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Transceiver Design

transceiver is a system that contains both a transmitter and a re-
ceiver. The transmitter from one transceiver sends a signal through
space to the receiver of a second transceiver. After receiving the sig-
nal, the transmitter from the second transceiver sends a signal back to the
receiver of the first transceiver completing a two-way communications data
link system, as shown in Figure 1-1.

Antenna Propagating Antenna

Wireless Signal

Transceiver Transceiver
Transmitter/ Transmitter/
Receiver Two Way Data Link Communications

Figure 1-1 A transceiver block diagram.

Proper transceiver design is critical in the cost and performance of a

data link. In order to provide the optimal design for the transceiver, a link
budget is used to allocate the gains and losses in the link and to perform
trade-offs of various parts of the system. The link budget also uses the re-
quired signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or the ratio of bit energy to noise spectral
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density (Eb/No ) for a given probability of error. These required levels are
derived by using probability of error curves given a certain type of mod-
ulation. Probability of error curves are discussed in Chapter 6. Generally,
since there are both known and unknown variances in the link budget, a
link budget will provide an additional SNR or Eb/No which is referred to as
the link margin. The link margin is equal to

Link margin for analog systems = SNR (calculated) SNR (required)

Link margin for digital systems = Eb/No (calculated) Eb/No (required).

This link margin is used to provide a margin of error in the analysis, hard-
ware implementation, and other factors that can affect the desired perfor-

1.1 Frequency of Operation

In a transceiver design, we first determine the radio frequency (RF) of
operation. The frequency of operation depends on the following factors:

r RF availability. This is the frequency band that is available for use by

a particular system and is specified by the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC), which has ultimate control over frequency band
allocation. Other organizations that help to establish standards are
the International Telecommunications Union Standardization Sector
(ITU-T), the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications
Administrations (CEPT), and the European Telecommunications Stan-
dards Institute (ETSI).

r Cost. As the frequency increases, the components in the receiver tend

to be more expensive. An exception to the rule is when there is a widely
used frequency band, such as the cellular radio band, where supply
and demand drives down the cost of parts and where integrated cir-
cuits are designed for specific applications. These circuits are known as
application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

r Range and antenna size. As a general rule, decreasing the frequency

will also decrease the free-space attenuation (the amount of loss be-
tween the transmitter and the receiver), since wavelength is the critical
parameter. This results in an increase in range for line-of-sight appli-
cations or a decrease in the output power requirement, which would
affect cost. However, another factor that affects range is the ability of
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the signal to reflect or bounce off the atmosphere, mainly the ionosphere
and sometimes the troposphere, which, for specific frequencies, can in-
crease the range tremendously. Amateur radio operators use frequen-
cies that can bounce off the atmosphere and travel around the world
with less than 100 W of power. Also, the size of the antenna increases
as the frequency decreases. This could affect site constraints due to
the size of the antenna and could also be a factor in the cost of the

r Customer specified. Often the frequency of operation is specified by the

customer, such as the military, and is used for a specific application.
However, the frequency allocation must follow the rules currently in
place to obtain approval from the FCC or other agencies.

r Band congestion. Ideally the frequency band selected is an unused band

or has very little use, especially with no high-power users in the band.
This also needs to be approved by the FCC and other agencies.

A listing of the basic frequency bands is shown in Table 1-1 with some
applications specified. More detailed frequency allocations can be obtained
from the FCC website or in the literature.

Table 1-1 Frequency bands.

ELF Extremely Low Frequency 03 KHz

VLF Very Low Frequency 330 KHz
LF Low Frequency 30300 KHz
MF Medium Frequency 3003000 KHzAM Radio Broadcast
HF High Frequency 330 MHz - Shortwave Broadcast Radio
VHF Very High Frequency 30300 MHz TV, FM Radio Broadcast, Mobile/fixed radio
UHF Ultra-High Frequency 3003000 MHz TV
L-band 5001500 MHz PCS/Cell phones
ISM Bands 902928 MHz, 2.4 2.483 GHz, 5.725 5.875 GHz PCS and RFID
SHF Super high Frequencies - (Microwave) 330.0 GHz
C-band 36007025 MHz Satellite Communications, radios, radar
X-band: 7.258.4 GHz Mostly Military communications
Ku-band 10.714.5 GHz - Satellite Communications, radios, radar
Ka-band 17.331.0 GHz - Satellite Communications, radios, radar
EHF Extremely High Frequencies-(Millimeter Wave Signals) 30.0300 GHzSatellite
Infrared Radiation 300-430 THz (terahertz) infrared applications
Visible Light 430750 THz
Ultraviolet Radiation 1.6230 PHz (petahertz)
X-Rays 3030 EHz (exahertz),
Gamma Rays 303000 EHz
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The frequency bands are all allocated to different users, which makes
it virtually impossible to obtain a band that is not already allocated. In
addition, there have been reallocations and renaming of the frequency
bands. There are basically two accepted frequency band designations, which
can cause some confusion. To avoid confusion, both designations of the fre-
quency bands are listed in Table 1-2.

Table 1-2 Frequency band designations.

Band Frequency Range Band Frequency Range

I band to 0.2GHz A band to 0.25 GHz
G band 0.2 to 0.25 GHz B band 0.25 to 0.5 GHz
P band 0.25 to 0.5 GHz C band 0.5 to 1.0 GHz
L band 0.5 to 1.5 GHz D band 1 to 2 GHz
S band 2 to 4 GHz E band 2 to 3 GHz
C band 4 to 8 GHz F band 3 to 4 GHz
X band 8 to 12 GHz G band 4 to 6 GHz
Ku band 12 to 18 GHz H band 6 to 8 GHz
K band 18 to 26 GHz I band 8 to 10 GHz
Ka band 26 to 40 GHz J band 10 to 20 GHz
V band 40 to 75 GHz K band 20 to 40 GHz
W band 75 to 111 GHz L band 40 to 60 GHz
M band 60 to 100 GHz

Taking into consideration the above criteria, the frequency of operation

is selected. Once the frequency is chosen, a link budget is performed to aid
in the design of the data link transceiver.

1.2 The Link Budget

The link budget determines the necessary parameters for successful
transmission of a signal from a transmitter to a receiver. The term link
refers to linking or connecting the transmitter to the receiver, which is done
by sending out RF waves through space. The term budget refers to the al-
location of RF power, gains, and losses, and tracks both the signal and the
noise levels throughout the entire system, including the link between
the transmitter and the receiver. The main items that are included in the
budget are the required power output level from the transmitter power am-
plifier, the gains and losses throughout the system and link, and the SNR
for reliable detection, the Eb/No to produce the desired bit error rate (BER),
or the probability of detection and probability of false alarm at the receiver.
Therefore, when certain parameters are known or selected, the link budget
allows the system designer to calculate unknown parameters.
Several of the link budget parameters are given or chosen during the
process and the rest of the parameters are calculated. There are many
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variables and trade-offs in the design of a transceiver, and each one needs
to be evaluated for each system design. For example, there are trade-offs
between the power output required from the power amplifier and the size
of the antenna. The larger the antenna (producing more gain), the less
power is required from the power amplifier. However, the cost and size
of the antenna may be too great for the given application. On the other
hand, the cost and size of the power amplifier increases as the power output
increases, which may be the limiting factor. If the power output requirement
is large enough, a solid-state amplifier may not be adequate and therefore a
traveling-wave tube amplifier (TWTA) may be needed. The TWTA requires
a special high-voltage power supply, which generally increases size and cost.
Therefore, by making these kinds of trade-off studies, an optimum data link
solution can be designed for a specific application.
Before starting the link budget, all fixed or specified information con-
cerning the transceiver needs to be examined to determine which param-
eters to calculate in the link budget. The trade-offs need to be evaluated
before the link budget is performed and then must be reevaluated to ensure
that the right decisions have been made. The parameters for a link budget
are listed and explained in this chapter.

1.3 Power in dBm

A decibel (dB) is a unit for expressing the ratio of two amounts of elec-
tric or acoustic signal power. The decibel is used to enable the engineer to
calculate the resultant power level by simply adding or subtracting gains
and losses instead of multiplying and dividing. For example,

Amplifier input = 150 W = 8.2 dBm

Amplifier power gain = 13 = 11.1 dB
Power output = 150 W 13 = 1.95 mW = 2.9 dBm
Power output (in dBm) = 8.2 dBm + 11.1 dB = 2.9 dBm = 1.95 mW

The terms dB and dBm are extensively used in the industry; dBm is the
most common expression of power in the communications industry. dBm is
calculated as follows:
dBm = 10log (Pi ),
Pi = power (in mW).

Gains and losses are expressed in dB. A dB is defined as a power ratio:

dB = 10log(Po /Pi ),
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Pi = the input power (in mW),
Po = the output power (in mW).

An example of using dBm and dB is as follows:

Pi = 1 milliwatt or 0 dBm
Po = 0 dBm + ( 40 dB attenuation) + (20 dB gain) = 20 dBm.

In many cases, dB and dBm are misused in applications, which can cause
errors in the results. The following example demonstrates this confusion.

Example: Suppose that there is a need to keep the output power level of
a receiver at 0 dBm 3 dB. If 3 dB is mistakenly substituted by 3 dBm
in this case, the following analysis would be made:

0 dBm = 1 mW
3 dBm = 2 mW


0 dBm 3 dBm
0 dBm + 3 dBm = 1 mW + 2 mW = 3 mW; not the correct answer.
0 dBm 3 dBm = 1 mW 2 mW = 1 mW; cannot have negative

The correct analysis using dB would be as follows:

0 dBm 3 dB
0 dBm + 3 dB = 3 dBm = 2 mW; correct answer.
0 dBm 3 dB = 3 dBm = 0.5 mW; correct answer.
Note: 3 dB is twice the power, 3 dB is half the power.

Therefore, they are not interchangeable; the incorrect answers are the re-
sult of using the wrong term. Remember, dBm represents an actual power
level and dB represents a change in power level, gain or loss. For example,
dBthe change in power levelis mistakenly used in place of dBW, which
is actually a power level related to watts.
The term dB can be described both in power and voltage. The term dB
is a change in signal level, signal amplification, or signal attenuation. It is
the ratio of power output to power input. It can also be the difference from
a given power level, such as so many dB below a reference power. The
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equation is

dB = 10log(Po /Pi ),

Po = power out,
Pi = power in.

For voltage, the same equation is used, substituting V 2 /R for P:

(Vo2 /Ro )
dB = 10log
(Vi 2 /Ri )

Vo = voltage out,
Vi = voltage in,
Ro = output impedance,
Ri = input impedance.

If Ro = Ri , they cancel and the resultant equation is

Vo 2 Vo Vo
dB = 10log 2
= 10log = 20log .
Vi Vi Vi

Assuming Ro = Ri , dB is the same whether voltage or power is used. There-

fore, if the system has 6 dB of gain, it has 6 dB of voltage gain and 6 dB of
power gain. The only difference is that the ratio of voltage is increased by
two and the ratio of power is increased by four.
For example, if an amplifier has 6 dB of gain, it has four times more
power and two times more voltage on the output referenced to the input.
Therefore, if the input to the amplifier is 5 V, and the power at the input
is 0.5 W, the output voltage would be 10 V and the output power would be
2 W (given that Ri = Ro ). So the gain would be

Voltage gain: 6 dB = 20 log (Vo /Vi ) = 20 log (10 V/5 V) = 20 log (2)
Power gain: 6 dB = 10 log (Po /Pi ) = 10 log (2/0.5) = 10 log (4).

If Ri = Ro , then the dB for voltage is different than the dB for power. In

this case, another term is used for voltage gaindBvindicating dB volts.
Also, voltage gain can be expressed in millivolts, or dBmv, indicating dB
millivolts. For example, going from 10 mV to 20 mV would be a 6 dBmv
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of gain. However, the caution is that simply changing the impedance can
change the voltage gain without an increase in power. For example,
Pi = Po = 1 W
Vi = 1V
Ri = 1 ohm
Vo = 2V
Ro = 4 ohm

Pi = Vi 2 /Ri = 12 /1 = 1 W
Po = Vo2 /Ro = 22 /4 = 1 W
Power gain: 10 log (1/1) = 10 log (1) = 0 dB gain
Vo = 2Vi
Voltage gain: 20 log(2) = 6 dBv gain.

There is no power gain in the example above, but by changing the resistance,
a voltage gain of 6 dBv was realized. Since power is equal to the voltage
times the current (P = VI), in order to achieve a voltage gain of two with
the same power, the current gain is decreased by two.
The following are some definitions for several log terms that are referred
to and used in the industry today:

r dB is the ratio of signal levels, which indicates the gain or loss in signal

r dBm is a power level in milliwatts: 10 logP, where P = power (in mW).

r dBW is a power level in watts: 10 logP, where P = power (in W).

r dBc is the difference in power between a signal that is used as the

carrier frequency and another signal, generally an unwanted signal,
such as a harmonic of the carrier frequency.

r dBi is the gain of an antenna with respect to the gain of an ideal isotropic

There are several other dB terms, similar to the last two, which refer
to how many dB away a particular signal is from a reference level. For
example, if a signal is 20 times smaller than a reference signal r, then the
signal is 13 dBr, which means that the signal is 13 dB smaller than the
reference signal.
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There is one more point to consider when applying the term dB in a

link budget. When referring to attenuation or losses, the output power is
less than the input power, so the attenuation in dB is negative. Therefore,
when calculating the link budget, the attenuation and losses are summed
together with the gains. For example, if we have a power of +5 dBm, and
the attenuation in dB is equal to 20 dB, then the output of the signal level
is equal to

+5 dBm + (20 dB losses) = 15 dBm.

Another approach would be to subtract the attenuation and losses from

the gains, which would mean that the attenuation and losses would then
be positive:

+5 dBm (20 dB losses) = 15 dBm.

Each method will produce the same answer; the first method is standard
in this text.

1.4 Transmitter
The transmitter is the part of the transceiver that creates, modulates,
and transmits the signal through space to the receiver (see Figure 1-1). The
transmitter is responsible for providing the power required to transmit the
signal through the link to the receiver. This includes the power amplifier,
the transmitter antenna, and the gains and losses associated with the pro-
cess, such as cable and component losses, to provide the effective isotropic
radiated power (EIRP) out of the antenna (see Figure 1-2).

Transmitter EIRP

Modulated Cable Losses Cable Losses
Upconverted Component
Signal Losses

Figure 1-2 The RF section of the transmitter.