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Test and Measurement Channel

Seven best practices to prevent damage to your power meters and sensors

October 13, 2010
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A power sensor, used together with a power meter, is the most fundamental equipment used for RF power measurement. Widely adopted over a broad range of applications, e.g., R&D, manufacturing and installation and maintenance of RF devices, power sensors are known for their sturdiness and reliability that assure you of investment protection in one way or another.

However, year after year, a significant number of power sensors are damaged due to improper usage or lack of precautionary measures. One of the primary causes of damage is sensor overpowering. Many do not realize the adverse effects that overpowering has on power sensors, even if the sensors aren’t overpowered to the point that they become inoperable. When used for subsequent power measurements, these sensors will provide inaccurate readings—a performance that will degrade with prolonged usage. A typical example of accidental overpowering is the power measurement of a high-power amplifier without sufficient attenuation pads. This exposes the power sensing element to high RF input power when the amplifier is turned on. The surge of input RF power, even for a momentary duration, could degrade sensor performance or cause damage to the sensor.

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