High-performance custom filters using CST MICROWAVE STUDIO

5th November 2013
Nat Bowers

Through virtual prototyping, Test Equipment Plus has designed custom filter solutions for their line of portable spectrum analyzers – Signal Hound. TEP have used CST MICROWAVE STUDIO to become competitive in the market, with design improvements such as the replacement of discrete filter components with buried printed filters.

The idea: professional-grade spectrum analyzers at entry-level prices

The Signal Hound product line from Test Equipment Plus comprises a series of compact, lightweight, and affordable spectrum analyzers. The Signal Hound equipment is built on the design philosophy of maximizing performance while minimizing cost, and as well as having a wide range of applications for general engineering labs, it has also found success in fields ranging from telecoms and spectrum monitoring to aerospace and defense.

To remain competitive, Signal Hound products are designed for portability, affordability, and performance, with a better price-performance ratio than other entrants in the spectrum analyzer market. When designing the latest generation of products – real-time, USB-powered spectrum analyzers operating in the 9 kHz – 12.4 GHz and 9 kHz – 6.0 GHz bands – Test Equipment Plus worked to maintain their core competency and produce products with an excellent price-performance ratio.

The challenge: developing a competitive spectral filtering solution

The first prototypes for the next generation Signal Hound products did not meet the required level of performance to be competitive in the market and maintain a good value to Test Equipment Plus’s customers. The most critical weakness turned out to be the discrete, off-the-shelf filters employed in the design. Even after cascading multiple filters together and shielding them, the spectrum analyzers did not achieve their target performance. Test Equipment Plus was in need of a spectral filtering solution that had professional grade performance, without adding serious cost to the bill of materials.

Download and read the full success story below.

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