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Industry News / Subsystems and Systems / Test and Measurement

Spinnaker Releases RF Converter/Exciter

March 10, 2009
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Spinnaker Microwave introduced the Model SMS-ACX RF converter/exciter, a compact module that generates signals with modulating bandwidths up to 1 GHz with various combinations of phase, frequency and amplitude characteristics, and produces an output at any frequency from 10 MHz to 14 GHz, and optionally to 40 GHz. The SMS-ACX is a cost-effective alternative to expensive arbitrary waveform generators (AWG), and an excellent choice for applications ranging from frequency-agile threat emitters in an EW training platforms, to ATE systems and synthetic aperture radar systems.

Electronic warfare (EW), electronic countermeasures, secure communications and electronic intelligence systems must detect, characterize and counter threats with a diverse combination of characteristics over a wide frequency range. To accomplish this they must generate signals with precisely-defined attributes at the frequency of the threat at high speed. At frequencies in the microwave range, this requires a high performance AWG that at 10 GHz (for example) must reach a sample rate of 40 Gsamples/s. Such high clock rates typically have only 8-bit resolution and dynamic range and spurious suppression are constrained.

In contrast, the SMS-ACX can accept a wide range of IF signals from 10 MHz to 10 GHz and through a combination of frequency translation stages, places the IF signal with undistorted modulating characteristics at any frequency in its output range. This effectively eliminates the need for expensive high-sample-rate AWGs whose size, weight, power consumption and cost preclude them from being used in most embedded applications such as EW threat simulators. The modulating input signal for the SMS-ACX can be generated using the Direct Digital Synthesizer (DDS) within the module or externally by an intermediate frequency (IF) signal from a DDS or from an arbitrary waveform generator.

Standard switching speed of the SMS-ACX from any frequency within its 10 MHz to 14 GHz range is 50 s, minimum step size is 1 Hz, conversion gain is +10 dBm, group delay variation is 2 ns, spurious signal rejection is typically -55 dBc, maximum modulation depth is 30 percent, phase adjustment range is 0 to 360 deg. and output third-order intercept point is +15 dBm. The SMS-ACX is housed in an aluminum enclosure measuring only 4.65" x 4.70" x 1.68", weighs less than 2.3 lb., and consumes less than 20 W from its 5 and +15 VDC supplies.


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