Z-Instruments, a joint-venture between ABIT Corporation Japan and WASIMO Ltd. Finland, has launched the AirBOX Wide Band Digital Air Interface Emulator. The instrument has a frequency range of 10 MHz to 15 GHz and beyond, which makes it useful in the development of current and future wireless telecommunications, aviation, defense and satellite applications. Crucially, it also provides an appropriate emulation platform to address the requirements of 5G wireless telecom development.

Features include 200 MHz emulation bandwidth, over 1 second propagation delay and highly dynamic configurability, which optionally allows streaming of the fading coefficient from pre-analyzed channel sounding data or an algorithm engine.

The emulator is Automated Testing Environment-friendly, allowing all parameters to be changed ‘on the fly’. Customers will benefit from the highly configurable design, where 1 to 8 RF channels and 1 to 32 fading channels can be selected.

Although AirBOX has a small 3U form factor, it can support up to 8 x 4 MIMO in a single unit. The MIMO engine can be configured by the user to two sets of 4 x 4 MIMO emulation. Digital cascading allows for higher configuration such as 16 x 4 MIMO or beamforming, and Massive MIMO can be supported with interconnected AirBOXES.

The AirBOX’s pricing point is said to be comparable to ATE switch boxes and ATE attenuators. It is anticipated that the AirBOX can be used for a range of applications, including channel emulation, simple delay generation or as an intelligent RF attenuator, frequency converter as well as an RF Switch Matrix.

The AirBOX is compact in size, enhancing portability, and freeing up valuable laboratory bench space. The user interface has been designed to take into account the interaction between user and product, creating an easy-to-learn interface that recognizes the needs of both the first-time and the more accomplished user who has experienced changes in workflow or the scope of their tasks. It assists both efficiency and effectiveness; ease of navigation and clarity of terminology aids the accuracy in which a user can complete their activities. Also, a multiple-control system and a familiar layout create a comfortable environment, which helps the user to complete tasks quickly and effortlessly, saving time and reducing operational costs.

The AirBOX is designed to enhance the user experience and boosts testing efficiency in situations that require repetitive activity. Additionally, the AirBOX user interface has been specially constructed to reduce incorrect or invalid procedures and to eliminate the possibility of irreversible actions being taken by the user.

Nancy Ahola, CSO of Z-Instruments said: “Our unique approach enables us to address a significantly wider market segment, giving us access to a potential audience for whom channel emulation was not a viable solution before.”