RF Signal Generator Basics

RF Signal Generator Basics

An RF signal generator (oscillator) comes in handy when testing applications that use RF microwave designs and signals. If you want to benefit from the use of this type of device, you need to have a thorough understanding of how a RF/Microwave Signal Generator works.

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When it comes to identifying and using a RF signal source, you must use one of the following RF signal source oscillators. Free running signal oscillators are not used that much anymore because their frequencies are not very reliable, they tend to drift. Also, this type of generator does not use frequency synthesizers. But, the distinct advantage that it has is any frequency that is generated by it is very clean and has very little phase noise on both sides of the main signal.

Synthesized RF signal oscillators are widely used in many applications. They use frequency synthesizers so that all frequency signal information can be entered with a keypad. This helps to make identifying the outgoing signal more precise. The accuracy of any radio signal is dependent upon an internal source oscillator or can be derived from locking the signal onto an external reference.

Two applications that are widely used with artificial RF signal generators include:

Phase-locked loop integrators (PLL) – Most RF signal generators use phase-locked loop integrators because they can generate many different low level signals. Phase-locked loop synthesizers produce high performance RF signal generators with advanced technology.

Direct Digital Signal Synthesizers – It is possible to create fine frequencies in increments. The only real limitation to using a direct digital synthesizer is that the maximum threshold is often not high enough to be used in a signal generator. Because of this limitation, they are often used with a PLL to increase the frequency range until it is within the desired parameters.

No matter the type of electronic test equipment or test laboratory, radio frequency signal generators are used whenever a radio signal needs to be converted to circuitry for RF design and testing. Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation has a wide variety of RF signal generators for any signal source analysis and testing purposes.