Test & Measurement

Keithley Creates RF Communications Toolkit Software to Provide Both Signal Generation and Analysis

30th October 2008
ES Admin
Keithley Instruments has expanded its powerful SignalMeister software platform to now include RF signal analysis along with RF signal generation. First introduced in 2007, SignalMeister software is now the only software package on the market that integrates signal generation and analysis into one package for unmatched speed and simplicity. Furthermore, SignalMeister now has the capability of generating and analyzing both single-input single-output (SISO) and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) signals in the same environment.
With SignalMeister software, research, design, and test engineers can quickly and easily create and analyze signals with a powerful, yet easy to use, block diagram-based, graphical user interface. In addition, the SignalMeister RF Communications Toolkit now supports the latest wireless, MIMO protocol standards, WiMAX Wave 2 and 802.11n WLAN. It also provides additional complex functionality such as WLAN channel modeling, beamforming, simulation studies, along with a rich set of IQ operations, and full utilities for data import and export.

SignalMeister software is a next-generation RF communications toolkit that lets engineers create and analyze the highly complex signals required for today's RF testing needs quickly and flawlessly. An expandable software platform with a common user interface, it allows creation of waveforms from multiple signal standards with optional additive signal impairments and channel modeling in a single development environment. SignalMeister software allows MIMO signals to be created and analyzed as easily as SISO signals, simplifying the challenging task of MIMO testing for manufacturers developing and supplying mobile phones, wireless infrastructure, and RF chip sets in both production and R&D environments.

Keithley’s SignalMeister software is the most integrated, most complete RF communications testing toolkit on the market, featuring both signal generation and analysis capability. This tight integration of signal generation and analysis eliminates the need for multiple software tools. The user only has one program and a single user interface to learn. This increases test speed and greatly simplifies testing, especially for complex MIMO signal structures, making testing MIMO easy and flexible. SignalMeister software integrates seamlessly with Keithley’s Series 2800 Vector Signal Analyzers (VSA) and Series 2900 Vector Signal Generators (VSG) through these instruments’ LXI interface for simplifiesd test system setup, start up, and multi-instrument synchronization for MIMO test systems. Users can set up a test system for any number of channels from single channel to 4X4 MIMO and even up to 8X8 MIMO in minutes, lowering test development time and the overall cost of test.

SignalMeister software also supports all standard-defined channel models for leading-edge WLAN 802.11n signals. Channel modeling defines the various multi-path scenarios that must be tested for device certification. The channel models included with SignalMeister software support one to four inputs and outputs. In addition to specific channel models, SignalMeister includes I, Q impairments so that receiver performance can be evaluated when receiving signals from improperly-adjusted transmitters. Channel impairments such as frequency shift and noise can be added to a signal to test a receiver’s ability to accurately recover a distorted or low signal-to-noise ratio transmission.

In addition to generating either pure or impaired signals and analyzing the results with Keithley Series 2900 VSGs and Series 2800 VSAs, SignalMeister software features a simulation mode so that signals can be created and analyzed without actual hardware. Designers can study the effects of transmitter impairments and channel effects on signals for defining design and device performance goals. Furthermore, the simulation mode is an excellent training tool for engineers in industry or for students in wireless engineering academic programs.

Keithley’s SignalMeister software features an object-oriented GUI optimized for both SISO and MIMO testing. It allows users to create and download highly complex signals quickly and easily, just by dragging objects into a project work area, defining their parameters, and connecting them, without code development. It features forms-based signal definitions that guide the user through creation of complex signals and allows users to save objects and projects for re-use and sharing to save time and eliminate compatibility problems between users. The intuitive, block-diagram approach enables engineers to create signals just like they think. The block-diagram methodology is easy to learn and accelerates the creation of complex test structures. In addition, the integrated generation and analysis capabilities within a single RF communications test toolkit eliminate the need to learn and use separate tools.

SignalMeister software is an evolving platform, with the ability to expand and encompass future testing needs such as 4G LTE and beyond, eliminating the need for new, multiple software packages that often have different user interfaces. SignalMeister software’s common user interface across all signal protocols allows engineers to develop in-depth knowledge on one signal creation and analysis program to maximize their productivity. In addition to the ability to address multiple standards with one test platform, users can import their own data files for general purpose research, which makes the overall system more flexible and adaptable to specific user testing needs.

With the Series 2900, Series 2800, and SignalMeister software, Keithley offers its customers a range of fast and accurate RF test solutions for SISO and MIMO transmission systems. With an unrivaled combination of accuracy, repeatability, speed, flexibility, ease of use, and compact size, these award-winning instruments employ new approaches to test and measurement that enable users to reduce test time with less effort and lower cost. In R&D applications, Keithley's RF test solutions help decrease product time to market while increasing productivity and lowering capital equipment costs. For production facilities testing wireless communication equipment and devices that are faced with intense budget and time-to-market constraints but cannot compromise on measurement quality, valuable rack or bench-top space, or ease of use, these Keithley instruments deliver exceptional measurements for the lowest test equipment investment.

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