Power dividers are reciprocal devices that split a signal into multiple signals where the phase and amplitudes of the output are the same. Since power dividers are reciprocal devices, they may also be easily used as power combiners by applying each signal into each of the splitter output ports. A popular type of power divider is the Wilkinson power divider. The Wilkinson power divider is named after Ernest J. Wilkinson. The power divider is a lossy N-port network which is commonly used for power splitting and combining. The device is very handy as the output ports are simultaneously isolated and matched.
Power dividers are classified based on amplitude and phase:
- 0 degree divider: where the output signals are equal in amplitude and phase.
- 90 degree dividers: where the output signals have an equal amplitude but the phase angle between them is 90 degrees.
- 180 degree divider: where the phase angle between them is 180 degrees.
The 90 and 180 degree dividers: are also known as hybrids. The power division of a power divider is the number of outputs of the divider, or the number of ways which the input signal is being divided at the output. The types of power dividers include 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way, 6-way, 7-way, and 8-way.
Power dividers are available as SMT (surface mounts) through hole mounts, flat packs, wave-guides and connectorized. There are some important performance specifications you need to consider when looking for power dividers. These include the frequency range, the insertion loss, the isolation, and the RF connector type. The frequency range is the range for which the power divider/combiner will meet all guaranteed specifications. Insertion loss (in dB) refers to the measured loss through the divider except the power division factor. Insertion loss is calculated as the ratio of power output to power input. Isolation refers to the isolation (in dB) between any set of output ports. The isolation is calculated as the ratio of the power of one output port to the power at any of the other output ports, with matched terminations on all other ports.
There are various RF connector options available for power dividers and these include BNC, MCX, Mini UHF, MMCX, SMA, SMB, SMP, TNC, Type F, Type N, UHF, 1.6/5.6, and 7/16.