RF Signal Generator Functions

RF signal generators and Microwave are able to offer the large variety of functions and facilities. These include some that are below:

Frequency Range

Naturally the frequency range of the RF signal generator is of chief importance. It must be able to cover all the frequencies that are possible to need to be generated. For example when testing the receiver in an item of equipment, it may be a mobile phone or any other radio receiver, it is necessary to be able to check not only the operating frequency but other frequencies where the issues such as image rejection etc.

Output Level

The output range for an RF and microwave signal generator is normally controlled to the relatively high degree of accuracy. The output within the signal generator itself is maintained at constant level and then passed through the high grade variable attenuator. These are normally switched to give the highest degree of accuracy. The range is normally limited at the top end by the final amplifier in the RF signal generator.RF Signal Generator Functions

Modulation

Some RF signal generators or microwave signal generators have inbuilt oscillators that can apply modulation to the output signal. Others also have the ability to apply modulation from the external source. With modulation formats for applications such as the mobile communications becoming more complicated, so the capabilities of RF signal generators have had to become more flexible, some allowing complex modulation formats such as QPSK, QAM and the like. Signal generators that support complex modulation are often referred to as vector signal generators.

Sweep

RF signal generators it is necessary to sweep the signal over a range. Some generators offer this capability.

Control

There are many options for controlling the RF signal generators and microwave these days. While they tend to have traditional front panel controls, there are also many options for remote control. Generally items of laboratory bench test equipment come with GPIB fitted as standard, but options such as RS-232 and Ethernet / LXI. Rack technologies where instrument cards are slotted into a rack with other items of test equipment are also popular. The first of these was the VXI but cheaper options such as PXI and PXI express are more widely used.