2 Role of the Receiver The Antenna must capture the radio wave. The desired frequency must be selected from all the EM waves captured by the antenna. The selected signal is usually very weak and must be amplified. The information carried by the radio wave, usually an audio signal, must be recovered Demodulation. The audio signal must be amplified. The amplified audio signal must then be converted into sound waves using a speaker or headphones.
3 The 3 S s of Receivers Sensitivity Selectivity Stability
4 Sensitivity Refers to the minimum signal level that the receiver can detect. Measured in Microvolts or fractions of Microvolts. The greater the sensitivity (ie: the smaller the number of microvolts) the weaker a signal it can receive. Very weak signals can be received sensitivity is not an issue with modern receivers. Between 1.7 and 24.5 MHz on SSB, the Kenwood TS- 870 has a sensitivity of 0.2 microvolts or less
5 Selectivity Refers to the receiver s ability to separate two closely spaced signals. The more selective a receiver, the narrower the bandwidth and/or the steeper the filter skirt. Specified as the bandwidth at 6 db attenuation, and at 60 db attenuation (ie: the 6 db and 60 db points). Filter Skirt steepness is perhaps THE key characteristic that separates the boys from the men in HF receiver design! Example: On SSB the Kenwood TS-870 has a selectivity of 2.3 khz at 6 db and 3.3 khz at 60 db. This is a very selective receiver.
6 Ideal Receiver Selectivity
7 Actual Receiver Selectivity Filter Skirt
8 Stability The receiver s ability to remain on a frequency for a period of time. Unintended change in frequency is called drift. Specified as number of Hz drift over a period of time after warmup, or as ppm (part per million) for more modern radios. Not an issue for modern receivers, but is a consideration for older designs, especially those using vacuum tubes.
9 Cross Modulation Cross Modulation occurs when a strong signal is too powerful for the receiver s front end (first RF ) to pass through without distortion. It results in the wanted signal being Amplitude Modulated by the strong unwanted signal ie: the unwanted signal can be heard on top of the wanted signal.
10 Curing Cross Modulation To prevent cross modulation, many receivers have an Attenuator that inserts a resistive pad (circuit) between the antenna and the receiver. This weakens the strong signal enough that it no longer causes problems. If the interfering signal is out of the band altogether, then an appropriate filter between the antenna and the receiver may also help. FM receivers are immune to Cross Modulation as they are unaffected by amplitude variations on received signals.
11 Attenuator Kenwood TS-950SDX
12 Intermodulation Intermod is sometimes incorrectly called Cross Modulation, but is a different phenomena. It is the result of two or more signals of different frequencies being mixed together, forming additional signals at frequencies that are not, in general, at harmonic frequencies (integer multiples) of either. The mixing usually takes place inside the receiver, but can even take place at rusty fence joints! Very prevalent problem on 2M and 70cm FM when driving through downtown!
13 270 MHz 275 MHz 265 MHz 280 MHz
14 Images Signals on a different frequency than the one tuned to, but which are received anyway. Occurs because of the frequency conversions that are conducted within the receiver. Image rejection is specified in db. The image rejection specifications for the Kenwood TS-870 are 80 db or greater.
15 Natural Noise Natural noise, called QRN, is also called Static. It comes from objects in the galaxy that radiate RF energy, and from natural phenomena such as lightning. The presence of natural noise sets the Noise Floor for the band in question at that particular time, and appears as a steady hiss. Lightning appears as a burst of static, and can be dealt with to some degree by noise limiters.
16 Man-Made Noise Also called QRM, Man-Made Noise generally comes from sparking equipment, and also from equipment that generates RF. Some countries use HF radars that produce sharp pulses. The best solution to most man-made noise is to eliminate it at the source, as it is often close to home. Start at home, and then search the neighborhood, using a portable receiver to track down the noise. Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is of great assistance in reducing QRM.
17 Chinese HF Radar
19 Receiver Limitations It does no good to make HF receivers any more sensitive they are already sensitive enough to hear the natural noise floor, and cannot hear anything below that level anyway. Any component that generates gain also generates internal noise it is unavoidable! So, while the noise floor on VHF and UHF is much lower than HF, the quality of the active device (transistor) in the front end of the receiver determines the sensitivity of the system.
20 Signals and Noise Another way to specify the sensitivity of a receiver is to express how many microvolts of signal are required to give a certain Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). Some use the Signal + Noise to Noise Ratio, or (S+N)/N. These ratios are specified in db.
21 Can we Increase Selectivity? While it is possible to add filters (either discrete or virtual using DSP techniques) to increase selectivity, remember that every mode has a defined bandwidth. If the selectivity is too wide, excess noise will be received. If too narrow however, the complete signal will not be received. CW filters of 250 Hz are common, but going too narrow will result in ringing. Human voice requires a range of Hz. Using too narrow a filter will make the voice unintelligible.
22 Calibration YOU are responsible for ensuring that you operate within the Amateur bands! Radio dials can be analog or digital. DO NOT assume that they are always correct! Older radios use Crystal Calibrators to enable you to check the accuracy of the dial. Newer, synthesized, radios use a master time base in the microprocessor to derive frequency information. If that time base is off, so will the calibration. Use WWV / WWVH to calibrate your radio.
23 Simple Crystal Radio
24 AM Demodulation
25 Baby Grand Crystal Receiver
26 Tuned Radio Receivers A Tuned Radio (TRF) receiver has several RF amplifier stages followed by detector and audio amplifier stages. Each RF amplifier stage must be tuned individually. This is a very cumbersome process! For technical reasons, it is also difficult to achieve sufficient selectivity as the frequency increases.
27 American Beauty TRF Receiver
28 The Superheterodyne Receiver In 1918 Major Edwin Armstrong developed the Superheterodyne receiver to correct the problems of the TRF radio. It mixes an incoming signal with a locally generated RF signal to produce an Intermediate (IF). That IF is then amplified, detected and turned into sound. The Superhet is still the most popular form of receiver, accounting for 99% or more!
29 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
30 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
31 Antenna While technically the antenna picks up a wide range of frequencies, in practice some antennas are more narrow-banded. Resonant antennas eg: a half-wave dipole, are better able to pick up signals around their design frequency. Non-resonant antennas eg: Rhombics, can be used over a much broader frequency range.
32 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
33 Radio The RF amplifier takes the weak signals from the antenna and amplifies them. This is usually a fairly broadband amp. In better radios it consists of a number of separate modules that cover individual bands. These modules would be selected automatically as the radio is tuned. Older radios had a manually tuned continuous preamplifier. This stage does have tuned circuits to help reject strong out-of-band signals that could cause Cross Modulation.
34 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
35 HF Oscillator and Mixer The HF Oscillator, more usually called the Local Oscillator, generates an RF signal that is higher or lower than the desired receive frequency by an amount called the Intermediate. It mixes with the signal from the RF Amp inside the Mixer. Output from the mixer is the sum and difference of the two signals. One of those two signals is the Intermediate. The choice is an engineering decision.
36 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
37 Filter and IF The Filter can be mechanical, crystal or ceramic. Newer radios employ a synthetic filter using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques. It filters out not just the non-if signal, but is also the primary location where selectivity is obtained. The IF Amp can consist of several stages. It amplifies the IF signal. Because the IF has been predefined by the receiver s design, the IF amp does not need to be tuned after calibration by the manufacturer.
38 Receiver Filters Receivers often have several filters that can be switched in as required by the mode. Examples of the filter widths and the usual mode they would be used for are: 250 Hz CW (for severe interference) 500 Hz CW (for more relaxed conditions) 2.4 khz SSB 6 khz AM, possibly SSB if band is not busy
39 Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
40 Detector Stage The amplified IF signal is sent to the Detector, where it is rectified and the RF filtered out. This leaves only a weak audio signal which is sent to the AF amplifier before going to the speaker or headphones.
41 IF Transformer AM Demodulation
42 Superhet Example In order to better illustrate how a Superhet receiver works, let s look at an example of how the frequency conversion process operates. We want to receive a signal on 3.8 MHz (3800 khz) Assume our receiver has an IF of 455 khz.
43 3800 khz signal Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
44 3800 khz signal 3800 khz Antenna Radio Mixer Filter 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
45 3800 khz signal 3800 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz Antenna Radio Mixer Filter 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
46 3800 khz signal 3800 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz Antenna Radio Mixer Filter 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz High Oscillator 455 khz Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
47 3800 khz signal 3800 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz Antenna Radio Mixer Filter 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz High Oscillator 455 khz 455 khz Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Detector
48 3800 khz signal 3800 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz Antenna Radio Mixer Filter 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz High Oscillator 455 khz 455 khz Intermediate AF Speaker Or Headphone AF Audio AF Detector
49 Advantages of the Superhet Much more sensitive, selective and stable than TRF radios. By converting higher frequencies to the IF, we are able to use more reliable components. Much easier to use.
50 Primary Disadvantage Superhets have one big problem however they are subject to receiving images, or stations that are not actually on the frequency we are listening to. This occurs when a station is transmitting on a frequency twice the IF away from the desired frequency.
51 No Image 3800 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz Radio 3800 khz 4255 khz 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz Mixer High Oscillator 455 khz Filter
52 Image 3800 khz (2 x 455) = 4710 khz = 8055 khz and = 455 khz = 455 khz Radio 3800 khz 4710 khz 4255 khz 3800 khz khz = 4255 khz Mixer High Oscillator 455 khz Filter
53 The Solution! More expensive superhets employ double or triple conversion to improve image rejection. The first IF is chosen so that it is larger than the bandwidth of the bandpass filters in the front end of the receiver, and so the image not make it to mixer stage. The first IF signal is then amplified, and converted again to a lower IF to take advantage of the greater selectivity available at lower Intermediate Frequencies.
54 Single versus Dual Conversion Superhet Receiver
55 FM Receiver The FM receiver is very similar to an AM receiver up to the IF. Instead of a Detector however, the FM receiver uses two different stages: Limiter Discriminator
56 FM Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Discriminator Limiter
57 Limiter The Limiter Stages are high gain amplifiers that remove all traces of Amplitude Modulation from the received signal. This gives FM its greatest benefit a very high SNR Signal to Noise Ratio. Static crashes are mostly amplitude modulated, and so are removed by the Limiter.
58 Discriminator The Discriminator converts frequency variations into voltage variations. This is fed to the Audio and then the speaker or headphones.
59 Receiving SSB and CW The SSB/CW receiver is very similar to an AM receiver up to the IF. Instead of a Detector however, the SSB/CW receiver uses two different stages: Product Detector Beat Oscillator (BFO).
60 SSB / CW Superheterodyne Receiver Antenna Radio Mixer Filter High Oscillator Intermediate Speaker Or Headphone Audio Product Detector Beat Freq Oscillator
61 Product Detector Because the carrier has been removed from an SSB transmission, it must be re-inserted so that the original audio can be recovered. This is accomplished using the Product Detector. The source of the carrier is the Beat Oscillator (BFO).
62 Beat Oscillator (BFO) The BFO is an oscillator that replaces the carrier in an SSB transmission. CW transmissions also require a carrier to beat against (mix with) to produce an audio tone. Older receivers use a BFO that could be varied in frequency as the operating mode is changed from USB to LSB to CW. Modern radios automatically switch the operating frequency of the BFO as the mode is changed.
63 Product Detector
64 Beat Oscillator
65 Audio Filters Hams sometimes employed active or passive external audio filters with older receivers in an effort to remove interference and improve selectivity. A Notch Filter can be used to remove an interfering carrier signal (ie: CW signal). To improve CW selectivity, an audio bandpass filter for Hz would be appropriate. Modern radios incorporate DSP techniques even more effectively, at the IF stages rather than the audio stages.
66 MFJ- 784B DSP Filter
67 Signal Strength Meters An S-Meter enables you to make comparisons between received signals. Unfortunately, even on identical receivers, most S- meters are not properly calibrated and will give different readings when using the same antenna. The scale is divided into 9 increments, designated S0 to S9, up to the center point of the meter. The scale is then graduated in db, usually in multiples of 10. A signal strength report would be S6 or S9 plus 15 db.
68 S-Meter Standards According to the standards adopted by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) in 1981, S9 corresponds to a signal strength of 50 microvolts at the receiver s 50 ohm impedance antenna input. Each S unit then reflects a 6dB change in signal strength. This is rarely achieved, as S-meters are often not linear in their response. Still, they give a relative indication of signal strengths!
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