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RF Productivity: Core Analytical Tools

Course 250

  -  On Demand, Besser Associates Online Academy / Rex Frobenius


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This course is the first in a series for RF production engineers, technicians and other professionals in the wireless field. It presents the key analytical tools necessary for working with RF technology, such as the dB scale, impedance matching with the Smith Chart, and S-parameters.

The material covered forms the foundation for follow-on courses dealing with specific RF and Microwave productivity skills and test/measurement.

The course consists of pre-recorded lectures followed by online exercise workbooks. Q&A forums are also available. Students have two months to complete the material. This course is equivalent to 10 hours of classroom training.

This course is intended for registered individual students only. Please contact us for group rates at or 650-949-3300. Recording, copying, or re-transmission of classroom material is prohibited.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • work natively with dB values (without using a calculator)
  • understand basic wave parameters and propagation
  • appreciate the effects of parasitics on component behavior
  • understand the effects of mismatches at RF
  • create basic matching networks using the Smith Chart
  • describe basic transmission line structures and input impedance
  • interpret S-parameters from measurements and datasheets

Target Audience

This course is ideally suited for production engineers and technicians who are new to the RF/wireless field. It is also suitable for those who have been working in the field but who have not had a formal introduction to the key concepts that form the basis of understanding and troubleshooting wireless systems. The course is intended to improve your technical proficiency without delving into design-level details and methods.


Analytical Tools

Wave Parameters
 • Amplitude definitions • frequency • wavelength • phase
Propagation and Fading
 • energy spread • mean path loss • multipath
dB Notation
 • the decibel system • arithmetic in dB • approximating dB values intuitively • dBm, dBW scales
Complex Numbers and Impedances
 • AC circuit theory • rectangular and polar coordinates • complex number arithmetic • complex impedance system • complex admittance system
Resonance and Parasitics
 • resonance • inductive and capacitive reactances • complex series impedance • complex parallel admittance • example: effect of inductive self-reactance • Q-factor • resonance
Transmission Lines
 • RF wave impedance • transmission line definition • characteristic impedance • transmission line types • effective dielectric constant • waveguide • electrical length • input impedance • special cases - half-wavelength - quarter wavelength • 5% rule • lumped elements vs. transmission lines
Mismatch and Reflection
 • underlying cause of reflections • reflection coefficient • SWR • return loss • mismatch loss
The Smith Chart
 • impedance and reflection coefficient • development of the Smith Chart • impedance and admittance Smith Charts • impedance matching with the Smith Chart • Q on the Smith Chart • broadband match • transmission lines • matching with transmission line stubs
 • matrix representations • S-parameter definition • N-port S-parameters • differential/mixed mode S-parameters