What are RF detectors? – An RF detector actively monitors the output of an RF system to create a dc (direct current) output voltage that is proportional to the power at that point. They are used primarily to measure and control RF power in wireless systems. RF power, rather than voltage, is the primary measure of a wireless signal. In a receiver, signal strength is a key factor in maintaining reliable comcommunications. In the transmitter, the amount of power transmitted is critical because of regulatory guidelines.
RF Detectors are essential microwave/millimeter wave products for most Tx (transmit sources). Transmitter output power measurement is the main application. It is essential to know the RF output power because the output power level must not go above values set by FCC regulations.
The unit of power is the watt for RF detectors. But, most commonly used in most RF and wireless systems to express power is the terms of dBm or decibels related to 1 mW:
dBm = 10log [power(mW) / 1 mW]
There are two main types of detectors:
Logarithmic- The logarithmic detector converts the RF power into a DC voltage proportional to the log of the value.
RMS – The RMS detector creates a DC output proportional to the RMS value of the signal. Based on this DC Voltage and the type of detector we can estimate the output power.
The type of RF signal to be measured is the most important determining factor in the type of detector to use. For most general power measurement and control applications, the log type is the most useful. For pulsed RF signals, the log type is also best because of the fast response times available. In those applications where the signal has a high crest factor or a widely varying crest factor, the rms type is generally better.
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