Endwave Corp., a provider of high-frequency RF modules for telecommunications networks, defense electronics and homeland security systems, has announced the release of a new line of integrated transceivers called Smart T/R™ Modules, which incorporate digital micro-controller technology for improved performance. In taking Endwave’s leading microwave transceiver technology and marrying it with digital “smarts”, the result is a next-generation T/R module solution with a higher level of precision, consistency and accuracy.

Micro-controllers allow the Smart T/R Module to optimize the bias, control and monitoring of key transceiver components. The digital “smarts” compensate for the lot-to-lot variations in the RF semiconductor devices that form the heart of the subsystem, so the result is more robust, worry-free, consistent module performance. This automatic adjustment reduces the manual touch-time needed to set-up, tune and center the module performance, thereby improving the quality and reliability for the systems they enable. Moving control functions to the digital domain typically reduces control component parts-count by over 10 percent while providing AGC loop timing and accuracy not possible in a strictly analog fashion.

Typical advantages of the Smart T/R Module include:

Ability to switch from one transmitter output power level to any other in a precisely controlled time segment—and as quickly (or slowly) as system operating conditions dictate. With the Smart T/R Module, the change is provided by the digital micro-controller interface—which can select any control voltage within the available range. In contrast, an analog control circuit can often take twenty times longer to effect a 20 dB output power change compared to a 1 dB change—primarily due to ramping voltages through RC circuits and their associated time constants.

Improved stability and timing of transition. Micro-controller adjusted ramps provide a fast transition without a peak overshoot—allowing faster switching times than analog circuits thanks to substantial reduction in settling times and ringing.

Transmitter AGC loop accuracy improved by >50 percent. Micro-controller driven, high-resolution DACs provide precise output power control. They adjust for frequency and temperature effects, as well as for rectification efficiency variations between digital modulation types used in the system.

Significantly simplified electrical interface—no more interconnect issues due to loading of analog interfaces, or the like.

This development opens the door to improved performance and reduced manufacturing costs for integrated transceivers. Furthermore, use of a common digital architecture across all module frequency variants enables simplified manufacturing logistics across the Smart T/R Module product family.