3.15 Direct (TRF) FM ReceiversFrequency modulation is used in radio broadcast in the bandwidth range from 88 MHz til 108 MHz. This range is being marked as “FM” on the band scales of the radio receivers, and the devices that are able to receive such signals are called the FM receivers.
Radio broadcast transmitters are using the amplitude modulation on LW, MW and SW bandwidths. According to international treaties, each of the transmitters has a 9 kHz wide broadcasting channel, therefore making maximum frequency of the information being transferred fNFmax=4.5 kHz, according to the characteristics of the AM signal. To put it more simple, the highest frequency of the sound that can be heard from the loudspeaker of an AM receiver is 4.5 kHz, all above it will be simply truncated in the circuitry. Considering the speech itself, this isn’t so important since the most important components are located below these 4.5 kHz (during the telephone transfer, all the components above 3.2 kHz are being cut, and nobody is complaining). Things stand different, however, for the transfer of music. Music has much more sound components, with their frequencies spreading up to 15 kHz, so truncating them above 4.5 kHz does deteriorate the transmission quality.
The radio-broadcast FM transmitter has a 250 kHz wide channel on its disposal, therefore allowing for the maximum frequency of the information (acc. to the characteristics of the FM signal) to be fNFmax=15 kHz. That means that music is being fully transferred and its quality is significantly better than in the case of the AM transfer. The FM transfer has some other advantages, perhaps the most significant of them being the possibility of eliminating various disturbances that are manifesting themselves as snapping, squeaking etc. The main disadvantage, however, is not the result of the frequency modulation itself, but rather of the fact that this method is being used on high frequencies, and that high-frequency electromagnetic waves behave themself as light, spreading themselves in straight line, not reflecting from the ionosphere etc. This is why obtaining this kind of radio-link requires optical visibility between the transmission and reception antennas, which is not the case for the links obtained on frequencies which are less than 40 MHz. In practical terms, it is possible to receive the SW signal from anywhere on Earth, whilst the range of an UHF link is limited to the horizon. Or, as Hamlet would say: “The quality or the range, that is the question!”
Can we have it both, somehow? Yes we can, and it is already being done, over the satellite links, using the same equipment as for the TV signal receipt and an audio amplifier connected to the audio output of the satellite receiver. For now, in the earthly conditions, those that are interested in the worldwide news will make and use the AM receivers, and music lovers will stick to the FM’s. And what can those interested in both do? Well, they make AM-FM receivers :)
The direct-type (TRF) FM receivers have never been produced, the industry started right away with the superheterodynes, made acc. to the block diagram on Pic.4.6, which will later be discussed. In amateur life, however, the direct FM receivers do exist, having very simple electronic diagrams and being easy to manufacture. These receivers have very strong positive feedback, making the intermittent oscillations in it, and are therefore being called the super-reaction receivers.