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Chapter 10

IF Amplifier Circuits

Most of the gain and selectivity of a super- vious one in that the secondary winding is
heterodyne radio receiver are in the interme- capacitor coupled to its load, and that capac-
diate frequency amplifier. The IF amplifier, itor may or may not be resonating. Still a
therefore, is a high-gain, narrow bandwidth third version is had by making the secondary
amplifier. Typically, IF power gains run in winding an untuned low impedance loop.
the 60–120 dB range, depending on the re- A somewhat different approach is
ceiver design. The IF amplifier usually has a shown in Figure 10.1C. This transformer is a
far narrower bandwidth than the RF ampli- series resonant tapped circuit on the input
fier. The filters used are described in detail in end and parallel tuned and tapped on the
Chapter 9 and to some extent here. output end. Two shield cans are needed to
implement this approach.
Finally, we have the representation
FILTERS shown in Figure 10.1D. This symbol repre-
sents any of several mechanical or crystal
The purpose of the IF amplifier is to provide filters. Such filters usually give a much nar-
gain and selectivity to the receiver. The selec- rower bandwidth than the L-C filters dis-
tivity portion of the equation is provided by cussed previously.
any of several different types of filter circuit,
some of which are shown in Figure 10.1. The
classic circuit is shown in Figure 10.1A. This AMPLIFIER CIRCUITS
transformer is shown with taps but also may
exist without the taps. The taps provide a A simple IF amplifier is shown in Figure 10.2.
low-impedance connection, while retaining A simple AM band radio may have one such
the overall advantages of high-impedance stage, while FM receivers, shortwave re-
tuned circuits. Note that the capacitors usu- ceivers, and other types of communications
ally are inside the transformer-shielded can. receiver may have two to four stages like
A slightly different version is shown in Figure Figure 10.2. This IF amplifier is based on the
10.1B. This transformer differs from the pre- type of L-C filter circuits discussed in Figure

163
164 THE TECHNICIAN’S RADIO RECEIVER HANDBOOK

FL1

B D

FL1
Fig. 10.1 L-C filters: (A) classic circuit; (B) circuit with the secondary winding capacitor coupled to its
load; (C) circuit that is series tapped on the input end and parallel tuned and tapped on the output end;
(D) universal filter symbol.

T2

TO
T1 DEMODULATOR

FROM
MIXER Q1

R3 C2 C3
R2 R4

C1

R1
+12
VDC

C4

Fig. 10.2 Traditional IF amplifier.

10.1A. Transformer T1 has a low-impedance The bias for the transistor is provided
tap on its secondary winding, connected to by resistors R1 and R2, with capacitor C1
the base of a transistor (Q1). Similarly with used to place the cold end of the T1 sec-
T2, but in this case, the primary winding is ondary winding at ground potential for AC
tapped for the collector of the transistor. signals. Resistor R3 provides a bit of stability
IF Amplifier Circuits 165

to the circuit. Capacitor C2 keeps the emitter some sort of AGC circuit. Furthermore, the
of the transistor at ground potential for AC circuit has an additional resistor (R3) to the
signals, while keeping it at a potential of IER3 DC control voltage of the AGC circuit.
for DC. The reactance of capacitor C2 should
be <R3/10. Resistor R4 forms part of the col-
lector load for transistor Q1. Capacitors C3 CASCODE-PAIR AMPLIFIER
and C4 bypass and decouple the circuit.
Figure 10.3 shows a gain-controlled A cascode-pair amplifier is shown in Figure
version of Figure 10.2. This particular cir- 10.4. This amplifier uses two transistors (both
cuit is designed for low-frequency use JFETs) in an arrangement that puts Q1 in the
(240–500 kHz), although with certain com- common source configuration and Q2 in the
ponent value changes it could be used for common gate configuration. The two transis-
higher frequencies as well. Another differ- tors are direct coupled. Input and output tun-
ence between this circuit and that of Figure ing is accomplished by a pair of L-C filters
10.2 is this circuit’s double-tapped trans- (L2C1 and L3C2). To keep this circuit from
formers for T1 and T2. oscillating at the IF frequency, a neutraliza-
The major change is the provision for tion capacitor (C3) is provided. This capaci-
automatic gain control (see Chapter 12). A tor is connected from the output L-C filter on
capacitor is used to sample the signal for Q2 to the input of Q1.

AGC
SAMPLE

C3 T2
180 pF

T1

Q1

C4
C1 C2 0.1 µF
0.047 µF 0.047 µF

R4
470

R5
68

R2 R1
15K 47K
V+

R3
83K

Fig. 10.3
Traditional IF amplifier AGC
CIRCUIT
with an AGC circuit.
166 THE TECHNICIAN’S RADIO RECEIVER HANDBOOK

Q2

Q1 L3 J2
C2 OUTPUT
L4

J1
INPUT R2 C7
L1 L2 C1 C4
100K 0.001 µF
0.001
R1 µF
100
R3
270

C6
C3 0.001 µF
NEUTRALIZATION

+12
VDC

Fig. 10.4 Cascode F/IF amplifier.

“UNIVERSAL” IF AMPLIFIER In the past, I had difficulty applying the


MC-1350P devices when two were used in cas-
The IF amplifier in Figure 10.5 is based on cade. The problem is that these are high-gain
the popular MC-1350P integrated circuit. This chips and any coupling causes oscillation. I
chip is readily available through any of the built several good MC-1350P oscillators—un-
major mail order parts houses and many fortunately, I was trying to build IF amplifiers.
small ones. Basically, it is a variation on the The problem was solved by two tactics that I
LM-1490 and LM-1590 circuit but a little eas- had ignored in the past. This time I reversed
ier to apply. the connections to the input terminals on the
If you have difficulty locating MC-1350P two devices. Note that pin 4 is bypassed to
devices, the exact same chip is available in ground on U1, while on U2 it is pin 6. The
the service replacement lines such as ECG other tactic is to use different value resistors at
and NTE. These parts lines, sold at local elec- pin 5.
tronics parts distributors, are intended for ser- Pin 5 is the gain control pin on the MC-
vice repair shops. I used actual MC-1350P 1350P device. It provides either automatic or
chips in one version and NTE-746 (same as manual gain control (MGC). The voltage ap-
ECG-746) chips in the other, with no differ- plied to this pin should be between +3 and
ence in performance. The NTE and ECG +9 V, with the highest gain being at +3 V and
chips actually are purchased from the sources nearly no gain at +9 V.
of the original devices and renumbered. The outputs of the MC-1350P are con-
The circuit is shown in Figure 10.5. Two nected to the primary windings of T3 and T4.
MC-1350P devices in cascade are used. Each Each output circuit has a resistor (R2 and R5)
device has a differential input (pins 4 and 6). across the transformer winding. The trans-
These pins are connected to the link wind- formers used are standard “transistor radio”
ings on IF transformers (e.g., T2 at device U1 IF transformers provided that the impedance
and T3 at U2). In both cases, one input pin is matching requirements are met.
grounded for AC (i.e., RF and IF) signals The DC power is applied to the MC-
through a bypass capacitor (C2 and C4). 1350P devices though pins 1 and 2, which
IF Amplifier Circuits 167

10 VDC LINE
U3
+12 VDC
78L10

C6 + C7 C8 +
47 µF 0.1 µF 10 µF
R6
100
R3
100 C5
0.1 µF
C3
0.1 µF T4
C1 OUT
6 pF
T3
2 1 R5
T1 T2 4 2.2K
2 1 U2
INPUT R2 6
6 1K MC-1350P 8
4 U1
MC-1350P 8 C4 5 3 7
0.1 µF
5 3 7
C2
0.1 µF

R4
22K
R1
10K

GAIN CONTROL
VOLTAGE INPUT

Fig. 10.5 Universal IF amplifier.

are connected together. Bypass capacitors C3 The DC power line is decoupled by two
and C5 decouple the DC power lines and capacitors. The C7, a 0.1 µF capacitor, decou-
thereby prevent oscillation. All the bypass ca- ples high frequencies that either get in
pacitors (C2, C3, C4, and C5) should be through the regulator or try to couple from
mounted as close to the bodies of U1 and U2 chip to chip via the DC power line (which is
as possible. They can be disk ceramic de- why they are called decoupling capacitors).
vices or some of the newer dielectric capaci- The other capacitor (C8) is a 10–100 µF de-
tors, provided, of course, that they are rated vice used to smooth out any variations in the
for operation at the frequency you select. DC power or decouple low frequencies that
Most capacitors will work to 10.7 MHz, but if the 0.1 µF does not take out effectively.
you go to 50 MHz or so, some capacitor The RF/IF input circuit deserves some
types might show too much reactance (disk comment. I elected to use a double-tuned
ceramic types work fine at those frequencies, arrangement. This type of circuit is coupled
however). via a mutual reactance. Various versions of
The DC power supply should be regu- this type of circuit are known, but I elected
lated at some voltage between +9 and +15 to use the version that uses a capacitive reac-
VDC. More gain can be obtained at +15 VDC, tance (C1) at the “hot” end of the L-C tank
but I used +10 VDC with good results. Each circuits. Coupling in and out of the network
power line has a 100 Ω resistor (R3 and R6), is provided by the transformer coupling
which helps provide some isolation between links.
the two devices. Feedback via the power line The power and gain control connec-
is one source of oscillation in high-frequency tions are brought through the aluminum box
circuits. wall via 1000 pF feedthrough capacitors, two
168 THE TECHNICIAN’S RADIO RECEIVER HANDBOOK

kinds of which are available, one solder-in where


and the other screw-thread mounted. For
C is the capacitance in picofarads (pF);
aluminum boxes, the screw thread is needed
f is the desired frequency in kilohertz
because it is difficult to solder to aluminum.
(kHz);
Both types are available at either 1000 or
LµH is the inductance in microhenrys
2000 pF values, either of which can be used
(µH).
in this application. If you elect to use some
other form of connector, then add disk ce- Equation 10.1 is based on the standard
ramic capacitors (0.001 µF) to the connector, L-C resonance equation, solved for C, and
right across the pins, as close as possible to with all constants and conversion factors
the connector. rolled into the numerator. If you know the
There are several ways to make this cir- capacitance that must be used and need to
cuit work at other frequencies. If you want to calculate the inductance, then swap the L
use a standard IF frequency up to 45 MHz or and C terms in equation 10.1.
so, then select one with the configuration If the original capacitor was marked as
shown in Figure 10.5 (these are standard). to value or color coded, then you can calcu-
If you want to make the circuit operate late the approximate capacitance needed by
in the HF band on a frequency other than taking the ratio of the old frequency to the
10.7 MHz, then use the 10.7 MHz trans- new frequency and squaring it. The square
former. If the desired frequency is less than of the frequency ratio is the capacitance ra-
10.7 MHz, add a small-value fixed or trimmer tio, so multiply the old capacitance by the
capacitor in parallel with the tuned winding. square of the frequency ratio to find the new
This will add to the built-in capacitance, re- value. For example, suppose a 110 pF capac-
ducing the resonant frequency. I do not itor is used for 10.7 MHz and you want to
know how low you can go, but I have had make a 20.5 MHz coil. The ratio is (10.7
good results at the 40 m amateur band (7–7.3 MHz/20.5 MHz)2 = 0.272. The new capaci-
MHz) using additional capacitance across a tance will be about 0.272 × 110 pF = 30 pF.
10.7 MHz IF transformer. For other frequencies, you might consider
Frequencies higher than 10.7 MHz call using homebrew toroid inductors.
for more drastic action. Take one of the A variation on the theme is to make the
transformers and turn it over so that you circuit wideband. This can be done for a
can see the pins. In the middle of the bot- wide portion of the HF spectrum by remov-
tom header, between the two rows of pins, ing the capacitors from the transformers and
will be an indentation containing the tuning not replacing them with some other capaci-
capacitor. It is a small tubular ceramic ca- tor. In that case, IF filtering is done at the in-
pacitor (you may need a magnifying glass put (between the IF amplifier and the mixer
to see it well if your eyes are like mine). If circuit).
it is color coded, then you can obtain the
value using your knowledge of the stan-
dard color codes. Take a small screwdriver
and crush the capacitor. Clean out all the COUPLING TO OTHER FILTERS
debris to prevent shorts at a later time. You
now have an untuned transformer with an Crystal and mechanical filters require certain
inductance right around 2 µH. Using this in- coupling methods. Figure 10.6 shows a
formation, you can calculate the required method for coupling to a crystal filter con-
capacitance: nected between two bipolar transistors.
Each stage of the amplifier is a common
2.53 × 1010 emitter bipolar transistor amplifier, biased
C = picofarads (10.1) by R1/R2 and R5/R6. The connection to the
f 2 LµH
filter circuit is direct because the filter is not
IF Amplifier Circuits 169

V+

R5 R7
C4
R1 R3 TO
DEMODULATOR
FL1 Q2
C1
FROM Q1
MIXER R6 R8 C3
Fig. 10.6
Coupling to a crystal C2
R2 R4
filter between two
bipolar transistors.

V+

R3 R2
100K 220K

RFC2
C4
AGC 0.01 µF
IF
FILTER OUTPUT
C1 L1
D
(SEE TEXT) (SEE TEXT) G2

FROM G1 Q1
MIXER S

C2 R1
RFC1 15 pF C3
Fig. 10.7 150
0.01 µF
Mixer postamplifier
circuit.

sensitive to DC (such cannot be said of me- IC IF AMPLIFIERS


chanical filters).
Figure 10.7 shows a different approach The universal IF amplifier presented earlier is
that accommodates mechanical filters as well an example of an integrated circuit IF ampli-
as crystal filters. The particular circuit shown fier. In this section, we look at several addi-
is for very high-frequency IF amplifiers (e.g., tional IC IF amplifier circuits.
50 MHz); but with changes to the values of
the components, this IF amplifier could be
MC-1590 Circuit
used from VLF through VHF regions. The
resonant frequency of this circuit is set by L1 Figure 10.8 shows an amplifier based on the
and C1 and the filter circuit. The amplifier is 1490 or 1590 chip. This particular circuit
a MOSFET device connected in the common works well in the VHF region (30–80 MHz).
source configuration. Gate G1 is used for the Input signal is coupled to the IC through ca-
signal, and G2 is used for DC bias and gain pacitor C1. Tuning is accomplished by C2
control. and L1, which form a parallel resonant tank
The filter is connected to the filter circuit. Capacitor C3 sets the unused differen-
through a capacitor to block the DC at the tial input of the 1590 chip to ground poten-
drain of the MOSFET device (similar capaci- tial, while retaining its DC level.
tors would be used in bipolar circuits as Output tuning in Figure 10.8 reflects
well). The output of the filter may or may not the differential output as well as differential
be capacitor coupled, depending on the de- input of the 1590 chip. The L-C tuned circuit,
sign of the circuits to follow this one. consisting of the primary winding of T1 and
170 THE TECHNICIAN’S RADIO RECEIVER HANDBOOK

V+

L2
C5
0.01 µF 10 µH

C1
22 pF 7
1 6
INPUT T1
L1 U1 R2 C6
200 µH MC-1590 1K 10 pF OUTPUT
3 5

2 4 8
C3
C2
0.02 µF
10 pF

C4
0.01 µF

R1
5.6K

AGC

Fig. 10.8 MC1350P IF/RF amplifier.

capacitor C6, is parallel resonant and con- the input circuitry with a tuned circuit (T1)
nected between pins 5 and 6. A resistor and places a transformer (T2) in the output
across the tank circuit reduces its loaded Q, circuit. Also different is that the V+ circuit uses
which broadens the response of the circuit. a zener diode to regulate the DC voltage.
V+ power is applied to the chip both
through the V+ terminal and pin 6 through
the coil L2. Pin 2 is used as an AGC terminal. IF PROCESSING ICs

Several forms of IC are used for IF process-


SL560C Circuits
ing. The CA3189E is one used in broadcast
The SL560C is basically a gain block that can be and communications receivers. The input cir-
used at RF and IF frequencies. Figure 10.9 cuitry consists of a filter, although L-C tuned
shows a circuit based on the SL560C. The input circuits could be used as well. In this version,
of the SL560C is differential, but this is a single- the filter circuit is coupled via a pair of ca-
ended circuit. That requires the unused input pacitors (C1 and C2) to the CA3189E. The in-
to be bypassed to ground through capacitor put impedance is set by resistor R1 and
C3. Because this is a wideband circuit, no tun- should reflect the needs of the filter rather
ing is associated with the input or output cir- than the IC (filters do not produce the same
cuitry. The input circuitry consists of a 0.02 µF response when mismatched).
coupling capacitor and an RF choke (RFC1). The CA3189E is an IF gain block and
A tuned-circuit version of the circuit is demodulator circuit, all in one IC. Coil L1
shown in Figure 10.10. This circuit replaces and C6 is used for the quadrature detector,
IF Amplifier Circuits 171

C1 R2
0.1 µF 390
V+

C2
0.01 µF 4
FROM 6 C1 R3
MIXER 0.01 µF 33
U1 3
SL560C OUTPUT
7
RFC1 R1

1
C1 C3
0.01 µF 0.01 µF

Fig. 10.9 SL-560C IF amplifier/postamplifier.

R2
220K
V+

C5 + C4 D1
10 µF 0.1 µF 6.8V

C2
0.01 µF 4
6 C6 T2
R2
C1 T1 0.01 µF OUTPUT
3 33
0.01 µF U1
7 SL560C
FROM
MIXER R1
10K
C3 1
RFC1 0.01 µF

Fig. 10.10 SL-560C IF amplifier with tuning.

V+ L1
(SEE TEXT)

R2
10 R3
3.9K
R4 C7
RFC1 6.8K 10 µF
C4 +
10 µF +
C1 C2 C6
0.01 µF 0.01 µF 11 8 9 (SEE TEXT) 10
1 7
FROM FL1 AFC
MIXER
R1 U1 R5
470 CA3189E 6 3.9K
AUDIO
+ OUTPUT
3 2 4 14 13 C9
C8
C3 0.01 µF 10 µF
0.01 µF
C5 R6
0.01 µF 68K

R7
20K

M1
100 µA

Fig. 10.11 CA3189E IF subsystem.


172 THE TECHNICIAN’S RADIO RECEIVER HANDBOOK

and their value depends on the frequency room of only 3–6 dB in some circumstances.
used. Three outputs are used on the One solution to the problem is the logarithmic
CA3189E. The audio output is derived from amplifier. Radar receivers frequently use log
the demodulator, as is the automatic fre- amps in the IF amplifier stages.
quency control output. Also, a signal strength The successive detection method is
output can be used to drive an S-meter (M1) used because it is difficult to produce high-
or left blank. gain logarithmic amplifiers. The successive
detection method uses several log amps,
then detects all outputs and totals them. Each
SUCCESSIVE DETECTION amplifier has an output voltage equal to
LOGARITHMIC AMPLIFIERS
Vo = k log Vin (10.2)
Where signal level information is required or
where
instantaneous outputs are required over a
wide range of input signal levels, a logarith- Vo is the output voltage;
mic amplifier might be used. Linear amplifiers Vin is the input voltage;
have a gain limit of about 100 dB but head k is a constant.

AMPLIFIER AMPLIFIER AMPLIFIER AMPLIFIER

INPUT

DETECTOR DETECTOR DETECTOR DETECTOR

S OUTPUT

A
OUTPUT (LINEAR)

B INPUT LEVEL

Fig. 10.12 Logarithmic amplifier: (A) circuit; (B) gain curve.


IF Amplifier Circuits 173

The circuit shown in Figure 10.12A is modes of transmission require different filters,
such an amplifier; Figure 10.12B shows a hy- and those filters have to be switched in and
pothetical output vs. input characteristic for out of the circuit.
the amplifier. Because the circuit uses four or The switching could be done directly,
more stages of nonlinear amplification, sig- but that requires either a coaxial cable be-
nals are amplitude compressed in this ampli- tween the switch and the filter or placing the
fier. Therefore, the amplifier sometimes is switch at the site of the filters. A better solution
called a compression amplifier. is found in Figure 10.13: diode switching. A
diode has the unique ability to pass a small AC
signal on top of the DC bias. In Figure 10.13,
FILTER SWITCHING IN IF AMPLIFIERS switch S1 is used to apply the proper polarity
voltage to the diodes in the circuit. In one
Switching filters is necessary to accommodate sense of S1, a positive voltage is applied to D4
different modes of transmission. AM requires through the primary winding of T2, through
4 or 6 kHz on shortwave and 8 kHz on the RFC4 and RFC2, to D3, and then through the
AM broadcast band (BCB). Single-sideband secondary winding of T1 to ground. This cur-
requires 2.8 kHz, RTTY/RATT requires 1.8 rent flow reverse biases diodes D1 and D2.
kHz, and CW requires either 270 or 500 Hz. The response is to turn on filter FL2. Similarly
Similarly, FM might require 150 kHz for the when S1 is turned to the other position—in
FM BCB and as little as 5 kHz on landmobile that case D1 and D2 are forward biased, se-
communications equipment. These various lecting FL1, and D3–D4 are reverse biased.

C1 C2
D1 D2
FL1
FILTER No. 1
R1 R2

RFC1 RFC3
T1 T2
R5
INPUT OUTPUT

C5 C6
RFC2 RFC4

C7 R3 C3 C4 R4 C9
FL2
FILTER No. 2 R7
R6
D3 D4

C8 C10

S1A S1B

V+

Fig. 10.13 Diode switching circuit.