Topic outline

  • In this hands-on course you will design and manufacture microwave components, and learn how to test your prototypes - and any radio system!

    This course handles system-level design and evaluation of RF devices, also considering noise and non-linearity. These are essential in the design of active RF circuits, such as radio transceivers. Special emphasis is put on obtaining the ability to experimentally evaluate and analyse microwave circuits (i.e. your own prototypes), including practical spectrum and network analysis methods, as well as power and noise measurements. Students also carry out independent information acquisition, small-group work, and oral presentation of project results.

    If you designed microwave components and a small radio system in "Microwave Engineering II" (i.e. a Doppler radar), you can now go ahead and manufacture prototypes, and test their RF characteristics.

    The first lecture of this course was on September 13, 2021. The course is now ongoing.

    • resource icon
      Introductory Lecture slides (13.9.21) File
      Not available unless: Your User account contains (use: contains

      Introduction to the course contents and all practicalities, and briefly to the project assignment.

    • forum icon
      News forum
      Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
      General news and announcements by the teachers
    • forum icon
      General discussion Forum
      Not available unless: You are a(n) Student

      Anyone can start a discussion on a course-related topic here, and anyone can answer, too!

  • Contact sessions

    Sessions are held on Mondays at 12:15 - 2 p.m.. Sessions are organised according to Aalto's latest instructions, either in OIH A113 "Sim Lab" in hybrid mode (on-site+online), or then exclusively online in Zoom. The PCB workshops and measurements labs are done in ELE department, Maarintie 8.

    In some course activities your learning benefits from being present in class. Some sessions are therefore organised on-site, with health-safety measures in place according to Aalto guidelines. This applies to the first four sessions of the course (see Course Schedule). There is anyway the option to join through Zoom if needed. Please inform the teacher a day in advance if you cannot join on-site and need the Zoom option. All the labs, however, can only be carried out on-site, for obvious reasons.

    Teacher team
    Univ. Lect. Clemens Icheln, Sen. Univ. Lect. Juha Mallat, as well as Veli-Pekka Kutinlahti and Riku Kormilainen as course assistants.

    This course requires students to have passed both ELEC-E4420 and ELEC-E4430 in order to achieve the learning goals of this course with the given workload allocation corresponding to 5 ECTS. Lack of some pre-requisites means a student needs to independently study more in order to pass this course (see The basics section).

    Learning outcomes
    • After the course, an average student (grade 3) can outline the basic operation of generic microwave electronic circuits, design practical microwave electronic circuits for a given desired functionality, analyse the basic factors that affect the performance of microwave circuits, and test experimentally the performance of a given or any own microwave circuit/device.
    • Students will have had the opportunity to improve their presentation skills, group-working skills, documentation skills, and problem solving skills.   

    Course literature
    see separate Course books section
    Course content
    1. System-level design and evaluation of microwave devices, also considering noise and non-linearity.
      • Design of active microwave circuits such as a radio transceiver, as well as experimental evaluation of a prototype, including basic network analysis (i.e. of scattering-parameters) through vector-network-analyser (VNA) measurements.
    2. Microwave measurement metrology, for spectrum analysis, network analysis, power and noise measurements, and other applications.

    Principles of the teaching
    • We will use the "flipped classroom" principle, i.e. you read the book chapters before they are handled in class and there will be online quizzes at the beginning of some of the lessons to verify how well students understood the book chapter, followed by discussions.
    • The course consists of 5 main topics, including the final project: see the subpages of each topic. Each subpage contains lecture slides and some background material.

    • 5 ECTS, i.e. 5 x 27 hours = 135 hours of working
    • 15 x 2 hours = 30 hours of contact teaching (in Zoom) 2 hours per week
    • 50 hours of independent studies,  average 2-3 hours per week
    • 55 hours of project work,  average 3 hours per week
    • The given number of hours for students' work is only indicative. It is subject to e.g. pre-knowledge and skills of a student (see pre-requisites).
    Communication and news
    • The main forums for the communication and information are the contact sessions and the top-level News forum on this MyCourses course page. Registered students get these news as an e-mail. All important information will be published in the News forum. 

      The students' questions should be addressed during the lessons or in the general discussion forum in MyCourses. This is because the same question is very likely interesting for the other students, too!

      If you have a personal question that you cannot ask during lessons, you can send an e-mail to one of the teachers. 


    The course is graded 0-5, based on the following assessment methods (for each "sub-grade", the weight in the final course grade is given in %). There are no compulsory parts. There is no make-up exam nor any additional assessment possibility!

    • Lesson tests (35 %): Students take four lesson tests/quizzes distributed over the course duration. One lesson test take approximately 40 minutes. Presence in class or in Zoom lecture is required to have the online quizzes fully graded. The three best results will be counted into this sub-grade (so you can skip/fail one lesson test without affecting your chances for the best possible total "lesson-tests" grade).
    • Group assignment (10 %): A small RF circuit design project related to RF instrumentation, including a seminar presentation.
    • Project work (40 %): Related to the project, students return three learning diaries that are assessed (10%). The project presentation (in Zoom) contributes most to this sub-grade (30%), because this presentation is one key evidence of the student’s success in reaching this course’s learning goals.
    • Final quiz (15%): The final quiz at the end of the course follows the same online format as lesson tests but is a bit more extensive. The aim is to assess students' overall comprehension of the course contents.

  • Here is the contact-session schedule of the course:
    All lecture/support/seminar sessions are on Mondays, starting at 12:15 p.m. Since restrictions on gatherings are lifted as of 1 October, most session will be held on-site in OIH A113 (Simulab), with a few sessions due to prior arrangments still fully online through this Zoom session. All Lab works are arranged on-site in ELE department, Maarintie 8 during the corresponding Monday lecture timeslot (see details below):

    13.09. Course kick-off session, introduction lecture and group activity, on-site (if needed hybrid)
    20.09. Radar project kick-off and support session (BYOD), on-site (if needed hybrid)
    27.09. Radar project CAD support session (BYOD), on-site (this is the place to ask questions!)
    04.10. Radar project CAD support session (BYOD), on-site. 1st milestone: Layout ready => Gerber/drill files ready by Wed. 6.10., noon (all designs are sent by teachers for PCB manufacturing)
    11.10. Lesson test #1 (BYOD), and lecture on vector network analysis, online
    18.10. Lesson test #4 (only individual part), and lecture, with demo on noise measurements in practice, online
    25.10. Radar project lab session, assisted PCB manufacturing/soldering and prototype measurements in ELE μwave lab in small groups (Maarintie 8, room 2161)
    01.11. Radar project lab session, assisted PCB manufacturing/soldering and prototype measurements in ELE μwave lab in small groups (Maarintie 8, room 2161); 2nd milestone: your prototype operates
    08.11. Lesson test #2a (BYOD), and lecture on microwave frequency synthesis, as well as student presentations on Coupler assignments (6 minutes each), on-site
    15.11. Radar project, intermediate seminar, on-site. Individual 6-min. presentations, status report and summary, plus discussion for exchanging lessons learnt from project work so far
    22.11. Lesson test #2b (BYOD), and lecture on spectrum analysis, on-site
    29.11. Lesson test #3 (BYOD), and lecture on microwave power measurements, on-site
     6.12. no session (Independence day, i.e. public holiday)
    13.12. Radar-system demo, hybrid session, i.e. both in Zoom and on-site in "OIH" (Maarintie 6) lecture hall A113 "Simulab" (i.e. the usual time and place)
    20.12. Final lesson test (only online in MyCourses, individually, i.e. no contact session)

    Feel free to enjoy two supplementary, voluntary 9-minute online lectures: one on time-domain measurements:
    and one on EMC measurements:

  • The main course text book is: Teppati et al (ed.): Modern RF and Microwave Measurement Techniques (2013)

    The second recommended text book is: R.J. Collier, A.D. Skinner: Microwave Measurements, IET (2007)

    A third text book is available: N. B. Carvalho, D. Schreurs: Microwave and Wireless Measurement Techniques (2013)

    Supplementary textbook in Finnish: A. Lehto, A. Räisänen: Mikroaaltomittaustekniikka, Otatieto, TKY 875, (2007)

    Generally, if getting the course book from the library is a problem (e.g. too few copies), please let us teachers know. We don't have a copy for every student since some students have own copies already, but we want to have just enough so that all who need can borrow one copy.

    Within the course topic sections there are additional links to selected reading (e.g. manufacturers' application notes)

  • Every student should independently re-cap Chapter 1 of the main course book (Teppati, pages 3-20, 17 p.) at the beginning of the course, since this chapter nicely summarises some of the pre-requisites of this course, such as scattering parameters and using the Smith chart. Please put special emphasis on understanding the concept of the directional coupler because it is an essential component in some microwave measurements. Since these topics are pre-requisites to this course, they are not separately handled/repeated in the contact sessions.

    Every student should also read part of Chapter 4 of the second course book (Collier) namely section 4.1 (pages 59-60, 2 p.) and section 4.B.5 (pages 76-77, 2 p.), which discusses coaxial cable connectors and especially SMA connectors from a very practical viewpoint. Coaxial cables with SMA connectors are commonly used in microwave measurements and need to be handled with great care. This whole chapter may provide very useful reference material for your later pratical lab work.

  • In this section we will have a closer look at how vector network analysers operate, incl. the important skill of correctly calibrating a VNA.

  • In this section we will have a closer look at how spectrum analysers operate, including the generation of microwave signals.

  • In this section we will have a look at microwave power measurements, incl. a look at calibration and transfer standard principles, as well as the concept of measurement uncertainty.

  • A special type of power measurements are noise measurements, which are essential in determining e.g. the sensitivity or the dynamic range of a microwave circuit.

  • Not available unless: Your User account contains (use: contains

    Students design, build and test components of a Doppler radar circuit. The circuit designs are based on the project carried out within ELEC-E4430 Microwave Engineering II in spring 2021. (It is strongly recommended but not mandatory to pass that course before taking this course. If you haven't taken the course in spring, you need to design your circuit from scratch in the same time as other students, who may have half-way ready circuit designs to start with!) You should all have access to the MEII course space in spring, please use that AWR support material, too!

    The radar project in this course is carried out mostly individually, with regular progress reports, individual learning diaries, and a project seminar. Since every student manufactures only one of the in total 4-5 components required to create a full radar system, we will eventually combine individual circuit prototypes into a working radar circuit, which is experimentally tested (this year only in an online session by the teacher). Here are photos from previous years' lab sessions (students testing own circuit):

    The learning outcomes of the assignment are:

    • to improve microwave design skills for optimising a realistic design according to given specs
    • to acquire practical skills for manufacturing and testing a working microwave prototype
    • to deepen understanding of essential microwave measurement techniques
    • to improve ones ability to cooperate effectively within a small group
    • to learn communicating the progress of one's own project work,
    • to learn to prepare and give an oral presentation, and
    • to self-evaluate one's own learning progress.
    Miscellaneous information:
    • The assignment is carried out individually until the microwave components are manufactured and tested.
    • The planned nominal extent of the project is 2 ECTS. Hence, each student is assumed to use approximately 2 x 27 hours = 54 hours for this assignment (in average 3-4 hours per week during 2.5 periods).
    • During the whole semester, each student gives short weekly or biweekly updates on project status in MyCourses.
    • You can get your own student license for AWR (only for Aalto students) for working outside class. AWR is also installed in both PC classes in Maarintie 8, as well as in "Maari-E" in Maarintalo!  Currently, you can use AWR on Maarintie 8 PC-class workstations remotely through
    • The project schedule is as follows (teacher and course assistant are available throughout the semester):
    • September 20: Kick-off of the project. Draft working plan, select of radar component(s) to be manufactured.
    • Sept. 20- Oct. 4: Working on circuit design. On Mondays at 12:00-14:00 -> project/CAD support sessions in classroom/Zoom. Please do use these support sessions to get support!
    • October 6: 1st milestone: Gerber layout file, needed for the external manufacturing of the PCBs (see deadlines below). Learning diary #1 of the first project section to the individual student return folder.
    • Oct. 25/Nov. 1: Project lab sessions for soldering and measuring each student's circuit board(s), in ELE μwave lab (Maarintie 8, room 2161).
    • November 1 Intermediate project check-point: your prototype circuit board(s) operate(s) (2nd milestone), and you collected all relevant performance measurements!
    • November 15: Project seminar, reporting measurement results of individual circuit prototypes and estimate for realistic radar range. Learning diary #2 of the second project section (by Wednesday, Nov. 17).
    • December 13: Demo-session for testing a few student prototypes in a realistic radar test setup (hybrid: on-site and in Zoom).
    • December 22: Learning diary #3
    Return deadlines:
    • October 6, i.e. soon after the Monday session: Upload to the return folder in MyCourses:

      1. Group: The Gerber file containing final layouts of all your sub-circuits to the individual student return folder.
      2. Student: Personal learning diary #1 of the first part of the project work (see return box below)
    • November 15 by 10 a.m.: Upload to the return folders in MyCourses:
      1. Upload your presentation slideset (final draft) to the "Project seminar slides" activity below this paragraph by 10 a.m.. Slides should contain relevant measured results, showing the individual circuit operates as expected. Also consider its effect on the operation within a realistic radar setup (i.e. estimate the theoretical radar range when your prototype  is combined with the back-up components).
      2. By Wednesday, Nov. 17: Personal learning diary #2 of the second part of the project work (see return box below)
      3. by Wednesday, Dec. 22, Learning diary #3 of the final project (see return box below)
    Project presentation session on November 15, 2021, at 12:15:
    • Each student presents to the other students their project results, i.e. evidence that their circuits works, and other achievements (e.g. theoretical radar range estimate based on characteristics of own+realistic components).
    • Presentations must be concise as each presentation can last max. 6 minutes! After each presentation there is ~4 minutes for questions and discussion.