Test and measurement applications are a crucial area for cable assembly innovations. As we move toward a 5G-enabled world, there is high demand for cables and interconnects that can reliably contribute to such processes. Advancements in 5G have brought into play higher mmWave frequencies where cabling and interconnect solutions must be of the highest quality to withstand the rigor they are subjected to in any given scenario. This may be in the system development or device characterization phases where precision and repeatability are required, or in the stages of commissioning the overall system and monitoring within the production test environment.

Cabling assemblies deployed in a test environment are often utilized alongside vector network analyzers (VNAs), which are used to test and characterize components to ensure systems function properly together. At mmWave’s small wavelengths, instances of flexure and movement have a significant impact on the accuracy of the results, that are accentuated as frequencies increase.

Accuracy is crucial in any test setting, but particularly so for metrology grade cabling that offers ultimate precision and therefore demands the highest reliability for testing and calibration purposes. In response, global cabling and interconnect pioneers, Junkosha, have recently launched a new microwave/mmWave VNA test cable assembly - designed as a high-quality metrology grade VNA test cable for those requiring optimum precision. This latest innovation builds on the foundations of their MWX0 Series and shares the same core principles.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Typical phase change in flexure: test condition: cable length is 635 mm. Test positions: 1) initial straight shape; 2) wrapped 360° around 114 mm diameter mandrel; 3) back again to the straight shape.

Utilizing Junkosha’s precision engineered expanded-PTFE tape wrapping technology, the new cable exhibits excellent phase (within ±4.5 degrees at 50 GHz) and amplitude (within ± 0.08 dB at 50 GHz) stability in flexure alongside strong phase stability in temperature as shown in Figure 1. Able to reach 50 GHz and available in a 2.4 mm connector, the assembly also displays impressive performance durability - 50,000 tick tock cycles are typical. The cable is wrapped 180 degrees on a 2.25” radius mandrel, with flexibility and no spring back. A ruggedized port side NMD connector is also available to ensure reliable connections to the VNA.

The key application area for the new metrology grade microwave/mmWave VNA test cable assembly is in measuring the device under test when designing a high frequency component from scratch. This metrology grade cable will also be used for coaxial cable development, as well as cable products. Offering a calibration level standard bench test, target customers for the new solution include top-level national institutes, calibration laboratories and service providers where repeatability is key.

The demand for mmWave frequencies has gone from the preserve of the few to the requirement of many, thanks to varied new applications ranging from space and defense to commercial. To enable systems to deliver the required outputs at the higher mmWave frequency, phase performance that endures is a statement that the cabling and interconnects used must live up to, especially in the test and measurement environment.

Over the last 18 months, Junkosha has launched a number of high-end mmWave cabling solutions - including the MWX004, MWX051, MWX061, MWX071 and MWX161 which reach 145 GHz at their highest specification. This has earned Junkosha a reputation as a supplier of the highest quality products alongside optimal customer service.

In a 5G future where both humans and devices will require constant wireless connectivity, the world demands increased network capacity. This calls for both an amplification of, and more efficient use of, the available frequency spectrum through the application of innovative technologies. Junkosha’s latest interconnects provide VNA manufacturers with the capability to test high frequency networks that are at the heart of tomorrow’s highly sophisticated systems.

The 50 GHz version of the new microwave/mmWave VNA test cable assembly is now available, with NMD style ruggedized connectors for direct attachment to VNA test ports and other iterations due to follow over the course of 2021. It can be shipped either with the VNA itself, or as part of an aftersales package replacing an existing cable.

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