lines or other distributed components. These circuits perform the same functions as conventional circuits composed of passive components, such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers. They are used mostly at microwave frequencies, where conventional components are difficult to implement.

References

  1. A. A. Ghirardi, Radio Physics Course, 2nd ed. New York: Rinehart Books, 1932, p. 249
  2. Signal Corps U.S. Army, The Principles Underlying Radio Communication, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S.G.P.O., 1922, p. 191
  3. Technical Manual TM 11-665: C-W and A-M Radio Transmitters and Receivers. Dept. of the Army, US Government Printing Office. 1952. p. 2.
  4. "How to Measure Requirement for RF Equipments".