Microwave Journal

Small Form Factor Spectrum Analyzer Handles Big Tasks

December 11, 2015

Product Image

The handheld spectrum analyzer market is growing for numerous reasons, not just because the performance of these devices is being significantly improved through available technology. The growing number of wireless applications is crowding the spectrum, the demand for measuring is increasing and the development of new application fields such as electro-mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly.

The markets and applications for handheld spectrum analyzers, both in the field and in the lab include:

  • Telecom and broadcast, including base station installation and maintenance, spectrum monitoring and interference hunting
  • Aerospace and defense, from basic transmitter station maintenance through spectrum monitoring and interference hunting and radio link testing
  • Education, ranging from basic general-purpose spectrum analysis applications to higher education and training
  • Basic R&D, including RF design and development and EMC pre-compliance.

The R&S Spectrum Rider has been engineered to address these markets and applications by utilizing state-of-the-art technology and paying specific attention to providing usability and flexibility, all contained in a robust, lightweight instrument. Versatility assists users during RF transmitter installation and maintenance as well as supporting measurement tasks in RF development labs and in service. It features a measurement accuracy of 0.5 dB and a high sensitivity, with a displayed average noise level (DANL) typically less than -163 dBm up to 3 GHz.

Figure 1

Figure 1 The backlit keypad of the R&S Spectrum Rider enables users to work comfortably and efficiently in the dark.

Significantly, the frequency range of the R&S Spectrum Rider can be extended via software upgrades. The base model covers the frequency range from 5 kHz to 2 GHz, which can be expanded to 3 or 4 GHz to support applications that require higher frequencies, such as measuring radio signals above 2 GHz or signals above 3 GHz in TD‑LTE bands.

In the Field

The spectrum analyzer has been optimized for mobility and use in the field. The robust instrument weighs just 2.5 kg and has a battery that lasts up to eight hours, making it capable of working a full day without recharging. The backlit keypad allows users to work in the dark (see Figure 1), and the non-reflective display supports a black-and-white mode for good readability in direct sunlight. The unit features a 7 inch full color capacitive touchscreen that allows smartphone-like intuitive gesturing – pinch to zoom, cross to delete, etc. Its large buttons and practical multifunction wheel make it easy to operate with gloves in outdoor environments. Portability is aided by the options of a side strap, soft carrying bag or hard case. The R&S Spectrum Rider has been field-tested in line with MIL‑PRF‑28800F Class 2, comes with protected interfaces and ports and features IP51 shock-resistant, protected connectors and has no vents or fans.

Leveraging the handheld spectrum analyzer’s unique features, field strength measurements as well as monitoring and locating a signal of interest become more convenient and easier. To save time and effort, a built-in wizard automates measurements, reducing measurement times and enables even novice users and operators with little RF expertise to reliably carry out measurement tasks. Users can pre-configure measurement sequences before setting off to take measurements. This reduces human error and increases efficiency with automated measurements. For documentation, the R&S Instrument View bundled software has a report generator function to generate a complete measurement report in a few seconds. For post-processing, the software can add markers to saved traces for a detailed analysis of collected signals.

Figure 2

Figure 2 All measurement parameters can be set in the configuration menu, which makes it easy for the user to get an overview of the main measurement settings.

Figure 3

Figure 3 The R&S Spectrum Rider requires only minimum bench space in the lab.

In the Lab

The R&S Spectrum Rider is claimed to be the industry’s first handheld spectrum analyzer to offer a large‑format capacitive touchscreen that enables lab users to easily and intuitively adjust settings such as frequency, span and reference level and to set markers. It offers diagnostics capability for service or even in the development lab and can be used for EMI debugging to determine disturbance from a device under test during development. A handy configuration overview menu (see Figure 2) shows the flow of spectrum measurements at different receiver stages, along with the relevant parameters that impact each stage.

Requiring only minimum bench space (see Figure 3), the spectrum analyzer can be used for a wide range of measurements, such as frequency, level and spurious. The R&S Spectrum Rider can easily be controlled remotely via LAN or USB, which enables users to automate measurement scenarios. Using the R&S Instrument View software, it is also possible to project the display on a larger screen, ideal for classes in schools and universities.

Available options include pulse measurements (see Figure 4) with peak and average power levels. The main pulse parameters such as pulse width, rise and fall times and duty cycle are displayed automatically. It is also possible to use the trigger function and markers and to zoom in on pulses by reducing the trace time. This is convenient for installation and maintenance measurements of radar systems.

Figure 4

Figure 4 The R&S FPH-K29 option enables precise pulse and peak power measurements using the R&S NRP-Z8x wideband power sensor family.

The instrument has appeal for field technicians and lab engineers alike, as it supports everyday measurement tasks in aerospace and defense, wireless communications and broadcasting and within regulatory authorities. The R&S Spectrum Rider, which comes with a number of convenient options, is a handy tool for users in diverse industries.

Rohde & Schwarz
Munich, Germany
+49 89 4129 12345