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Customer Success

Manufacturer of TWT Amplifiers

Customer Success Story:

Manufacturer of TWT Amplifiers is using Boonton Electronics 4500B and Amplifier Test Bench Software to verify the calibration and performance of TWT Amplifiers used in Avionic Radars.

Previous/Current Situation:

Production of TWT amplifiers for Avionics Radar applications requires accurate calibration over their full frequency range and documentation of the data for quality purposes.  Traditional method included power detectors, analog power meters and a data-recording device. These procedures were very labor intensive and included manual plot of verification data templates. Documents had to be provided, reviewed and signed off by the Quality Assurance Department.

Problem or Challenge and its Impact:

The conventional method utilized average power measurements for testing TWT amplifier’s pulsed RF signals. Unfortunately, important signal information was simply unrecognized due to the physical limitations of average power measurements.   The manual solution could provide only a certain degree of accuracy due to a very limited plotting resolution.

Alternative Approaches to Solve/Improve:

The customer’s goals were to advance quality even more by gaining accurate calibration data, and at the same time improve manufacturing effectiveness and efficiency by significantly reducing test time. Average power meters were replaced with fast peak power meters, much more suitable for measuring fast, pulsed RF signals.  The instrument of choice was the Boonton 4500B peak power analyzer in combination with two 57006, high-dynamic range, peak power sensors. This combination would immediately provide the required accuracy improvement.

The laborious manual process could be fully automated with Boonton’s Amplifier Test Software. Not only can this software measure and record input and output signals of amplifiers simultaneously, but it controls necessary external equipment as well; in this case, a generator capable of sweeping the full operational frequency spectrum of the amplifiers. Measurement data is compiled and processed immediately and amplifier response parameters, such as gain over frequency, are displayed in real time, both graphically and numerically. Furthermore, Boonton’s Amplifier Test Bench Software generates the necessary documents and plots automatically. These documents are required as certification for the calibration of each individual TWT amplifier.

Solution Implemented/Action Taken:

Quality and production engineers have implemented Boonton’s solution as a mobile test station. All components, including the peak power analyzer 4500B, peak power sensors, coupler and computer are mounted on a cart.  The test station can be quickly moved to any production line.  Since wireless networks were not permitted at the production floor for security reasons, measurement data is collected on a memory device and provided to the QA department for review and sign off. The data is then stored in a database and can be recalled at any time should any service question arise.

Results/Impact:

Boonton’s test system reduced time to fully characterize a TWT amplifier to a quarter of its original duration and throughput increased by four times. Furthermore, necessary involvement of engineers was minimized so they could dedicate more time to other important tasks.

The engineers strongly prefer Boonton’s solution due to its more accurate peak power technology and because it eliminates human plotting errors while allowing a significantly higher throughput at the same time. 

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