October 17, 2011

Agilent Technologies' Frequency Converter Measurement Solution Simplifies Test by Eliminating Reference and Calibration Mixers


The SMC+Phase setup is simple, since reference and calibration mixers are not required. Test system calibration is achieved using a power sensor (left), a broadband comb generator (middle), and an ECal module (right) or a mechanical calibration kit.

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) recently introduced a frequency converter measurement capability for its PNA and PNA-X Series network analyzers. With this capability, engineers now have a quicker, easier way to fully characterize mixers and frequency converters up to 67 GHz.

Engineers performing linear characterization of mixers and frequency converters - used in a range of aerospace/defense, satellite and wireless communications applications - often face a daunting challenge when it comes to conducting frequency-translation measurements. Traditionally this task, which requires the use of both a reference and calibration mixer, can be very cumbersome to set up.

Agilent's new frequency converter measurement solution addresses these obstacles head on. It allows engineers to measure the magnitude-, phase- and absolute-group-delay response of mixers and frequency converters with high accuracy, without having to use a reference or calibration mixer. This greatly simplifies frequency-translation measurements by eliminating the need to find reference and calibration mixers that match the frequency conversion plan of the device under test, which can be especially difficult above 26.5 GHz. Measurements can be done on devices requiring external local oscillator signals, or those with local oscillators that are not locked to the system's 10-MHz reference.

The new method eliminates the reference mixer by performing ratios of single-receiver phase measurements at the device's input and output frequencies. This technique relies on the inherent phase coherency of the fractional-N-based synthesis architecture used in the PNA and PNA-X's sources.

Elimination of the calibration mixer is achieved by a new calibration method that uses a harmonic comb generator as a broadband phase-calibration standard. The phase-calibration data combines with magnitude-calibration data derived from a power meter to completely calibrate the test instrument over its full frequency range.

Agilent's PNA-X and PNA Series network analyzers cover frequencies from 300 kHz to 1.05 THz and are capable of many measurements including S-parameters, gain compression, intermodulation distortion and noise figure. The PNA-X Series is Agilent's most advanced and flexible network analyzer, providing complete linear and nonlinear component characterization in a single instrument with a single set of connections. The PNA Series is the industry's highest performing family of network analyzers and offers many advanced measurement applications.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
Agilent's new frequency converter measurement solution will be available on Dec. 31 for both the PNA-X Series (N524XA) and PNA Series (N522XA) network analyzers. It will be a free firmware upgrade to current users of Option 083 (vector and scalar calibrated converter measurements). New PNA-X and PNA Series users must purchase Option 083 at a price of $11,442 to obtain the capability.

More information on the frequency converter measurement solution for the PNA-X and PNA Series network analyzers is available at www.agilent.com/find/fca. A photo of the solution is available at www.agilent.com/find/MixerTest_images.

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is the world's premier measurement company and a technology leader in chemical analysis, life sciences, electronics and communications. The company's 18,500 employees serve customers in more than 100 countries. Agilent had net revenues of $5.4 billion in fiscal 2010. Information about Agilent is available at www.agilent.com