RF attenuators are a universal building block within the RF design arena. Dependent upon their type, they can be designed using just resistors, they may need a switch, either mechanical or solid state, or they may use diodes to make them continuously variable over a given range.
What is an attenuator?
As the name implies RF attenuators reduce the level of the signal, i.e. they attenuate the signal.
This attenuation may be required to protect a circuit stage from receiving a signal level that is too high. Also an attenuator may be used to provide an accurate impedance match as most fixed attenuators offer a well-defined impedance, or attenuators may be used in a variety of areas where signal levels need to be controlled.
Types of RF Attenuators:
Attenuators can be categorized in a number of ways according to their capabilities and the technologies they use.
- Fixed RF attenuator: As the name implies fixed attenuators have a specific value and this cannot be changed. They may come in a variety of formats from small in-line items in a similar format to connector adaptors to those in small boxes with connectors on the ends to those incorporated within equipments.
- Variable RF attenuators: variable RF attenuators are normally used in applications where it is necessary to continuously vary the level of a signal. Typically they provide a continuous level change by varying an analogue voltage on the input control line. They are normally used where accuracy is not a prime requirement.
Attenuators are used in a wide variety of applications for the control and measurement of RF energy and are vital in the wireless, energy, telecommunications, broadcast, military, medical, energy and aerospace industries.
When used within its specifications, an attenuator is an indispensable component in monitoring measurement and system applications. Coaxicom supplies a variety of high-performing attenuators from SMA: VSWR 1.35:1, TNC: VSWR: 1.35:1, BNC 50 and 75 Ohms, and Type N 1.35:1 Max.