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SenarioTek’s FlexMatrix RF switch matrix family delivers off-the-shelf performance from DC up to 40 GHz. FlexMatrix offers test engineers a high performance RF switching capability over the broadest range of standard input and output configurations for applications such as radar, military communications, consumer wireless and signal integrity.

The FlexMatrix RF switch matrix family incorporates design and manufacturing knowledge acquired by delivering over 400 custom switch matrix design solutions. With guaranteed on-time delivery and a standard three-year warranty, SenarioTek expands its ability to deliver products to test engineers on time.

Figure 1

Figure 1 FlexMatrix RF switch matrix configurations.

Switch Matrix Configurations

RF switch matrix solutions are found in a wide variety of test solutions. The type of switch matrix configuration required depends on the key functions that are required for a particular test station. SenarioTek’s FlexMatrix RF switch matrix family includes product series that are focused on the most widely used switch matrix solutions: common highway, full access blocking, full access non-blocking, differential and expandable. Figure 1 highlights each of the configuration types.

Standard switching configurations range from a simple 2 × 4 switch matrix, all the way to 36 × 36. Switches can be either terminated or unterminated, with connections located on either the front or rear panels. The SenarioTek website offers a configuration tool that easily configures a switch matrix and quickly generates a quote.

RF Performance

The FlexMatrix family is designed specifically for high performance applications – minimizing loss and VSWR, while maximizing isolation. Frequency ranges are available from DC to 6, 26.5 or 40 GHz on the standard products – higher frequencies are available via custom solutions.

FlexMatrix offers excellent cycle-to-cycle insertion loss magnitude and phase repeatability, lowering test system calibration uncertainty for longer periods of time. Figure 2 shows a repeatability measurement of the insertion loss of 4 switches in series, with each switch cycled 1 million times. Each switch is guaranteed for over 10 million switching cycles for either terminated or un-terminated products. In addition, each switch matrix contains on-board internal memory providing the ability to conveniently de-embed correction files.

Intuitive Automation

The FlexMatrix controller allows for remote control via LAN, GPIB and USB. Basic SCPI compatible switch commands may be used or the controller may be configured to interpret existing commands in order to maintain compatibility with existing test software. The controller offers intuitive switch/path controls and allows for switch path queries as well as a switch lifecycle counter. For manual control, the FlexMatrix family has an option for an easy to use LCD interface mounted on the front panel or as a removable handheld display.

Three-Year Standard Warranty

Having test station downtime is time consuming and expensive. SenarioTek switch matrix solutions are in use at manufacturing test sites around the world. They are so serious about quality that they offer a three-year standard warranty at no cost.

Targeting Specialty Applications

While FlexMatrix is being used for a wide variety of applications, there are several specialty applications where it is unique. The following highlights a few of these applications.

Figure 2

Figure 2 FlexMatrix RF switch matrix repeatability demonstration showing insertion loss of four switches in series with each switch cycled 1 million times.

Signal Integrity: Multi-lane, Single Connection

The FlexMatrix Differential Series offers dual one by 4, 8, 16 or 32 port solutions to speed time-to-market for products using the latest standards such as PCI Express Gen 3, IEEE 1394, USB 3.0, SATA, SerDes, InfiniBand and Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE and 100 GbE). The differential series minimizes path delay skew between differential pairs, including delay matching for transmitter measurements as low as two picoseconds at the DUT interface. Test engineers can perform multi-lane testing with a single connection. Complete test plans may be automated and suspected problems may be checked without changing any connections.

Expandable Platforms

The FlexMatrix Expandable Series enables adjustment, modification or expansion as needed. For example, the expansion ports provide test engineers with the capability to expand their 5×5 or 10×10 solutions to a greater number of ports. As needs change, the port count can be increased by adding an expansion matrix. The boxes may be daisy-chained together with one box used as the controller for the others. If an LCD display is present, it will represent the expanded switch matrix.

In addition, the expansion ports provide the flexibility to allow an inline component to be added between the FlexMatrix input and output, without the need for external switching. For example, an external amplifier may be added with the amplified signal being routed to any or all of the FlexMatrix outputs.

Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) Solutions

As satellite complexity increases, there is a growing need for qualified RF/microwave TVAC compatible subsystems. SenarioTek has been in a unique position to address this challenging problem. As a designer of custom RF/microwave test products for many years, the company has worked with a wide variety of component manufacturers. Over the years they have developed special solutions that are successfully being used in TVAC chambers for satellite and satellite component testing.

Bob Alman

FlexMatrix solutions are available from DC to 32 GHz with operation from -30° to +70°C at < 10–6 Torr vacuum. Not only does it allow the use of the same test solution inside and outside the chamber, but it enables the satellite test system to be further optimized in this difficult environment.

Santa Rosa, Calif.