amplifier as the receiver front end; they simply send the echo signal directly to a crystal mixer stage. A crystal is used rather than an electron-tube diode because, at microwave frequencies, the tube would generate excessive noise. Electron tubes are also limited by the effects of transit time at microwave frequencies. The crystal most commonly used is the point-contact crystal diode; however, recent developments in the field of solid-state microwave devices may soon replace the point-contact diode with devices that produce even less noise.">
Many older radar receivers do not use a low-noise amplifier as the receiver front end; they simply send the echo signal directly to a crystal mixer stage. A crystal is used rather than an electron-tube diode because, at microwave frequencies, the tube would generate excessive noise. Electron tubes are also limited by the effects of transit time at microwave frequencies. The crystal most commonly used is the point-contact crystal diode; however, recent developments in the field of solid-state microwave devices may soon replace the point-contact diode with devices that produce even less noise. The Schottky-barrier diode is an example of a relatively recent development that produces less noise than the point-contact crystal.
The simplest type of radar mixer is the SINGLE ENDED or UNBALANCED CRYSTAL MIXER, shown in figure 2-24. The mixer illustrated uses a tuned section of coaxial transmission line one-half wavelength long. This section matches the crystal to the signal echo and the local oscillator inputs. Local oscillator injection is accomplished by means of a probe. In the coaxial assembly, the signal is injected by means of a slot. This slot would normally be inserted in the duplexer waveguide assembly and be properly oriented to provide coupling of the returned signal. In this application, the unwanted signals at the output of the mixer (carrier frequency, the local oscillator frequency, and sum of these two signals) are effectively eliminated by a resonant circuit tuned to the intermediate, or difference frequency. One advantage of the unbalanced crystal mixer is its simplicity. It has one major disadvantage; its inability to cancel local oscillator noise. Difficulty in detecting weak signals will exist if noise is allowed to pass through the mixer along with the signal.
Figure 2-24. - Single-ended crystal mixer.
One type of mixer which cancels local oscillator noise is the BALANCED, OR HYBRID, MIXER (sometimes called the MAGIC T). Figure 2-25 shows this type of mixer. In hybrid mixers, crystals are inserted directly into the waveguide. The crystals are located one-quarter wavelength from their respective short-circuited waveguide ends (a point of maximum voltage along a tuned line). The crystals are also connected to a balanced transformer, the secondary of which is tuned to the desired IF. The local oscillator signal is introduced into the waveguide local oscillator arm and distributes itself as shown in view A of figure 2-26. Observe that the local oscillator signal is in phase across the crystals. In view B the echo signal is introduced into the echo signal arm of the waveguide and is out of phase across the crystals. The resulting fields are shown in view C.
Figure 2-25. - Balanced (hybrid) crystal mixer.
Figure 2-26A. - Balanced mixer fields. WAVEGUIDE AND LOCAL OSCILLATOR ARM
Figure 2-26B. - Balanced mixer fields. WAVEGUIDE AND ECHO SIGNAL ARM
Figure 2-26C. - Balanced mixer fields. WAVEGUIDE
A difference in phase exists between echo signals applied across the two crystals. The signal applied to the crystals from the local oscillator is in phase. Therefore, at some point both signals applied to crystal #1 will be in phase, and the signals applied to crystal #2 will be out of phase. This means that an IF signal of one polarity will be produced across crystal #1 and an IF signal of the opposite polarity will be produced across crystal #2. When these two signals are applied to the balanced output transformer (figure 2-25), they will add. Outputs of the same polarity will cancel across the balanced transformer.
This action eliminates the noise of the local oscillator. Noise components introduced from the local oscillator are in phase across the crystals and are, therefore, cancelled in the balanced transformer. The rf characteristics of the crystals must be nearly equal, or the noise of the local oscillator will not completely cancel. Note that only the noise produced by the local oscillator is canceled. Noise arriving with the echo signal is not affected.
IF Amplifier Stage
The IF AMPLIFIER SECTION of a radar receiver determines the gain, signal-to-noise ratio, and effective bandwidth of the receiver. The typical IF amplifier (commonly called an IF strip) usually contains from three to ten amplifier stages. The IF amplifier has the capability to vary both the bandpass and the gain of a receiver. Normally, the bandpass is as narrow as possible without affecting the actual signal energy. When a selection of pulse widths is available, such as short and long pulses, the bandpass must be able to match the bandwidth of the two different signals. Gain must be variable to provide a constant voltage output for input signals of different amplitudes. Figure 2-27 is a block diagram of an IF amplifier that meets these requirements.
Figure 2-27. - IF amplifier block diagram.
The most critical stage of the IF section is the input (first stage). The quality of this stage determines the noise figure of the receiver and the performance of the entire receiving system with respect to detection of small objects at long ranges. Gain and bandwidth are not the only considerations in the design of the first IF stage. A consideration perhaps of more importance is noise generation. Noise generation in this stage must be low. Noise generated in the input IF stage will be amplified by succeeding stages and may exceed the echo signal in strength.
The detector in a microwave receiver serves to convert the IF pulses into video pulses. After amplification, these are applied to the indicator. The simplest form of detector, and the one most commonly used in microwave receivers, is the DIODE DETECTOR.
A diode detector circuit is shown in view A of figure 2-28. The secondary of T1 and C1 form a tuned circuit that is resonant at the intermediate frequency. Should an echo pulse of sufficient amplitude be received, the voltage (ei) developed across the tuned circuit is an IF pulse. Its shape is indicated by the dashed line in view B. Positive excursions of e i cause no current to flow through the diode. However, negative excursions result in a flow of diode current and a subsequent negative voltage (eo) to be developed across R1 and C2. Between peak negative voltage excursions of the ei wave, capacitor C2 discharges through R1. Thus, the eo waveform is a negative video pulse with sloping edges and superimposed IF ripple, as indicated by the solid line in view B. A negative polarity of the output pulse is ordinarily preferred, but a positive pulse may be obtained by reversing the connections of the diode. In view A, inductance L1, in combination with wiring capacitance and C2, forms a low-pass filter. This filter attenuates the IF components in the eo waveform but results in a minimum loss of video high-frequency components.
Figure 2-28. - Diode detector.
The video amplifier receives pulses from the detector and amplifies these pulses for application to the indicating device. A video amplifier is fundamentally an RC coupled amplifier that uses high-gain transistors or pentodes. However, a video amplifier must be capable of a relatively wide Frequency response. Stray and interelectrode capacitances reduce the high-Frequency response of an amplifier, and the reactance of the coupling capacitor diminishes the low-Frequency response. These problems are overcome by the use of FREQUENCY COMPENSATION NETWORKS in the video amplifier. The types of frequency compensation networks that may be used in a video amplifier stage are discussed in detail in NEETS, Module 8, Introduction to Amplifiers.
Q.38 What receiver circuit actually produces the IF frequency?