Applied Design of RF/Wireless Products and Systems

Course 161

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This 3-day intermediate-level course focuses on the practical design and development of modern RF and wireless communications circuits and systems using common digital modulation standards. In today’s highly competitive global wireless industry, the design-to-production cycle is of crucial importance. However, developing modern wireless products, such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and 3G/4G devices, presents many challenges. Advanced skills and knowledge are required, not only to architect these systems and devise suitable circuit topologies, but also to solve the challenging integration and manufacturability issues associated with high-volume products. This course teaches the practical aspects of developing robust RF and wireless designs suitable for high-volume production.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • Describe common digital modulation standards and modulation formats
  • Explain the key component-level specifications of each transceiver circuit block
  • Explain the component and system-level measurements required to characterise digital modulation systems
  • List the key features, strengths and weaknesses of common transceiver architectures
  • Specify the key measurements for digital receivers and transmitters
  • Identify the effects of PCB layout on system performance, and use best practices to minimise layout-related problems
  • Mitigate against yield, tolerancing, self-EMC, conducted and radiated integration problems.
  • Identify verification methods to validate a digital modulation system

Target Audience

The course is aimed at engineers, technicians and engineering managers working in the wireless communications industry. The audience typically includes RF engineers and technicians working in research and development, manufacturing test and production environments and systems engineers responsible for the architecture of RF communications systems. The course will also be of interest to managers who oversee these groups..


Day One

Digital Modulation Fundamentals
 • System link block diagram - modulation, transmission, channel, reception, demodulation • Why Digital? - Resistance to fading, voice vs. packet data, capacity • IQ modulation representation - constellation, eye diagram display formats • BPSK, QPSK, MSK, properties of gaussian and RRC filtering, concept of ISI • Channel characteristics, diversity, fading types, mitigation techniques, Spread spectrum, OFDM, equalisation and training • TDMA, FDMA, CDMA definitions • TDD, FDD
Common Modulation Standards and Implications for RF Implementation
 • Constant envelope modulation examples - Bluetooth, GSM • Non-constant Envelope Modulation examples - EDGE, W-CDMA, LTE, CDMA2000, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, Bluetooth EDR
Transceiver System Considerations
 • Common RF System Components - Amplifiers, mixers, filters, etc. • Imperfections: Distortion and noise, spurious responses • Transceiver architectures and trade-offs - Frequency planning, analysis of cascaded blocks, TDD and FDD considerations • Transceiver architectural examples • GSM example, Bluetooth example, 3GPP example. Superhet, Zero IF, low IF, Analogue quadrature modulator, Digital IF, Up-mixing. Upconversion loop

Day Two

RF Component-level Measurements
 • Linear measurements - Power, S-Parameters (including Balanced devices), Group delay, Noise figure, Phase noise • Nonlinear measurements - Intermodulation, Load-pull, EVM, ACP, AM-AM and AM-PM calculated from IQ measurements • Two-tone Intermodulation • ACP - GSM and W-CDMA measurement examples • Modulation Accuracy - EVM - Rms, peak, 95th percentile • Measurement uncertainty properties of small EVMs • Load-pull • Source and Load plane contours of gain, efficiency, ACP, EVM
Receiver Measurements
 • Analysis of Cascaded Blocks  • BER - Bit errors, block errors, frame erasure, sync errors, Typical measurement system, including loopback mode • Sensitivity Definitions, e.g. 1E-3 BER point • Receiver Blocking Mechanisms • Selectivity Measurements • Spurious Response Measurements • Measurement techniques - - analogue IF / IQ / RSSI level sweep with interferer
Transmitter Measurements
 • Spurious Emissions - Tx noise in rx band, Harmonics and mixing products • Transient Behaviour - Power - time response, Frequency spectrum due to power burst, Frequency kick due to power ramping • ACP - Due to modulation, due to power switching transients • Modulation Accuracy - EVM • Code Domain Power and PCDE

Day Three

Fabrication Technologies
 • PCB types • Etching tolerances, board layer construction, vias/drill sizes, thermal reliefs, implications on RF performance • TDR characterisation
RF System Integration
 • choosing PCB layer structure • grounding strategies • coupling between components • floorplanning - which side of the board to place components to maximise isolation • shielding / screening, gaskets, effectiveness • mismatches when cascading filters and amplifiers, pulling and buffering • Tolerancing / Yield • Thermal and electrical derating for reliability
Integration of RF and Baseband
 • processor clocks getting into receivers • system planning to avoid harmonics at specific frequencies • reference spurs on VCOs • "hot" supply lines and control lines, and their effect on the system
The Design Verification Process
 • What to test and what to look for at each prototype iteration • Integration Do's and Don'ts • Minimising the number of Prototype Iterations required • Automated Design Verification Testing
Case Studies - Products and circuit examples including:
 • GSM • W-CDMA • DECT • FSK • PWT • 802.11 series WiFi • Zigbee • GPS