Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering


College of Engineering


Dennis Derickson

Advisor Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


This thesis provides a description of the analysis, design, and tests of an X-band RF Transmitter communication system for small satellites. X-band transmitter systems are becoming popular in the upcoming deep space missions. Most of the deep-space ground stations have been using X-band frequencies to receive or transmit signals. The X-band (<10 GHz) can offer lower atmospheric losses and up to a couple of Mbps data rates for multiple satellite operations. Nowadays, many small satellites have been using frequency bands such as VHF, UHF, L, and S-band frequencies for communication. From deep space to the ground station, the low-frequency ranges are inadequate in providing Mbps level data rates and enough bandwidth for deep space missions.

The main focus of this thesis was the development of the subsystems such as gain block amplifier, Mixer, Bandpass Filter, and RF power amplifier. The subsystems were designed separately, then they were connected together to perform an end-to-end system test. One of the thesis aims is to design a manageable, power-efficient, and especially cost-effective X-band RF transmitter system. We presented a transmitter system demonstration in this thesis that can also be used in other orbits such as LEO, MEO, or GEO. Additionally, we presented a whole transceiver architecture. However, we focused on specifically designing transmitter subsystems.

Initially, the top-level transmitter system objectives were determined. Then, the link budget was calculated. In the next stage, the RF front-end components were determined. Moreover, we simulated a transmitter system to foresee the output power, EVM, LO and IF frequency requirements, harmonics and spurious signals, cascaded gain and noise figure, and phase noise. From the calculated link budget, we were able to close the link by obtaining a 3 dB link margin. At the end of this calculation, we successfully obtained 1.45 Mbps for uplink data rate and 3.05 Kbps downlink rate. We used modulated signal to evaluate EVM. From the simulated transmitter chain, the output EVM was obtained as 1.456% RMS.

From the filter board, we obtained an 8.5 dB insertion loss at 8.45 GHz. From the Mixer board, we’ve got 10 dB conversion loss and greater than 20 dB isolation between LO-RF ports. From the gain block amplifier board, we obtained a +9 dB gain at 8.45 GHz. The bandpass filter, mixer, and gain block amplifier boards were designed by using FR-4 dielectric material. We also designed a 5 W RF power amplifier board. From this board, we successfully obtained +37 dBm output at bias current at 200 mA. We reached almost 30% Power-added efficiency (PAE). In the end, we connected all the subsystems together using male-to-male SMA connectors to observe output by using a spectrum analyzer. We obtained transmitter output as +10.67 dBm at 8.45 GHz with a -10.7 dBm input power level.

One benefit of this thesis is that its content has inspired other students in the department to develop similar subsystems. The other benefit of this work might be to inspire the way for next-generation X-band communication systems for use in small satellites, such as for deep space missions. This thesis might also be a reference source for institutions with a limited budget to develop a cost-effective satellite communication subsystem and contribute to space exploration for their educational and research objectives.