Test & Measurement

Portable device ushers in low cost signal generation

5th July 2015
Mick Elliott

The SynthHD Dual-channel RF Signal Generator is a portable device that brings low cost to precision microwave signal generation. It is a compact software-tuneable, dual channel RF signal generator which can be controlled by a Windows or Linux PC via its USB port, or run as a standalone generator. Manufactured by Windfreak Technologies, it is available from Saelig.

The instrument allows frequency stepping to better than 0.1Hz on each channel, and control of the relative phase between channels to less than a millidegree and amplitude to 0.01dB, producing up to +22dBm of power per channel.

The SynthHD's dual independent channels can be configured to run at two different frequencies, or at the same frequency with different phases in 0.01 degree steps. This allows its use in antenna beam steering applications or quadrature signal generation commonly used in image reject frequency conversion.

Based on a 72MHz, 32-bit ARM processor, the SynthHD also has non-volatile on-board memory so it can be programmed to produce any frequency, power, sweep or modulation setting (and combinations) on power-up for running standalone field applications.

Gain is set via the supplied open source Labview GUI, and power levels are settable from -50 dBm to +20 dBm in 0.1dB increments. The SynthHD has powerful software and firmware features such as sweeps, lookup-table frequency and amplitude hopping, pulse modulation, AM, FM, and FMCW pulsed chirps.

Its compact size (2.75" X 2.15" inches excluding mounting flanges) makes it ideal for field or OEM for equipment use as a basic building block in microwave communications systems. Applications include: wireless communications systems, antenna beam steering, quadrature oscillator for image reject mixers, RF and microwave building blocks, software-defined radio, radar including FMCW, automated test equipment, radiated immunity pre-compliance testing, electronic warfare and law enforcement, quantum device research, plasma physics, and education.

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