5 Key Differences Between RF Downconverters and Upconverters

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5 Key Differences Between RF Downconverters and Upconverters

An RF downconverter or upconverter is an integrated electronic assembly designed for the purpose of converting microwave signals from one frequency to another, in order to be processed. Typically, these electronic components are designed to generate an output signal that is on a particular frequency band. If you are curious about this pervasive piece of technology, here are some of the key differences between the two.

1. Upconverters vs. Downconverters

In particular, upconverters are engineered to convert microwave or radio signals up to a higher frequency range. Engineered to do just the opposite of this, radio frequency downconverters convert the signal to a lower intermediate frequency. Additionally, some specially designed pieces of hardware can up-convert or down-convert signals to any frequency available.

2. Technology

Additionally radio frequency up- and downconverters differ in terms of their technology composition. Typically, there are two choices for converter technology: either a synthesized converter circuit, or crystal controlled.

A synthesized device is composed of a synthesizer circuit in order to produce the target frequency. On the other hand, a crystal-controlled circuit makes use of a crystal oscillator to generate the target frequency, and are typically more accurate than their synthesized counterparts.

3. Form Factor

When it comes to the form factor of a converter, they are available either as an integrated circuit chip or on a printed circuit board. Additionally, some devices can be rack mounted, while others are sold for table- or desk-top use.

4. Performance

Additionally, performance specifications for down and up converters often differ in terms of the following:

Input and Output Frequency Ranges

Conversion Gain – defined as the net difference between the input signal and the desired output signal. It is calculated as a ratio, in decibels, between output and input power.

Return Loss – This is the amount of power lost due to the signal load, or during conversion.

Noise Figure – This is the ratio in decibels of Signal to Noise observed at the input and output of the conversion.

Power Consumption and Output

Number of Signal Channels

Operating Temperature

5. Regulatory Standards

Finally all conversion devices must meet the communications standards set by the networks and industries in which they are used. These products are designed for use in military, and commercial applications, in radar systems and even in induction heating. Companies that manufacture and distribute radio frequency converters are regulated by the Intelsat Earth Station Standards or IESS. Additionally environmental screening is used to assure the most reliable service from these products.

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