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. 145-7843
Mfr. Part No.HMC653LP2E
$7.356
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
$7.65
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. 168-4911
Mfr. Part No.HMC629ALP4E
$26.308
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. 862-6411
Mfr. Part No.HMC624ALP4E
$13.76
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. 160-2705
Mfr. Part No.HMC652LP2E
$7.356
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. 139-1753
Mfr. Part No.HMC425ALP3E
$48.13
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
$12.442
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. 131-4665
Mfr. Part No.HMC306AMS10E
$12.83
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. 145-1329
Mfr. Part No.HMC624ALP4E
$11.153
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. 139-1741
Mfr. Part No.HMC425ALP3E
$37.015
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
RS Stock No. 862-6436
Mfr. Part No.HMC652LP2E
$7.65
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. 131-4666
Mfr. Part No.HMC629ALP4E
$30.17
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 -