Microwave Journal
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Tektronix Expands USB Spectrum Analyzer Line

June 13, 2016

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Tektronix has expanded its line of USB-based real-time spectrum analyzers with four new higher performance models targeting design, spectrum management and wireless transmitter installation and maintenance applications. The RSA500 and RSA600 series of analyzers offer frequency coverage from 9 kHz to 7.5 GHz with 40 MHz acquisition bandwidth, a measurement dynamic range from -161 dBm/Hz displayed average noise level (DANL) and +30 dBm maximum input. The RSA500 and RSA600 build on the design approach of the 6.2 GHz RSA306 USB-based real-time spectrum analyzer introduced last year, which has been updated with the RSA306B, offering 10 dB better spurious performance, improved amplitude accuracy and a longer (three year) warranty.

The new RSA500 and RSA600 series feature higher instrument performance levels and analysis capabilities, compact packaging and aggressive pricing. Designed for use with a laptop or tablet PC, the RSA500 is intended for field applications, is battery operated and features a rugged package. Keeping a compact profile, the RSA600 is intended for laboratory use, is housed in a laboratory package and is powered by line voltage. Both instruments offer an optional tracking generator with an integrated internal bridge for basic device, cable and antenna testing.

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Compared to traditional spectrum analyzers, Tektronix USB-based instruments offer comparable performance at lower price points. Through a standard USB 3.0 connection, the instruments are operated from a desktop PC, laptop or tablet using an updated version of the included SignalVu-PC software suite that provides 17 measurements, real-time DPX signal processing and a range of application-specific, add-on modules for in-depth analysis. Lower price is just one of the advantages of USB-based instruments. In the field, operators no longer have to hold a heavy instrument during use; instead, they can hold a lightweight tablet PC for analysis, which is needed for data logging in any case. Another advantage is the ability to record and play the entire 40 MHz RF bandwidth through software. Traditionally, complete I/Q RF bandwidth record/playback systems have been prohibitively expensive. However, with a PC or tablet equipped with a solid-state drive (SSD), the I/Q data can simply be written to the hard drive, making record/playback an affordable option. Applications include interference hunting, where users can capture RF interferers in action, or designers can record the first turn-on of a new radio device and analyze the event in detail later.

FEATURES AND APPLICATIONS

The RSA500 series of portable spectrum analyzers offers features and performance normally found in benchtop instruments, bringing lab performance levels to the field for fast, cost-effective spectrum management, interference hunting and network troubleshooting. The series includes the 3 GHz RSA503A and the 7.5 GHz RSA507A. These battery-powered instruments are qualified to MIL-STD 28800 Class 2 for shock and vibrations and rated IP52 for water ingress. Additional features and capabilities facilitate field applications, including a GPS receiver with locked frequency accuracy up to ±0.025 ppm and an available tracking generator for cable and antenna testing, enabling measurements like return loss and the distance to a fault.

As a real-time spectrum analyzer, the RSA500s allow spectrum managers to see very short duration signals for fast identification of problem or interfering signals. With 40 MHz of real-time bandwidth, a DPX spectrogram exposes every instance of an interfering or unknown signal down to 100 µs duration. Figure 1 shows a WLAN transmission, in green and orange; the narrow signals that repeat across the screen are Bluetooth access probes. The spectrogram shown in the upper part of the screen separates these signals in time to show any signal collisions.

Figure 1

Figure 1 DPX spectrogram display available in the RSA500/600 shows every instance of an interfering signal.

The RSA600 series includes the 3 GHz RSA603A and the 7.5 GHz RSA607A. They match the performance levels of the portable units but are designed to use line-cord power and have a desktop form factor. These analyzers handle a wide range of design applications, such as Internet of Things (IoT) modules and components. Using SignalVu-PC measurement packages, the analyzers can test everything from Bluetooth low energy (LE) to Bluetooth enhanced data rate (EDR) and WLAN standards through 802.11ac. Antenna and gain/loss testing capabilities speed system integration. The RSA600 is well suited to compliance testing, such as EMI pre-compliance tests to the limits of CISPR and other standards (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 The RSA500/600 can test to FCC Part 15 “Limit Lines for Radiated Emissions.”

SignalVu-PC UPDATE

In conjunction with the new spectrum analyzers, Signal Vu-PC has an updated user interface with several new options and capabilities: expanded support for signal classification, channel navigation and mapping. Floating licenses are now available in addition to node-locked licenses, to give organizations more flexibility deploying the software and USB spectrum analyzers. Recording and playback of long signals is also available.

Engineers who need programming access to their instrument can choose either the SignalVu-PC programmatic interface or the included application programming interface (API), which provides a rich set of commands and measurements. The real-time processing capability provided by SignalVu-PC when using the recommended PC hardware is about 1,000 times faster than spectrum analyzers from other major suppliers.

Pricing and Availability

The U.S. suggested retail price for the RSA500 and RSA600 series of USB spectrum analyzers starts at $5,900 for the 3 GHz models and $9,900 for the 7.5 GHz models. The price of the RSA600 is 30 percent lower than that of the nearest traditional instrument and is about one-third the price of a Wi-Fi capable (40 MHz bandwidth) instrument. The RSA500 and RSA600 series are available through the global network of Tektronix distributors and partners.

Tektronix
Beaverton, Ore.
tek.com/usb-spectrum-analyzer