Oscilloscope Measurement Methods
The oscilloscope is widely used as an amplitude-modulation monitor and measuring instrument. Since it is capable of presenting visual indications of the modulated output of AM transmitters, the oscilloscope is reliable for detecting overmodulation and determining the percentage of modulation. For example, the relative error of most measurements taken with a 5-inch crt is about 10%. Although such accuracy is adequate for many maintenance checks, the oscilloscope is usually considered more valuable as a monitor of general modulation conditions. It is also used to monitor the amplitude-modulated output of a radio transmitter when photographic records are desired.
Types of Modulation Display
Two types of modulation patterns are provided by the oscilloscope, depending upon the hookup used. These patterns are the WAVE-ENVELOPE PATTERNS, as shown in figures 5-2 and 5-3,and the TRAPEZOIDAL PATTERN, as shown in figure 5-4.
Figure 5-4. - Trapezoidal modulation patterns.
Figure 5-2 shows an oscilloscope presentation of an rf carrier that is amplitude-modulated by a complex wave, such as that of speech. Figures 5-4 and 5-5 show the effects of over 100% modulation on the carrier wave. The carrier wave envelope pattern (as shown in fig. 5-3) is obtained by applying the rf-modulated wave to the vertical input of the oscilloscope. The trapezoidal pattern is obtained in a similar manner except that the modulation signal from the transmitter is used to horizontally sweep the oscilloscope (instead of having the sweep signal generated internally by the oscilloscope). Both methods are limited by the Frequency response of the oscilloscope; therefore, these methods find greater applicability in the lf to hf ranges.
Figure 5-5. - Overmodulated rf carrier.
VHF AND UHF MEASUREMENTS
In the vhf and uhf ranges, modulation is normally measured by applying a specific-level, 1-kilohertz tone to the input of the modulator. This, in turn, produces a significant drop in the plate voltage of the final output stage of the modulator. The correct setting of output plate voltage ensures that overmodulation will not occur.
Single-sideband modulation is a form of amplitude modulation in which only one sideband is transmitted with a suppressed carrier. Since balanced modulators are used to provide carrier cancellation, the exact balancing of the carriers to provide cancellation requires a null adjustment. The null can be observed and adjusted by using either a detector and an indicator, such as a voltmeter, or an oscilloscope for observation of the output while tuning the transmitter.
Measurements peculiar to sideband technology also include special modulation-amplitude and modulation-distortion checks. If the sideband modulator is overdriven or mistuned or the associated linear amplifiers are improperly loaded or overdriven, spurious output frequencies are produced. These are harmonically related to the driving signals and can cause splatter over a large range of frequencies, thus causing interference to other transmitting stations.
To determine the proper amplitude so that the modulation will not cause distortion or splatter, you use the audio two-tone modulation test. The resulting signals are shown in views A, B, and C of figure 5-6. The two-tone test is used for initial adjustment and for precise checking because it will indicate distortion. The two-tone test corresponds to the wave envelope method of AM modulation checking. Two signals of equal amplitude but of slightly different frequencies beating together are applied to the sideband modulator input to produce a single tone of approximately 1,000 hertz. On an oscilloscope, the output appears as a series of fully modulated sine waves and is similar to a 100-percent-amplitude-modulated waveform, as shown in view A. A spectrum analyzer presentation is shown in view B.
Figure 5-6A. - Examples of ideal two-tone test waveforms.
Figure 5-6B. - Examples of ideal two-tone test waveforms.
Figure 5-6C. - Examples of ideal two-tone test waveforms.
When the trapezoidal method is used, two opposed triangles appear on the oscilloscope, as shown in figure 5-6, view C. When equally balanced modulators are used, the triangles are mirror images. Elliptical or straight-line patterns appear when the phase-distortion check is used.
It is also possible to make a rough operating adjustment by varying the audio drive from the microphone so that on peak swings a definite value of final plate current is not exceeded. This check depends upon the initial accuracy of calibration and response characteristics of the ammeter in the final stage, as well as other factors.
In frequency modulation, the carrier amplitude remains constant, and the output frequency of the transmitter is varied about the carrier (or mean) frequency at a rate corresponding to the audio frequencies. The extent to which the frequency changes in one direction from the unmodulated (carrier) frequency is called the FREQUENCY DEVIATION.
Deviation in frequency is usually expressed in kilohertz. It is equal to the difference between the carrier frequency and either the highest or lowest frequency reached by the carrier in its excursions with modulation. There is no modulation percentage in the usual sense. With suitable circuit design, the frequency deviation may be made as large as desired without encountering any adverse effects that are equivalent to the overmodulation in amplitude-modulation transmissions. However, the maximum permissible frequency deviation is determined by the width of the band assigned for station operation.
In frequency modulation, the equivalent of 100% modulation occurs when the frequency deviation is equal to a predetermined maximum value. There are several methods of measuring the modulation in frequency-modulated transmissions.
The frequency-deviation measurement of a frequency-modulated signal is normally performed with either a spectrum analyzer or with a modulation analyzer. The modulation analyzer method is more commonly used because of its accuracy. Typical accuracies for a modulation analyzer are within ±1%. Figure 5-7 shows a typical modulation analyzer.
Figure 5-7. - Typical modulation analyzer.