3 Day RF Fundamentals Course Outline


Day One

Transmission Line Basics

  • Why do we need a special class for microwaves?
  • What are transmission lines?
  • Various wavelengths and their corresponding frequencies

Characteristic Impedance

  • Transmission lines versus regular hook-ups
  • Distance and propagation in a transmission line
  • Characteristic impedance
  • Basic transmission lines

Terminating a Transmission Line

  • Infinite transmission line
  • Terminating a lossless transmission line


    • Incident and reflected waves on a shorted line, an open line and on an arbitrarily terminated line
    • Reflection coefficient

Impedance and Smith Chart

    • Gamma plane, plotting impedance
    • Plotting impedance on a rectangular plane
    • Smith chart

Standing Waves

    • Understanding phasors
    • Phasor representation at an instant for short and open circuit transmission lines
    • Phasor representation for arbitrary termination
    • Slotted line
    • Standing wave ratio (SWR), scalar reflection coefficient (Rho) and return loss
    • Reflectometer calculator
    • Converting between Rho, return loss and SWR

Practical Transmission Lines

    • Propagating modes

Connector Care

  Introduction to Connectors

  • Connector Examples
  • Maintaining Connectors
  • Visual Connector Inspection
  • Mechanical Connector Inspection
  • Principles of Connector Care
  • Industry Standard Specifications


Power Measurements

  • Why we measure power instead of voltage or current
  • Units of power
  • Terms such as average power, square law, pulse power and
  • peak envelope power

Decibels (dBs)

  • Relative power and absolute power
  • Understanding dB and how its use simplifies power transfer calculations

Types of power sensors

  • Thermocouples
  • Diode sensors
  • Thermistors

Power transfer

  • Reflection diagrams for various scenarios of source and load impedance
  • Uncertainty and mismatch loss with scalar reflection coefficients
  • Other sources of power meter uncertainty
  • Ideal and practical power measurement
  • Maximum or available power

Appendix on understanding logs and dB

  • Comparing quantities using exponents or powers
  • What is a logarithm?
    • dB: a logarithmic power ratio
    • dBm: a way to express absolute power
    • Using dB and dBm together
    • dB as an expression of a voltage ratio
    • An example of power and voltage ratios
    • dB used to express tolerances
    • Power and voltage tolerances

Lab demo: how to use power measurements to measure insertion loss of a cable

Day Two

Amplitude Modulation

  • Explain why carrier modulation is used when Transmitting information
  • Introduce AM
  • Describe the term “AM modulation Index”
  • Describe the operation of the envelope detector
  • AM Measurements
  • Single Sideband and how AM relates to signal multiplexing

Frequency/Phase Modulation

Digital Modulation

  • What is the advantage of digital signal?
  • How much frequency spectrum do digital signals need?
  • Reducing the bandwidth of the signal.
  • How complex modulations conserve bandwidth and ease some design aspects.
  • The signal space; constellation and vector diagrams How we view what’s happening.
  • How we create these modulations.
  • Noise and other degradations.


  • Modulation Basics

Day Three

Network Analyzer

  • Network Analyzer fundamentals
  • Network Analyzer block diagram
  • S-parameter measurements
  • Amplitude, phase, and group delay measurements
  • Demonstration: adapter considerations
  • Error model
  • Error identification
  • Calibration methods
  • Practical calibration exercise
  • Time domain

Spectrum Analysis

  • Spectrum analyzer fundamentals
  • Sensitivity, resolution, accuracy
  • Block diagram
  • Demonstrations of spectrum analyzer theoretical concepts
    • Tune, zoom, measure
    • Resolving equal and unequal amplitude signals
    • Noise sidebands
    • Measurement of small signals
    • Dynamic range analysis
  • Spectrum, modulation, S/N measurements and more
  • Measurement uncertainties and errors
  • Demonstrations of modulation measurements
    • AM/FM measurements
    • AM/FM demodulation
    • Pulsed RF measurements
  • Simplifying complex Measurements
  • Noise and Noise Figure
    • Noise Processes and Definitions
    • Thermal Noise and Noise Power
    • Noise Figure
    • Noise Temperature
    • The Importance of Noise Figure
    • Noise Figure Measurement
  • Phase Noise Fundamentals
    • What is Phase Noise
    • Two Port VS Absolute (Total) Noise
    • Basic Phase Noise Concepts – Unit of Measure
    • Why is Phase Noise Important?
    • Phase Noise Measurements

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