Amplifying radio frequencies can make a massive difference when trying to receive signals. The RF amplifier is the go-to tool for this job, but there are some things you should know before you deploy one.
RF Amplifiers Have an Insane Range of Uses
While often thought of as fairly simply electronics systems designed for radio and television reception, you can find an RF amplifier for virtually any application that involves receiving a signal. Cable companies sometimes use them to push more signal to customers. There are even versions designed for use with medical devices, although those tend to be extremely specialized items you won't be able to buy off the shelf.
Noise Dictates a Lot
Whatever signal you're feeding into the amplifier is as good as you're going to get in terms of quality. Amplifying a noisy signal is unlikely to buy you a lot of improvement because the noise will just become more powerful.
You'll want to place the unit that amplifies the signal as close to the head end as possible. If you're amplifying an AM radio signal, for example, it's best to place the amplifier as close to the antenna as possible. Also, anything that you can do to improve the signal quality before it is amplified is likely to be a win. Even just fine-tuning the placement of the antenna can have a big payoff.
They're Often Best Used for Inline Amplification
Suppose you have a clean signal, but you need to run a long stretch of cable. Using an inline amplifier will allow you to maintain the signal strength over a longer distance. Given that many types of signals degrade significantly for every 100 feet of cable in use, amplification starts to become essential after the first 50 to 100 feet. That's especially the case if the signal is already fairly weak.
Especially for operations that need to isolate and amplify specific signals, selectivity is critical. Designers can tailor amps to specific applications and narrow frequency ranges to maximize results. The downside is that this sort of highly-engineered system tends to be costly to design, meaning that amplifiers designed for less-common applications end up being fairly expensive.
Wattage can deliver immense improvements, especially if you need to transmit a signal across a long run of cable. The downside to this is that extra wattage equals more heat, and coping with the added heat output will require a heavier heatsink. Eventually, the weight and size of the amplifier can become prohibitive.