# is the power reference: Specifically, power in db is represented by the following equation, where P0 P db = 10 log 10

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1 RF Basics - Part 1 This is the first article in the multi-part series on RF Basics. We start the series by reviewing some basic RF concepts: Decibels (db), Antenna Gain, Free-space RF Propagation, RF Attenuation, Noise, Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), Receive Sensitivity and Link Budget Analysis. Throughout this series, the terms 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz refer to the GHz and GHz bands respectively. Demystifying the db The term db is an abbreviation of decibel, which is equal to 1/10 th of a Bel (named after Alexander Graham Bell). The unit Bel, used to represent very small quantities, is a logarithmic measure of the ratio between two quantities. The db is used to represent a variety of parameters in engineering fields varying from acoustics to electronics. Specifically, power in db is represented by the following equation, where P0 is the power reference: P P db = 10 log 10 P The unit db can also be used to represent an absolute power value, by defining a reference and adding the corresponding suffix to db. For example, dbm stands for db with reference to 1 milliwatt (mw). In the above equation, db can be replaced by dbm when P 0 is set to 1 mw. Therefore, 1 mw of power is equal to 0 dbm (= 10 log10 1). Similarly, the gain of an antenna is specified in dbi or dbd (more on this in next section). The following table shows some mw values and their equivalent dbm values. Table 1: Milliwatts to dbm Conversion mw dbm Since [ 10 log10 2 ] is ~3.01, adding 3 db to an absolute power value in dbm is equivalent to doubling the power in milliwatts and subtracting 3 db is equivalent to halving the power and so on. The transmit power of wireless devices are specified in either mw (or Watts for high power transmitters) or dbm. Antenna Gain The gain of an antenna is specified in dbi, which is the power gain of the antenna compared to an isotropic antenna. An isotropic antenna is an ideal (theoretical) antenna that spreads energy in all directions (in a sphere) with equal power, which is impossible to design in practice. Some antennas may have their gains expressed in dbd (though less

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