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Receiver Fundamentals

In basic receiver fundamentals an AM receiver process amplitude-modulated signals received by its antenna. It delivers an output that is a reproduction of the signal that originally modulated the rf carrier at the transmitter. The signal can then be applied to some reproducing device, such as a loudspeaker, or to a terminal device, such as a teletypewriter. Actual AM receivers vary widely in complexity. Some receiver fundamentals are very simple; others contain a large number of complex circuits.


Whatever its degree of sophistication, a receiver must perform certain basic functions to be useful. These basic receiver fundamentals, in order of their performance, are reception, selection, detection, and reproduction.


Reception occurs when a transmitted electromagnetic wave passes through the receiver antenna and induces a voltage in the antenna.


Selection is the ability of the receiver to select a particular frequency of a station from all other station frequencies appearing at the antenna of the receiver.


Detection is the action of separating the low (audio) frequency intelligence from the high (radio) frequency carrier. A detector circuit is used to accomplish this action.


Reproduction is the action of converting the electrical signals to sound waves, which can then be interpreted by your ear as speech, music, and the like. An example of this might be the stereo speakers in your car.


Sensitivity, noise, selectivity, and fidelity are important receiver characteristics. These characteristics will be useful to you when performing receiver tests. They can help you to determine whether a receiver is working or not or in comparing one receiver to another.


Receiver fundamentals required to reproduce weak signals is a function of the sensitivity of a receiver. The weaker a signal that can be applied to a receiver and still produce a certain value of signal output, the better the sensitivity rating. Sensitivity of a receiver is measured under standardized conditions. It is expressed in terms of the signal voltage, usually in the microvolts that must be applied to the antenna input terminals to give an established level of the output. The output may be an ac or dc voltage measured at the detector output or a power measurement (measured in decibels or watts) at the loudspeaker or headphone terminals.


All receivers generate a certain amount of noise, which you must take into account when measuring sensitivity. Receiver noise may originate from the atmosphere (lightning) or from internal components (transistors, tubes). Noise is the limiting factor of sensitivity. You will find sensitivity is the value of input carrier voltage (in microvolts) that must be applied from the signal generator to the receiver input to develop a specified output power.


Selectivity is the degree of distinction made by the receiver between the desired signal and unwanted signals. You will find the better the ability of the receiver to reject unwanted signals, the better its selectivity. The degree of selection is determined by the sharpness of resonance to which the frequency- determining circuits have been engineered and tuned. You usually measure selectivity by taking a series of sensitivity readings. As you take the readings, you step the input signal along a band of frequencies above and below the circuit resonance of the receiver; for example, 100 kilohertz below to 100 kilohertz above the tuned frequency.

As you approach the tuned frequency, the input level required to maintain a given output level will fall. As you pass the tuned frequency, the required input level will rise. Input voltage levels are then compared with frequency. They can be plotted on paper or you might view them on an oscilloscope. They would appear in the form of a response curve. The steepness of the response curve at the tuned frequency indicates the selectivity of the receiver.


The fidelity of a receiver is its ability to accurately reproduce, in its output, the signal that appears at its input. You will usually find the broader the band passed by frequency selection circuits, the greater your fidelity. You may measure fidelity by modulating an input frequency with a series of audio frequencies; you then plot the output measurements at each step against the audio input frequencies. The resulting curve will show the limits of reproduction.

You should remember that good selectivity requires that a receiver pass a narrow frequency band. Good fidelity requires that the receiver pass a broader band to amplify the outermost frequencies of the sidebands. Receivers you find in general use are a compromise between good selectivity and high fidelity.

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