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Dokumentenidentifikation EP0829133 02.10.2003
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0829133
Titel SCHALTUNG ZUR AUTOMATISCHEN VERSTÄRKUNGSREGELUNG IN EINEM TUNER
Anmelder RCA Thomson Licensing Corp., Princeton, N.J., US
Erfinder ASCHWANDEN, Felix, CH-8800 Thalwil, CH
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 69629678
Vertragsstaaten DE, FR, GB, IT
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 26.04.1996
EP-Aktenzeichen 969101450
WO-Anmeldetag 26.04.1996
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/IB96/00382
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0096034452
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 31.10.1996
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 18.03.1998
EP date of grant 27.08.2003
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 02.10.2003
IPC-Hauptklasse H03G 3/30

Beschreibung[en]
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns an automatic gain control (AGC) arrangement useful in a tuner.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Present day tuners do not work sufficiently well for processing digital signals received using various transmission systems. Both the RF and IF characteristics of the receivers need improvement since a digital signal occupies the entire spectrum of a channel, and delay and frequency response errors have a more severe effect on digital signals than on analog signals. Moreover, since the transmitted power of digital signals is considerably less than the transmitted power for analog transmissions, acceptable reception of the desired signal can be more difficult in the presence of strong adjacent channel signals. Further, the signal conditions in the fringe area of over-the-air transmissions are also a problem. For fringe areas, a few tenths of a dB loss of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or an increase of intermodulation distortion, can make the signal recovery difficult, if not impossible.

Conventional automatic gain control AGC systems in TV receivers typically are responsive to the level of the demodulated video signal. After comparison of the demodulated video signal with a reference, error voltages are generated to control the gain of the IF amplifier and RF stage of the tuner. To obtain a good SNR over a wide range of input levels, it is a common practice to delay the application of AGC to the tuner until relatively high signal levels are encountered. This works well in the absence of strong adjacent signals. However, if the signal level is low in the presence of strong adjacent signals, cross modulation with the strong adjacent signals could occur in the mixer and the bit error rate (BER) of the demodulated television information would increase.

Typically, there is a single AGC control signal for the IF and a single AGC control signal for the RF, which may or may not be delayed. Additionally, the AGC control signal for the RF typically is derived from the AGC control signal for the IF. Although the relative amplitudes of the AGC control signals can be made different for the various stages by the use of dividers, the overall ratios between the various stages remains constant for various signal levels. More particularly, the AGC control signal for the RF is not individually adjustable according to the characteristics of the input signal, especially for optimising the tuner characteristics with respect to adjacent channel signals and SNR.

Finally, the ultimate criterion for the quality of digital reception id the BER, which is effected by SNR and intermodulation distortion. Currently, there is much research being conducted to develop improved devices to minimize such difficulties in the tuner. However, even if such new devices are successful, the limitations of the mixer will still be troublesome. Thus, it is desirable that the quality of the signal coupled to various stages of a tuner be optimized independently of the devices used in the various tuner stages.

An example of apparatus providing control of RF circuits prior to mixing is described by Erat in EPO application EP-A-0 455 974 A2 entitled CONTROL CIRCUIT FOR SUPER-HETERODYNE RECEIVER which was published 13 November 1991. The receiver includes a preselector stage coupled to apply RF signals to a mixer. The preselector stage comprises an attenuator to which an antenna is connected. The attenuator is coupled to the mixer via a series connection of three tuned circuits which may be tuned by voltage-variable diodes. An amplifier (of fixed gain) is coupled between the first and second tuned circuits.

The amplitude of signals before and after mixing (in the IF path) are measured and applied to a control signal generator which provides an indication of the presence or absence of noise in the received signal. If noise is absent, the attenuator is made inactive. If noise is present, the attenuator is turned on. In the case where the input signal is noisy and of high level, the generator also sends correction signals to the filters to correct for detuning.

An example of a receiver in which signal carrier to noise ratio is used for filter control is described by Nonaka et al. in Patent Abstracts of Japan, vol. 017, no. 371 (E-1396), 13.07 1993 and JP-A-05056434 (Sony Corp.), 05.03.93 entitled SATELLITE BROADCAST RECEIVING DEVICE. This receiver includes switching circuitry which inserts a noise reduction filter at the output of a video processor under conditions of low carrier to noise ratio (C/N) and by-passes the filter otherwise. The receiver comprises an "operating" circuit which operates the noise level of each channel from the receiver IF AGC voltage at the time of an empty channel selection, a memory that memorizes the result of the operation, a comparator which compares the noise level of the currently selected channel as memorized and the AGC voltage

   that shows the current carrier level and a discriminating circuit that discriminates whether noise reduction processing is to be carried out or not in the noise reduction circuit from the C/N value that is outputted from the comparator circuit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A tuner is presented in which there are two separate RF AGC gain controllable amplifier stages desirably separated by a non-AGC gain controllable stage. Each of the RF AGC stages are individually controlled by respective individual AGC control signals generated by an AGC controller so that the level of the output signal from each of the RF AGC gain controllable amplifiers is individually optimised for tuner performance.

The present invention has application to tuning apparatus of a type comprising a source of an input signal; a local oscillator ; a mixer coupled to the local oscillator for converting the input signal into an intermediate frequency (IF) signal; and an IF processing means including a detector coupled to the mixer for detecting information on the IF signal.

The invention is characterized by a plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers coupled in series between the source and the mixer for amplifying the input signal; and control means for generating control signals for respective ones of the plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers in response to an output of the mixer and an output of the detector.

In accordance with a feature of the invention, the apparatus is further characterized in that the control means further generates a modification signal for modifying the operation of one of the plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers.

In accordance with another feature of the invention, the apparatus is further characterized in that the IF processing means further includes an IF gain-controlled amplifier; and the control means generates another control signal for the IF gain-controlled amplifier in response to an output of the mixer and an output of the detector.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

  • Fig. 1 is a block diagram showing an RF section, an IF section and an AGC section of a receiver according to the prior art.
  • Fig. 2 is a block diagram showing an RF sections an IF section and AGC section of a receiver according to aspects of the present invention.
  • Fig. 3 shows a modification of the AGC arrangement of Fig.2 according to aspects of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT HARDWARE

Fig. 1 shows an RF, IF and AGC circuit arrangement according to the prior art. A signal source is coupled to input 10 and filtered by input filter 12. The signal from input filter 12 is coupled to amplifier 14, the gain of which is AGC controllable. The amplified signal from amplifier 14 is coupled to an interstage filter 16 and to mixer 18 where it is mixed with the signal generated by local oscillator 20 for producing the IF signal at lead 21. The IF signal is processed and amplified by IF section 22 which includes a gain controllable AGC amplifier and a video detector. A detected video output signal at lead 23 is coupled to AGC generator 24 to provide a responsive AGC control signal.

A version of the AGC control signal is coupled to the IF section at lead 25 to adjust the gain of the IF section to keep the video signal at lead 23 at a reasonably constant level for variations of source signal level at RF input terminal 10. If the level of signal at terminal 10 is very high, a delayed AGC control signal is coupled via lead 26 to RF AGC gain controllable amplifier 14. This delayed AGC control signal is derived from the IF AGC control signal except that it is applied when a higher threshold signal level is reached. The delay is provided so that the maximum gain at the amplifier 14 is maintained for as long as possible to maintain a good SNR.

Fig. 2 shows a circuit arrangement, according to aspects of the present invention, wherein members common with Fig. 1 are given like designations. A second AGC gain controllable amplifier 28 is included in the RF section prior to the mixer. Amplifier 28 is separated from the first AGC controllable amplifier 14 by, in the present embodiment, a non-AGC controllable interstage filter 16, or by a non-AGC controllable amplifier (not shown). In this arrangement, the output signal from amplifier 14 is optimized for the interstage filter 16 and the output signal from the second AGC gain controllable amplifier 28 is optimized for mixer 18. An AGC controller 30 has input signals from lead 21 which couples the converted IF output signal directly from mixer 18, the detected video signal at lead 23, and an indication of the BER from the digital decoder (not shown). In response to these input signals, AGC controller 30 provides individually adjustable AGC 1, 2 and 3 control signals which are coupled to respective AGC 1, 2 and 3 gain controllable amplifiers 14, 28 and 22. AGC controller 30 can include a microprocessor which analyzes the characteristics of its various input signals, as discussed above, and adjusts each of the AGC control signals for providing optimum tuner characteristics according to a conditions programmed into an EPROM (not shown).

Fig. 3 shows a modification of Fig. 2 where an AGC modified control signal is coupled from AGC controller 30 to AGC 1 amplifier 14 in addition to the AGC 1 control signal. An AGC modified control signal is generated by the AGC controller and coupled to the AGC 1 amplifier. This AGC modified control signal: 1) can either modify the operation of the AGC 1 amplifier's response to the AGC 1 control signal, or 2) change the gain of the AGC 1 amplifier in a manner different from the AGC 1 control signal. Further, if warranted, as a third alternative, the AGC 1 stage can be bypassed if the input signal is very strong, e.g., by actuation of a switch, e.g., a diode, in response to the AGC modified signal. Modifications (1) and (2) of the AGC operation on the first AGC amplifier stage would be actuated by the microcontroller only when a weak digital signal is received and a further improvement of the SNR is desirable. The third modification can be initiated when the input signal is so strong that the first AGC amplifier may be overloaded.

Suitable digital decoders for providing the BER signal or the equivalent, i.e., a signal which is indicative of the BER, are a STEL-2030B decoder available from Stanford Telecommunication Company of Sunnyvale, California, U.S.A. or an AHA 4210 decoder available from Advanced Hardware Architecture of Pullman, Washington, U.S.A. Such a signal indicative of the BER could be a signal indicative of the amount of error correction being performed or a symbol error signal derived from a Viterbi decoder.

OPERATION

It has been found, according to aspects of the present invention, that the providing of individually adjustable AGC control signals to each of a plurality of AGC adjustable amplifier stages prior to the mixer, improves the performance of the tuner. For example, a 3dB signal reduction after a tuner first amplifier reduces second order distortions in the output signal from the mixer by 6dB and third order distortions by 9dB, with little degradation of the SNR. By distributing the AGC responsive gain reduction over two AGC stages in the tuner before the mixer and one AGC section in the IF section after the mixer, distortions and the BER of the system can be optimized.

The peak signal level of the mixer provides a reasonable criteria for mixer distortions, and such a level can be measured at the unfiltered IF output signal at the mixer. Additionally, as in conventional systems, the level of the output signal at the video detector is also important. The magnitudes of these two signals, i.e., the unfiltered IF output signal at the mixer and the output signal at the video detector, provide information about the nature of the received signal. For example, selecting a channel with a low level signal but with strong adjacent channel signals produces a low level output signal at the video detector and a high level output signal at the mixer. On the other hand, a weak selected signal without adjacent channel signals causes both levels to be low.

From the measured signal levels, an intelligent controller can calculate and adjust the three AGC control signals to substantially reduce distortion. For example, if the attenuation in the second AGC in the tuner is reduced, but the attenuation of the third AGC in the IF is increased to maintain the same signal level, the SNR would improve, but more intermodulation distortion is produced. Once such operations are accomplished, either the BER or a similar error indicative signal, both of which are often readily available from a digital decoder (not shown), could be used as the final criteria for the fine adjustment of the AGC stages, i.e., to verify whether or not the operation was beneficial. For example, if the BER or other error indicative signal is above a threshold, the microprocessor controller modifies the three AGC control signal voltages until the BER becomes minimum or falls below a threshold value.

It should be noted that this arrangement is also applicable to standard analog received signals. The effect on the change of SNR for standard analog reception may be little importance. However, even a slight decrease in SNR can have a detrimental effect for digital signals received at or close to a threshold level. For such a situation, the value of the AGC control signal coupled to the first AGC stage can be chosen so that the gain of the AGC stage is not reduced.


Anspruch[de]
  1. Abstimmvorrichtung mit:
    • einer Quelle (10, 12) eines Eingangssignals,
    • einem örtlichen Oszillator (20),
    • einem mit dem örtlichen Oszillator (20) verbundenen Mischer (18) zur Umsetzung des Eingangssignals in ein Zwischenfrequenz (ZF)-Signal,
    • ZF-Verarbeitungsmitteln (22) mit einem mit dem Mischer (18) verbundenen Detektor zur Detektierung von Informationen in dem ZF-Signal,
    gekennzeichnet durch:
    • mehrere verstärkungsgeregelte Verstärker (14, 28), die in Reihe zwischen der Quelle (10, 12) und dem Mischer (18) liegen, zur Verstärkung des Eingangssignals, Steuermittel (30) zur Erzeugung von Regelsignalen für jeweils einen der mehreren verstärkungsgeregelten Verstärker (14, 28) durch ein Ausgangssignal des Mischers (18) und ein Ausgangssignal des Detektors.
  2. Abstimmvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Regelmittel (30) außerdem ein Modifikationssignal zur Modifizierung des Betriebs eines der mehreren verstärkungsgeregelten Verstärker (14, 28) erzeugen.
  3. Abstimmvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    die ZF-Verarbeitungsmittel (22) außerdem einen verstärkungsgeregelten ZF-Verstärker enthalten und

    die Regelmittel (30) ein anders Regelsignal für den verstärkungsgeregelten ZF-Verstärker durch ein Ausgangssignal des Mischers (18) und ein Ausgangssignal des Detektors erzeugen.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A tuning apparatus, comprising:
    • a source (10,12) of an input signal;
    • a local oscillator (20);
    • a mixer (18) coupled to said local oscillator (20) for converting said input signal into an intermediate frequency (IF) signal;
    • IF processing means (22) including a detector coupled to said mixer (18) for detecting information on said IF signal;
       characterized by:
    • a plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers (14,28) coupled in series between said source (10,12) and said mixer (18) for amplifying said input signal;
    • control means (30) for generating control signals for respective ones of said plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers (14,28) in response to an output of said mixer (18) and an output of said detector.
  2. The tuning apparatus of Claim 1, further characterized in that:
    • said control means (30) further generates a modification signal for modifying the operation of one of said plurality of gain-controlled amplifiers (14,28).
  3. The tuning apparatus of Claim 1 or Claim 2, further characterized in that:
    • said IF processing means (22) further includes an IF gain-controlled amplifier; and
    • said control means (30) generates another control signal for said IF gain-controlled amplifier in response to an output of said mixer (18) and an output of said detector.
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Appareil de syntonisation, comprenant :
    • une source (10, 12) d'un signal d'entrée ;
    • un oscillateur local (20) ;
    • un mélangeur (18) couplé audit oscillateur local (20) pour convertir ledit signal d'entrée en un signal de fréquence intermédiaire (FI) ;
    • un moyen de traitement FI (22) comprenant un détecteur couplé audit mélangeur (18) pour détecter les informations sur ledit signal FI ;
    caractérisé par :
    • une pluralité d'amplificateurs à gain contrôlable (14, 28) couplés en série entre ladite source (10, 12) et ledit mélangeur (18) pour amplifier ledit signal d'entrée ;
    • un moyen de contrôle (30) pour générer des signaux de contrôle pour des éléments respectifs de ladite pluralité d'amplificateurs à gain contrôlable (14, 28) en réponse à une sortie dudit mélangeur (18) et à une sortie dudit détecteur.
  2. L'appareil de syntonisation de la revendication 1, caractérisé en outre en ce que :
    • ledit moyen de contrôle (30) génère en outre un signal de modification pour modifier l'opération d'un élément de ladite pluralité d'amplificateurs à gain contrôlable (14, 28).
  3. L'appareil de syntonisation de la revendication 1 ou de la revendication 2, caractérisé en outre en ce que :
    • ledit moyen de traitement FI (22) comprend en outre un amplificateur à gain contrôlable FI ; et
    • ledit moyen de contrôle (30) génère un autre signal de contrôle pour ledit amplificateur à gain contrôlable FI en réponse à une sortie dudit mélangeur (18) et à une sortie dudit détecteur.






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G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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