Waves and Signals in Electronics and Instrumentation


Wave is defined as a disturbance or vibration that travels through a medium or vacuum from one to another location.This disturbance carries energy from one location to another. We can also describe wave as the transfer of energy from one location to another. Based on their mode of travel, waves are categorized into:

1. Electromagnetic Waves
An Electromagnetic wave can travel through vacuum and does
not require material medium for transmission.

2. Mechanical Waves

It can not travel through vacuum and needs a material medium
for transmission. Modern communication systems use
electromagnetic waves to transfer information.

Wave Properties:
Waves have properties that affect the information carried by them.The various properties of a wave are -

Peak Amplitude
Speed of propagation.
Peak Amplitude:
The peak amplitude of a wave is the value of its highest intensity, proportional to the energy it carries.Neither the wavelength nor frequency of a wave depends on the amplitude.

Figure : Peak Amplitude

Period and Frequency:
Period refers to the amount of time, in seconds, a wave needs to complete one cycle. The period of a waveis measured in seconds.The frequency of a wave refers to the number of periods in one second. Its unit is Hertz (Hz).

Figure : Period frequency and wavelength of a wave

Position of a waveform relative to time to zero is called phase. It describes the amount of forward or backward shift along the time axis which indicates the status of the first cycle. Phase is calculated in degree or radian. The position of the waveform relative to time zero is called phase.

Electromagnetic Energy:
Electrical energy or electromagnetic energy is a form of energy
present in any electric field or magnetic field, or in any volume
containing electromagnetic radiation.

Propagation of EM Waves:

The two types of electromagnetic waves that are used to carry

information are-

1. Radio waves

2. Light waves

Based on the characteristics of propagation, radio waves are

divided into three categories -

1. Ground waves

2. Sky waves

3. Line-of-sight waves

Transmission Impairments:

The four types of impairments are:

1. Attenuation.

2. Distortion.

3. Free space loss.

4. Noise.

Attenuation is the loss of energy or strength of a wave with distance
over any transmission medium or vacuum.

Figure : Attenuation

Distortion refers to a change in the from or shape of a wave. A wave may have different frequency components may have different speed through the medium. This component may also different energies, and thus different attenuation. The attenuation typically is greater for higher frequency components, and causes additional distortion, known as attenuation distortion.

Figure : Distortion
Free space loss:
The electromagnetic waves traveling through the atmosphere get
dispersed with the distance traveled. The waves spread over a large
area in the free space

Unwanted waves modify the waves carrying information during
transmission. These unwanted waves are referred to as noise. Noise
is divided into the following categories -

1. Thermal noise

2. Induced noise

3. Cross talk

4. Impulse noise

Note: The random motion of electrons in a medium produces
thermal noise; thermal noise is also known as white noise or Johnson noise.

Types of Signals:

The three types of signals used in telecommunications are

1. Electrical signals

2. Light signals

3. Electromagnetic signals other than light (or radio waves)

Properties of Electrical Signals:

Bandwidth of an Electrical Signal.
Data Rate of an Electrical Signal.

Note:The absolute value of the difference between the lowest and highest frequencies of a signal is called Bandwidth and the range of that a signal spans from minimum to maximum is called Spectrum.

Properties of Light Signals:

1. Refraction 2. Bandwidth 3. Loss 4. Data Rate

Figure : Bending of light ray

The two types of signals used in a telecommunication network are-
1. Analog
2. Digital

Note: 1. Signal is the electrical representation of data. Signal and
data both have analog and digital forms.
2. Analog signals take an infinite number of values in a range. Digital signals take a limited number of values in a range.

Analog and Digital Signal:

Figure : (a) Analog signal (b) Digital signal
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