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RF&COMMs

DDS RF
Signal Generator
Frequency range: 50 Hz to over 70 MHz
Design by G. Baars, PE1GIC. pe1gic@amsat.org

Radio amateurs and RF engineers in general will welcome this design. This
contemporary RF signal generator has many bells and whistles and is just
the ticket for testing HF/VHF receivers, aligning filters, IF amplifiers and
AM/FM demodulators. The instrument can even act as a source for very
low frequencies starting at 50 Hz.

While the combination of an ordi-


nary multimeter and a rudimen-
tary signal tracer is perfectly
adequate for many ‘kitchen table’
hobbyists to get their homebrew
circuits working, more sophisti-
cated equipment is typically
required by those interested in
radio and higher frequency cir-
cuits in general. In particular, the
more complex designs in the RF
realms normally require accurate
adjustment, which in practice
translates into a decent RF signal
generator with an internal or
external modulation option avail-
able. But then, most of you will
agree, we are talking of an
expensive piece of test equip-
ment and that is why we expect
the present design to be highly
valued, not only by the radio
amateur fraternity but also by
those with an interest in all
things RF. The generator
described in this article offers
good performance, may be used
for commonly required test, ser-
vice and repair jobs, and is rea-
sonably simple to build.

14 Elektor Electronics 10/2003


RF&COMMs
Concept and
block diagram Specifications
The general design of the RF Signal – Output frequency adjustable between 50 Hz and 71 MHz
Generator is shown in Figure 1. At
– Frequency step size 1 Hz to 1 MHz
first blush you might think that this
is another circuit with a microcon- – Output signal level adjustable between 0 and –127 dBm (0.224 Vrms to 0.1 µVrms)
troller at the heart of things, but this – Internal AM, 1000 Hz at 30%
time the term is more appropriate for – Internal FM, 1000 Hz, deviation 3 kHz, 10 kHz or 20-90 kHz
the module marked ‘DDS’, because – 16-key keypad for frequency entry and other functions
this is where the RF signals are actu-
– 2x16 character LCD showing frequency, frequency step and output signal level
ally generated.
DDS is an abbreviation of ‘Direct – Spurious output level –40 dBc to –50 dBc (frequency dependent)
Digital Synthesizer’. The DDS – Frequency range covers standard IFs like 445 kHz, 5.5 MHz, 10.7 MHz, 21.4 MHz,
requires a clock signal for its fre- 45 MHz and 70 MHz
quency reference. This signal is fre-
quency-multiplied by six by the DDS.
In this way, by applying a clock fre-
quency of 30 MHz to the DDS, the Arguably a microcontroller is the Figure 2 shows the signal generator proper,
internal clock frequency becomes best choice, if not indispensable, if while the control circuitry, power supply and
180 MHz, which is also the highest we want to control all of the above user interface appear in Figure 3.
frequency at which the DDS can circuitry. Here, the micro rules over The various elements discussed in relation
operate. Its sinewave-shaped output the DDS, attenuators and the ‘user to the block diagram are easily found back in
signal has a frequency f0 equal to interface’, the latter consisting of a the actual schematics. In Figure 2, the clock
keypad and LCD and a rotary generator is built around IC1, while the DDS
f0 = W × (fclk / 232) encoder. lurks in IC2. The low-pass filter is found
around L6-L15, the VGA is integrated into IC3
where W is a 32-bit programmable and the attenuators are situated around
‘frequency word’. Consequently the Circuit diagram relays Re1, Re2 and Re3. Connectors K1 and
step size becomes As you’ll discover a bit further on, K2 are interconnected with Figure 3’s K2 and
the circuit is spread across two K3 respectively. In Figure 3, most of you will
180 MHz / 232 =0.0419 Hz printed circuit boards. The division immediately spot IC2 as the microcontroller.
is reflected by the circuit diagram. The keypad is connected to K1, the LC dis-
By means of software, the smallest Broadly speaking, the schematic in play to K4. S1 is a rotary encoder while Tr1,
step is set to a more familiar value,
namely 1 Hz.
Because of the internal design of
the DDS, a number of spurious sig-
out
nals are inevitably generated, par- DDS VGA – 32dB – 64dB
CLK LPF
ticularly since the output signal is
quantified at 180 MHz, there’s no
way to avoid a filter (module ‘LPF’ in
the drawing). The filter applied here
is a Butterworth low-pass type
AM
that’s guaranteed to afford sufficient
suppression of unwanted products.
An adjustable attenuator is
required if we want to be able to
control the output signal level. That
is why the filter is followed by a dig-
itally controlled VGA (variable gain µC
amplifier). Using this VGA the gain
can be set in set in 1-dB steps over a
range of 31 dB. The VGA in turn is
followed by two attenuators of 32 dB
and 64 dB respectively. The total LCD
attenuator arrangement allows the encoder
keys
output signal to be adjusted
between 0 dBm (decibel milliwatt)
and –127 dBm. The VGA used here 020299 - 13
doubles as a 50-Ω output signal dri-
ver. Figure 1. Block diagram of the DDS RF Signal Generator.

10/2003 Elektor Electronics 15


RF&COMMs
+12V +5VB +9V
IC4 IC5
7805 L16 L1 VCC +12V 7809

4µH7 4µH7
L4 L2 L5 L3 C2 C1 L18 C30
C15 C25
4µH7 4µH7 4µH7 4µH7 100n 100n 5p6 0V075 100n 4µH7 100n
C8 C5 C3
C
100n 100n 100n C7 C4 C9 C6 L7 L8 L9 C29

100n 100n 100n 100n 150nH 220nH 150nH 100n


C35
L6 L10 22µ
10V
120nH 150nH
6 23 11 18 R9 7 8 9 17
0V075 C11 C12 C13 C14
PVCC DVDD AVDD AVDD VCC VCC VCC VCC

53Ω6
D0 4 16 20
D0 VINP VCC
D1 3 18p 68p 68p 18p 4V
D1 A IC3
K1 D2 2 21 18 6
C31
D2 IOUT VIN+ PD 100n
C20 C26
1 2 D3 1
D3 B 5p6 0V075 100n
IC2
3 4 D3 D4 28 20 19
D4 IOUTB 0V075 VIN–
D2 5 6 D1 D5 27 D 10
D5 R1 R2 L12 L13 L14 VOUT
D0 7 8 D6 26 13 4V
VOUTN
49Ω9

49Ω9
D6 C37 R8
9 10 D7 D7 25 14 150nH 220nH 150nH 1 AD8321 47µ
VOUTP

86Ω6
D7 C36 SDATA 10V
D6 11 12 D5 17 L11 L15 22µ 2 5
DACBP CLK BYP1
10V
D4 13 14 RESET 22 120nH 150nH 3 14 E
RST AD9851 ENN BYP2
15 16 WRCLK 7 R4
WCLK C16 C17 C18 C19

53Ω6
FQUD 8 12 AM 4 16 R7
FQUD RSET GND GND C28 C27

43Ω2
18p 68p 68p 18p GND GND GND GND
9 15 R3
VCC

DATA
CLK
VINN

ENN
REFCLK 11 12 13 15 100n 100n
6k8

PGND DGND AGND AGND


5 24 10 19 1V25 K2
VCC
32 9 10
14
+5VB 7 8
IC1.A IC1
+9V 5 6 64
1 2 7
1 R28 3 4
1k

0V75 RMS 1 2
4V1 C10
IC1.F C39
8
13 12 100n
1 IC1.D
IC1 = 74HCU04 1 R30 100n
C40
100k

9 T4
C38 10n
AMH 0V55 RMS +9V +9V +9V 50Ω
100n BS170
2V5 2V5 2V5 2V5 D1 RE1 D2 RE2 D3 RE3
2V5 0V4
R5 R6
R31 R29
12k 10k
150k

560Ω

IC1.B IC1.C IC1.E 1N4148 1N4148 1N4148


C23 R14 R20 R26
3 4 5 6 11 10
1 1 1 1k96 1k96 1k96
T1 T2 T3
22p R15 R21 R27
BS170 BS170 BS170
C21 L17 2k00 2k00 2k00

1µH2 32 64 64
C22 X1 10p R12 R13 R10 R11 R18 R19 R16 R17 R24 R25 R22 R23
C24 C32 C33 C34
105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω

105Ω
40p 10MHz 220p 100n 100n 100n

020299 - 11

Figure 2. Circuit diagram of the RF part of the generator.

B1 and IC3 are the main parts in the power will typically be used at room tem- part of the complex chip. To keep
supply. The circuit around IC1 is part of an perature. spurious signal levels to a minimum,
AM modulator and only happens to sit here IC1b, IC1c and surrounding com- all supply connections are powered
because it could not be accommodated on the ponents form the oscillator. The fre- via a separate supply filter consist-
other board (Figure 2). quency tripler is built around IC1e, ing of a choke and a decoupling
The operation and functionality of each of while IC1d acts as a buffer. capacitor.
the above circuit sections will be discussed The combination of X1 and IC1 The resistor at pin 12 of the DDS
in the following paragraphs. may be replaced with a 14-way DIP (here, R3) serves to defines the DDS
30-MHz quartz oscillator module (if output current. However, by allow-
Clock generator you can get it) which may be ing an audio signal to vary this resis-
Because a 30-MHz TCXO can only be plugged into the socket for IC1. tance, AM modulation is obtained.
obtained as an expensive custom-made com- Unfortunately, 8-pin oscillator blocks
ponent, and 30.000 MHz quartz crystals are will not fit the board and require a Filter
few and far between, a solution was found in small modification which you will Inherent to its design, the DDS gen-
the use of a 10-MHz oscillator in combination have to work out for yourself. erates not only the desired frequency
with a tripler. In this way we’re able to f0, but also the spurious products fclk,
employ a cheap and commonly available DDS fclk–f0 and multiples of these.
quartz crystal while the oscillator frequency The circuitry around IC2 largely fol- Arguably a good filter is in order to
is easily adjusted (here, with C22). Of course, lows the application suggestions keep spurious levels at the output as
the oscillator is not totally immune to tem- supplied by the manufacturer. The low as possible. The filter used here
perature variations, but in practice it will DDS chip has several voltage con- is a modified Butterworth low-pass
operate satisfactorily because the equipment nections, each supplying its own dimensioned for a roll-off frequency

16 Elektor Electronics 10/2003


RF&COMMs
K1'
+5VA
1 2
3 4
R2
5 6

82Ω
7 8
5W K4 C8
9 10
15 16 K2
100n
KEYPAD 13 14 1 2
+5VA 11 12 +5VA 40 3 4 D3
S2 S3 S4 S5
9 10 D2 5 6 D1
7 8 9 30 D0 7 8
RESET ALE
A B C D 5 6 EN 9 10 D7
P1
IC2
3 4 R/S 10 39 D0 D6 11 12 D5
C1 PD0(RXD) PA0(AD0)
S6 S7 S8 S9 1 2 11 38 D1 D4 13 14
S1 PD1(TXD) PA1(AD1)
12 PD2(INT0) 37 D2 15 16
PA2(AD2)
3 6 9 # 100n 10k LC DISPLAY 13 PD3(INT1)
14
PA3(AD3)
36
35
D3
D4
PD4 PA4(AD4)
15 34 D5
S10 S11 S12 S13 PD5(OC1A) PA5(AD5)
ENCODER 16 33 D6
PD6(WR) PA6(AD6)
PB3 17 32 D7
PD7(RD) PA7(AD7)
2 5 8 0 PB2
PB1 EXP 31 29
ICP OC1B
S14 S15 S16 S17 PB0
AT90S8515
PB0 1 21 64 K3
PB0(T0) PC0(A8)
PB1 2 22 32 9 10
1 4 7
* 1
K1
2
PB2
PB3
3
4
PB1(T1)
PB2(AIN0)
PC1(A9)
PC2(A10)
23
24
ENN
CLK
7
5
8
6
PB3 PC3(A11)
020299 - 12a 3 4 PB4 5 25 DATA 3 4
PB4(SS) PC4(A12)
5 6 PB5 6 26 RST 1 2
PB5(MOSI) PC5(A13)
7 8 PB6 7 27 FQUD
PB6(MISO) PC6(A14)
9 10 PB7 8 28 WRCLK
PB7(SCK) PC7(A15)

5 4 3 2 X1 X2
KEYPAD
20 19 18
+5VA
X1

R1 1 4x 22k
C4 C3 C2

F1 IC1
TR1 33p 8MHz 33p 100n
MAX7400 4
K5 32mA T 1V2
IC3
7 5 AMH
7805 +5VA R3 C5 SHDN OUT
AMI 2 6
B1 10k IN OS
8 1
100n CLK COM

C9 C10 R4
C6 C7

330Ω
3
4700µ 25V 100n
270p 100n
B80C1500
Figure 3. Control, supply and user
interface. 020299 - 12

of about 75 MHz. Since at an output a level converter from 75 Ω to 50 Ω. Attenuators


frequency f0 of 71 MHz the compo- None the less, the VGA is easily Additional attenuators are called for if we
nent fclk–f0 occurs at 109 MHz, the capable of generating 0 dBm which want the generator to supply a lowest output
filter needs to have a fairly steep equals 1 milliwatt or 0.224 Vrms into level of –127 dBm into 50 Ω (which equals
slope. This condition is fully satisfied 50 Ω. 0.1 µVrms). The VGA itself already provides
by the filter used here because it is for 31 dB of attenuation, so we need to add a
almost flat between 0 and 71 MHz,
while a minimum suppression of
50 dB is obtained for signals above
95 MHz or so.
The filter has a double implemen- Meet the DDS
tation because both outputs of the
The DDS consists of three parts. First, we have an NCO (Numerical Controlled Oscilla-
DDS are required to obtain symmet-
tor), which in the case of the AD9851BRS is a 32-bit counter that adds a 32-bit frequency
rical AM modulation.
word on every clock pulse. A small value for the ‘word’ causes the counter state to
increase slowly — a larger value, quickly. By sending the 10 MSB’s of this counter to a DAC
VGA via a function called Sine Look Up Table, a sinewave-shaped output voltage is created of
IC3 comprises a digitally controlled which the frequency is variable.
variable-gain amplifier/attenuator Because the output voltage is quantisized at the clock frequency, unwanted products are
with a flat amplitude characteristic generated including the component fclk–f0. Obviously when f0 = 1/2 fclk we have the case
over the entire frequency area we’re where fclk–f0 will actually equal f0. As a result, the highest usable output frequency of a
concerned with. The gain is DDS is usually limited to about 40% of the clock frequency. If not, a low-pass filter is
adjustable in steps of about 0.75 dB required to give sufficient suppression of the unwanted product.
across a range a bit larger than the Another disadvantage of the use of a DDS is that its output level is not constant. In fact, the
required 31 dB. level is described by a (sinx/x) curve with x = pi × f0 / fclk.
Because the VGA is intended as Some more calculation indicates that (sinx/x) equals 0.76 or –2.4 dB at f0 = 0.4 fclk. While
a 75-Ω driver and strives to dynami- the error is not grave in a receiver where the DDS is used as a local oscillator, it is rather
cally maintain its output impedance, worrying in the case of an RF signal generator. Consequently, the VGA output level is cor-
the relevant chip output must be ter- rected at various output frequencies. For this advanced function a special routine is imple-
minated into 75 Ω. In our circuit, a mented in the control software.
couple of resistors are used to create

10/2003 Elektor Electronics 17


RF&COMMs
++
L1 L16 C5
K2 C32 T1 C33 T2 C34 T3
C1 C23 C2 IC5
IC4
L17
C8
R6
C30
C38 C16 0

R29

R30
R28
R31
C24 D1 D2 C10 D3
T4

020299-1
L15
C31
C40 C17 C19
L5

O1
L18

R8
L11
C3

R2
C27
IC1 C39 C18

R3

R4

RE1

RE2

RE3
L3 L14 C37
L12 L13 T
C21
L4

R7
C9

IC2

L2
C6 C20 C26
IC3
R14 R20 R26
L7
R5

L8 R15 R21 R27


X1 C7 C4 L9 C36 C25 C29 C28
K1

L6
R1

R13
R12

R10

R19
R18

R17
R16

R25
R24

R23
R22
R11
C15

L10
R9
C12 C13 C14
C35 1-992020
C22 C11 ROTKELE )C(

(C) ELEKTOR
020299-1

Figure 4. The PCB for the signal generator circuitry is marked by very short connections and a generous earth plane.

32-dB and a 64-dB attenuator. The latter com- COMPONENTS LIST


prises two series connected 32-dB sections,
which are easier to produce in practice with- Signal generator board (020299-1)
out the risk of inaccuracy or leakage associ-
ated with a single 64-dB attenuator. C37 = 47µF 10V radial
The relays used here (Re1, Re2 and Re3) Resistors: C40 = 10nF
are configured to switch attenuator sections R1,R2 = 49Ω9
R3 = 6kΩ8 Inductors:
in and out of circuit under microprocessor L1-L5,L16,L18 = 4µH7
R4,R9 = 53Ω6
control. Despite their relatively low price, the R5 = 12kΩ L6,L11 = 120nH
relays are usable for frequencies up to 1 GHz. R6 = 10kΩ L7,L9,L10,L12,L14,L15 = 150nH
In practice, these 12-volt models pull in reli- R7 = 43Ω2 L8,L13 = 220nH
ably a just 9 volts coil voltage. In case of R8 = 86Ω6 L17 = 1µH2
doubt, the relay supply voltage may be taken R10-R13,R16-R19,R22-R25 = 105Ω
from the unstabilised +12-V rail in the circuit. R14,R20,R26 = 1kΩ69 Semiconductors:
R15,R21,R27 = 2kΩ0 D1,D2,D3 = 1N4148
Control and AVR R28 = 1kΩ T1-T4 = BS170
The various circuits in the RF Signal Genera- R29 = 560Ω IC1 = 74HCU04
R30 = 100kΩ IC2 = AD9851BRS
tor are controlled by an Atmel AT90D8515
R31 = 150kΩ IC3 = AD8321AR
microcontroller (IC2 in Figure 2). This 8-bit
IC4 = 7805
RISC controller offers 32 I/O lines and a speed Capacitors: IC5 = 7809
of 8 MIPS which makes it perfect for the job. C1,C2,C3,C5,C8,C10,C30,C32,C33,
Parallel driving of the DDS guarantees that its C34,C38,C39 = 100nF, 5mm lead Miscellaneous:
programming its fast enough to modulate suf- pitch K1 = 16-way boxheader (2x8)
ficient samples when FM is used. Note, how- C4,C6,C7,C9,C25-C29,C31 = 100nF, K2 = 10-way boxheader (2x5)
ever, that this does require 11 I/O lines. To SMD shape 0805 X1 = 10MHz quartz crystal (series
save some I/O resources, the LCD and the C11,C14,C16,C19 = 18pF resonance. CL 32pF) or 30MHz
keyboard share a number of processor pins. C12,C13,C17,C18 = 68pF DIL14 oscillator module
The rotary encoder drives an interrupt line C15,C20 = 5pF6 Re1,Re2,Re3 = TQ2-9V or TQ2-12V
C21 = 10pF 3 wire links
to make sure the software can not miss any
C22 = 40pF trimmer Enclosure, tin sheet dim. 160x48x25
pulse. The LCD is used in 4-bit bus mode C23 = 22pF mm
where data is copied to it in two operations. C24 = 220pF PCB, order code 020299-1 (see
That, too, is done to save I/O line capacity. C35,C36 = 22µF 10V radial Readers service page)
Finally, sharing I/O lines between the DDS

18 Elek-
RF&COMMs
C1
H1

020299-2 C8 H2

K5 C10 IC3 K1

C6 IC1

C7

R2
C2

R4
R3
C5

IC2
P1 R1
TR1 B1
K2

K3
S1

EXP
F1 32mAT
C4 C3
C9

H3
2-992020
H4

ROTKELE )C( K4 X1

020299-2 (C) ELEKTOR

Figure 5. The supply/control board is much


COMPONENTS LIST IC2 = AT90S8515 8PC, programmed,
more spacious.
order code 020299-41 (see Readers
Control/power supply board Services page)
(020299-2) IC3 = 7805

Miscellaneous:
Resistors: K1,K3 = 10-way boxheader (2x5)
and the VGA is really out of the question with
R1 = 4-way 22kΩ SIL array K2,K4 = 16-way boxheader (2x8)
the risk of increased spurious levels in mind.
R2 = 82Ω 5W K5 = 2-way PCB terminal block, lead
R3 = 10kΩ pitch 7.5mm
R4 = 330Ω S1 = rotary encoder, Bourns ECW1J Keyboard, display and encoder
P1 = 10kΩ preset or ddm427 (Conrad Electronics) The user interface designed into the RF Sig-
X1 = 8MHz quartz crystal, parallel nal Generator consists of a 2 × 16 character
Capacitors: resonance, CL 32pF matrix LCD, a 4 × 4 matrix keyboard (con-
C1,C2,C5,C7,C8,C10 = 100nF, 5mm TR1 = 12V/4.8VA mains transformer, nected to K1 in Figure 3) and a rotary encoder
lead pitch e.g., Gerth 1x12V/400 mA (S1). The LCD connected to K4 provides a
C3,C4 = 33pF F1 = fuse, 32 mAT with PCB mount readout for frequency, frequency step and
C6 = 270pF fuse holder output level. The keypad allows the desired
C9 = 4700µF 25V radial 5 wire links frequency to be entered as well as various
Keypad: 16 keys, matrixed (Velleman)
other functions to be controlled. The rotary
Semiconductors: Display: LCD 2x16 characters with
encoder is used to adjust the signal fre-
B1 = B80C1500, rectangular case backlight
(80V piv, 1.5 A) PCB, order code 020299-2 (see quency, select the frequency step size and
IC1 = MAX7400CPA Readers Services page) adjust the output signal level.
The LCD backlight current is limited to a

10/2003 Elektor Electronics 19


RF&COMMs

Figure 6. The signal generator board is by no means easy to construct.

safe value using series resistor R2. In prac- The keyboard allows you to select Timer interrupt
tice, one third of the recommended current FM modulation with a deviation of The timer interrupt is activated at a
guarantees a sufficiently bright display. The 3 kHz, 10 kHz, 20 kHz, 30 kHz and so rate of 2,000 Hz or 32,000 Hz for AM
saving in current then amounts to 200 mA! on up to 90 kHz. The 3-kHz setting and FM respectively. With AM, the
Preset P1 acts as the LCD contrast adjust- will typically be used for NBFM timer interrupt causes a square
ment. equipment like personal mobile wave to appear on an I/O pin. With
radios, while 70 kHz is the nominal FM, a frequency sample from the
AM modulator value for broadcast FM. sinewave look-up table is added to
Most RF signal generators of the affordable The sinewave tables for the FM the current frequency and the result
kind use fixed 30%, 1000-Hz AM modulation. modulation function of the instru- is sent to the DDS.
Because the DDS has no internal provision for ment have been developed using a
amplitude modulation, an external add-on specially written Pascal program. Encoder interrupt
had to be devised. The resistance at pin 12 of When an encoder interrupt occurs,
the DDS determines the DDS output level. By either the frequency, frequency step
using a FET (T4), this resistance can be var- Software size or the output level is increased
ied dynamically. The sinewave applied to the The microcontroller executable code or decreased. Next, besides other
FET is obtained by filtering a square wave was created using an assembler pro- ‘chores’, the display readout is
from processor pin 15. The filter in question gram with well over 2,000 lines. updated. The function of the encoder
is a pretty steep one, built around a Maxim Broadly speaking, this program con- is determined using the keyboard.
integrated elliptic low-pass (IC1 in Figure 3). sists of three flows:
The filter suppresses the fundamental fre-
quency of the square wave, which results in Main flow Keyboard functions
a clean 1-KHz sinewave. In the main flow, the keyboard is The complete functionality of the
scanned and the keyboard presses instrument is accessible to the user
FM modulation are linked to their associated func- via the keypad and the rotary
Frequency modulation (FM) is realised in soft- tions. From the main flow, a number encoder. The keyboard functions
ware, with the microcontroller employing an of subroutines are called controlling, have been defined as follows:
internal processor timer and a sinewave look- among others, the LCD. Here, too,
up table containing frequency steps. FM with the interrupt timer is initialised for * rotary encoder controls fre-
1000-Hz sinewave modulation is obtained by AM and FM. quency step size
sending 32 samples to the DDS at a timer rate The main flow is preceded by a 0 rotary encoder controls out-
of 32 kHz. The number of samples and the reset interrupt which arranges for all put signal frequency
sampling frequency distance are large hardware and software initialisa- # rotary encoder controls out-
enough to warrant a reasonably clean modu- tions to be carried out. put signal level
lated spectrum. 0-9 output signal frequency

20 Elektor Electronics 10/2003


RF&COMMs
D enter output signal frequency which allows a relatively small on- circuit is spread across two printed circuit
A modulation AM/FM/off board mains transformer to be used. boards — one for the signal generator proper
B attenuator display format After rectification and smoothing, and another for the control and power supply
dBm or V regulators are used to create the var- sections. The first board corresponds to the
C FM deviation: C0-C9 (C0 = ious supply voltage rails needed in schematic in Figure 2 and its artwork is
3 KHz; C1-C9 = 10-90 kHz) the circuit. Each part of the circuit shown in Figure 4. For the second board the
D output signal on/off receives its own supply voltage: C3 correspondence is between the schematic in
on the control board looks after the Figure 3 and the PCB artwork in Figure 5.
microcontroller power supply, while The combined supply/control board of Fig-
IC4 and IC5 on the main board are ure 5 has a spacious layout and contains con-
Notes: the respective supplies for the DDS ventional components only, so should be easy
– The desired output frequency does (plus clock oscillator) and the VGA. to build by anyone with some practical skills
not appear at the output until ‘D’ is Because the circuit has its own in DIY electronics. Do not forget to fit any of
pressed. mains-connected power supply, due the five wire links on this board.
– If FM is selected using key ‘A’, the dis- attention should be paid to electrical The printed circuit board pictured in Fig-
play will indicate ‘F1’. After pressing safety when assembling the elec- ure 4 is a different kettle of fish. With stabil-
‘C’ (display: ‘F?’) the desired deviation tronics into a case. In particular, ity in mind and in order to keep stray radia-
may be entered using the number make sure a good strain relief is used tion to a minimum the design of the board fol-
keys.
on the mains cord. If desired the lows the ‘great RF tradition’ of short
– By pressing ‘*’ you can set the step
mains transformer may be omitted connections, the smallest possible lead pitch
size applied to the current frequency
from the board in Figure 5 and for components and a maximum amount of
on the display, i.e., the
replaced by a mains adaptor (battery electrical separation between various part of
increment/decrement caused by one
eliminator) rated at 12 V / 0.5 A. the circuit.
click of the rotary encoder. The step
size appears in the left-hand bottom Finally, a tip: a few turns of the Building the signal generator board
corner of the display. The output level mains cord through a ferrite cord will requires care, precision, good soldering skills
appears at the other side. reduce RF leakage through the and a steady hand. After all, IC2 and IC3 are
mains. SMD devices, which also applies to a dozen
or so coupling and decoupling capacitors
Power supply around these integrated circuits. Al these
The complete circuit draws up to Construction SMD parts are fitted at the underside of the
400 mA at a supply voltage of 12 V, As already mentioned, the complete board.
Soldering SMD components requires spe-
cial skills. While IC3 is still relatively easy
to handle, soldering IC2 in place could pose
unexpected problems as the part has a pin
spacing of just 0.65 mm. First carefully pre-
tin the footprint of the IC and then remove
as much tin as you can using fine desolder-
ing braid. Use a drop of hobby glue to
secure the IC in place. Use a magnifying
glass to check that all the pins are properly
aligned to the copper pads. If necessary,
adjust the position of the IC and then allow
the glue to cure.
With the IC firmly in place, first solder the
centre two pins using plenty of solder tin and
not caring too much about excess solder
causing short-circuits. Allow the IC to cool
down between subsequent solder actions.
Once all pins are covered in plenty of solder
tin, the excess amount can be removed by
means of desoldering braid. Here, too, the IC
should not be endangered by overheating so
take your time.
The next step is to use an ohmmeter to
check for short-circuits between adjacent
pins. If any are found, re-apply the desoldering
braid until no more short-circuits are found.
The photograph in Figure 6 shows a fin-
Figure 7. SMD integrated circuits IC2 and IC3 are fitted at the underside of the ished prototype of the signal generator board
board, together with a dozen or so SMD passives. The mounting of IC2 is tricky while Figure 7 zooms in on the underside of
owing to the small lead pitch of just 0.65 mm. the board, showing the vicinity of IC2.

10/2003 Elektor Electronics 21


RF&COMMs
C1 C23
L1
C2
L16 C5

IC4
++

IC5
K2 C32 T1 C33 T2 C34 T3 Components

L17
C8

R6
C30
C38 C16 0

R29

R30
R28
R31
C24 D1 D2 C10 D3
T4

020299-1
L15
C31
C40 C17 C19

L5

O1
L18

R8
L11
C3

R2
IC1 C39 C18 C27
The author obtained all components

R3

R4

RE1

RE2

RE3
L3 L14 C37
L12 L13 T
C21

L4

R7
C9

for this project from RF specialist

IC2

L2
C6 C20 C26
IC3
R14 R20 R26
L7
R5

L8 R15 R21 R27


X1 C7 C4 L9 C36 C25 C29 C28
K1
Barend Hendriksen in Brummen, The

L6
R1

R13
R12

R11
R10

R19
R18

R17
R16

R25
R24

R23
R22
C15

L10
R9
C12 C13 C14
C35 1-992020
C22 C11 ROTKELE )C(

Netherlands (www.xs4all.nl/
~barendh/Indexeng.htm).
The keyboard used in the proto-
type was a 16-key matrixed type
supplied to us by Velleman
(www.velleman.be). The LCD is an
industry-standard 2 × 16 character
alphanumeric type (Mitsubishi,
H2

H3

Hyundai, etc.). The rotary encoder,


K2

K3
C8

C3

X1

IC2
finally, is a Bourns type with 24
detents per revolution.
C4
EXP
R1

S1

K4
K1

Sensitivity measurements
C2

C9
IC1
C1

C5

P1
C7

In many cases, an RF signal genera-


R3
C6
IC3

R4

tor will be used to measure the sen-


R2
C10

B1

sitivity of a receiver or IF amplifier.


Usually, you’ll want to know the sen-
2-992020

sitivity in microvolts (µV) at a certain


ROTKELE )C(
TR1

signal-to-noise ratio. The following


020299-2

method may be applied to obtain


meaningful measurement results
K5

F1 32mAT

H1

with a minimum of effort.


H4

Connect the RF Signal generator


to the receiver input by means of a
short length of good quality 50-Ω
coax cable like RG58C/U and ditto
020299-14
plugs. Switch off any computer
equipment which is prone to leak
spurious radiation into the receiver.
Adjust the signal generator to the
Figure 8. Wiring diagram. receiver frequency and then switch
off the test signal by pressing the
“D” key. Next, with the receiver vol-
ume control sufficiently ‘up’, use a
Enclosure be mounted in a suitable case. Our multimeter or an oscilloscope to
For obvious reasons, a metal enclosure is a prototype boards were fitted in a measure the level of the AF noise
must for an RF signal generator and the ‘custom’ case made from pieces of produced by the receiver. Switch on
project discussed here is no exception. The unetched circuit board of which the the test signal again and increase
good news is that only a small enclosure is copper surfaces were connected by the output level from the lowest
required, and suitable tin-plated steel soldering. Electrically, such a DIY point (–127 dBm) to a level at which
cases with detachable lids are available in case is equivalent to one made from the AF noise level has dropped to a
several sizes. In our case (pun intended), metal sheet. quarter of the that without an input
the required size is 160 × 48 × 25 mm. The As a further aid to your own con- signal. The difference represents a
signal generator board allows small metal struction work, Figure 8 provides a signal-to-noise ratio of 20 log10(4) =
screens to be fitted to separate the various basic wiring diagram showing how 12 dB, or “12 dB SINAD”. To obtain
circuit sections. The position of these the two boards, the LCD and the the 20-dB SINAD sensitivity value for
screens is indicated by lines on the com- rotary encoder are interconnected. your receiver, increase the generator
ponent overlay. In the case of our proto- In the unlikely case of text failing output level until the noise voltage
type, no differences were measured with to appear on the display immediately has dropped to 1/10th.
the screens in place or removed, so we after switching on, do not panic and (020299-1)
decided to leave them out. Perfectionists start emailing us, but first adjust the
are, of course, free to fit whatever screens LC contrast control, P1. If the rotary
they think are necessary. encoder appears to ‘turn the wrong
Next, the various units that make up the way around’, simply swap the wires
equipment may be assembled together allow- to the two outer connections — the
ing the complete signal generator circuitry to centre connection is ground.

22 Elektor Electronics 10/2003