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A New Approach for an Old Problem: Testing Secondary Surveillance Radar

Secondary surveillance radar (SSR) has been around since World War II, based on the military’s “identification friend or foe” radar system. While the radar systems have evolved, many of the test challenges have remained constant. Whether designing, characterizing, installing, maintaining or troubleshooting an SSR, one may have different requirements for testing the RF transmission. As a result, different instrumentation is often used, based on the task, or the same equipment is used throughout, requiring users to accept compromises. The former leads to higher equipment cost, the latter inefficiency and lower productivity. This article describes a new approach to these test challenges, where the same test equipment can be used without the compromises.

 

5G TDD Network Solutions – Precision Timing

Due to its flexibility and improvements to spectrum utilization, time division duplex (TDD) is vital to the successful operation of 5G cellular communications networks. TDD implementation requires superior synchronization and precise timing at the transmitter and receiver to avoid latency and timing overlap. Occurring within mobile devices as well as base stations, the location of components responsible for transmit/receive switching is dependent on the application and network infrastructure, and each operates at a rapid pace, typically down to the microsecond or nanosecond time range.

Essential Measurements for Today’s Most Demanding Radar Systems

New technologies developed for modern applications continually advance the design and performance standards of civilian and military radar systems. Excluding the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, passenger air travel has increased between 4% and 8% every year for the last 10 years, while military radar systems are under constant pressure to counter increasingly sophisticated threats. As radar systems continue to evolve, the demands on instrumentation used to test these advanced radar technologies have never been greater. While the test requirements vary depending on the type of radar system, RF power measurements remain a constant, indispensable element to verify radar performance. This article provides an overview of RF power measurements critical to the proper operation of today’s radar systems, as well as the state-of-the-art in related test equipment.

How Is RF Power Detected?

In today’s wireless world, RF signals are transmitted and received to effectively send data and facilitate wireless communications. Among all the parameters to consider in RF design, power measurements remain one of the most critical metrics for designers and operators. With today’s complex modulation schemes, pulsed communication modes, and increased popularity of wireless devices, the need to accurately and efficiently measure RF power has become crucial to obtaining optimum performance from communication systems and components. For example, proof-of-design, satisfying regulatory specifications, adhering to safety limits to protect against the dangers of high-power RF radiation, system efficiency, and component protection, among others, are all situations reliant upon accurate RF power measurements.

Why Are Video Bandwidth and Rise Time Important?

Among all the parameters to consider in RF design, power measurements remain one of the most important metrics for designers and operators, especially considering today’s complex modulation schemes, pulsed communication modes, and increased popularity of wireless devices. To accurately characterize modulated or pulsed signals, an important factor to keep in mind is the video bandwidth (VBW) of the RF power measurement test equipment. VBW describes a sensor’s ability to track signal variations of envelope power measurements; envelope power is the amplitude change due to modulation or distortion as a function of time averaged over one or a few cycles of the RF carrier signal – sometimes referred to as peak power. As a result, detecting pulse and peak power measurements correctly relies on the modulating signal’s rate of change in amplitude to be less than the sensor’s VBW.

What Do You Want to Measure – Peak or Average?

Power measurements are fundamental when it comes to RF/microwave product design and production, however, communication between the customer and test equipment provider is equally as important. The terms “average power” and “peak power” are often used when expressing desired power measurements, but these terms frequently carry different meanings for different people. Therefore, let’s take some time to clear the confusion and set up terminology that we all can use in common.

Pulsed Power Measurements

In many applications, like wireless communication and radar, pulsed (or bursted) RF signals are utilized. Not only is the level of RF power important, but the shape (RF power envelope) of the waveform can be critical as well.

Burst Measurements with the RTP Series Measurement Buffer Mode Application

Oftentimes it is necessary to take measurements of a pulsed signal over an extended period of time. This is important, for instance, in the test and measurement of high-power amplifiers where excessive heat dissipation can eventually distort or degrade the waveform. In addition to power droop, an amplifier may turn off altogether causing a momentary signal dropout, and extended measurement times can pinpoint these missing pulses. Furthermore, engineers often need to verify that the spacing between pulses remains the same over long time periods to ensure no drift has occurred. While extended measurements windows help catch important waveform phenomenon, zooming into specific portions of a signal burst also reveals valuable information. Engineers can utilize time gating techniques to include or exclude desired pulse regions from power measurement results. Boonton’s USB RF power sensors with Real-Time Power Processing (RTPP) technology deliver industry-leading performance, extended measurement duration, and packet time gating for efficient RF and microwave testing.

Statistical Measurements

RF power measurements are a staple of wireless technological development, proving essential in fundamental design aspects such as performance, regulatory standard fulfillment, and safety specification compliance. In modern communications using digital modulation methods like OFDM with a noise like-like appearance in the time domain, typical characterizations like average power measurements are often insufficient to fully characterize the signals. Therefore, peak power and statistical measurements have become a useful and more effective way to analyze these signals. Among the variety of statistical measurements to depict digitally modulated signals, the complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF) and underlying crest factor measurements are effective tools that yield important information for accurate signal characterization.

Measuring Basic Pulse Parameters with a Boonton RTP5000 and Boonton Power Analyzer Software

The RTP5000 Real-Time USB Peak Power Sensors with Real-Time Power Processing (RTPP) technology deliver 100,000 measurements per second, the widest video bandwidth (VBW) of 195 MHz, and fastest 3-ns rise times to ensure no gaps in signal acquisition and zero measurement latency. Using this performance with the Boonton Power Analyzer (BPA) complementary measurement and analysis software, Boonton provides fast, accurate, reliable, and automatic RF power measurements. This article will explain how to harness Boonton’s powerful RF power measurement capabilities to take basic pulse readings using the Boonton RTP5000 Series and BPA.

Boonton’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions: Video Bandwidth

Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) is the latest generation of the Wi-Fi standard, anticipated to provide greater network efficiency, increased battery life, and improved operation in dense or congested environments. Among its projected improvements from previous generations is Wi-Fi 6’s ability to utilize channel bandwidths up to 160 MHz. Although widening channel width increases the speed of data throughput, it also increases the video bandwidth (VBW) demands on test equipment.

Boonton’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions: Packet Time Gating

RF power measurements are often taken of an entire Wi-Fi data stream to catch important waveform anomalies, such as power droop, signal dropout, and pulse drift. However, sometimes it is of equal importance to take a more focused approach, zooming and testing specific portions of a Wi-Fi packet. For instance, a signal’s preamble section (see Figure 1) is used as an introduction for the receiver so it can prepare for incoming data and synchronize itself with the transmitter. Depending on the application and testing needs, engineers may need to acquire essential measurements like peak, average, and minimum power of only the preamble section of a packet, or its trailing data portion.

Boonton’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions: Extended Measurement Duration

Capturing RF power measurements of an entire Wi-Fi data stream over an extended period can uncover critical waveform anomalies that may have otherwise gone unnoticed in tighter measurement windows. For example, this approach can catch amplifier power droop due to waveform degradation from excessive heat dissipation. Long data capture can also reveal momentary signal dropout, as well as inconsistent spaces between successive pulses. Boonton’s real-time USB RF power sensors armed with Real-Time Power Processing (RTPP) technology work along with the RTP Measurement Buffer Mode Application to deliver industry-leading performance and measurement duration for Wi-Fi testing.

Boonton’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions: Synchronized Multi-Channel Measurements

Wireless devices with multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) architectures utilize multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer large amounts of data simultaneously, improving capacity for wireless connections and decreasing congestion in multi-user environments. Boonton’s Synchronized Independent Gate Mode helps enable this capability through its multi-channel measurement alignment on the RTP5000 and RTP4000 real-time RF power sensor product lines, which removes the necessity of compromises when testing today’s advanced Wi-Fi chipsets and devices.

Boonton’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions: Crest Factor and CCDF

The latest wireless standard referred to as Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) introduces new technologies to mitigate the shortcomings of previous generations. Consequently, these technical improvements challenge the capabilities of Wi-Fi testing, including RF power measurement. With conventional methods failing to fully characterize high-performance Wi-Fi 6 chipsets and devices, crest factor measurements and statistical depictions like the complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF) are proving as valuable analysis tools to address Wi-Fi power measurement
requirements.

Testing Challenges and Solutions for Accurate Wi-Fi 6 Chipset and Device Characterization

August 25, 2020

Wi-Fi 6 chipsets and devices harness the latest wireless standard with improved capabilities and performance. Enabling metrics such as faster data throughput and greater network efficiency may be favorable for consumers, but it places considerable demands on Wi-Fi characterization and compliance testing. When faced with test equipment that is not up for the task, engineers often resort to testing compromises, threatening measurement accuracy.

Channel bandwidths up to 160 MHz require instrumentation with adequate video bandwidth (VBW), modulation techniques necessitate statistical depictions, and long data streams with MIMO architectures demand time gating, extended measurement times, and multi-channel time alignment. This article will describe the various challenges associated with Wi-Fi chipset characterization, as well as their corresponding solutions that enable accurate power measurements to reveal the true performance of the latest generation of Wi-Fi.

The Boonton PMX40 RF Power Meter Offers the Ultimate Combination of Performance and Flexibility

August 25, 2020

The bridge between traditional benchtop instruments and USB RF power meters is inundated with design compromises. To fill this void, the Boonton PMX40 RF power meter incorporates the pros from each while eliminating all tradeoffs between the two, merging the usability of a modern multi-touch display with the flexibility of USB RF power sensors. Combining instrument versatility with industry-leading performance, the PMX40 and its range of sensors provide an ideal test and measurement solution for design engineers and technicians to support various RF power measurement needs, as explained in this article.

Real-Time USB Power Sensor

Boonton (a Wireless Telecom Group company) has introduced its new 55 Series line of wideband USB power sensors that brings ultra-fast pulse and modulation power measurement capabilities typically associated with top-end benchtop peak power analyzers to the popular USB sensor form factor.  The new line includes 6, 18 and 40 GHz models, and is designed for measurement of wideband modulated signals and the fast RF pulse and burst waveforms. Video bandwidth for the fastest models exceeds 70 MHz, with less than 5 ns risetime, making the 55 Series well suited for high-speed signal analysis.

Characterizing RADAR Interference Immunity

Due to increased domestic air travel and threats to National security it is important that our Aviation RADAR systems function properly. The current airwaves are filled with many natural and artificial sources of interference. The natural background noise in RADAR bands is fairly constant, but there has been an increase in wireless communications traffic causing unintentional interference that may overflow into these bands besides the risk from intentional interference. These factors make it important to characterize your RADAR system and clearly understand all of the limitations. This article will demonstrate a simple test strategy to characterize Aviation RADAR system performance.

The Importance of Peak Power Measurements for Radar Systems

Radar systems are used for military and civilian aviation, weather system tracking and automobile traffic control to name a few. All of these systems have several things in common, including transmitting and receiving reflected RF energy from a distant object to calculate speed, distance and sometimes elevation. These systems are very important for our safety and require accurate power measurement. This article will focus on aviation or ranging type radar that uses bursts, or chirps of pulse modulated waveforms for fine object detail, and has sensitive receivers for low noise measurements.

RF Power Meter Shows Greatest Signal Detail

Boonton’s 4540 Series RF Power / Voltage meters provides highly detailed waveform traces for accurate measurements, efficient alignment and detailed analysis of linear and pulsed RF components and circuitry.

Capacitance Meter for Deep-Level Transient Spectroscopy

Deep-level transient spectroscopy (DLTS) is an experimental tool for studying electrically active defects in semiconductors. DLTS allows researchers to define defect parameters and measure the concentration of those defects in space charge region of simple electronic devices, typically Schottky diodes or p-n junctions.

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