Reverse Engineering A Phased Array System Reveals Surprising Details

The term “phased array” has been around for a long time, but in recent years we’ve heard more and more about the beam shaping that’s possible with phased array antennae. In the video below the break, [The Signal Path] breaks down a Qualcomm 60GHz WiGig unit, and does a deep dive, even looking at the bare silicon and an x-ray of an antenna.

An X-Ray of the antenna shows the intricate design

Some fascinating highlights include how not only the data signal is sent to the antennae through a standard coaxial cable, but so are control signals and a base clock frequency. [The Signal Path] explains how the manufacturer chose to use what’s called a SuperHeterodyne (aka “superhet”) architecture, which is not all that different from those used in traditional amateur radio transceivers. In theory, anyway.

Another element that is discussed is how the PCB’s themselves are used as waveguides, inductors, and transmission line matches, among other countless little hacks to fit a rather complex system into a truly diminutive space.

If you’re not familiar the concept behind phased arrays, check out this article we published in 2019 that shows how phased arrays can steer a beam without any moving parts. It’s quite fascinating!

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