Microwave Sampler is Like Time Domain Mixer
By Al Williams
[Gregory] is building some microwave gear and wanted to convert a 3.3 GHz signal to a 12 MHz intermediate frequency. You might think of using a mixer, but you’d need a local oscillator of nearly 3.3 GHz which is not only hard to build, but also will be very close to the signal of interest which is not a great idea. Instead, [Gregory] opted for a sampler, which uses an effect you usually try to avoid — aliasing — to allow downconversion with a much smaller local oscillator. You can see the design in the video below.
In the case of converting 3.3 GHz to 12 MHz, the local oscillator is around 100 MHz. How does that work? Watch the video and find out. The final project will triple the 3.3 GHz signal and we presume the 12 MHz downconvert is to easily phase lock the frequency using a PLL (phase-locked loop).
The circuit is little more than an electronic switch and a capacitor. The first part of the video covers the theory of operation. About 7 minutes in, the whiteboard talk gets more practical, using diodes as switching elements. At the very end, we see he has a PC board design but it isn’t generally available. Still, the theory explanation is well worth the 20 minute watch.
If you want some ideas about prototyping microwave gear, there are some tools available. If you want to dig more into PLLs, there’s a lot of info about that in previous posts, too.
January 14, 2022 at 04:00AM
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