Test & Measurement

Low-cost VNA boasts dynamic range of 118dB at 10Hz

25th July 2017
Mick Elliott

Pico Technology’s PicoVNA 106 Low-Cost Vector Network Analyser - an economical USB-controlled, professional-grade 300kHz to 6GHz Vector Network Analyser (VNA) with excellent performance, portability, and affordability is available at Saelig. Despite its small size and low cost, its full-function, minimal-error, 'Quad RX' four-receiver architecture supports both 8- and 12-term calibration without the uncorrectable switching errors, delays, and unreliability of traditional three-receiver designs.

The instrument supports convenient calibration methods such as 'enhanced isolation correction' and 'unknown thru'. The PicoVNA 106 has a dynamic range of up to 118dB at 10Hz and only 0.005dB RMS trace noise at its maximum bandwidth of 140kHz.

It can gather all four S-parameters at just 190usec per frequency point, so a 500 point 2-port S2P Touchstone file (compatible with many test, math, view and EDA simulation tools) is captured in less than 1/10 sec.

This performance compares with other full-function VNAs that are more than four times as expensive. The PicoVNA 106 is even cost-effective as a high-dynamic-range scalar network analyser where phase measurements are not needed, or even as a single-port vector reflectometer. The product also includes bias-Ts for the convenient injection of a bias or test stimulus.

The VNA’ssoftware two utilities address gain compression (P1dB) and AM to PM.

Both of these use a port power sweep at each test frequency, with both measurements extracted using second-order interpolation. The PicoVNA 106 is supplied with Microsoft Windows-compatible software to support a full range of plot formats for a scalar or vector view of dual or single-port parameters.

These can be saved or exported in various graphic and tabular formats including Touchstone.

The software includes Fourier transformation to the time domain, adding convenient distance-to-fault capability and pulse response determination.

In all cases nominal impedance transformation (10Ohm to 200Ohm) is available, mathematically or using port matching pads, with limit tests on the Cartesian plot formats.

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