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Applied RF Engineering I - Circuits and Transmission Lines

Course 270

Part of our NEW Applied RF Engineering Certification

 Jun 17-Nov 15, 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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 Nov 18-Apr 18, 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.

Based on Les Besser's famous RF course material, this program has been reworked and updated to meet the needs of today's engineers looking for online self-paced study. Video lectures are followed by our exclusive online workbooks featuring interactive problem sets and quizzes along with optional supplemental reading for those who wish to explore topics in more depth. This course is the first part of an RF Engineering Certificate program currently under development by Besser Associates.

Even when working with "off the shelf" integrated radio products, engineers still need a basic understanding of circuit operation and design considerations to assure a successful product implementation and avoid unexpected pitfalls. Switching from traditional circuit definitions based on voltages and currents, to power-flow concepts and scattering parameters, this course offers engineers a smooth transition into understanding circuit operation in the RF and wireless domain. We review S-parameter measurements and applications for both single-ended (unbalanced) and balanced circuits. Impedance matching is vitally important in RF systems and we use both graphical (Smith Chart ) and analytical techniques throughout the course. We also examine discrete and monolithic component models in their physical forms, discussing parasitic effects and losses, revealing reasons why circuit elements behave in surprising manners at RF. 

Since wires and printed circuit conductors may behave as transmission line elements, we also cover microstrip and stripline realizations. Another important consideration is circuit layout, therefore we look at problems caused by coupling, grounding and parasitic resistance.

This is a self-paced course with each student given approximately 5 months to complete the program. During that time, the student has on-demand access to the course materials at a time that is most convenient for their schedule. The course utilizes a Learning Management System, which allows students to log in and access online course material at any time, ask questions and keep track of their progress. This course is equivalent to 24 hours of classroom training.

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

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

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • design impedance matching networks analytically
  • use S-parameters to predict basic performance of components
  • use the Smith Char for matching network design and to visualize circuit performance
  • predict the effect of parasitics on capacitor and inductor performance at higher frequencies
  • convert series circuits to parallel equivalents and vice versa
  • decide when to treat interconnects as transmission lines
  • use transmission lines for matching networks
  • understand some basic principles of PC board behavior at high frequencies

Target Audience

This course is intended for students with an engineering background or equivalent practical experience. The material covered is similar to the RF Technology Certification program (part 1), but with with more in-depth numerical design examples and exercises.

The course follows the proven format of the RF Technology Certification program, with video lectures followed by online workbooks. The exercises in the workbooks are expanded with more custom calculators and design work. A free open-source RF circuit simulator is employed for working on simple design examples.


Section 1 - Introduction

Course Overview
 • Frequency spectrum • Power levels at RF
Basic Analytical Tools
 • dB, dBm • Complex number review • wave parameters

Section 2 - Complex Impedance, Resonance, Transmission Lines

Complex Impedance, Resonance
 • Series RC, RL networks • Parallel RC, RL networks • Resonance • Q factor • conversion between series and parallel circuits
Transmission Lines
 • transmission line types • characteristic impedance • the 5% rule • lumped vs. distributed networks • short and open terminated transmission lines
 • mismatch and reflections • reflection coefficient • return loss • mismatch loss • SWR

Section 3 - Smith Chart

Basic Derivation
 • derivation of impedance curves - resistance - reactance • admittance chart
Component Manipulations
 • Series Capacitor, Inductor, Resistor • Parallel Capacitor, Inductor, Resistor • Transmission lines

Section 4 - S-parameters

 • what the S-parameters refer to • comparison with Z, Y, ABCD parameters
 • basic network analyzer block diagram
Cascaded Calculations
 • Cascaded S-parameters • T-parameters
Differential Circuits
 • Mixed mode S-parameters • Description of X-parameters

Section 5 - Impedance Matching

Analytical Techniques
 • Using Q to Match Impedances • absorbing reactances • resonating reactances • Smith Chart • visualizing matching networks on the Smith Chart

Section 6 - Component Models

Lumped Elements at RF
 • resistor component models • capacitor component models • inductor component models • behavior at high frequencies • package effects • ferrite behavior

Part 7 - Transmission Lines and Ground Parasitics

 • Via hole inductance • multi-layer PC-board parasitics • via stub effects • PC board materials, dielectric constants
Transmission Lines
 • transmission line realizations • discontinuities • converting a circuit schematic to physical form