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Industry News / Test and Measurement

MWJ T&M Survey 2009: Tektronix

Tektronix responds to questions from Microwave Journal editors about the state of RF testing and measurement equipment today.

March 11, 2009
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Responses by Darren McCarthy, Tektronix Technical Marketing Manager RF Test

MWJ - What’s your most significant new product/technology and how is it impacting how engineers work?

Tektronix -The technology that differentiates Tektronix is our patented Real-time technology available in our spectrum analyzers. This includes display, trigger, and streaming technology to radically change how spectrum analyzers are used in development and field operations.

The DPX™ Live RF spectrum technology is available across our entire portfolio from field portable to high-performance benchtop spectrum analyzers. The spectrum update technology is 100’s to 1000’s of times faster than previously available spectrum trace technology and enables engineers to see signals-within-signals and find spectrum anomalies that have never been seen. It is not just about finding what might be wrong with a transmitter, but also providing the confidence that a design is done properly when the behavior shows no anomalies.

Another real-time technology, our unique Frequency Mask Triggering, enables the efficient isolation of transient spectrum events when traditional level or event triggers won’t work. With efficient event isolation, engineers have reduced troubleshooting time and have often found the frequency selective triggering as the only solution to reliably validate designs.

Our real-time digital outputs are also unique on spectrum analyzers. When combined with commercially available data recording system, this has enabled real-time spectrum analyzers to be used for critical field monitoring applications when all signals need to be collected in the spectrum. Using commercial off-the-shelf spectrum analyzers for mission critical applications such as real-time data collection, reduces operational expense and improves uptime while providing the flexibility to analyze, trigger, and mark signals of interest as they are recorded.

MWJ - What are some of the changes occurring in display technology and how data is presented?

Tektronix - When the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) was replaced with the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology starting around 15-20 years ago, the concepts of signal intensity and persistency took a back seat. With the CRT-based oscilloscope, one often had the capability to vary the electrical intensity of the beam as it traced across the display and the decay (persistency) of the phosphor display could be controlled. This display control of intensity and persistency was an important tool for analog oscilloscopes and was often the only way people could see infrequency and low-duty cycle events.

The initial digital oscilloscope products based on LCD technology had lost this important troubleshooting tool for the designer, and many refused to relinquish the old analog scopes.

Tektronix pioneered Digital Phosphor technology, or DPX™, over 10 years ago on Digital Oscilloscopes. The DPX technology brought back the capabilities of intensity and persistency display to modern LCD displays. Digital oscilloscopes from Tektronix now have this display technology across entire portfolio of oscilloscopes.

Tektronix introduced DPX Live RF spectrum display technology for RF customers with our introduction of the RSA6000 series Real-time Spectrum Analyzer. Based on the concepts of FFT analysis, the RSA6000 enabled 100% probability of intercept for all signals within the real-time bandwidth. This has given RF designers visibility to RF signals that had never been seen, and confidence that designs are functioning properly.

In the last two and a half years, Tektronix has not only pioneered the use of this display technology for spectrum analyzers, but also incorporated this important display technology across the entire portfolio from handheld to high-performance benchtop real-time spectrum analyzers.

With the important considerations of power consumption and display technology used in powerful benchtop and portable instruments, Tektronix unique display technology can be adapted to the performance of the instrument.

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