WLAN test and measurement equipments-RF,protocol,PHY

This page covers WLAN test and measurement equipments from various vendors. These WLAN equipments are used for testing radio conformance, protocol conformance and pre-certification testing of the WLAN device.

Introduction to WLAN : It is the short form of Wireless LAN. The devices based on WLAN follows IEEE 802.11 series of standards. It includes 802.11a, 11b, 11g, 11n, 11ac, 11ad etc. The different standards have been developed to meet various data rate and coverage requirements of the user. The 802.11a/b/g uses single antenna based transmitter and receiver known as SISO. The 802.11n/ac/ad uses multiple antenna based transmitter and receiver known as MIMO. There are different versions of MIMO supported in the 11n/11ac/11ad versions.

The typical WLAN device consists of RF, baseband (i.e. Physical layer or PHY), MAC and upper layers. There are various WLAN test and measurement equipments for RF and baseband testing. The most popular among them are referred as VSG and VSA. Refer comparison between VSG and VSA.

WLAN RF test equipments

VSG stands for Vector Signal Generator which is used to test WLAN receiver functionality. VSA stands for Vector Signal Analyzer which is used to test WLAN transmitter functionality. VSG and VSA are used to test RF and baseband (i.e. PHY) layers. Typically VSG and VSA equipments are generic which can be used to test other standard based products also such as WiMAX, GSM, CDMA, LTE, Zigbee, Zwave, IoT, RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, Lora etc. with their appropriate baseband applications. The baseband application include signal generation software and signal analysis software which comes as separate bundle such that it can be integrated seamlessly with VSG and VSA equipments.

National Instruments WLAN Test Solution

The table-1 mentions popular VSG and VSA manufacturers used to test and measure various RF/PHY parameters of the WLAN device. The figure-1 depicts one such solution from NI for IEEE 802.11ac device testing.

WLAN RF test equipments Description
Tektronix RSA5000B series and RSA6000B series of real time spectrum analyzers are available. RSA5000B supports different models upto 26.5GHz range, RSA6000B supports different models ( 6.2 GHz, 14 GHz, 20 GHz ). SignalVu software can be used with digital oscilloscope and RTSA for WLAN-802.11ac and WiGig-802.11ad compliant signal analysis.
Keysight There are various RF VSG and VSA equipments are available along with WLAN signal generation and signal analysis application softwares. N9077A, V9077B are WLAN measurement applications used to analyze WLAN signal. N7617B signal studio is used to generate WLAN compliant signal as per unit configurations. The applications support various WLAN standards viz. 802.11a/11b/11g/11j/11p/11n/11ac etc.
Rohde & Schwarz Different WLAN test and measurement equipments are available which supports bandwidth upto 160GHz and supports MIMO tests. It supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ad etc.
• CMW500 used for WLAN network emulation,signal generation and analysis
• R&S®FSW and R&S®FSV as signal/spectrum analyzer
• R&S®SMW200A and R&S®SMBV100A as VSG
• R&S®TS-ITS100 as WLAN RF conformance testing as per 802.11p
• R&S®TS8997 used as regulatory test requirement as per wireless standards
National Instruments (NI) VSG and VSA are available to support frequencies upto 6.6 GHz, Refer WLAN NI solutions
Anritsu Model MT8860C can be used for 802.11a/11b/11g/11n Tx/Rx measurements Supports various measurements e.g. EVM, CCDF, spectrum mask, PER etc.
Bird Technologies, SA-XT Site Analyzer This is simple spectrum analyzer, There are two versions of the equipment. The version-1 (SA-3600XT) analyzes upto 3600MHz and version-2 (SA-6000XT) analyzes upto 6000MHz frequency.

WLAN protocol test equipments

As we know WLAN protocol stack consists of MAC and upper layers. In order to test and analyzer MAC and upper layers protocol analyzer or WLAN sniffer are needed. There are WLAN VSG available which provides user separate window to configure MAC messages including payload. WLAN VSAs which provide bit level MAC layer analysis are also available.

WLAN protocol test equipments Description
Tamosoft Used for wifi packet analysis. It is popular wlan packet sniffer.
Acrylic WiFi professional It is also wlan sniffer which analyzes wlan traffic in windows based system.
Frontline Test Equipment ComProbe 802.11a/b/g/n protocol analyzer

Wireless test and measurement equipments

MIMO channel emulator
CMU200 vs CMW500
WLAN Test and Measurement Equipments
Wireless Sniffer
Bluetooth test tools
LTE test tools