Latest network analysers are more cost-effective and reliable

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The latest analysers with embedded software solutions offer flexibility, reliability, accuracy and speedy performance

By Richa Chakravarty

Saturday, June 28, 2014: When testing active or passive devices, the right mix of speed and performance gives the perfect result. While doing R&D, network analysers provide a level of measurement integrity that results in better designs. At the production line, these analysers provide the throughput and repeatability needed to transform parts into components. In the field, handheld analysers provide high-quality measurements. In short, there are network analysers of all types to cater to every application.

What’s latest in the market?

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The latest network analysers are not only cost-effective but are also reliable. Over the years, vector network analysers (VNA) have increased in popularity due to lower costs and efficient fabrication techniques. The modern standalone benchtop analysers, which are popular, are compact, flexible and software-defined. They are capable of precisely measuring magnitude and phase parameters, and ensure that measurements are free of error.

Today, manufacturers are equipping these analysers with software solutions as well, and providing unprecedented visibility to the problem areas, in real time. They have the capability to pinpoint the root of the trouble to a specific part of the network, thus eliminating costly field dispatches. These solutions provide network statistics, decoding, expert analysis, data filtering, protocol vitals, connection statistics, extensive VoIP analysis, and much more.

Handheld analysers: Anritsu has launched a microwave network analyser called the S820E in January 2014. With a dynamic range of 110 dB up to 40 GHz, the S820E surpasses the performance of older generation benchtop VNAs. “With USB and Ethernet connectivity, this analyser has full remote control capabilities. It has an internal architecture comprising a four-receiver fully reversing two-port VNA, which allows upgradation. Also, RF interference rejection enables accurate measurements in the presence of high RF activity,” informs Madhukar Tripathi, regional manager, Anritsu India Pvt Ltd.

Agilent’s rugged handheld analysers have redefined a complete range of analysers. The Fieldfox microwave combination analyser can be configured with up to 10 instruments at the same time. Built to work under tough environments—rain, dust, hot and cold weather—this analyser meets MIL-PRF-28800F Class 2 requirements. It is monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) enabled and, hence, gives a new level of RF/uW performance.

This series has been in the market since August 2012, when we launched 14 new models including the handheld two-port network analyser series that goes all the way up to 26.5 GHz. It provides bench top accuracy on handheld equipment. It can be used in very rugged environments due to its water-resistant chassis, keypad and case, which can withstand wide temperature ranges, and perform well in salty, humid environments,” informs Mahesh Subramanyam, applications engineer, Electronic Measurement Group, Agilent Technologies India Pvt Ltd.

Benchtop analysers: Rohde & Schwarz’s ZNB40, launched in May 2013, is an upgraded version of ZNB series. From 10 MHz to 40 GHz, and with two ports covering the microwave range, this VNA offers two times faster measurement speed and the most intuitive user interface. “This analyser has a dynamic range of 135 dB that makes it possible to perform precise measurements on wideband DUTs or components whose behaviour at low frequencies is especially important. The analyser has a large 30.73 cm (12.1 inch) touch screen inteface which makes it easy to control and review test results, critical for device tuning applications,” informs Marwin Coutinho, area manager, product support and application, Rohde & Schwarz India Pvt Ltd.

National Instruments’ PXIe-5632 VNA is a two-port, full S-parameter VNA with a frequency that ranges from 300 kHz to 8.5 GHz. Its architecture boasts of dual sources, source access loops, and a low latency trigger for improved isolation, increased performance, and more flexible measurement capabilities. “This VNA is optimised to help engineers meet increasingly complex RF test requirements at a fraction of the cost, compared to traditional rack-and-stack solutions , with the convenience of a small size and extra quick operation. With three slots, the VNA provides accurate RF performance with reduced test times in a small PXI footprint,” says Satish Mohanram, technical marketing manager, National Instruments India.

JDSU’s network analyser wireline protocol test application delivers high quality of experience (QoE) packet- and cell-based services. Equipped with PacketPortal software, it provides the 7-layer protocol test for installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, network baselining and performance analysis. If the device is used with JDSU’s distributed network analysis (DNA) probes, users can quickly isolate and resolve performance related problems in Ethernet and ATM LANs, WANs and ATM networks.

Making a purchase decision

speakerst&mSince there are various network analysers available in the market, catering to the need for both simple and the most complex analysis, buyers should opt for an analyser based on their requirements—whether the analyser is to be used for robust field applications or in a laboratory. There are many options to choose from, and it is important to find the right solution to fit your needs.

Buyers need to consider all aspects, ranging from the investment needed to the usage patterns. They should look for easy-to-use and robust network analysers, which can be used in the field as well. These should be of low weight and have better RF immunity.

One should look for guaranteed specifications which can ensure the repeatability of test measurements. Some manufacturers usually like to state typical and nominal specs which really hide the true performance of the machine, so the buyers should look at the specifications properly,” adds Marwin Coutinho.

Buyers should also look into the accuracy and measurement needs, the purpose the product is being purchased for, the cost of ownership, etc. They should also look into the upgradation and calibration parameters. Upgrade options in any equipment extend the instrument’s capabilities, future-proofing the investment for many years.

A comprehensive network analyser should be able to unite all the different parts of the network under a single umbrella, enabling a holistic, real-time view of the network and clear communication between all parts and components. This ensures that no critical information gets lost, and continuity of access and optimal network performance is maintained.

Anritsu’s Microwave Site Master S820E

  • anritsu110 dB of dynamic range from 20 MHz to 40 GHz

  • 650 μs/data point for fast field measurements

  • Advanced and classic mode GUI (i.e., S810D/S820D)

  • Coaxial and waveguide measurement supported

  • High accuracy power meter measurements with external power sensors

 

Agilent’s Fieldfox analyser

  • agilentBuilt-in CalReady and QuickCal (immediately ready to make calibrated measurements at the test ports)

  • Optional spectrum analyser, VNA and (up to) 10 instruments-in-1 package

  • Higher output power useful for cable fault measurements

  • Built-in power meter without the need for a power sensor

  • Longer battery life of 3.5 hours

 

Rohde & Schwarz’s ZNB40 VNA

      

  • rohdeFrequency resolution of upto 1mHz for critical measurements

  • Dynamic range of 135 dB at 20 GHz and 120 dB at 40 GHz.

  • RF output power of +13 dBm at 40 GHz

  • Sampling time per point of 860ns at 1 MHz BW, this results in measurement speeds of 90ms at 40 GHz span, 100kHz BW and 1601 points

  • Upto 100,001 points per trace, >100 traces and >200 channels for unlimited configuration flexibility

 

National Instruments’ PXIe-5632 VNA

 

  • national instruments300 kHz to 8.5 GHz frequency range

  • 10 Hz to 500 kHz IF bandwidth

  • >110 dB dynamic range

  • -30 dBm to +15 dBm source power range

  • Dual sources with independent frequency and power tuning

 

JDSU’s network analyser (10 Gigabit)

  • jdsuDecreases operational costs and accelerates network problem diagnosis and resolution by accessing virtually any network, running any protocol, from anywhere, by anyone, at any time

  • Supports real-time measurements in any Ethernet

  • 10/100/1000 MBps and 10 Gigabit environment

  • Captures 100 per cent of network traffic at 10 GBps

  • Extensive data and voice measurements, including full protocol analysis

  • Advanced packet analysis and statistics, packet jitter, loss and latency

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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