Applied RF Engineering III - Wireless System Fundamentals

Course 272

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Part of our Applied RF Engineering Certification

 Jul 15-Dec 13, 2024 -  RF Certifications Online, Besser Associates Online Academy / Rex Frobenius


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 Sep 23-Feb 14, 2025 -  RF Certifications Online, Besser Associates Online Academy / Rex Frobenius


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TRAINING HOURS: This course is equivalent to 24 hours of classroom training.

This next step in the Applied RF Engineering series looks at design parameters at the system-block level. We introduce the key system design parameters and show how individual component parameters affect those top-level specifications. Physical limitations and performance tradeoffs are defined and examined. Once these limitations are understood, the common receiver and transmitter architectures can be described intuitively as solutions to achieve the best performance under different scenarios. We will also introduce the fundamental digital modulation formats and show their impact on system requirements.

Our discussion starts with the concept of noise, which is innately intuitive to us as a limiting factor in the ability to discern weak signals in a radio environment. Less obvious is the behavior of strong signals and the intermodulation and other distortion products that they produce. Our ability to produce signals at desired frequencies, shift signal frequency and filter unwanted signals are important tools that are described next. From this information we can characterize the performance of receivers with respect to minimum detectable signal, sensitivity, selectivity, and spur-free dynamic range, among other parameters. All of these factors are combined to enable us to perform a link budget for a communications system.

Alternative On-Demand schedule dates are available. Please contact us at for details.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • Determine the noise floor and SFDR of a receiver
  • Estimate whether a filter will be able to sufficiently block an unwanted signal
  • Select a PLO based on phase noise requirements for a system
  • Understand how intermediate frequencies are selected for a given system
  • Weigh the tradeoffs of various transceiver architectures

Target Audience

This course is intended for students with an engineering background or equivalent practical experience. The course format consists of recorded lectures that are typically followed by online workbooks containing supplemental information and exercises. Custom calculators and simple simulations are often included to promote exploration of the topics. "Chalk Talk" videos in the format of the instructor writing on a virtual whiteboard are also utilized to derive some equations or work through example problems. Together these features comprise the "RF Mentor Enhanced e-Learning Format,"™ originally developed for our top-selling "RF Technology Certification"™ program.



The Wireless Environment
 • factors limiting RF system performance


Component Level
 • transfer function • poles and zeros • the effect of Q • Q and bandwidth • filter order • group delay • circuit transformations • table based design • Q-based design • effect of parasitics
System Considerations
 • insertion noise • bandwidth limitations • group delay • filter types


Component Design
 • Noise Figure • Noise figure circles on the Smith Chart • stability • stability circles on the Smith Chart
System Considerations
 • Thermal noise • Noise Figure • cascaded noise figure • effect of gain on cascaded noise figure • compression • intermodulation • cascaded IP3


Component Considerations
 • mixer types • multiplicative vs. switched mixing • non-ideal mixing and spurs
System Considerations
 • spur charts • tuner construct - mixer + PLO • image noise filter • cascaded IP3 • receiver architectures


Component Considerations
 • phase detectors • phase margin • loop bandwidth • VCO noise, crystal noise
System Considerations
 • phase noise • reciprocal mixing • integrated phase noise

System Calculations

Putting it All Together
 • cascaded noise, IP3, SFDR • sensitivity • selectivity • blocking • link budget
RF Power Amplifiers
Component Considerations
 • Classes of Operation: A,B CEF • Cripps method • efficiency
System Considerations
 • AM to PM •