IMS2014: RF Instruments go faceless

-June 06, 2014

Traditional network and spectrum analyzers were, as you might expect, on display in many booths at IMS2014. This year, faceless versions seemed to be everywhere. While National Instruments and Agilent Technologies showed their PXI signal transceivers, several others showed off their screenless instruments.

Anritsu introduced the Shockline series of network analyzers at a press conference on June 4. Ajaiey Sharma, director of marketing and business development, explained how the six models use a single chip to handle the analog front end and digitizerthat sends digitized signals to an embedded PC. The six models of the two-channel MS46322A series are available with bandwidths from 100 MHz to 4 GHz, 8 GHz, 14 GHz, 20 GHz, 30 GHz, and 40 GHz. A four-channel version, the MS46524A, is available in 4 GHz and 7 GHz models.

Anritsu introduced the Shockline series of VNAs at IMS2014.

Sharma noted that the Shockline series focuses on basic RF measurements, leaving more detailed measurements for the company's higher-end bench models, which cover up to 145 GHz. The Shockline series is aimed at manufacturing test of passive components rather than exclusively as a lab instrument.

Sharma then detailed the technology behind the Shockline chip. It consists a series of nonlinear transmission lines in which a CW signal becomes a step function. Because the instrument then works with step functions, it can produce plots similar to those you expect to see in a TDR (time-domain reflectometer) that can indicate the locations of faults in a signal chain.

The Shockline series of VNAs use a series of nonlinear transmission-line functions.

An embedded Intel i5-based PC provides the processing power needed to product spectral time-domain plots. You can connect the Shockline instruments to any video screen that has an HDMI port. "You can buy a 40-in. screen for $200 so why put one in an instrument?" he said. You can alos control the Shockline instruments from a remote PC over its LAN port. There's no USB for instrument control.

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