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A six-port Ka-band front-end architecture based on direct conversion for a software-defined radio application is proposed in this paper. The direct conversion is accomplished using six-port technology. In order to demodulate various phase-shift-keying/quadrature-amplitude-modulation (PSK/QAM) modulated signals at a high bit rate, a new analog baseband circuit was specially designed according to the I/Q equations presented in the theoretical part. An experimental prototype has been fabricated and measured. Simulation and measurement results for binary PSK, quaternary PSK (QPSK), 8 PSK, 16 PSK, and 16 QAM modulated signals at a bit rate up to 40 Mb/s are presented to validate the proposed approach. A software-defined radio can be designed using the new front-end and only two analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) because the I/Q output signals are generated by analog means. Previous six-port receivers make use of four ADCs to read the six-port dc levels and require digital computations to generate the I/Q output signals. With the proposed approach, the load of the signal processor will therefore be reduced and the modulation speed can be significantly increased using the same digital signal processor.