Microwave Journal

Configurable RF Test Platform

January 17, 2011
Aeroflex today announced its new modular RF test platform for wireless applications up to 6 GHz. The scaleable platform has the flexibility to easily perform at any stage of wireless development from research to manufacturing, and can integrate seamlessly into any wireless market including cellular, wireless data, RFIC test and military/aerospace. The configurable RF measurement system encompasses three powerful new additions: New PXI 3000 Series hardware modules, PXI Studio software with new measurement plug-ins, and a new PXI instrument chassis to tie it all together. “The combination of a single-sourced PXI instrument chassis, with system controller, PXI module resources and PXI Studio application software heralds the arrival of a complete out-of-the-box configurable and scalable RF measurement system that surpasses the performance of rack-and-stack instrumentation of old,” said Tim Carey, PXI product manager, Aeroflex Test Solutions. “The flexibility and speed offered by the Aeroflex 3000 Series modular platform sets a new benchmark for configurable instrumentation, offering users a degree of freedom never before imagined.” New PXI modules extend frequency range coverage to include HF, VHF and UHF The Aeroflex RF modular measurement system is comprised of PXI 3000 Series modules which now additionally includes: 3025C, a 1 MHz to 6 GHz digital signal generator; 3030C, a 250 kHz to 3 GHz wideband RF digitizer; and 3035C, a 250 kHz to 6 GHz wideband RF digitizer. With this launch, the frequency range coverage of the PXI 3000 Series hardware modules has been extended to include all HF, VHF and UHF bands—from 250 kHz to 6 GHz for signal analysis and 1 MHz to 6 GHz for signal generation. This extends the application base to include military/aerospace applications as well as cellular, wireless data and RFIC test. The new 3025C module features an increased RF output power range of -120 dBm to +7 dBm to more effectively support RF component testing. All new modules provide the ability to generate and analyze signals with RF bandwidths up to 90 MHz—nearly three times the bandwidth on current models. This places Aeroflex at the leading edge for instrumentation technology capable of supporting WiMAX and other emerging wideband communications systems. The new hardware modules have been made even faster to further accelerate production throughput. For example, new features within the digitizer family offer an 80 percent improvement in data-transfer speed over the PCI bus and the new 3025C signal generator can switch frequency ten times faster than before for frequencies up to 85 MHz. PXI Studio unlocks the speed and flexibility of Aeroflex RF modular instruments PXI Studio is a software application for use with Aeroflex 3000 Series PXI modules. This highly flexible application can be used to simultaneously generate and analyze complex modulated signals. Additional measurement plug-ins enable PXI Studio to be used to analyze WiMAX OFDMA signals as well as providing general purpose spectrum analysis. WiMAX analysis can be performed for any type of WiMAX UL/DL OFDMA PUSC sub-frame configuration. WiMAX signals can now be analyzed for power, modulation quality and spectrum with the speed and accuracy that comes with using Aeroflex 3000 Series PXI modular instruments. General purpose spectrum analysis includes a full range of measurement functions for channel power, adjacent channel power and occupied bandwidth. Measurement results can be displayed graphically, including EVM spectrum, EVM time, constellation, spectral mask, spectral flatness and burst power. Numerical data is displayed for power, RCE, carrier frequency error, carrier leakage and symbol clock error. PXI chassis provides multiple configurations for maximum versatility To complete the package, Aeroflex also offers a new PXI chassis and system controller to host both Aeroflex modular instruments and PXI Studio application software. Aeroflex is now a complete one-stop shop for modular RF instrumentation. The Aeroflex PXI chassis includes one system controller slot and seven peripheral PCI or PXI slots to support multiple configurations of Aeroflex PXI modules for maximum flexibility. The chassis is available in two models: the 3000 and 3000A. The 3000 is suitable for use with embedded or external controllers. The 3000A is equipped with an integrated 8.4-inch touch screen color display with an 800 X 600 resolution and the 3001A PM 1.8GHz embedded system controller module. The 3000A is designed for use as a self-contained, stand-alone instrument that can be used for both bench-top and portable applications. Both the 3000 and 3000A chassis offer extended operating temperature range from 0 to 55 C, with facilities for offline monitoring of power, cooling and temperature. Automatic fan speed control ensures both models emit extremely low audible noise (41.6 dBa). Both the 3000 and 3000A combine a lightweight aluminum internal structure with a robust metal shell to provide an easily portable, yet rugged PXI system. Price and Availability These latest additions to the Aeroflex 3000 Series modular RF test platform are available for delivery beginning in October 2007. The system is highly configurable. Pricing for the complete system comprising signal generation and signal analysis starts at around U.S. $40,000 for 3 GHz and U.S. $50,000 for 6 GHz configurations. Pricing for specific test configurations can be obtained by contacting Aeroflex sales at (800) 835-2352.