A Radio Frequency (RF) Engineer is an electrical engineer who specializes in devices that receive or transmit radio waves.
All of our wireless and mobile devices operate on radio waves, so our tech-centered society would not be possible without the work of RF Engineers. These Engineers often work in a collaborative environment both with other RF Engineers and stakeholders in other disciplines.
An RF engineer has a rather wide range of possible duties and responsibilities, including things like:
- Designing RF schematics for new wireless networks
- Ensuring regulatory standards are met
- Communicating data using digital software
- Optimizing the performance of existing wireless networks
- Analyzing equipment and identifying areas of improvement
For most RF engineers, it all starts with an understanding of antenna theory. The fundamentals of antenna theory requires that the antenna be “impedance matched” to the transmission line or the antenna will not radiate.
An antenna is actually an array of conductors (elements), electrically connected to the receiver or transmitter. Antennas can be designed to transmit and receive radio waves in all horizontal directions equally (omnidirectional antennas), or preferentially in a particular direction (directional, or high-gain or “beam” antennas).
An antenna may include components not connected to the transmitter, parabolic reflectors, horns, or parasitic elements, which serve to direct the radio waves into a beam or other desired radiation pattern.
The majority of antenna designs are based on the resonance principle. This relies on the behavior of moving electrons, which reflect off surfaces where the dielectric constant changes in a fashion similar to the way light reflects when optical properties change. In these designs, the reflective surface is created by the end of a conductor, normally a thin metal wire or rod, which in the simplest case has a feed point at one end where it is connected to a transmission line.
The conductor, or element, is aligned with the electrical field of the desired signal, normally meaning it is perpendicular to the line from the antenna to the source (or receiver in the case of a broadcast antenna).
Want to learn more? Tonex offers RF Engineering Training, an intense 4-day bootcamp that incorporates theory and practices to illustrate the role of RF into almost everything that transmits or receives a radio wave.
Tonex also offers 13 other Basic and Advanced RF Training Courses, including:
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.