Exploring the type of RF Switch required for your application

Coaxial switches play an essential role in modern communication systems by providing smooth transfer of signals between numerous devices. These electromechanical switching devices are built to handle high-frequency signals while preserving low insertion loss and remarkable isolation. The power handling capability of EM type switches make them an indispensable component. Their versatility makes them ideal for a wide range of applications.

What do RF Switches do?
Coaxial switches are electronic devices employed in radio frequency (RF) and microwave applications to switch between various coaxial transmission lines. They are commonly used in telecommunication systems, military and aerospace, and test and measurement. In telecommunications systems, the switches are used to connect antennas and transmitters to receivers, and to route signals between different components in a system. In military and aerospace applications, RF switches function in radar systems, electronic warfare systems, and other mission-critical applications. Various switches can be used for a wide range of applications, from simple signal routing to complex signal switching in multi-channel systems.

Type of switches
Coaxial Electromechanical Switches come in various forms and sizes, including single-pole single-throw (SPST), single-pole double-throw (SPDT), double-pole double-throw (DPDT), and single-pole multi-throw (SPMT).

A SPDT switch comes with two outlets to route signals between two paths. This type of switch is often found in redundancy systems, utilized by the military or aerospace industry.

The DPDT switch, otherwise known as a transfer switch, contains two inputs and two outputs. Signals can be isolated here, making it a popular choice for test and measurement systems.

The SPMT has one input but multiple outputs. This switch is ideal for transferring multiple signals to distinct components in communication networks.

Things to consider
When deciding on the type of switch, certain technical specifications need to be taken into account, including frequency range, power handling capability, and switching speed.

Frequency range:
The frequency range of the switch should match the frequency range of your application. Make sure to select a switch that can handle the highest frequency in your system.

Power handling capability:
 The power handling capability of the switch should be sufficient to handle the maximum power level in your system. A readily available power-handling chart should be referenced to determine the appropriate product.

Switching speed:
The switching speed of the switch should be fast enough to meet the requirements of your application.

Port configuration:
The number of ports and their configuration (single pole, double pole, etc.) should match your specific application needs.

Environmental conditions:
Consider the environmental conditions of your application, such as temperature, humidity, and vibration. Make sure to select a switch that can operate reliably under those conditions.

Other parameters to consider
If a electromechanical switch is not suitable for your application due to switching speed you may consider and alternative type of switch such as a solid-state switch. Solid-state coaxial switches employ semiconductor technology, such as PIN diodes or GaAs FETs (Gallium Arsenide Field-Effect Transistors), to control signal paths. These switches offer rapid switching times, high reliability, and extended lifespan compared to their electromechanical counterparts. Solid-state switches are commonly used in applications that demand fast switching, low power consumption, and compact form factors. They are available in SPST, SPDT, transfer switches, and matrix configurations.