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Network Analyzers - Innovations with new application possibilities!

Network analyzers are and have been an indispensable tool for RF/Microwave equipment developers for many years. The modern analyzer with vector correction was created by Hewlett-Packard (now Keysight) back in 1985, with the introduction of the HP-8510. For many years it was the standard in the field of microwave testing and was supplemented a few years later with the legendary and incredibly popular RF Analyzer HP-8753.

Over time, the specifications in all areas have improved, so today you have better dynamic range, less noise, higher speed and much more. Electronic Calibration Kit (ECal Kit) makes calibration of the system significantly easier and faster. Not least for test sets with more than two ports.

However, many other things have happened. Something that has received less attention. Today, a network analyzer can do much more than measure S-parameters.

It started when Agilent (the T&M part of HP, which has now become Keysight) introduced the PNA-X analyzer.

Many options in addition to measurements of S-parameter

There were several significant innovations in these microwave analyzers. What received the most attention was the ability to characterize the non-linear properties of a circuit. They were defined with the so-called “X-parameters”. A quantum leap, which made it possible to measure components and circuits, characterize the non-linear properties and import these into an RF simulation tool such as Keysight ADS.

Other innovations were the built-in "noise receivers", which made it possible to measure noise figure. This is done with very high precision since it is possible to perform vector correction to remove the effect of mismatch on the input and output. A problem that until then, made the uncertainty of many noise figure measurements high.

Later followed the possibility of making spectrum analysis. Even at all ports, which is not least practical, when characterizing mixers or making intermodulation measurements. Another opportunity that also came with PNA-X. This was because PNA-X was the first analyzer with multiple built-in generators. Today, the generators have a very low phase noise, so that these measurements can now be further improved


Other new possibilities are TDR measurementspulsed RF measurements with built-in pulse generators and more. For example, those with external converters can handle frequencies up to 1.1THz.

Advanced options at a lower price.

In recent years, Keysight has introduced solutions with similar functionality, but at a much more affordable price. The new USB-based solutions called Streamline utilize a PC for user interface, with USB 3.0 directly to the chipset in the PC, providing very fast communication. They are available with the ability to make noise measurements with vector correction and many other measurements.

Streamline has models up to 53GHz. Solution for 6 ports, 2 sources and dynamic range up to 140dB.

FieldFox, the field instrument for everybody.

The FieldFox Analyzers are robust, top specifications and run up to 50GHz. They have a wide range of measurement and analysis functionality.

The 5G-targeted models have a gNodeB (gNB) solution. A necessity to verify hardware performance on cables and antennas, transmitter power, channel power, RF Spurs responses.

In addition, measurement of signal qualities Over The Air (OTA) including multipath synchronization signal information and interference as well as areas of loss in coverage.

The desktop models and the PXI format series.

The desktop models range from 5Hz to 67GHz in a box solution. Many models and a large selection of configurations that are constantly being further developed.

The PXI models are ideal for e.g. automatic test setups, and with the possibility of expansion to 32 ports, they have a wide range of applications.

The network analyzer families from Keysight have a very wide range of applications both in terms of all measurement functionality and accuracy as well as form factors that cover most areas of use. For example Laboratory measurements for R&D, Production test, Field measurements as well as Service and Installation.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that all Keysight network analyzers can be upgraded. Buy what you need know and add more functionality as required.

Do you want to know more?

If you already own a Network Analyzer and want get more value from it? Have a look at the long list of relevant application notes.

Application notes about using a Network Analyzer

Application notes specifically for the FieldFox handheld tester

Are you considering investing in a Network Analyzer?

Have a look at the Keysight Selection Guide, which gives you a good understanding of which model is the best choice for you.

Keysight Vector Network Analyzer - Selection Guide

On the Keysight web-page you can compare the different models and select based on your criterias.

Kesight page - compare the different Series and Products

Need more detailed information.

You can browse through the many different model on Altoo web-page. And you can download Data Sheets. For Configuration Guides, Brochures and Manuals please go to the Keysight web page mentioned above.

Network Analyzers on www.altoo.dk 

About Altoo ApS

Altoo ApS: Measuring instruments and solutions that provide insight.

  • Industry leading manufacturers and solutions
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  • Full support, advice and service through all phases of ownership.
  • Short and long term rentals; 14 days to 5-year leases as an alternative to investment.
  • The world's largest selection of used and demo equipment.
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