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The Tek Talk blog features contributions from a collection of RF and microwave test and measurement experts at Tektronix. The focus is on providing tips and strategies to help RF designers and engineers perform measurements more effectively, whether they are engaged in WLAN, radar and electronic warfare, EMI conformance testing or spectrum management.

Ten Tips for Improving Off-air Spectrum Measurements

By Richard Duvall, Tektronix

 As the spectrum becomes more and more crowded, detecting sources of interference is tougher than ever and only becoming more challenging. Therefore it’s critical that spectrum managers are well-equipped to perform accurate spectrum measurements and quickly chase down interference signals. Here are 10 tips that will help anyone working in the spectrum management field improve off-air spectrum test and measurement. 

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Practical test needs trump instrument silos

Justin PanzerWireless communications industry veteran Justin Panzer brings his insights to this edition of the Tek Talk blog. He has more than 19 years of industry experience, including 10 years in test and measurement working on everything from commercial handset testing to mil/gov RF. He is currently business development director for the Sources & Analyzers Product Line at Tektronix. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Drexel University and an MBA from Auburn University.

Ubiquity of wireless communications is adding an RF component to electronics designs that haven’t historically been wireless enabled. More complex chip, board and embedded systems designs that incorporate communications technologies into everything from PCs to automobiles are changing the impact of RF on the world's R&D engineers. Designers today need the tools to get the most out of unfamiliar technologies.

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The Diagnostic Powers of Test

HendrenBrian Hendren, Senior RF and Microwave Applications Engineer, Tektronix Component Solutions takes over the Tek Talk blog and discusses prototyping for success:

In this day and age manufacturers are trying to drive costs out of every aspect of the production flow, and RF and microwave is no exception.  That means that every process step gets closely scrutinized. Specifically,“test” is one of the operations constantly under evaluation to understand the bare minimum needed to verify performance.  That approach is understandable because test is likely one of the most time consuming steps in the production flow, particularly when you include system set up time.  

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Prototyping for Success

HendrenBrian Hendren, Senior RF and Microwave Applications Engineer, Tektronix Component Solutions takes over the Tek Talk blog and discusses prototyping for success:

The prototype phase plays a critical role in the development of advanced RF/microwave components and assemblies.  For design and process engineers, this phase is all about learning how the part performs and gaining insight for building the final product. Like many things in life, work and business, good communication is paramount to success, and it is critical that the design and process engineering teams work cohesively to capitalize on the opportunities for learning that prototyping provides.

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Tips and tricks for improving quality, scalability in RF/microwave assemblies

Brian Hendren, Senior RF and Microwave Applications Engineer, Tektronix Component Solutions discusses high volume assembly tips and tricks.

Well, it’s a good thing if you actually planned ahead for higher-volume manufacturing and designed a module that’s able to leverage automated assembly processes.  If not, you could be in for a world of hurt.  The good news is that you can set yourself up for success if you factor automation considerations into your device design up front. 

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Part 3 of 3: Swept or Stepped: The Architectures of Spectrum Analyzers

Comparison – Swept, Stepped, and Real-time

In the previous two blogs, I have discussed the architecture difference between swept and stepped analyzers, and some of the subtle differences in stepped analyzers including real-time analyzers.  Now let’s look at the exact same signal on each of the different architectures and describe the differences in the observed signal.  The signal of interest is a frequency hopping signal that dwells at three separate frequencies a couple MHz apart at a carrier frequency around 2.4 GHz.  The signal tunes, overshoots, settles, and dwells at each frequency for all in about 400 us before sequentially changing to the next frequency in a repetitive pattern.  Thus, there are about 2500 transitions per second.

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EMI debugging and the soup can

EMI testing can be less painful when you start by suppressing all emissions you can find. Get a comfortable margin for test, then one by one remove those patches and look for the leaks. Here is how in a simple example.
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