Rohde & Schwarz has developed the R&S ZN-Z84 switch matrix, an up to 48-port solution for testing multiport components. The matrix can be controlled and operated directly from an R&S ZNB network analyzer. The matrix is said to combine excellent RF properties with high switching speed and long-life semiconductor switches, offering users an easy-to-use multiport vector network analyzer with outstanding measurement characteristics.

The external switch matrix covers the frequency range from 10 MHz to 8.5 GHz, and the base model is equipped with six test ports. When needed, the number of test ports can be increased in groups of six to provide a total of 24 ports. A four-port R&S ZNB with two 24-port matrices can therefore support 48 test ports.

The combination of the R&S ZNB and the R&S ZN-Z84 is ideal for users in R&D and production who test components for the wireless communications sector: Today’s smartphones and tablets operate on multiple frequency bands and incorporate capabilities such as WLAN, Bluetooth®and GPS. Frontend modules that support this kind of functionality feature a large number of RF ports or port groups whose parameters need to be fully characterized. The R&S ZN-Z84 meets this requirement by allowing complete S parameter measurements on up to 48 ports.

The R&S ZNB analyzer’s firmware supports and automatically detects the switch matrix, making it exceptionally easy to integrate the R&S ZN-Z84 into test setups. Measurements can be configured flexibly and simply: Users set parameters such as the numbering of matrix ports or configure used, unused and balanced ports in intuitive dialog windows on the analyzer’s large touchscreen.

No additional software is required. Automatic Rohde & Schwarz calibration units with up to eight ports perform the multiport calibration required for applications with up to 48 ports. The R&S ZNB conveniently guides users through the individual calibration steps.

The R&S ZN-Z84 switch matrix is equipped with fast electronic switches with low attenuation that allow high output levels, wide dynamic range and fast measurements, even with a large number of ports. The test ports in a four-port R&S ZNB that are not connected to the matrix can be incorporated into measurements. These two spare ports deliver the RF characteristics of the base unit such as maximum output level and maximum dynamic range to characterize the DUT’s active components.

With the R&S ZN-Z84 switch matrix, users can measure the S-parameters of antenna I/O modules, multiband filters and splitters, especially those used in high-speed data communications systems. The test solution is also ideal for conducting phase measurements on multi-antenna arrays and for characterizing common multiport DUTs such as multiple splitters, switch modules and multicore cables.