Often utilized when working with radio technology, power splitters, also known as power dividers, are used for a range of functions. These small components are used to divide incoming transmission signals into two or more outputs. Ideally, they are able to split the signal evenly across the needed outputs with little signal loss. A divider will have at least two outputs but can be built with more. When used in reverse, the piece can be used to combine power through to a single output.
The simplest type of RF power dividers, couplers actually refers to a small range of components with similar applications. A basic coupler would have a four-port network. Couplers often have an uneven division of power because the signal is split to a different port output. The effectiveness of these can be very dependent on the isolation or may require matching loads on the coupled ports.
Wilkinson Power Dividers
These dividers nearly eliminate intermodulation because they have high isolation. This means that the signals won’t interfere with each other. It accomplishes this due to the resistor strapped between the outputs. The Wilkinson divider is able to split a signal into equal phase outputs. They are most often used in multi-channel radio frequency systems.
Hybrid Ring Coupler
Sometimes referred to as the “rat-race” coupler, this component gets its name from its circular arrangement. Though still a four-port system, this coupler allows the signal to travel in both directions around the ring. Signal is added in phase around the ring with one port remaining out of phase and without power.
Engineers and radio enthusiasts pay careful attention to these dividers to make sure that they have the right tools to take measurements with. Make sure to decide which component will work best for a given project based on isolation of incident signals in the component and the number of outputs needed.