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Guide to Selecting a Coaxial Switch


AcoaxialswitchisanelectromechanicalrelayapassivecomponentusedtodirectRFsignalsfromonepathto anotherpath.Thistypeofswitchiswidelyusedinsignalroutingapplicationswherehighfrequency,highpower, andgreatRFperformancesarerequired.ItiscommonlyusedinRFapplicationstestingDUT,switchingbetween antennas, SATCOM, Telecom, base stations, avionics, or in any other applications where RF signals need to be routedfromonepointtoanother. of them; impedance, frequency and connector IdentifySwitchConfiguration:PolesandThrows relation, power handling, coil voltage, actuator Whenwetalkaboutcoaxialswitches,wetalkabout types, terminations, indicators, circuit control, and poles and throws where number of poles (P) otherspecialoptions. refers to number of input ports and number of throws(T)indicatestheoutputports.Forinstance, oneinputandtwooutputportsaredeclaredasSPDT switch:meaningsinglepoledoublethrow.Youmay refertoitas1P2Taswell.Soifyouhaveoneinput and 14 outputs, a SP14T switch will reflect this configuration. Hence, the first step to select a coaxial switch is to understand the number of paths that need to be routed and select a coaxial switch that meets this requirement.Asaresult,itwillquicklynarrowdown yourchoicestofewswitchseries. DowKeycoaxialswitchesarebidirectionalsuchthat the same switch can be used for both e.g. 1x2 and 2x1 applications. Also, DowKey offers SDPT up to SP14T switches. For larger configurations, multiple switcheswillneedtobecascaded. IdentifySwitchParametersandCharacteristics Lets say your application is to switch between two antenna signals. Right off you know that a SPDT switch is needed. Although it narrows down your selectiontoaSPDTswitch,youarefacedwithmany typical parameters to choose from as specified by theswitchindustry.Wewilltakeacloserlookatall Impedance The standard impedance in a coaxial line for RF power transmission in the U.S. is either 50ohm or 75ohmimpedance(thereasonbehindthesevalues ought to be discussed outside the scope of this tutorial series). These industry standards are widely usedincoaxialcablesandaswellinRFapplications. Duetotransmissiontheory,itisdesiredtominimize reflectionsandmaximizepowertransferoverawide bandwidth and therefore, impedance matching is critical.Topreventreflectionofthesignalbackinto thesource,theloadmustbematchedexactlytothe source impedance. As a result, it is important to understand whether your transmission line is a 50 ohm (most common) or a 75ohm (common in broadcasting and video signals) and select a coaxial switch that is designed accordingly. Majority of the coaxial switches in the microwave industry is designedfor50ohmapplicationsandsoisDowKey switches. DowKey switches are by default 50ohm switches unlessstatedotherwise.

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1 Rev. 0611

FrequencyandConnectorTypes Nextstepinselectingtheappropriatecoaxialswitch for your application is to specify the frequency of yourapplication.Coaxialswitchescanhandlesignals as high as 40 GHz, where different switch series support different range of frequencies. Before digging deeper into the DowKey switches, it is critical to understand that the frequency range is limited by the type of connector one selects. The reverse can be said as well, that the required frequency limits the type of RF connector one can select. For40GHzapplications,2.9mmconnectorsmustbe usedasitisdesignedspecificallyforhighfrequency applications. SMA connectors are most commonly used as it can handle up to 27 GHz. Next popular connectorsareNandTNCtypeandtheyoperateup to 12.4 GHz. Lastly, DowKey also offers BNC connectors that go to 4 GHz. With better understandingofthelimitationeachconnectortype puts on the operating frequency, DowKey coaxial switch series are offered with the following connectoroptions: DC4GHz (withBNCconnector) DC12.4GHz (withNorTNCconnector) DC18GHz (withSMAconnector) DC26.5GHz (withSMAconnector) (with2.9mmconnector) DC40GHz RFPowerHandling Powerhandingcapabilityisoftenakeyspecification inanapplicationandinselectingcomponents.How much power a switch can handle depends on the mechanical design, materials, and connector type usedinaswitch.Externalfactorssuchasfrequency ofoperation,ambienttemperatureandaltitudeover sea level, further limits the power capacity in a switch. Dow-Key Microwave | www.dowkey.com | 800.266.3695 Your Switch Solution Since 1945 2 Rev. 0611 The average power a.k.a. CW (Continues Wave) is summarizedinthePowerChartshownbelow.Note how the power capability decreases as the frequency increases. This power chart is based on ambienttemperature(40degreeC),atsealevel,ata VSWRof1.0:1andnonswitchingcondition.Ifanyof

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thisfactorschanges,thepowerwillbederated. DowKeyfurtheroffershighpoweroptionsformost switchesandthisisindicatedbytheAoption.Note thatNandTNCconnectorscanhandlehigherpower compared to the SMA connector at the same frequency. The SCconnector can handle the most powercomparedtoallotherconnectors. It is recommended to contact DowKeys technical teamforpeakpowerandderatedpowerconditions. CoilVoltage Nowthatwehavefiguredoutthemostcriticalspecs of a coaxial switch, we are faced with a range of selections that solely depends on the users preference.

Ascoaxialswitchesconsistofsolenoidcoilsandare inpresentofmagnets,DCvoltageisneededtoforce the relay to switch to a RF position using magnetic field theory. Therefore, one needs to select a coil voltage.MostcommonDowKeycoilvoltageoptions are: CoilVoltage 12Vdc 15Vdc 24Vdc VoltageRange 1114Vdc 1317Vdc 2028Vdc its position. Hence, at power loss a pulse latched actuatorremainsinitslastposition. This option isavailable withSPDT,2/3 and Transfer DPDTswitches. Latching Self CutOff: Like the pulse latching actuatortheswitchstaysinitspositionuntilapulsed DCvoltagecommandstheswitchtochangeRFpath, and at power loss a latching self cutoff actuator remainsinitslastposition.However,thedifference lies in that a self cutoff latching switch only draws current when changing its position and stops drawing current to keep its position. For power sensitive applications, this is the best actuator option. Thisoptionisavailablewithmostcoaxialswitches. Normally Open: In a normally open switch, all RF pathswillremainopenbydefault.Theswitchneeds tobecommendedthroughaDCvoltagetocloseaRF path and it draws continuous current to remains in its position. Hence, at power loss a normally open actuatorwillopenallitsRFpaths. This option is available with multiposition SPnT switches. Suppression Diodes: Failsafe, Pulse Latching, and Normally Open actuators are also offered with suppression diodes. What it does is to limit voltage spikesorreversecurrentfromenteringtheelectrical circuitry of the switch and therefore prevents the switch from being damaged if such incidents would occur. Suppression Diodes are by default included in all LatchingSelfCutOffactuators.Thisfeaturecanbe addedtononTTLswitches.

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28Vdc 2432Vdc For other coil voltage requirements contact Dow Keystechnicalteam. ActuatorType An actuator is refereeing to the electromechanical mechanism that transfers the RFcontactsfrom one position to another in a switch. Most DowKey actuators use magnetic solenoids acting on a mechanical linkage to the RF contacts. When selectingaswitch,youarefacedwithfourdifferent actuatortypes,dependingontheswitchseries. FailsafeType:Afailsafeswitchbydefaultconnects the input to a known output without any power applied to the switch. It requires continuously appliedDCvoltagetomaintainRFconnectiontoany other position. Hence, at power loss a failsafe switchwillactuatetoitsdefaultposition. This option isavailable withSPDT,2/3 and Transfer DPDTswitches. Pulse Latching: A latching switch maintains its positionanddrawscontinuescurrenttodoso,until apulsedDCvoltagecommandstheswitchtochange

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CircuitControl Terminations DowKey offers terminated switches as an option; eitherinternalorexternalterminations.ARFcoaxial termination provides a resistive power termination, to properly terminate the output port as shown belowforaSPDTswitch. The user has the option to control a coaxial switch withTTLlogicorCANBusinterface. TTLlogicstandsforTransistorTransistorLogicandis awellknowncontrolsignalinthedigitalworld.Dow Key offers both Low and High TTL logic levels with voltagelevelsasshownbelow. TTLHigh TTLLow Option Option PathisON (1) 2.45.5Vdc 00.8Vdc 00.8Vdc 2.45.5Vdc SuppressionDiodesarebydefaultincludedinallTTL options. Naturally, this cannot be combined with actuator types that call out suppression diodes, as thisisalreadyincludedintheTTLoption. CANBus (Controller area Network) switches are designedmainlytobeusedwithourBuildYourOwn Switch Solution Kit, but it can also be used independently for the software savvy user. CANBus technology provided an easier way to integrate switches into a system level solution compared to TTLlogic. CANBusisa4wiresserialbuswithCANLandCANH sending and receiving messages (but not simultaneously).Belowchartshowsthecontrolpins availableonaCANBusswitch. CANBus Pin1 Pin2 Pin3 Pin4 +12Vdc CANL CANH RTN PathisOFF (0)

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Terminations are available in various power ratings andDowKeyusuallyoffers2W50ohmand5W50 ohmterminations. Indicators DowKey offers mechanical indicators as an option with all coaxial switches. This form of indicator (as shown in below figure for a SPnT switch) closes internallyamechanicalpathwhencorrespondingRF positionisclosed.Consequently,whentheRFpathis off (open) the indicator opens its corresponding mechanicalpath.

Thusinordertomonitortheindicationoftheswitch position,theuserneedstocreateacircuitbetween the mechanical indicator paths such when the path iscloseditclosestheexternalcircuit,andthewhen switch position is off the external circuit will be opened.

Dow-Key Microwave | www.dowkey.com | 800.266.3695 Your Switch Solution Since 1945

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SpecialOptions DowKey coaxial switches are offered with many options to meet any type of specification and to fit mostapplication. Extended Temperature: This option extends the standard operating temperature from 25C to +65 Cto25 Cto+85 C. EpoxySeal:Itextendsthestandardnoncondensing humidlyratingfrom90%to95%. Immersion Seal: It extends the noncondensing humidlyratingfrom90%to100%(waterproof). DsubConnector:Insteadofstandardterminalpins, a dsub connector (9pin, 15pin, or 25pin) is availabledependingontheswitchseries. PowerConnector:Insteadofstandardterminalpins, acircularplugisavailable. Reverse Polarity: Instead of +Vdc and COM coil voltage terminals, the reverse polarity Vdc and +COMisavailable. 26.5 GHz: Extends the standard DC18 GHz bandwidth to DC26.5 GHz. This option is only availableforsomeseries. 40GHz:ExtendsthestandardDC18GHzbandwidth toDC40GHz.Thisoptionisonlyavailableforsome series. FlangeMount:Radialswitchesarenotofferedwith mounting holes. This feature can be available by addingaflange. Dow-Key Microwave | www.dowkey.com | 800.266.3695 Your Switch Solution Since 1945 5 Rev. 0611 MountingBracket:Ifmountingholesrequiredother than the ones available on a flange, this option is offeredasanalternative. Bypass: This options applies to transfer DPDT switches only. One can select to bypass a specific path:J1J2,J2J4,J3J4,orJ1J3. LowPIM:Extendsthestandard110dBcPIMlevelto 160dBc.Thisoptionisavailableformostswitches. Most specials options can be combined and it is recommendedtoconsultwithDowKeyfordetails.

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