A transmitter is an electronic device which, usually with the aid of an antenna, propagates an electromagnetic signal such as radio, television, or other telecommunications. In other applications signals can also be transmitted using an analog 0/4-20 mA current loop signal.
Generally and in communication and information processing, a transmitter is any object (source) which sends information to an observer (receiver). When used in this more general sense, vocal cords may also be considered an example of a transmitter.
In radio electronics and broadcasting, a transmitter usually has a power supply, an oscillator, a modulator, and amplifiers for audio frequency (AF) and radio frequency (RF). The modulator is the device which piggybacks (or modulates) the signal information onto the carrier frequency, which is then broadcast. Sometimes a device (for example, a cell phone) contains both a transmitter and a radio receiver, with the combined unit referred to as a transceiver. In amateur radio, a transmitter can be a separate piece of electronic gear or a subset of a transceiver, and often referred to using an abbreviated form; "XMTR". In consumer electronics, a common device is a Personal FM transmitter, a very low power transmitter generally designed to take a simple audio source like aniPod, CD player, etc. and transmit it a few feet to a standard FM radio receiver. Most personal FM transmitters In the USA fall under Part 15 of the FCC regulations to avoid any user licensing requirements.
In industrial process control, a "transmitter" is any device which converts measurements from a sensor into a signal to be received, usually sent via wires, by some display or control device located a distance away. Typically in process control applications the "transmitter" will output an analog 4-20 mA current loop or digital protocol to represent a measured variable within a range. For example, a pressure transmitter might use 4 mA as a representation for 50 psig of pressure and 20 mA as 1000 psig of pressure and any value in between proportionately ranged between 50 and 1000 psig. (A 0-4 mA signal indicates a system error.) Older technology transmitters used pneumatic pressure typically ranged between 3 to 15 psig (20 to 100 kPa) to represent a process variable.
In radio communications, a radio receiver (commonly also called a radio) is an electronic device that receives radio waves and converts the information carried by them to a usable form. It is used with an antenna. The antenna intercepts radio waves (electromagnetic waves) and converts them to tiny alternating currents which are applied to the receiver, and the receiver extracts the desired information. The receiver uses electronic filters to separate the desired radio frequency signal from all the other signals picked up by the antenna, an electronic amplifier to increase the power of the signal for further processing, and finally recovers the desired information through demodulation.
The information produced by the receiver may be in the form of sound (an audio signal), images (a video signal) or data (a digital signal). A radio receiver may be a separate piece of electronic equipment, or an electronic circuit within another device. Devices that contain radio receivers include television sets, radar equipment, two-way radios, cell phones, wireless computer networks, GPS navigation devices, satellite dishes, radio telescopes, bluetooth enabled devices, garage door openers, and baby monitors.
In consumer electronics, the terms radio and radio receiver are often used specifically for receivers designed to reproduce the audio (sound) signals transmitted by radio broadcasting stations, historically the first mass-market commercial radio application.