Written by Kevin Little
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Couplers are among the most useful devices for systems used for testing signals. These units allow two different signals to be compared, a comparison that yields valuable results regarding the operation of RF devices. The results are drawn through by means of sampling the dual transmissions.

There are two types of RF couplers. The most basic type includes two inputs but only a single output port. While these units are valuable for testing, results can become distorted if the two input lines are placed too close together, as increased power is diverted to the secondary input in such a scenario.

RF couplers also come in a "dual-directional" variety. These devices are essentially two uni-directional units connected to each other. A dual-directional coupler has two output ports, which adds flexibility to a testing procedure. Better yet, the isolation between ports is heightened when using a dual-directional coupler. Isolation between lines leads to greater accuracy when measuring activity such as return loss or reflection.

Picking Correct Couplers

Many RF system users are at a loss to determine whether they need a basic coupler or a more advanced dual-directional coupler for a given task. In fact, choosing among the various models of any kind of RF component can send one's head spinning. Make sure to ask for help when needed, as referring your issues to a seasoned RF user is a much better bet than attempting to guess which components might be best for a certain operation.

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