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Our Repair department occasionally gets reports of performance issues with digital transmitters that are being used in an RF-heavy environment. In almost every case, the complaints were traced back to poorly-designed amplified antennas or antenna distribution systems.
To pinpoint the problem and confirm that the transmitter and receiver are working properly before they are sent to us, we ask the customer to first eliminate their amplified antenna or distribution amplifier and try a whip antenna instead. Full digital systems are particularly vulnerable to overload in the RF signal chain, since the full digital modulation has both FM and AM components. If that RF signal passes through an overloaded amplifier, the AM part of the signal is compressed (clipped) and the AM information is distorted or lost. Antenna systems that may work satisfactorily with FM systems can fall apart when full digital signals are used in the presence of other strong RF signals.