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Receiver Design Tutorial

James B. Offner (Author)


Harris Corporation
Government Communications Systems Division
2400 Palm Bay Rd
Palm Bay, Florida 32905
AbstractNumerous interrelated trade-offs are undertaken for
any receiver or receive chain design, which must be jointly
optimized for the intended operational environment. Some of
the requirements resulting from this environment are: noise
figure (NF), input 3rd order intercept point (IP3), input 1dB
compression point (P1dB), dynamic range, input desensitization
level, non-damage input power, out-of-band (OOB)
interference rejection, gain and output power. This paper
focuses on these requirements and the subtleties associated
with achieving them.
Keywords-receiver; receive chain; frequency plan; spur
analysis; spur; cascade analysis; Out-of-band; interference;
noise source; AGC; ALC; Monte-Carlo; intermodulation

I.

INTRODUCTION

Receive (Rx) chain design is grouped into six key areas


listed below, which are then expanded and treated more
fully.
1. Frequency planning / spurious (spur) analysis
2. Cascade analysis of device Gains, NFs, IPs, P1dBs
and damage levels
3. Non-standard noise sources other than from cascade
(wideband amplifier, image, LO, and reciprocal
mixing)
4. Out-of-band interference rejection
5. Automatic Gain or level Control (AGC, ALC)
6. Statistical parameter variation, gain alignment and
compensation
Many of these topics are interrelated, where optimization
of one area often negatively impacts one or more of the
others. An optimized receiver design globally optimizes all
six key design areas with equally weighted margins across
all parameters.
II.

FREQUENCY PLANNING / SPUR ANALYSIS

One of the first things to do for any Rx chain design is to


develop a frequency plan and perform a spur analysis (SA)
on that plan. The frequency planning process determines the
RF, IF, and LO frequency ranges. Usually the RF is given
for a receiver, but sub-bands of RF may be more palatable to
deal with by using a switched filter bank. Without the aid of
a good frequency planning tool, this can be a time
consuming, bring me a rock exercise, where the optimum
plan may not be discovered or worse, the complexity, cost
and performance are subpar. All Rx chains are susceptible to
in-band and OOB spurious responses, which must be

managed to provide robust performance in a receiver


intended for hostile signal and interference environments.
Filter quantity and complexity, as well as gain and phase
linearity, are directly impacted by the frequency plan. The
number of filters in a RF switched filter bank for a wideband
receiver can be influenced by the IF selection, and an IF
switched filter bank (selectable IFs after the first conversion
stage) can reduce the RF filter quantity. Also, multiple
conversion stages may reduce the total filter count and are
often necessary to meet spur requirements for wide
frequency ranges and large ratios of RF to final IF.
A frequency planning tool facilitates finding an IF that is
spur free or exhibits the lowest spur levels possible, given
the input signal and interferer levels, selected mixer spur
responses, and required bandwidths (BW) or tuning range at
each mixer port. More than one IF may be usable for a given
conversion stage and the best one will optimize all of the
above parameters as a group. Once a frequency plan is
chosen, it can be further refined by modeling actual RF and
IF filter responses and performing a SA given the RF, LO
and IF frequency ranges developed using the frequency
planning tool. The SA takes into account the filters rejection
of OOB input levels, which can significantly improve the
resulting output spur levels that are caused from these OOB
input frequencies. The process of frequency planning and
evaluating the plan via SA can be iterative, where the
frequency plan may need updating based on SA results.
Down converters (DC) are either non-inverting (NIDC)
using a low-side LO (1x-1), or inverting (IDC) using a highside LO (-1x1), where 1x1 represents the MxN mixing
product of M x Fin plus N x FLO at the IF output. An IDC
often times yields better spur performance but at the price of
a higher frequency LO and greater LO phase noise. Primary
spurs to manage for either DC are those with M=-N, which
includes the image response. The image response is removed
by filtering or using an image reject mixer or both.
Spur management consists of four primary controls:
Signal power at the mixer input: determined by gain
distribution and required NF
OOB power at the mixer input: determined by
filtering and influenced by frequency plan
LO power: higher levels (within limits of chosen
mixer) raises the mixers input IP, and hence, lowers
spur levels, however, it does not increase P1dB
significantly [1].
Mixer type: class I, II and III (+7 dBm, +17 dBm and
+27 dBm nominal LO drive levels) for low, medium
and high mixer input IP
The measured power in a given spur will vary as
(P[MxN])dB = (PRF)dB x |M|,

(1)

where PRF is the change in input RF power of the signal


producing the spur [2] [3]. At higher input powers (positive

978-1-61284-080-2/11/$26.00 2011 IEEE

performed or updated with more accurately predicted spur


levels. As the design progresses, more detail is added to the
cascade analysis, such as actual part values, gain variation
(R[MxN])dB = (PRF)dB x (|M| 1).
(2) due to device tolerance and gain versus frequency and
temperature (see the final section below for an expanded
discussion on parameter variation, alignment and
Additionally, [2] states that for doubly balanced diode
compensation). Space limitations prohibit deriving and
mixers, the LO drive level can also be taken into account to
detailing the equations used to obtain overall performance
predict changes in spur levels from measured values as
values for a string of cascaded devices which make up a
(R[MxN])dB = (|M| 1) [PRF - PLO],
(3) subsystem. However, most of these equations are readily
available in the literature and on web sites [4].
where PLO is the change in LO power. Spur levels decrease
Some commercially available analysis programs
for lower input powers (negative PRF) and higher LO
estimate the overall P1dB of a subsystem by approximating
power (positive PLO).
the Pout vs Pin compression curve using individual device
Single vs. dual or triple conversion depends on the BW
PSAT and P1dB values. P1dB of a subsystem is not a fixed or
required at each mixer port: a tracking filter or switched
typical number of dBs below its IP3 as is often used in
filter bank may allow a dual conversion, where triple would
approximations for an individual device, the cascading
otherwise be necessary. The choice of an IF frequency may
mechanism and equations being different for the two
be dictated by component capability (i.e., performance and
parameters. Input IP3 degrades two to three times faster
cost). A trade-off must be made between continuous tuning
than does P1dB (in dBm) with additional devices of equal
with increased intermod (IM) levels for tracking filters vs.
contribution. The relative softness or hardness of the
fixed-tuned filter quantity in a filter bank when dealing with
compression curve depends on = PSAT P1dB of the
high power inputs.
device. s greater than 3 dB yield soft curves and are
Some final notes on frequency conversion:
indicative of low power solid state devices and high power
traveling wave tubes (TWT). High power solid state PAs
Harmonics of the LO should be filtered, otherwise a
SA for each LO harmonic as the actual LO
(SSPA), linearized TWTs, and mixers have s on the order
frequency should be performed with the desired
of 1 dB, representing a hard curve. A piece-wise linear
input and output frequency ranges (this type of SA
curve is approached as tends to 0 dB, where device gain is
should also be done when using sub-harmonic
constant below an input power of PSAT Gain (small signal)
mixers).
and output power is constant above. This is not realistic for
Assess the MxN mixer spurs resulting in a dual or
any device and care must be exercised when using a
higher conversion from LO#1 leakage through the
program which models compression using the method. If
first conversion stage and mixing with LO#2 in the
the value is set arbitrarily too low or a default value near 0
second mixer (a 1x1 CW product could exist,
dB is used, the resulting prediction for P1dB will be too high
which requires significant IF filtering if not
and possibly not discovered until test.
discovered during the frequency planning stage).
Power levels at which damage occurs throughout the Rx
For multi-stage conversions, assess spurs that are
chain
should be determined using the compression
OOB at the 1st stage IF but higher than the in-band
characteristics of each device and not their linear gains. For
requirement. These spurs may become in-band at the
specified high level, non-damage inputs an input limiter
final output IF. For example: two relatively poor
st
may be necessary to protect the front end. However, even
spurs, a -1x2 produced in the 1 conversion stage
nd
though the front end is protected, its saturated output level
and a -1x3 in the 2 stage, can combine to become
may not protect downstream components, and a lower
in-band at the final IF output.
power downstream limiter may also be required to protect
When de-hopping a spread waveform, better spur
components from high saturation levels of preceding stages.
performance is usually obtained by de-hopping with
When assessing damage levels throughout the Rx chain,
the highest frequency LO (smallest percentage BW)
keep in mind that the P SAT and P1dB values used in the
III.
CASCADE ANALYSIS.
analysis for the basic G/L distribution are worst-case (lower
bound) values and a higher bound set of values is needed for
When beginning a new receiver/Rx chain design, a
the non-damage assessment. When a device is guaranteed to
rough cascade analysis is usually done first, which is
provide minimum values, it will by definition exceed those
followed by the other key design areas, the exact order
values most of the time. As a result, when using the min
dictated by overall requirements. Once a top level gain/loss
values, maintain at least 2 or 3 dB of damage margin.
(G/L) budget has been done, with the resulting gain
Receivers typically work over a large range of input
distribution satisfying the basic in-band NF, IP,
powers
and often receive simultaneous in-band signals,
compression (P1dB), and non-damage requirements, then
some
of
which are at the very bottom of the power range
approximate levels will be known at the mixers. With these
while at the same time others exist at the upper end. This
levels in hand, a frequency plan/spur analysis can be
PRF) the spur level increases. The ratio of spur power to
input RF power varies as

scenario stresses the receivers sensitivity and power


handling capability at the same time; high power can cause
suppression of small signals, reducing S/N and removing
AM, and it also creates IMs, which may fall on a weak
desired signal. This is the near-far problem of receiving
weak distant signals in the face of strong, local in-band
interferers. The interferer may only be in-band at RF or
through the first IF, but the receiver must remain linear
wherever the interferer exists. SFDR3 (3rd order spur free
dynamic range) is a figure of merit that gives the difference
(in dB) between a threshold level PT and the CW carrier
power that causes a single 3rd order IM to equal the noise
power in a given BW. This parameter is defined by the
receiver NF, IP3 and noise power BW as

bandwidth (NBW) are important parameters to determine,


maintaining their values within acceptable limits does not
necessarily guarantee adequate system performance without
also evaluating and controlling these additional sources
discussed below.

A. Total Noise Power


Total noise power from amplifiers over their individual
NBWs, can be much greater than the single fixed NBW
used for system evaluation. Crystal filters commonly
employed at lower frequency IFs can have 3 dB BWs which
are a tiny fraction of the IF amplifier(s) NBW. For example,
consider a 10 KHz crystal filter used in a 21.4 MHz IF strip
with amplifiers having significant gain out to 300 MHz. The
noise power over 300 MHz is 45 dB greater than that over
SFDR3 = (IIP3 NF BW + 174) POffset,
(4) 10 KHz and could easily compress or saturate the output of
an IF strip with relatively high gain and low P 1dB. Even if
the
total (average) noise power is below P 1dB, the 3 noise
where IIP3 is the input IP3 in dBm, both NF and BW are in
peaks
for additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) are 9.5
dB, and POffset is the difference in dB between PT and the
dB higher given N0 = 2 [6]:
noise power in BW [5]. This equation is usually shown with
POffset = 0 dB. However, it could be set to 10 dB (e.g.) to
Pn (3) = [3(N0)]2 BW
(5)
account for a minimum signal-to-noise (S/N) necessary in
BW, raising the minimum useful signal level and reducing
= 9 N0 BW,
(6)
the dynamic range. Note that the IM power in BW will
reduce the minimum S/N to 7 dB in this example.
where N0 is noise density (W/Hz) and BW is in Hz. These
There are several dynamic range definitions, and it is not
peaks can get clipped, making it no longer AWGN. It is
always clear which one is invoked when a specification
important to realize that noise saturation can occur even
simply states that the receiver dynamic range must exceed a
though the signal is far below P1dB.
certain value. Some of these definitions are:
B. Image Noise
SFDR3 (as defined above)
SFDR2: 2nd order SFDR, the difference between a
Image noise, without proper filtering prior to each mixer,
threshold level PT and the CW carrier level that
can increase the standard cascaded NF by up to 3 dB for
causes a sum or difference frequency to equal the
each conversion stage. To sufficiently lessen the impact of
noise power in a given BW. Many times PT is set
image noise, an image reject filter must be placed close to
equal to the noise power in BW.
the mixers input. It is not sufficient to provide image
P1dB PNOISE: distance between the input P1dB point
rejection to signals only (i.e., input filter followed by gain
and the noise power in a given BW referred to the
prior to the mixer). The wideband response of the amplifiers
receivers input
will fold over their noise generated at the image frequency
PDESENSITIZATION PNOISE: difference between the
into the IF and can impact the system, even though the
input power which causes a specified amount of
image signals and noise prior to the filter have been
degradation (desensitization) and the noise power in
adequately suppressed.
a given BW referred to the receivers input

PCAR_MAX PNOISE: difference between the maximum


input carrier power for some specified degradation
and the noise power in a given BW referred to the
receivers input
PCAR_MAX PCAR_MIN: difference between the
maximum and minimum input carrier powers for
specified degradation(s)
Instantaneous SFDR3 same as SFDR3 but with all
variable gain amps and attenuators fixed to respond
to strong and weak signals with the same gains.
IV.

NOISE POWER.

Several additional noise sources should be considered


beyond those typically assessed in a generic cascade
analysis. While noise floor and noise power within the noise

C. Wideband, Unfiltered LO Noise


LO noise leaks through the mixer to the IF (LO-IF
isolation) and adds to the cascaded noise floor. The LO
chains output noise density at the input to the mixer LO
port must be assessed. High gains in the LO chain followed
only by a low pass filter (LPF) to remove harmonics
guarantee additional noise will be added to the IF, degrading
the NF predicted by the cascade analysis. A bandpass filter
(BPF) or highpass filter (HPF)
D. Reciprocal mixing
Reciprocal mixing occurs as a result of the transfer of
the LOs phase noise to each of the receive signals (in dBc)
via the convolution process of the mixer. Degradation to a

weak signal can occur when high and low power in-band
signals are present that are closely spaced in frequency. The
added phase noise from the LO on the high power signal
may cover up the nearby lower power signal, significantly
reducing its S/N. For extremely large dynamic ranges
(PCAR_MAX PCAR_MIN), the AWGN of the LO may also
reduce the S/N of weak signals, independent of frequency
separation. The equivalent C/kT of the weak receive signal
in the presence of a large tone from reciprocal mixing is [7]:
( )

{( )

*( )

+ }

(7)

.
The (C/kT)LO term is either the LO carrier to noise density,
when assessing LO AWGN impacts, or it is the single side
band phase noise at a given frequency offset in dBc. Each
term above is in dB and must be converted to watts to do the
calculation and then back to dB again (10 log X) to give the
equivalent C/kT result in dB-Hz.
V.

OUT-OF-BAND INTERFERENCE.

There are several mechanisms by which strong OOB


interferers at the input can degrade the performance of the
Rx chain and are similar in nature to how large in-band
signals degrade performance. The mitigation approach for
most of these involves filtering and higher intercept and
compression point devices. Since most microwave filters
have a re-entrant passband (PB) at 2Fo or 3Fo, an additional
low pass filter (LPF) should also be used to ensure signals
in one of these unprotected PBs dont degrade performance.
The filters ultimate rejection, which is limited by leakage
around it and isolation of its individual elements, is another
reason to use additional filters, especially with very high
power OOB interferers. The magnitude of an OOB
interferer can be 200 V/m in accordance with MIL-STD461/464, incident power levels from some radar systems can
be orders of magnitude greater, and local TV stations can
have EIRPs up to 5 MW in the UHF frequency range.
A. Spurious Responses
Spurs in-band to the IF output can also result from high
power OOB interferers (includes image spurious response).
The power at some OOB frequencies may be many 10s of
dBs above the strongest desired in-band signals at the mixer,
which can produce very high spur levels relative to the
weaker desired signals. For example, consider a -3x2 spur
where the OOB interferer power is filtered to not exceed the
mixers P1dB point of 0 dBm at its input (60 dB above a
desired -60 dBm signal). The mixer data sheet shows the
-3x2 spur level to be -50 dBc for an input of -10 dBm. For
the interferer level of 0 dBm, the spur relative to the
interferers power increases by 20 dB to -30 dBc in
accordance with (IAW) (2) (i.e., P x (|M|-1) = [0 dBm
(-10 dBm)] x (3-1)). The desired signal is 60 dB below the

OOB interferer, so the spur level with respect to the desired


carrier rises 60 dB to +30 dBc. Obviously, keeping the OOB
power just below the mixers P1dB point is not sufficient.
Additional input filtering is needed to drop the spur power
to at least 30 dB below the minimum desired signal level.
While this requires a 60 dB spur level reduction, it only
requires 20 dB of additional filter rejection. Recall the
earlier spur level discussion: absolute spur power at IF
(dBm) resulting from an OOB interferer varies IAW (1) as
P x |M|. Here we see that for a 3xN spur, an OOB power
change of only 20 dB yields the 60 dB spur reduction.
B. Compression
Compression of the front end and down-stream IF
components can occur until sufficient rejection is provided.
Compression from a large signal produces small signal
suppression of weak signals resulting in receiver
desensitization. The effective gain of a compressed stage is
reduced, degrading its ability to keep weak signals above
the noise floor of succeeding stages. For QAM signals, the
distance between the inner and outer points of the
constellation become compressed, causing degradation.
A weak signal experiences reduced gain from two
factors when passing through a stage that is driven into
compression by a large signal: device gain compression and
small signal suppression. Gain compression is determined
from the typical Pout vs. Pin curve as measured with the large
signal causing the compression. Small signal suppression is
an additional amount of up to 6 dB that only happens to
weak signals [8]. Gain seen by the weak (suppressed) signal
is given below where compression is < 4 dB:
GSUPPRESSED_SIGNAL GSS (small signal) GC
(compression) (small signal suppression).

(8)

For a device at or driven beyond saturation (i.e., > 4 dB


compression), the suppressed signal gain is:
GSUPPRESSED_SIGNAL GSS 10 dB P,

(9)

where P is the amount the interferer power is above PSAT at


the input, and the 10 dB is comprised of 4 dB (compression
at saturation) and 6 dB (max small signal suppression). The
total gain reduction, GR, of a stage is:
GR 0 to 4 dB (compression)
+ 0 to 6 dB (suppression) + P,

(10)

where P only applies for a device at or beyond saturation.


A rule of thumb to ensure the gain seen by a weak signal is
not degraded more than 1 dB is to keep large signals 2 to 3
dB below input P1dB.
C. 3rd Order Intermods
IMs (in-band) that result from OOB carriers can
dominate over those created solely from in-band carriers.

The IM level depends on the IP3 of each stage and the


carrier levels throughout the chain, which depends not only
on the in-band G/L of each stage but also filter rejection. As
a result it is a little more involved to calculate the IM ratio
(IMR), the IM level compared to the desired carrier, than for
a standard in-band cascade. The individual IM generating
carrier levels can have different values at the Rx chain input
and typically experience different rejection amounts. Twotone and three-tone IM levels generated in any stage are
calculated as described below, with carrier levels defined at
the same location as IP3 (input or output).
Two-tone IMs are those generated from two carriers with
power in Watts defined as follows [9, 10]:

PIM ( 2 F 1 F2 )

P12 P2
P1P22

and PIM ( 2 F F )
2
1
IP32
IP32

= 2Pint IP2 6 dB

(16)

A HPF or BPF is used in the IF strip to mitigate for less than


octave instantaneous IF BWs, but high IP2H (2nd harmonic
IP) is the only mitigation approach for larger BWs.
A similar effect occurs for 3rd harmonic generation
within the IF strip, where RF input frequencies that are
offset from the tuned RF frequency by 2/3 the IF become inband at the IF in two ways:
Mixer 3x-3 (or -3x3) spur from RF input and
3rd harmonic of IF/3 (i.e., IF 2/3 IF)
In this case the 3rd harmonic is 9.5 dB below 3rd order twotone IMs and experience a 3:1 reduction (dBm) with lower
(11) interferer levels [10, 11].

where P1 and P2 are the power in Watts at frequencies F1


and F2, respectively, and IP3 is the 3rd order intercept point
in watts of the device creating the IMs.
For powers in dBm, the equations become:

Pspur = Pint (IP2 Pint) 6 dB

Pspur = Pint 2(IP3 Pint) 9.5 dB


= 3Pint 2IP3 9.5 dB

(17)

PIM ( 2 F1 F2 ) 2P1 P2 2IP3

These spur generating frequencies are more easily filtered at


RF and in the IF strip than the IF offsets for 2nd harmonic
(12) generation. Higher IP3H devices also help to mitigate.

PIM ( 2 F2 F1 ) P1 2P2 2IP3

(13)

VI.

AGC/ALC.

Automatic Gain or Level Control is employed in many


receivers as a means to increase dynamic range and hold
input power to the demodulator constant. There are two
main types of AGC by location:
Post-demod: reacts to the demodulated signal level
(coherent AGC) + noise and any interference,
4 P1 P2 P3
primarily within the data filter BW. This type
PIM ( F1 F2 F3 )
W
(14)
2
responds to the desired signal and is relatively
IP3
insensitive to undesired signals and interference (due
to the narrow data filter BW). The demod must be
PIM ( F1 F2 F3 ) 6 P1 P2 P3 2IP3 dBm (15)
locked to the signal for a meaningful output to exist,
and the AGC gain is typically at maximum prior to
Management of these IMs is accomplished by filter
lock (no signal present).
rejection, device IP3 and gain, and judicious gain
Pre-demod: reacts to Signals + Noise + Interferers +
distribution throughout the Rx chain, especially through the
Distortion products (spurs/IMs) in the wider IF BW
first mixer stage. For very large input levels additional
prior to the AGCs detector. This type is used to
filters may be necessary to improve the ultimate rejection of
mitigate front end compression, desensitization, or
the front-end filter(s).
small signal suppression at the expense of NF
degradation. The benefits of its use are a trade-off
D. Harmonics
based on the EMI/RFI environment.
nd
2 harmonic generation within the IF strip is a spurious
Either type can be an analog (continuously variable
mechanism that is often overlooked. RF input frequencies
attenuation/gain) or digital (step attenuator) implementation.
that are offset from the tuned RF frequency by the IF
Any AGC can be captured by or AGC on undesired
become in-band at the IF in two ways:
power. Strong OOB signals can easily exceed the weakest
Mixer 2x-2 (or -2x2) spur from RF input and
desired signal power at the AGC detector due to insufficient
2nd harmonic of IF/2
ultimate rejection of filters. An additional narrowband filter
Both produce CW tone spurs for BPSK modulation (i.e.,
may be necessary to prevent capture by undesired signals.
0/180 becomes 0/360).
Total noise power can also capture a pre-demod AGC.
The 2nd harmonic is 6 dB below 2nd order IMs (i.e.,
The IF BW can be many times larger than the occupied BW
F1+F2, F2-F1) and experiences a 2:1 reduction (dBm) with
of the desired signal, which affects the accuracy of the
lower interferer levels [11].
The 2-tone IMs are 6 dB lower in power than an IM
resulting from three carriers (3-tone IM), when the same
individual carrier power is used in both cases. The power in
a 3-tone IM is defined below [9, 10]:

AGC. As the desired signal level approaches the total power


in the noise at the AGC detector, the gain control of the
AGC stops responding to the signal and maintains the S+N
constant, which is dominated by the total noise power. As a
result the signal continues to drop and eventually falls below
the operational range of the demod, even though adequate
S/N in the NBW may be present. This effect limits the
useful range of pre-demod AGCs from the maximum signal
level down to a level above the total noise power, which
typically is adequate to prevent compression.
Another example of AGC noise capture comes from the
earlier noise power discussion. Here a high gain IF strip has
multiple gain stages with a narrowband XTAL filter after
the first stage to limit IM generation. An AGC detector at
the end of this IF strip can easily be captured by noise with
filter-to-amp NBW ratios of 40 dB to 50 dB.
One final note concerns AGC control (or variable gain)
elements. Some voltage variable attenuators have the
undesirable characteristic that their input IP3 and P1dB do
not remain constant as their attenuation is varied. Worse,
some can exhibit both increasing and decreasing values (i.e.,
their behavior is not monotonic). This makes it difficult to
predict overall receiver performance with one gain setting.
Input power levels must be swept (especially for devices
which are not monotonic) to exercise the AGC control
element while checking for compression and IMs. PIN
diode attenuators typically do not share this behavior.
VII.

DEVICE PARAMETER VARIATIONS, ALIGNMENT, AND


GAIN COMPENSATION.

Parameters should be evaluated over statistical


tolerances, and frequency and environmental variations via
Monte-Carlo (MC) simulations with gain alignment and
compensation applied for each trial of random gain settings.
Gain tolerance build up should be removed, and gain
compensation applied, often throughout the Rx chain for
best performance.
MC analysis is necessary to even find the worst-case (or
3) performance condition for anything other than a simple
Rx chain which does not use gain alignment, compensation,
or AGC. When an analysis is done using nominal values,
actual performance can be several dB (e.g., 5 dB) worse
than predicted, yielding production problems. On the other
hand, designing with absolute worst-case values
(simultaneously) will produce units that exceed
requirements by as much as 8 dB (depending on the
parameter and gain distribution), which leads to an overdesigned unit and higher production costs. MC analysis can
make the difference between being able to produce a unit at
a reasonable cost versus a no bid for a very difficult set of
requirements.
Once a MC analysis has been completed, the Rx chain
should be evaluated at the condition which yielded the 3
performance for any parameter(s) that are non-compliant.
Often the offending part revealed is not the same as that
shown under nominal or even absolute simultaneous worst-

case condition (i.e., all high or low gains). Then optimize


the gain distribution and/or other parameters, as appropriate
(e.g., increase IP of the actual dominate component), and rerun the analysis.
VIII.

CONCLUSION.

Six key Rx chain design areas (spurious, cascaded


elements, non-standard noise, OOB interference, AGC, and
MC analysis) have been presented with several subtleties of
each discussed. The approach has been somewhat a design
check-list of topics to address for receiver design. The
importance of MC analysis to achieve a realizable design
that is cost effective cannot be understated.
Author. James B. Offner is an RF
Systems Engineer with Harris
Corporation in Melbourne, FL with
over 30 years of experience, working
on large multidiscipline programs
from
mission
requirements
determination and system analysis
through HW/SW implementation. He has contributed to the
development of mobile tactical and large fixed strategic
satcom terminals, and recently was the RF System Architect
/Analyst for the Armys strategic MET terminal
development. He has performed analysis for development of
Navy shipboard terminals, operating with heavy EMI/cosite
interference and has developed analysis programs in use at
Harris for RF subsystem design. He was the Chief Systems
Engineer for the development of a vehicular, on-the-move
communication system, via aircraft relay, using multiple
phased array antennas. Jim earned his B.S.E.E. from
Michigan State University in 1977.
REFERENCES
[1] Daniel Cheadle, Selecting Mixers for Best Interemod
Performnace, 1993 Watkins-Johnson Co. Catalog Article
[2] William F. Egan, Practical RF System Design, WileyInterscience, 2003, pp. 171-180.
[3] Stephen A. Mass, Microwave Mixers, Artec House, 1996,
pp. 151-154.
[4] William F. Egan, Practical RF System Design, WileyInterscience, 2003, pp. 49-53 and 91-122.
[5] William F. Egan, Practical RF System Design, WileyInterscience, 2003, pp. 137-139.
[6] John G. Proakis, Digital Communications, McGraw-Hill,
1983, pp. 93.
[7] Jim Offner, Internal Harris document, 2011.
[8] Robert M. Gagliardi, Satellite Communications, Van
Nostrand Reinhold, 1984, pp. 201-203.
[9] Stephen A. Mass, Microwave Mixers, Artec House, 1996,
pp. 154-158.
[10] Hinrich Heynisch, Useful Design Criteria Predict TWT
Intermod, MICROWAVES, March 1980
[11] Keneth A. Simons, The Decibel Relationships Between
Amplifier Distortion Products, Proceedings of the IEEE,
VOL. 58, NO. 7, July 1970