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Wireless Receiver Design for Digital Communications

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There have been two paradigm shifts since we wrote the first edition of this book. The first major shift is that the world is now full of digital signals. Commercial television and radio have changed from analog to digital formats. Cellular telephone signals are digital, and even video baby monitors transmit digital signals. I’m not sure you can even find an analog signal on the air anymore. In a way, this is sad. In the “either you get a perfect signal or you get nothing” world of the digital broadcast, our children will never know the distinct pleasure of watching a snowy ultrahigh frequency (UHF) broadcast or listening to a crackling AM radio station after it has traveled from the other side of the nation.

The second paradigm shift since the publication of the first edition is the availability of inexpensive digital processing power. As of this writing (early 2011), processing power is essentially free. In the past, radio receivers performed filtering and demodulation in the analog world. Many old-school receivers performed demodulation using analog techniques that were finicky and required large amounts of circuit board real estate. Control functions such as automatic gain control (AGC) and automatic frequency control (AFC) were realized in the analog world using individual diodes, operational (op) amps, resistors and capacitors. Today, it makes technical and economic sense to perform these functions in the digital domain.

We find ourselves in a world where the receiver is primarily a downconverter whose sole purpose is to translate the signal of interest to a frequency and power level that is suitable to be sampled by an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Similarly, transmitters convert the user’s information into complex waveforms using digital signal processing (DSP) techniques. A digital-to-analog converter (DAC) then converts these signals to the analog domain. The transmitter’s remaining task is to convert the modulated signal to its final frequency and power level.
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