RF equipments | RF Test and Measurement Equipments

This page covers RF equipments for test and measurement. The common RF equipments include signal generator, signal analyzer, power meter, frequency counter, network analyzer, field strength meter, spectrum analyzer, waveguide mixer, PIM analyzer, noise figure meter, Noise dosimeter, network optimization and drive test tools, antenna test range, GTEM cell etc.

As we know RF communication is evolving at very rapid pace due to emerging wireless standards and technologies. These systems are using advanced modulation techniques and multiple antenna technologies to achive higher data rate and larger distances. Due to these RF measurements and RF testing have become very crucial before deployment of RF communication systems. The figure-1 below depicts typical components of an RF communication system.

RF Communication System

As shown in the figure, RF systems are broadly categorized into transmitter, channel and receiver. The transmitter consists of baseband transmitter (source encoder, channel encoder), modulator and RF upconverter. The receiver consists of RF downconverter, demodulator and baseband receiver (channel decoder, source decoder).

Modulator uses any one of the advanced modulation techniques such as BPSK, QPSK, 16-QAM, 64-QAM or 256-QAM. Multi-carrier baseband modulation technique such as OFDM or OFDMA is being used in the baseband part. Following are the common RF measurements carried out by various RF equipments.

RF Measurements

Following are the typical RF measurements carried out by RF test equipments.

Transmitter measurements: These are conducted in order to validate transmit functionalities of the RF module. It covers measurements such as transmit power or power spectrum, Gain, Gain Flatness, P1dB (1 dB compression) point, harmonics and spurious frequency measurements, frequency stability, phase noise, EVM (Error Vector Magnitude), CCDF (Complementary Cumulative Distribution Function) etc. EVM is used to test/validate modulation functionalities. CCDF helps in understanding behaviour of power amplifier in the transmit chain.

Receiver measurements: These are conducted in order to validate receive functionalities of the RF module. It covers measurements such as noise figure, sensitivity, Dynamic range, TOI, image rejection etc.

RF Equipments for test and measurement

Following is the list of common RF equipments used in RF test and measurement domain.

Spectrum Analyzer: It is the most generic tool used for frequency versus power measurement. It also helps in identifying frequencies in the span set by the user. It helps in measurement of harmonics, spurious, phase noise, ACP (Adjacent Channel Power), OBW (Occupied Bandwidth) etc.

Power Meter: It is used along with various power sensors to measure peak and average power of RF signals. Power meters are available for lower frequency as well as higher frequency measurements. It measures power in units of dBm or dBW.

Signal Generator: It is used for receiver testing of RF devices. The common RF tests for which it is used are selectivity or blocking, IP3, sensitivity, image rejection etc. There are two types of signal generators scalar and vector.

Signal Analyzer: It is used for transmitter testing of RF devices. The common RF tests for which it is used are power spectrum, occupied bandwidth, ACP (Adjacent Channel Power), Phase noise, EVM, CCDF, harmonics, spurious, P1dB etc. There are two types of signal analyzers scalar and vector.

Noise Figure Meter: It is used for noise figure measurement of RF receivers or RF down converter. It usually comes with noise sensor which needs to be calibrated before measurement of noise figure.

Frequency Counter: It is used for accurate or precise measurement of the frequency output of frequency converters. It helps in measurement of short term and long term frequency stabilities in units of ppm/day or ppm/year respectively.

Network Analyzer: This are of two types scalar and vector. Scalar Network Analyzer (SNA) performs sweep faster where as Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) performs sweep slower. SNA is used for magnitude measurements where as VNA is used for both magnitude and phase related measurements. Various S-parameter measurements are performed by network analyzers. The companies such as keysight and Anritsu manufactures network analyzers.

Popular RF Test Equipments

Following is the list of popular RF test equipments used for testing transmitter and receiver parts of RF devices against standard conformance specifications. These RF equipments can be used for testing above mentioned RF measurements of both transmit and receive parts.

RF Equipments

RF VSG: This RF equipment, Anritsu MG3710A VSG (Vector Signal Generator). It mentions features, specifications and applications of Anritsu MG3710A VSG (Vector Signal Generator).
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Spectrum Analyzer from Keysight, Tektronix and Rigol : This page compares spectrum analyzers from Keysight,tektronix and Rigol and mentions comparison between keysight spectrum analyzer,tektronix spectrum analyzer and Rigol spectrum analyzer.
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Waveguide mixer from Anritsu : This page mentions applications of waveguide mixer. It describes generic specifications of waveguide mixer MA2806A and waveguide mixer MA2808A.
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Sound Level Meters: The meter used to measure sound noise level is known as sound meter or sound level meter. This page covers basics and types of sound level meters. It mentions manufacturers of sound level meters.
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PIM Analyzer used as PIM Tester: This RF test equipment performs PIM (Passive Intermodulation) testing. It mentions PIM tester or PIM Analyzer used to conduct PIM test of the Base station Site. Anritsu PIM Analyzer is one of the popular PIM test equipment.
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Noise Figure Meter: This RF equipment is used for Noise Figure testing. The page describes block diagram of Noise Figure Meter. It mentions Vendors or manufacturers of Noise Figure Meter.
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RF and Microwave Frequency Counter: This page covers RF Frequency counter basics with block diagram. It describes down conversion techniques used in microwave frequency counter. The vendors and manufacturers of RF Microwave frequency counters are also mentioned.
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Near Field Probe Set: This page describes Near Field Probe Set basics. It mentions applications of Near Field Probe. It also mentions Near Field Probe vendors or manufacturers.
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Surge Generator: This page describes Surge Generator basics. It mentions general specifications of Surge Generator. It also mentions Surge Generator vendors or manufacturers.
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Basics and Types of Antenna Test Ranges: This page covers antenna range basics and mentions antenna range types which include near field and far field antenna test ranges.
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Network Optimization and drive test tools and equipments: This page describes basics of RF network planning,RF network optimization and RF drive tests. It mentions tools and equipments used for RF drive tests and RF network optimization.
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Noise dosimeter used for noise dosimetry: This page covers noise pollution and mentions basics of noise dosimeter equipment. The measurement of noise radiation is known as noise dosimetry. Noise dosimeter vendors are also mentioned.
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GTEM Cell for EMI and EMC Testing: This page covers GTEM Cell (Gigahertz Transverse ElectroMagnetic cell) basics. It mentions GTEM Cell construction,applications and popular GTEM cell manufacturers.
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