Variable Attenuators

Variable attenuators are a type of radio frequency attenuator that permits the signal level to constantly change. Attenuators are devices that decrease the power of a signal without noticeably distorting its waveform. This protects circuitry from receiving a signal that’s too powerful. 


Variable attenuators are used when the signal level needs to be able to change frequently. This is useful when you don't know exactly what the final desired signal range is or when accuracy is not a priority. Attenuators can be thought of as the opposite of signal amplifiers. An amplifier increases signal power (or amplitude) while an attenuator decreases it. 


How do variable attenuators work?

The signal level of variable attenuators is altered either manually or remotely. 


In manual variable attenuators, the signal level is changed by physically controlling the device, using something like an adjustable screw control.


If they are controlled remotely, a motor or PIN diode uses variable voltage to change the signal.


Types of variable attenuators 

Variable attenuators come with PIN diodes or MESFETs (metal–semiconductor field-effect transistors) as resistors to modulate amplitude. They can use either balanced or unbalanced pi-pad or T-pad circuits. 


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Description Price Maximum Attenuation Maximum Frequency Maximum Insertion Loss Package Type Pin Count Dimensions Length Width Height Maximum Operating Supply Voltage Maximum Operating Temperature Minimum Operating Supply Voltage Minimum Operating Temperature Series
RS Stock No. 162-6172
Mfr. Part No.LM1972M/NOPB
SGD5.065
Each (In a Tube of 36)
units
78dB 3MHz - SOIC W 20 13.005 x 7.595 x 2.286mm 13.01mm 7.595mm 2.286mm 12 V +70 °C 4.5 V 0 °C -
RS Stock No. 145-7843
Mfr. Part No.HMC653LP2E
SGD7.389
Each (On a Reel of 50)
units
25dB 25GHz 3dB SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 862-6206
Mfr. Part No.HMC653LP2E
SGD8.25
Each
units
25dB 25GHz 3dB SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 761-5444
Mfr. Part No.LM1972M/NOPB
SGD5.97
Each
units
78dB 3MHz - SOIC W 20 13.005 x 7.595 x 2.286mm 13.01mm 7.595mm 2.286mm 12 V +70 °C 4.5 V 0 °C -
RS Stock No. 139-1753
Mfr. Part No.HMC425ALP3E
SGD40.25
Each
units
31.5dB 8GHz 4.7dB QFN 16 3 x 3 x 0.85mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.85mm 5 V dc +85 °C 3 V -40 °C LSB
RS Stock No. 168-4910
Mfr. Part No.HMC306AMS10E
SGD10.849
Each (On a Reel of 50)
units
15.5dB 3.8GHz 2.7dB MSOP 10 3.1 x 3.1 x 0.95mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C 3 V -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 168-4911
Mfr. Part No.HMC629ALP4E
SGD20.492
Each (On a Reel of 50)
units
45dB 10GHz 3.75dB QFN 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.85mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.85mm 3 V, 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 862-6436
Mfr. Part No.HMC652LP2E
SGD8.25
Each
units
2dB 25GHz - SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 160-2705
Mfr. Part No.HMC652LP2E
SGD7.389
Each (On a Reel of 50)
units
2dB 25GHz - SMT 6 2.05 x 2.05 x 1mm 2.05mm 2.05mm 1mm - +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 183-2363
Mfr. Part No.HMC973ALP3E
SGD20.34
Each (On a Tape of 50)
units
31dB 5GHz 5.6dB SMT 16 3.1 x 3.1 x 0.95mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 131-4666
Mfr. Part No.HMC629ALP4E
SGD24.25
Each
units
45dB 10GHz 3.75dB QFN 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.85mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.85mm 3 V, 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 145-1329
Mfr. Part No.HMC624ALP4E
SGD11.202
Each (On a Reel of 50)
units
31.5dB 6GHz 3.8dB SMT 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.95mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 862-6411
Mfr. Part No.HMC624ALP4E
SGD14.40
Each
units
31.5dB 6GHz 3.8dB SMT 24 4.1 x 4.1 x 0.95mm 4.1mm 4.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C Hittite
RS Stock No. 183-2510
Mfr. Part No.HMC973ALP3E
SGD24.86
Each
units
31dB 5GHz 5.6dB SMT 16 3.1 x 3.1 x 0.95mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C - -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 131-4665
Mfr. Part No.HMC306AMS10E
SGD12.52
Each
units
15.5dB 3.8GHz 2.7dB MSOP 10 3.1 x 3.1 x 0.95mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.95mm 5 V +85 °C 3 V -40 °C -
RS Stock No. 139-1741
Mfr. Part No.HMC425ALP3E
SGD36.117
Each (On a Reel of 18)
units
31.5dB 8GHz 4.7dB QFN 16 3 x 3 x 0.85mm 3.1mm 3.1mm 0.85mm 5 V dc +85 °C 3 V -40 °C LSB
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