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.
Transmitters are necessary component parts of all electronic devices that communicate by radio, such as radio and television broadcasting stations, cell phones, walkie-talkies, wireless computer networks, Bluetooth enabled devices, garage door openers, two-way radios in aircraft, ships, spacecraft, radar sets and navigational beacons. The term transmitter is usually limited to equipment that generates radio waves for communication purposes; or radiolocation, such as radar and navigational transmitters. Generators of radio waves for heating or industrial purposes, such as microwave ovens or diathermy equipment, are not usually called transmitters, even though they often have similar circuits.
The term is popularly used more specifically to refer to a broadcast transmitter, a transmitter used in broadcasting, as in FM radio transmitter or television transmitter . This usage typically includes both the transmitter proper, the antenna, and often the building it is housed in.
A transmitter can be a separate piece of electronic equipment, or an electrical circuit within another electronic device. A transmitter and a receiver combined in one unit is called a transceiver. The term transmitter is often abbreviated "XMTR" or "TX" in technical documents. The purpose of most transmitters is radio communication of information over a distance. The information is provided to the transmitter in the form of an electronic signal, such as an audio (sound) signal from a microphone, a video (TV) signal from a video camera, or in wireless networking devices, a digital signal from a computer. The transmitter combines the information signal to be carried with the radio frequency signal which generates the radio waves, which is called the carrier signal. This process is called modulation . The information can be added to the carrier in several different ways, in different types of transmitters. In an amplitude modulation (AM) transmitter, the information is added to the radio signal by varying its amplitude. In a frequency modulation (FM) transmitter, it is added by varying the radio signal's frequency slightly. Many other types of modulation are also used.
The radio signal from the transmitter is applied to the antenna, which radiates the energy as radio waves. The antenna may be enclosed inside the case or attached to the outside of the transmitter, as in portable devices such as cell phones, walkie-talkies, and garage door openers. In more powerful transmitters, the antenna may be located on top of a building or on a separate tower, and connected to the transmitter by a feed line, that is a transmission line.
Electromagnetic waves are radiated by electric charges when they are accelerated. kHz, the oscillating coupled electric and magnetic fields will radiate away from the antenna into space as an electromagnetic wave, a radio wave.Radio waves, electromagnetic waves of radio frequency, are generated by time-varying electric currents, consisting of electrons flowing through a metal conductor called an antenna which are changing their velocity and thus accelerating. An alternating current flowing back and forth in an antenna will create an oscillating magnetic field around the conductor. The alternating voltage will also charge the ends of the conductor alternately positive and negative, creating an oscillating electric field around the conductor. If the frequency of the oscillations is high enough, in the radio frequency range above about 20
A radio transmitter is an electronic circuit which transforms electric power from a power source into a radio frequency alternating current to apply to the antenna, and the antenna radiates the energy from this current as radio waves. The transmitter also impresses information such as an audio or video signal onto the radio frequency current to be carried by the radio waves. When they strike the antenna of a radio receiver, the waves excite similar (but less powerful) radio frequency currents in it. The radio receiver extracts the information from the received waves.
A practical radio transmitter mainly consists of the following parts:
In higher frequency transmitters, in the UHF and microwave range, free running oscillators are unstable at the output frequency. Older designs used an oscillator at a lower frequency, which was multiplied by frequency multipliers to get a signal at the desired frequency. Modern designs more commonly use an oscillator at the operating frequency which is stabilized by phase locking to a very stable lower frequency reference, usually a crystal oscillator.
Two radio transmitters in the same area that attempt to transmit on the same frequency will interfere with each other, causing garbled reception, so neither transmission may be received clearly. Interference with radio transmissions can not only have a large economic cost, it can be life-threatening (for example, in the case of interference with emergency communications or air traffic control).
For this reason, in most countries, use of transmitters is strictly controlled by law. Transmitters must be licensed by governments, under a variety of license classes depending on use such as broadcast, marine radio, Airband, Amateur and are restricted to certain frequencies and power levels. A body called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) allocates the frequency bands in the radio spectrum to various classes of users. In some classes, each transmitter is given a unique call sign consisting of a string of letters and numbers which must be used as an identifier in transmissions. The operator of the transmitter usually must hold a government license, such as a general radiotelephone operator license, which is obtained by passing a test demonstrating adequate technical and legal knowledge of safe radio operation.
Exceptions to the above regulations allow the unlicensed use of low-power short-range transmitters in consumer products such as cell phones, cordless telephones, wireless microphones, walkie-talkies, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, garage door openers, and baby monitors. In the US, these fall under Part 15 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Although they can be operated without a license, these devices still generally must be type-approved before sale.
The first primitive radio transmitters (called spark gap transmitters) were built by German physicist Heinrich Hertz in 1887 during his pioneering investigations of radio waves. These generated radio waves by a high voltage spark between two conductors. Beginning in 1895, Guglielmo Marconi developed the first practical radio communication systems using these transmitters, and radio began to be used commercially around 1900. Spark transmitters could not transmit audio (sound) and instead transmitted information by radiotelegraphy, the operator tapped on a telegraph key which turned the transmitter on and off to produce pulses of radio waves spelling out text messages in Morse code. These spark-gap transmitters were used during the first three decades of radio (1887-1917), called the wireless telegraphy or "spark" era. Because they generated damped waves, spark transmitters were electrically "noisy". Their energy was spread over a broad band of frequencies, creating radio noise which interfered with other transmitters. Damped wave emissions were banned by international law in 1934.
Two short-lived competing transmitter technologies came into use after the turn of the century, which were the first continuous wave transmitters: the arc converter (Poulsen arc) in 1904 and the Alexanderson alternator around 1910, which were used into the 1920s.
All these early technologies were replaced by vacuum tube transmitters in the 1920s, which used the feedback oscillator invented by Edwin Armstrong and Alexander Meissner around 1912, based on the Audion (triode) vacuum tube invented by Lee De Forest in 1906. Vacuum tube transmitters were inexpensive and produced continuous waves, and could be easily modulated to transmit audio (sound) using amplitude modulation (AM). This made AM radio broadcasting possible, which began in about 1920. Practical frequency modulation (FM) transmission was invented by Edwin Armstrong in 1933, who showed that it was less vulnerable to noise and static than AM. The first FM radio station was licensed in 1937. Experimental television transmission had been conducted by radio stations since the late 1920s, but practical television broadcasting didn't begin until the late 1930s. The development of radar during World War II motivated the evolution of high frequency transmitters in the UHF and microwave ranges, using new active devices such as the magnetron, klystron, and traveling wave tube.
The invention of the transistor allowed the development in the 1960s of small portable transmitters such as wireless microphones, garage door openers and walkie-talkies. The development of the integrated circuit (IC) in the 1970s made possible the current proliferation of wireless devices, such as cell phones and Wifi networks, in which integrated digital transmitters and receivers (wireless modems) in portable devices operate automatically, in the background, to exchange data with wireless networks.
The need to conserve bandwidth in the increasingly congested radio spectrum is driving the development of new types of transmitters such as spread spectrum, trunked radio systems and cognitive radio. A related trend has been an ongoing transition from analog to digital radio transmission methods. Digital modulation can have greater spectral efficiency than analog modulation; that is it can often transmit more information (data rate) in a given bandwidth than analog, using data compression algorithms. Other advantages of digital transmission are increased noise immunity, and greater flexibility and processing power of digital signal processing integrated circuits.
Amplitude modulation (AM) is a modulation technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio carrier wave. In amplitude modulation, the amplitude of the carrier wave is varied in proportion to that of the message signal being transmitted. The message signal is, for example, a function of the sound to be reproduced by a loudspeaker, or the light intensity of pixels of a television screen. This technique contrasts with frequency modulation, in which the frequency of the carrier signal is varied, and phase modulation, in which its phase is varied.
Analog television is the original television technology that uses analog signals to transmit video and audio. In an analog television broadcast, the brightness, colors and sound are represented by amplitude, phase and frequency of an analog signal.
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-frequency 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.
Wireless telegraphy or radiotelegraphy is transmission of telegraph signals by radio waves. Before about 1910, the term wireless telegraphy was also used for other experimental technologies for transmitting telegraph signals without wires, such as electromagnetic induction, and ground conduction telegraph systems.
Frequency-shift keying (FSK) is a frequency modulation scheme in which digital information is transmitted through discrete frequency changes of a carrier signal. The technology is used for communication systems such as telemetry, weather balloon radiosondes, caller ID, garage door openers, and low frequency radio transmission in the VLF and ELF bands. The simplest FSK is binary FSK (BFSK). BFSK uses a pair of discrete frequencies to transmit binary information. With this scheme, the "1" is called the mark frequency and the "0" is called the space frequency.
In radio communications, a sideband is a band of frequencies higher than or lower than the carrier frequency, that are the result of the modulation process. The sidebands carry the information transmitted by the radio signal. The sidebands comprise all the spectral components of the modulated signal except the carrier. The signal components above the carrier frequency constitute the upper sideband (USB), and those below the carrier frequency constitute the lower sideband (LSB). All forms of modulation produce sidebands.
Demodulation is extracting the original information-bearing signal from a carrier wave. A demodulator is an electronic circuit that is used to recover the information content from the modulated carrier wave. There are many types of modulation so there are many types of demodulators. The signal output from a demodulator may represent sound, images or binary data.
In telecommunications, a carrier wave, carrier signal, or just carrier, is a waveform that is modulated (modified) with an information bearing signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave usually has a much higher frequency than the input signal does. The purpose of the carrier is usually either to transmit the information through space as an electromagnetic wave, or to allow several carriers at different frequencies to share a common physical transmission medium by frequency division multiplexing. The term originated in radio communication, where the carrier wave creates the radio waves which carry the information (modulation) through the air from the transmitter to the receiver. The term is also used for an unmodulated emission in the absence of any modulating signal.
A continuous wave or continuous waveform (CW) is an electromagnetic wave of constant amplitude and frequency, typically a sine wave, that for mathematical analysis is considered to be of infinite duration. Continuous wave is also the name given to an early method of radio transmission, in which a sinusoidal carrier wave is switched on and off. Information is carried in the varying duration of the on and off periods of the signal, for example by Morse code in early radio. In early wireless telegraphy radio transmission, CW waves were also known as "undamped waves", to distinguish this method from damped wave signals produced by earlier spark gap type transmitters.
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.
In radio communications, a radio receiver, also known as a receiver, a wireless or simply a 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.
Video modulation is a strategy of transmitting video signal in the field of radio modulation and television technology. This strategy enables the video signal to be transmitted more efficiently through long distances. In general, video modulation means that a higher frequency carrier wave is modified according to the original video signal. In this way, carrier wave contains the information in the video signal. Then, the carrier will "carry" the information in the form of radio frequency (RF) signal. When carrier reaches its destination, the video signal is extracted from the carrier by decoding. In other words, the video signal is first combined with a higher frequency carrier wave so that carrier wave contains the information in video signal. The combined signal is called radio-frequency signal. At the end of this transmitting system, the RF signals stream from a light sensor and hence, the receivers can obtain the initial data in the original video signal.
A spark-gap transmitter is an obsolete type of radio transmitter which generates radio waves by means of an electric spark. Spark-gap transmitters were the first type of radio transmitter, and were the main type used during the wireless telegraphy or "spark" era, the first three decades of radio, from 1887 to the end of World War I. German physicist Heinrich Hertz built the first experimental spark-gap transmitters in 1887, with which he proved the existence of radio waves and studied their properties.
An Alexanderson alternator is a rotating machine invented by Ernst Alexanderson in 1904 for the generation of high-frequency alternating current for use as a radio transmitter. It was one of the first devices capable of generating the continuous radio waves needed for transmission of amplitude modulation (sound) by radio. It was used from about 1910 in a few "superpower" longwave radiotelegraphy stations to transmit transoceanic message traffic by Morse code to similar stations all over the world.
A television transmitter is a transmitter that is used for terrestrial (over-the-air) television broadcasting. It is an electronic device that radiates radio waves that carry a video signal representing moving images, along with a synchronized audio channel, which is received by television receivers belonging to a public audience, which display the image on a screen. A television transmitter, together with the broadcast studio which originates the content, is called a television station. Television transmitters must be licensed by governments, and are restricted to a certain frequency channel and power level. They transmit on frequency channels in the VHF and UHF bands. Since radio waves of these frequencies travel by line of sight, they are limited by the horizon to reception distances of 40-60 miles depending on the height of transmitter station.
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.
Radio-frequency (RF) engineering is a subset of 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.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to radio:
Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the waves, and received by a radio receiver connected to another antenna. Radio is very widely used in modern technology, in radio communication, radar, radio navigation, remote control, remote sensing and other applications.
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