Variable Attenuators

Variable attenuators are a type of radio frequency attenuator that permits the signal level to constantly change. Attenuators are devices that decrease the power of a signal without noticeably distorting its waveform. This protects circuitry from receiving a signal that’s too powerful. 


Variable attenuators are used when the signal level needs to be able to change frequently. This is useful when you don't know exactly what the final desired signal range is or when accuracy is not a priority. Attenuators can be thought of as the opposite of signal amplifiers. An amplifier increases signal power (or amplitude) while an attenuator decreases it. 


How do variable attenuators work?

The signal level of variable attenuators is altered either manually or remotely. 


In manual variable attenuators, the signal level is changed by physically controlling the device, using something like an adjustable screw control.


If they are controlled remotely, a motor or PIN diode uses variable voltage to change the signal.


Types of variable attenuators 

Variable attenuators come with PIN diodes or MESFETs (metal–semiconductor field-effect transistors) as resistors to modulate amplitude. They can use either balanced or unbalanced pi-pad or T-pad circuits. 


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Description Price Maximum Attenuation Maximum Frequency Maximum Insertion Loss Package Type Pin Count Dimensions Length Width Height Maximum Operating Supply Voltage Maximum Operating Temperature Minimum Operating Supply Voltage Minimum Operating Temperature Series
RS Stock No. 145-7843
Mfr. Part No.HMC653LP2E
kr 46,574
Each (On a Reel of 50)
Units
25dB 25GHz 3dB SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 183-2622
Mfr. Part No.HMC472ALP4E
kr 62,065
Each (In a Pack of 2)
Units
31.5dB 3.8GHz 3dB SMT 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.95mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 183-2575
Mfr. Part No.HMC653
kr 352,44
Each
Units
3dB 50GHz - Chip 6 0.45 x 0.42 x 0.1mm 0.45mm 0.42mm 0.1mm 5.2 V +85 °C - -55 °C -
RS Stock No. 183-2356
Mfr. Part No.HMC653
kr 106,747
Each (In a Bag of 50)
Units
3dB 50GHz - Chip 6 0.45 x 0.42 x 0.1mm 0.45mm 0.42mm 0.1mm 5.2 V +85 °C - -55 °C -
RS Stock No. 862-6436
Mfr. Part No.HMC652LP2E
kr 56,03
Each
Units
2dB 25GHz - SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 131-4666
Mfr. Part No.HMC629ALP4E
kr 137,19
Each
Units
45dB 10GHz 3.75dB QFN 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.85mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.85mm 3 V, 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 183-2557
Mfr. Part No.HMC652
kr 134,99
Each
Units
2dB 50GHz - Chip 6 0.45 x 0.42 x 0.1mm 0.45mm 0.42mm 0.1mm 5.6 V +85 °C - -55 °C -
RS Stock No. 139-1741
Mfr. Part No.HMC425ALP3E
kr 209,187
Each (On a Reel of 18)
Units
31.5dB 8GHz 4.7dB QFN 16 3 x 3 x 0.85mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.85mm 5 V dc +85 °C 3 V -40 °C LSB
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