Test equipment plays a major role in product development and production, which was apparent at IMS 2023. In the photos and videos below, you’ll get a taste of test developments at RF, mmWave, and sub-THz frequencies. This year, D-band (110 GHz to 170 GHz) seized a larger portion of the exhibit hall than in past years. That’s primarily because of research into 6G. After all, we always need more bandwidth, right?
See EE World’s other IMS coverage of connectors at Connector Tips and semiconductors and components at 5G Technology World. Also see IMS 2023: keynote analyzes early undersea cables to learn how transmission lines have affected communications since the 1800s.
|Anritsu demonstrated a system for testing mmWave components at frequencies as high as 220 GHz. The video provides a demonstration of the system where, because of the mmWave module’s wide bandwidth, you can make measurements to 220 GHz in a single sweep. You don’t need to switch modules and waveguides, make a set of measurements, and stitch the rest results together into a single data set. The company also introduced the MG362x1A signal generator, which produces signals to 70 GHz.|
|Astronics Test Systems exhibited automated test stations for production testing of RFICs. The company’s vector channel analyzer (VCA) measures frequency response for active and passive devices, RF front ends, embedded subystems once it’s in production. The VCA operates as a virtual instrument with the company’s ATS-3100 PXI integration platform.|
|Eravant exhibited its line of vector network analyzer (VNA) frequency extenders. Working with VNAs from Anritsu, Copper Mountain, Keysight, Rohde & Schwarz, and others, the extenders models produce frequencies that range from 50 GHz to 75 GHz (model WR-15) all the way to 220 GHz to 330 GHz (model WR-03). The photo shows a VNA test application that includes Eravant’s waveguides connected to a WR-06, which covers the 110 GHz to 170 GHz D-band currently undergoing research for 6G.|
|Keysight Technologies exhibited a test system for characterizing components on the D-band. The test setup in the videos shows a demonstration of a power amplifier operating at 145 GHz, one of the frequencies under consideration for 6G. Measurements include distortion and error-vector magnitude (EVM).|
|Marvin Test Solutions brought one of its TS-900e-5G automated test stands to IMS. Designed for 5G mmWave RFICs, the TS-900e-5G uses Keysight’s PXI VNAs M9807A and M9808A, depending on frequency (up to 44 GHz or 53 GHz, respectively). The test stand can contain up to 32 parametric measurement units for pushing voltage and current into each DUT. The system also contains 64 or 128 digital I/O channels and 48 channels programmable in groups of eight.|
|NI demonstrated a PXI-based system for evaluating circuits and systems used in 6G sub-THz research. The system consists of the PXIe-5654 signal generator, used as a local oscillator for a Virginia Diodes upconverter and downconverter. The system also contains a PXIe-5842 23 GHz vector-signal transceiver and a PXIe-7903 FPGA coprocessor.|
|Pickering Interfaces launched additions to its range of PXI/PXIe microwave relay modules, which can operate at frequencies up to 110 GHz. The 40-781A-92x (PXI) and 42-781A-92x (PXIe) modules consist of either a single or dual microwave changeover switch payload, capable of switching up to 110 GHz with 50 Ω impedance. They are available with external terminations through front-panel mounted SMA 1.0 connectors.|
|Pico Technology, a manufacturer of PC-based oscilloscopes and RF test instruments, showed its two-port Pico VNA 108, which lets you characterize components at frequencies from 300 kHz to 8.5 GHz. Operating through the company’s PicoVNA 5 software, the VNA lets you measure S-parameters, frequency response, and time-domain parameters. PicoVNA 5 supports Linux, Windows 7+, and macOS 11 (Big Sur)+. Previous versions of PicoVNA software supported Windows only.|
|Rohde & Schwarz hosted “Are you a genius?” at IMS 2023. Several stations around the company’s booth highlighted aspects of issues that often arise in wireless designs. In the video, you’ll get an explanation of why power amplifiers need to run at just the right power levels to maximize the tradeoff between signal strength and amplifier efficiency. Another challenge focused on troubleshooting if your problem is caused by baseband or RF issues using an oscilloscope.|
|Siglent’s booth consisted of an array of bench instruments: oscilloscopes, signal generators, spectrum analyzers, and VNAs. The SSA 5085A spectrum analyzer covers 9 kHz to 26.5 GHz. It performs measurements such as channel power, adjacent channel power ratio (ACPR), occupied bandwidth (OBW), harmonic distortion, and third-order intercept (TOI) measurements. It also performs analog-modulation analysis and vector-digital-modulation analysis.|
|Signal Hound unveiled its SP145 spectrum analyzer. It’s designed for accurate remote-spectrum monitoring and analysis in a portable format. It features 200 GHz/sec sweep speed, 40 MHz streaming bandwidth, and –160 dBm displayed noise average.
An included internal GPS adds lets you tag measurements with locations for performing drive tests, vector signal analysis, RF survey, and airborne measurements.
The SP145 is USB-C powered and it’s features include programmable API/SCIPI automation and real-time analysis.
|Tabor Electronics exhibited several products, among them the LSX2091M 20 GHz PXI analog RF signal generator. The signal generator produces RF signals with AM, FM, PM, sweep, and pulse modulation as well as CW signals.|
|TMYTEK’s Ethan Lin explained how the company’s BBox beamforming tool works. The BBox lets you test beamforming circuits, antennas, and antenna arrays at mmWave frequencies. inside the chamber, you can see how the BBox keeps a transmitted signal focused on the receiving antenna while the transmitter’s angle to the receiver changes. Lin also gave a demonstration of the BBox software.|
|Wireless Telecom Group’s Matthew Diessner gave us a lesson on physical-layer wireless measurements. Amplifiers are a significant component in RF. Power measurements are essential. Diessner explains peak-to-average power ratio. He also explains phase noise measurements. All oscillators produce some phase noise. Furthermore, phase noise occurs in satellite communications whenever a connection shifts amoge satellites as they pass overhead. Finally, Diessner demonstrated the effects of noise on a receiver.|