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NI signal analyzer accelerates wireless testing

Posted: 23 Aug 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:national instrument? pxi 5660? signal analyzer? rf testing? wireless system testing?

A signal analyzer from National Instruments promises to speed up production test and design verification of wireless systems by 200 percent over similar technologies.

Known as the PXI-5660, the signal analyzer combines spectral measurement software with a 2.7GHz RF digitizer to speed throughput of products ranging from signal-monitoring systems to cable modems. It can also be used for signal analysis of satellite radios, cordless telephones, and 802.11 wireless networking devices.

"In any RF production application, throughput is always a key variable," said Carl Petersen, product manager for high-frequency measurement systems at National Instruments. "But in the past, companies have traditionally increased throughput by expanding the number of test systems. Our approach is to replace all those units with one instrument that is faster."

The PXI-5660 achieves its speed advances by leveraging the processing power of a 1.3GHz Intel Pentium III microprocessor, digital down-conversion ASICs, and ultra-miniature acoustic filters and oscillators.

It consists of a broadband RF down-converter, a high-spectral-purity IF digitizer and the Spectral Measurements Toolkit (SMT) for the company's LabView and LabWindows/CVI software.

The broadband RF front-end acquires signals between 9kHz and 2.7GHz with up to 20MHz real-time bandwidth, and it has an on-board, high-stability, OCXO to provide the frequency accuracy, and stability required for automated apps.

The PXI-5660 features a spurious-free dynamic range >80dB for precise measurements, while squeezing into a 3U PXI form factor.

NI engineers compare the new signal analyzer to the "software radio" architectures now being used by the communications industry because it brings software-based customization to the world of RF measurements.

The SMT provides such measurements as power spectrum, peak power and frequency, power in-band, adjacent channel power, and occupied bandwidth.

The combination of optimized algorithms in the toolkit and gigahertz processing in the PC delivers high-level measurement throughput. Continuous power spectra across a 20MHz bandwidth, for example, are acquired 200 times faster on the PXI-5660 than on traditional instrumentation.

Engineers and scientists can use the unit's broadband capability and deep memory to capture frequency and phase information, and then employ the analysis tools in LabView to make advanced I/Q and modulation measurements.

For testing of apps that require broad functionality, such as avionics or consumer electronics, engineers can integrate the PXI-5660 with other PXI-based systems such as RF switches, DMMs, signal sources, digitizers, motion control, and digital imaging. They can tap the system-level timing and synchronization capabilities of the platform to coordinate system resources.

Prices for the PXI-5660 start at $12,995.

- Charles J. Murray

EE Times

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