JED - July 2015 - 33

TECHNOLOGY SURVEY
A SAMPLING OF RF TUNERS AND TUNER MODULES

O

ver the last few months, JED has published
surveys examining Low Noise Amplifiers
(LNAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) transistors that can be used in the front-end of
Electronic Warfare (EW) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) receivers. To complete the
EW/SIGINT receiver, a tuner is required after the antenna
and front-end RF circuits. The function of the tuner is
to translate RF signals captured by the antenna into a
frequency range that can be processed by the receiver's
detection hardware. This signal detection function can be
either analog or digital - most current devices are digital
(analog-to-digital and field-programmable gate arrays),
but older systems may still use analog detection and processing devices.
One of the most important components of the RF tuner is the Local Oscillator (LO). The LO can be a simple,
fixed-tuner oscillator, Phase Locked Loop (PPL), Voltage
Controlled Oscillator (VCO), or a Direct Digital Synthesizer
(DDS), and its signals are used in the filtering process
of the tuner. Filtering is used to limit the input to only
signals that are inside the operating range of the tuner.
Signals outside of this frequency range are rejected to
prevent false signals or interference.
The oscillator's signal is injected into a mixer within
the tuner where this described frequency translation takes
place. The signal from the oscillator is "mixed" with the
incoming signal to create a sum and difference signal with
the same properties as the incoming signal. For example,
a signal at 5 GHz with an LO at 3 GHz would result in both
an 8 GHz and a 2 GHz output. One of the signals is then
removed by filtering and the other is passed on to the signal
processing section - usually the lower frequency, but not
always. Sometimes, the frequency plan might move the

resulting signal out of the receiver's total frequency range
and then convert it to the desired Intermediate Frequency
(IF) for signal processing. The designer's goal is to select
LO values and mixing products that will not interfere with
this process.
The number of mixing stages in a tuner is dependent
on the total frequency range of that specific tuner and the
frequency plan of the system. For some tuners, it may take
more than one conversion to move the input frequency to
an IF that the signal processing section is able to easily
process. Tuners may have up to 3 conversion stages with an
LO for each stage. The number of conversion stages defines
how many different times the input signal is mixed before
getting to the final IF band. The frequency plan should
be designed to keep unwanted mixing products out of the
IF range. The tuner frequency plan is selected to reduce
the possibility of unwanted LO products getting into the
signal detection process and to reduce the number of filters,
amplifiers and switches required. Along with the LO, mixer
and filter, a tuner conversion stage may include low-noise
amplification to recover any cable or filter losses. These
amplifiers are located as required throughout the tuner.
The survey includes 56 tuner products from 22 companies. In general, these products represent stand-alone
RF tuners and tuner modules. Because tuning functions
are incorporated into many ELINT and COMINT receiver
systems, we typically did not include COMINT and ELINT
receiver products in this survey, as they will be covered
in the next two JED product surveys.

Our August survey will cover ELINT receivers
and systems.

The Journal of Electronic Defense | July 2015

Image courtesy US Army.

By Ollie Holt

33



JED - July 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - July 2015

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
The Modern MANPADS – an Evolving Threat
Technology Survey: RF Tuners and Tuner Modules for SIGINT Applications
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - July 2015 - cover1
JED - July 2015 - cover2
JED - July 2015 - 3
JED - July 2015 - 4
JED - July 2015 - 5
JED - July 2015 - The View From Here
JED - July 2015 - 7
JED - July 2015 - Conferences Calendar
JED - July 2015 - 9
JED - July 2015 - Courses Calendar
JED - July 2015 - 11
JED - July 2015 - From the President
JED - July 2015 - 13
JED - July 2015 - 14
JED - July 2015 - The Monitor
JED - July 2015 - 16
JED - July 2015 - 17
JED - July 2015 - 18
JED - July 2015 - 19
JED - July 2015 - 20
JED - July 2015 - 21
JED - July 2015 - World Report
JED - July 2015 - 23
JED - July 2015 - 24
JED - July 2015 - 25
JED - July 2015 - The Modern MANPADS – an Evolving Threat
JED - July 2015 - 27
JED - July 2015 - 28
JED - July 2015 - 29
JED - July 2015 - 30
JED - July 2015 - 31
JED - July 2015 - 32
JED - July 2015 - Technology Survey: RF Tuners and Tuner Modules for SIGINT Applications
JED - July 2015 - 34
JED - July 2015 - 35
JED - July 2015 - 36
JED - July 2015 - 37
JED - July 2015 - 38
JED - July 2015 - 39
JED - July 2015 - 40
JED - July 2015 - 41
JED - July 2015 - 42
JED - July 2015 - EW 101
JED - July 2015 - 44
JED - July 2015 - 45
JED - July 2015 - AOC News
JED - July 2015 - 47
JED - July 2015 - 48
JED - July 2015 - Index of Advertisers
JED - July 2015 - JED Quick Look
JED - July 2015 - cover3
JED - July 2015 - cover4
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