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Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits for SETI Use

SETI League members around the world are finding Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) to be useful components for the construction of SETI-related equipment. A MMIC typically requires only two coupling capacitors and a single bias resistor to provide a general-purpose amplifier with constant input and output impedance, flat gain and constant noise figure over a wide range of frequencies. Best of all, the typical MMIC costs from $1 to $5 US in single quantities.

In the SETI League Lab, we have been using Silicon (Si) and Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) MMICs in Low Noise Amplifiers, active filters, IF amplifiers, local oscillator chains, test signal sources, and anywhere a stable, broadband gain block is required. Although the design and construction of microwave circuits are (as we academics like to say) beyond the scope of this course, the table and notes which follow are intended to help those members with microwave circuit expertise to select an appropriate device from among a list of popular and affordable MMICs. The table is by no means comprehensive, but represents a cross-section of the MMICs already successfully used by our members in their various SETI projects.

The columns in the table below are arranged as follows:

  1. MMIC part number (more than one may be shown when compatible parts are available from competing manufacturers)
  2. Maximum rated operating frequency
  3. Nominal gain (normally relatively flat across the specified frequency range)
  4. Output power at the one dB gain compression point
  5. Nominal noise figure at some unspecified test frequency (usually mid-band)
  6. Suggested bias resistor value for use from a +13 VDC power supply
Manufacturers and suppliers are listed below the table. Members are encouraged to submit additional specs via email, for inclusion in future updates of this table.

MMICF maxGainP 1dBNFR1 @ Vcc = +13 VDC
ERA18 GHz+12 dB+10 dBm5.3 dB240 ohm 1/2 W
ERA26 GHz+16 dB+11 dBm4.7 dB240 ohm 1/2 W
ERA33 GHz+22 dB+9 dBm3.8 dB270 ohm 1/2 W
ERA44 GHz+13 dB+15 dBm5.5 dB120 ohm 1 W
ERA54 GHz+17 dB+17 dBm4.5 dB120 ohm 1 W
ERA64 GHz+11 dB+17 dBm8.4 dB110 ohm 1 W
MAR1 / MSA01851 GHz+15.5 dB+1.5 dBm5.5 dB470 ohm 1/4 W
MAR2 / MSA02852 GHz+12 dB+4.5 dBm6.5 dB330 ohm 1/4 W
MAR3 / MSA03852 GHz+12 dB+10 dBm6.0 dB220 ohm 1/2 W
MAR4 / MSA04851 GHz+8 dB+12.5 dBm6.5 dB150 ohm 1/2 W
MAR6 / MSA06852 GHz+16 dB+2 dBm3.0 dB560 ohm 1/4 W
MAR72 GHz+12.5 dB+5.5 dBm5.0 dB390 ohm 1/4 W
MSA07353 GHz+8 dB+5 dBm5.5 dB390 ohm 1/4 W
MAR8 / MSA08851 GHz+22.5 dB+12.5 dBm3.3 dB150 ohm 1/4 W
MAV11 / MSA11041 GHz+10.5 dB+17 dBm5.3 dB120 ohm 1 W
MGA 865768 GHz+23 dB+6 dBm1.6 dB560 ohm 1/4 W
INA 103862 GHz+24 dB+14 dBm3.5 dB180 ohm 1/2 W

Manufacturers and Vendors:

Prefixes MAR, ERA and MAV above are Mini-Circuits part numbers. For technical details and specifications contact:

PO Box 350166
Brooklyn NY 11235 USA
(417) 335-5935

Prefixes MSA, MGA and INA above are Hewlett-Packard/Avantek part numbers. For technical details and specifications, in the US call 1 (800) 752-0900 and ask for a Components representative. Elsewhere, contact your nearest Hewlett-Packard International Sales Office.

Many electronics distributors around the world stock these components for their commercial customers. Minimum ordering quantities may exceed your needs. The following vendors have agreed to stock and process single-quantity orders for many of these MMICs:

Down East Microwave
954 Route 519
Frenchtown NJ 08825 USA
(908) 996-3584


Radio Astronomy Suppies
P.O. Box 450546
Sunrise, FL 33345-0546

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