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Application Notes

Introduction to Programmable Attenuator Systems

Introduction to Programmable Attenuators

The application note is an introduction to programmable attenuators and their applications.  If you would like to discuss your application with our engineering staff please call (1-317-887-1340) or email.

Applications for Programmable Attenuator Systems

  • Military radios
  • First responder networks
  • Wi-Fi/MU-MIMP
  • Cellular networks
  • Mesh networks
  • IoT and 5G systems

Key Programmable Attenuator Specifications

  • Frequency range
  • VSWR
  • Attenuation range and step size
  • Impedance
  • RF input power
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Introduction to JFW’s USB Attenuator Test Software

Why use a USB Attenuator?

In RF test labs, programmable attenuators and RF switches are a basic building block of performance testing. Programmable attenuators are used in fading, handover, and rate vs range testing. Among other things, RF switches are used in signal routing, component bypassing and switched filter banks. To fill this need, JFW offers an expansive selection of Programmable Attenuator Assemblies and RF Switch Assemblies in 19″ rack or benchtop enclosures. These boxes typically include Ethernet and RS-232 control. While appropriate for medium to large testing environments, a USB Attenuator or USB RF Switch is often a better solution for smaller test setups. Lower cost and smaller size of the USB device are especially relevant.

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Power Divider/Combiner Types and Functionality

This application note covers resistive and reactive power divider/combiners.  The main goal of this app note is to help customers choose the correct power divider/combiner type for their application.  The functionality differences between the two types are discussed with example block diagrams.  The block diagram makes it easy to see why resistive divider/combiners are used for military radio testing.  The block diagram for reactive power divider/combiners shows how its construction is better suited for the fan-in or fan-out of RF signals to multiple devices.   If you have any questions, please contact our engineering team for assistance.

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RF Matrix Switch Types and Functionality

This application note discusses the four different construction types for RF matrix switches with pros and cons for each type.  Matrix switch types discussed:  blocking matrix switches, non-blocking matrix switches, super non-blocking matrix switches, and common highway matrix switches.  The functionality of each construction type is discussed with example block diagrams.  Please contact our engineering department directly if you have any questions or requests.

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Understanding The Limitations of Modern Military Radio Testbeds

This application note discusses three different testing configurations that can be used to test military radios.  The test configurations are:  Hub Fan-out, Full Fan-out, and Limited Fan-out.  Each configuration has its own testing features and limitations which are discussed.  We do provide direct access to our engineering team if you have any questions or want testing recommendations.

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