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The dynamic range of a TWT is the region between the point at which the RF output signal just breaks through the noise threshold to the point at which the output power saturates. The linear or small signal region is most often defined as ending when increasing RF drive causes gain to drop 1 dB from its small signal level (1 dB compression point). Saturation generally occurs at an input drive level 6 to 8 dB above the 1 dB compression point and with 2 to 3 dB higher output power. AM / AM conversion is a measure of the change in RF output power that results from a change in the RF input drive, i.e. the slope of the transfer curve. In the linear region, AM / AM conversion is 1.0 dB / dB. At saturation, AM / AM conversion is 0 dB / dB. TWTs with high interaction efficiency often exhibit gain expansion near the high band edge (AM / AM > 1.0). This is caused by the inability of the helix velocity tapers to equally match beam slow-down at all frequencies within the band. It generally is undesirable to operate the TWT too far into overdrive as severe beam defocusing can occur in this region. Gain variations over the frequency band result from the frequency dependence of helix velocity and impedance. Additionally, gain varies with the electrical length of the circuit, which, in turn, varies with frequency. A two octave TWT can exhibit as much as 25 dB gain variation. This typically can be reduced to *2.0 dB with the use of an external gain equalizer. Gain ripple results from signal reflections either internal or external to the tube. Since a TWT is electrically "long" (a typical TWT has a phase length of about 10,000 degrees), a relatively small change in frequency (typically 100 to 300 Mhz) shifts phase 360*. Most TWTs exhibit an approximate *0.2 dB gain ripple at this frequency.

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