Test & Measurement

USB-based spectrum analysers raise price/performance bar

21st March 2016
Mick Elliott

“It’s a game changer.” Well they all say that don’t they? But this time around Dean Miles, Tektronix EMEA Technical Marketing Manager might have a point. The company has expanded its line of disruptive USB-based real-time spectrum analysers with four new higher-performance models targeting design, spectrum management and wireless transmitter installation and maintenance applications.

Miles emphasises his point by showing research which suggests that lower cost spectrum analysers boasting classy performance coming in at $15,000 plus are gaining market share.

Tektronix has recognised that fewer RF customers were shelling out top dollar for high-end instruments and that few signal analysers at the low end had the necessary capabilities.

Enter last year the 6.2GHz RSA 306 spectrum analyser. The success of this instrument is what Tektronix will seek to follow up with the new RSA500 and RSA600 series of analysers which offer frequency coverage from 9kHz up to 7.5GHz with 40MHz acquisition bandwidth, a measurement dynamic range from -161dBm/Hz Displayed Average Noise Level, and up to +30dBm maximum input.

The new models take USB-based instruments spectrum analyser performance forward by adding the versatility of both a line-operated laboratory package and a rugged battery-operated package with a tablet PC option. Both the RSA500 and RSA600 also have an optional tracking generator with an integrated internal bridge for basic device, cable and antenna testing.

Dean Miles says that these instruments have pricing levels that fall about 60 percent of traditional standalone instruments with comparable performance.

Through a standard USB 3.0 connection, the instruments are operated from a desktop PC, laptop or tablet using an updated version of the full-featured SignalVu-PC software suite – included at no additional cost – that provides 17 measurements, real-time DPX signal processing, and a range of application-specific add-on modules for in-depth analysis.

The RSA500 series includes the 3GHz RSA503A and the 7.5 GHzRSA507A. These battery powered instruments are qualified to MIL-STD 28800 Class 2 for shock and vibrations and rated IP52 for water ingress.

A number of additional features and capabilities further facilitate field applications including a GPS receiver with locked frequency accuracy up to ±0.025 ppm and an available tracking generator for cable and antenna testing with measurements like Return Loss and Distance to Fault*.

As real-time spectrum analysers, the instruments allow spectrum managers to see very short duration signals for fast identification of problem or interfering signals.

The RSA600 series instruments including the 3GHz RSA603A and the 7.5GHz RSA607A match the performance levels of the portable units, but are designed to use line-cord power and have a desktop form factor.

These analysers are capable of handling a wide range of design applications such as testing Internet of Things (IoT) modules and component using SignalVu-PC measurement packages for everything from Bluetooth LE and Bluetooth EDR to WLAN standards testing through 802.11ac. Antenna and gain/loss testing capabilities help speed system integration.

The Signal Vu-PC software receives an updated user interface to go with a number of new options and capabilities. Among the new options are expanded support for signal classification, channel navigation, and support for mapping. Floating licenses are also now available as well as node locked licenses to give users more flexibility to deploy the software and USB Spectrum Analysers widely. Record and playback for long signals is also an available feature.

Engineers who need programmatic access to their instrument can choose either the SignalVu-PC programmatic interface or use the included application programming interface (API).

The RSA500 and RSA600 Series of USB spectrum analysers are available now through the global network of Tektronix distributors and partners.

Featured products

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news