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Dynamic range and bandwidth tradeoff in signal analysis

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:signals? RF transmissions?

For the longest time, the narrow-band modulated signals we used for RF transmissions were adequate for our frequency-divided applications like commercial broadcasting and two-way radio communication. Then late in the 80s and continuing in the 90s, the desire for wider bandwidths to deliver more information began to skyrocket driven by the development of vector-modulated communication systems and pulse-compression radars.

These technologies brought about the need to analyze wide bandwidth signals while maintaining sufficient dynamic range. There is a fundamental trade off for the signal analyzer between the sample rate of its digitizer and the number of effective bits captured. (Effective bits are the number of significant bits representing the captured signal above the noise and distortion of the analyzer itself.) At opposite ends of the signal analysis instrument continuum, between bandwidth and dynamic range, sits oscilloscopes with their wide bandwidth capability and spectrum analyzers with their high dynamic range.

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