SimSmith – looking both ways – an LNA design task

This article shows the use of SimSmith in design and analysis of the input circuit of an MGF1302 LNA.

The MGF1302 is a low noise GaAs FET designed for S band to X band amplifiers, and was very popular in ham equipment until the arrival of pHEMT devices.

An important characteristic of the MGF1302 is that matching the input circuit for maximum gain (maximum power transfer) does not achieve the best Noise Figure… and since low noise is the objective, then we must design for that.

The datasheet contains a set of Γopt for the source impedance seen by the device gate, and interpolating for 1296MHz Γopt=0.73∠-10.5°.

Lets convert Γopt to some other useful values.

The equivalent source Z, Y and rectangular form of Γopt= will be convenient during the circuit design phase. Continue reading SimSmith – looking both ways – an LNA design task

Noise Figure – Effective Noise Bandwidth

Harald Friis (Friis 1944) gave guidance on measuring the noise figure of receivers, and explains the concept of Effective Bandwidth.

Effective Bandwidth

The contribution to the available output noise by the Johnson-noise sources in the signal generator is readily calculated for and ideal or square-top band-pass characteristic and it is GKTB where B is the bandwidth in cycles per second. In practice, however, the band is not flat; ie, the gain over the band is not constant but varies with frequency. In this case the total contribution is ∫GfKTdf where Gf is the gain at frequency f. The effective bandwidth B of the network is defined as the bandwidth of an ideal band-pass network with gain G that gives this contribution to the noise output.

Continue reading Noise Figure – Effective Noise Bandwidth

Is it 290K or 293K?

A reader of my articles commented on them and some of my calculators regarding the use of 290K as the reference temperature (T0) for Noise Figures.

(Friis 1944) suggested that temperature as reference temperature and it has been widely used since. One may also see 293K (eg in certain ITU-R recommendations), but in my experience, 290K is most commonly used and is for instance the basis for calibration of Keysight noise sources in Excess Noise Ratio (ENR).

The assumption in measurement of Noise Figure or of sensitivity is that the ‘cold’ source has a known source resistance with Johnson noise equivalent to 290K (16.85° C). That noise producing resistance is commonly achieved using a large attenuator at the generator output.

References / links

  • Friis, HT. Noise figures of radio receivers. Proceedings of the IRE, Jul 1944 p420.
  • Keysight. Jul 2018. Keysight 346A/B/C noise source operating and service manual.

Update for NFM software (v1.19.0)

NFM has been updated to v1.19.0.

The update corrects an error in conversion between ENR and temperature where Tcold<>290K.

References

  • Duffy, O. 2007. Noise Figure Meter software (NFM). https://owenduffy.net/software/nfm/index.htm (accessed 01/04/2014).

Maximum acceptable receiver noise figure – derived from ITU-R P.372-13 guidance

Minimum ambient noise level – ITU-R P.372-13 guidance discussed S/N degradation in a receive system with given noise figure (NF) based on ITU-R P.372-13. This article uses the same data to determine the maximum acceptable receiver noise figure for a given S/N degradation.

The analysis assumes linear systems (eg no signficant intermodulation distortion).

What is the minimum ambient noise level?

Above is Fig 2 from ITU-R P.372-13 which shows some key components of total ambient noise. The solid line is entitled “minimum noise level expected”, and it is a combination of curves B, C and D. Above 0.7MHz, only curves C and D are at play. Continue reading Maximum acceptable receiver noise figure – derived from ITU-R P.372-13 guidance

Noise Figure measurement of a converter / transverter

I recently came across an article Signal level measurement with PowerSDR and external transverters in which Carol (KP4MD) details a set of measurements of a Flex 1500 transceiver and Electraft XV144 transverter.

Carol gives the following table of measurements and calculated results.

Table 1.  Transverter Measurements
Freq
MHz
Noise
Source
ENR (dB)
Noise/10
kHz
Conversion
Gain (dB)
Noise
Figure
(db)
50 Ω expected Noise On Noise Off On-Off (Y)
144 15.2 -134 dBm -118.8 dBm -132.1 dBm 13.3 dB 26.5 2.1
432 15.3 -134 dBm -118.7 dBm -131.7 dBm 13 dB 24.1 2.5

Lets focus on the 144MHz measurements. Continue reading Noise Figure measurement of a converter / transverter

Optimum receive system noise figure for given ambient noise – Flex 6700

This article is a follow up to Optimum receive system noise figure for given ambient noise – Flex 6600 using data published at (Farson 2014) to make similar estimates for the Flex 6700.

Farson gives a table of MDS in 500Hz bandwidth figures for the 6700 on certain bandws, including MDS for 4 RF Gain configurations, 0, 10, 20, and 30dB.

Above is Farson’s data with my chosen RF Gain option (selected for SND<3dB) and calculated values in yellow and orange for: Continue reading Optimum receive system noise figure for given ambient noise – Flex 6700

Optimum receive system noise figure for given ambient noise – Flex 6600

Gerald Youngblood (K5SDR) of FlexRadio wrote of optimal receiver noise figure relationship to antenna noise in a blog posting about SDR receivers.

This article discusses that posting in the context of linear receivers, ie effects of intermodulation distortion are not included.

His gives the following advice:

For optimal weak signal performance near the atmospheric (antenna) noise floor you want your receiver noise floor (sensitivity/MDS) to be 8 to 10 dB below the noise coming from the antenna.  For strong signal reception, less sensitivity is almost always better.

The terminology is not industry standard, but that is quite  usual for hams who have a need to redefine well known terms, and this is really loose with implied equivalence (eg sensitivity/MDS).

ITU-R P.372-14 speaks of natural noise as including atmospheric noise due to lightning, and also speaks of man made noise.

It is likely Youngblood is actually talking about man made noise since he uses man made noise figures from an earlier revision of P.372.

Optimal is a compromise between weak signal performance (ie S/N degradation due to internal receiver noise) and handling of strong signals that might clip in the ADC of an SDR receiver.

He gives a table of measured MDS (minimum discernable signal, which actually is synonymous with Noisefloor) for recommended configurations of a Flex 6600 radio on several bands.

Above is Youngblood’s data with my calculated values in yellow and orange for: Continue reading Optimum receive system noise figure for given ambient noise – Flex 6600

Minimum ambient noise level – ITU-R P.372-13 guidance

Comments were received from some readers of the article S/N degradation is related to external noise level and receive system internal noise.

Essentially, two questions were asked:

  • what is the minimum HF ambient noise level; and
  • explain observation of lower HF ambient noise level.

What is the minimum ambient noise level?

Above is Fig 2 from ITU-R P.372-13 which shows some key components of total ambient noise. The solid line is entitled “minimum noise level expected”, and it is a combination of curves B, C and D. Above 0.7MHz, only curves C and D are at play. Continue reading Minimum ambient noise level – ITU-R P.372-13 guidance

S/N degradation is related to external noise level and receive system internal noise

A question that arises from time to time is what is the minimum receiver noise figure for a given application.

This discussion considers the question applied to linear receivers, ie receivers with zero intermodulation distortion (IMD) and other non ideal characteristics, other than their internal noise which can be described by their Noise Figure (NF).

By definition, NF is the amount by which the component or system degrades the NF, so in dB it is the difference in the S/N in to S/N out. Implicit in that definition is that it is based on source internal noise of 290K equivalent.

HF example

So for example lets say a receiver with effective noise bandwidth 2000Hz measures sensitivity of -125dBm for 10dB S/N out. We can calculate the noise in 2000Hz bandwidth from a 290K source to be -141dBm, and therefore the input S/N is -125 – -141 = 16dB. The ratio of the input S/N to output S/N is the difference in those in dB, 16-10=6dB. The NF is 6dB. We can also calculate an equivalent internal noise temperature of (10^(6/10)-1)*290=865K.

By convention, ambient noise (or external noise) is expressed in Kelvins, or dB wrt 290K. That does not imply that an antenna contributes exactly 290K. Continue reading S/N degradation is related to external noise level and receive system internal noise