AWG5200_Waveform_Generator
(Image courtesy of Tektronix).

An Arbitrary Waveform Generator for Radar and Electronic Warfare

"Signal generation has been a major problem for RF designers and researchers for some time now, and it is only getting worse as their needs have grown more complex,” said Jim McGillivary, general manager of RF and component solutions at Tektronix.

An arbitrary waveform generator from Tektronix provides eight channels and high resolution for testing radar and electronic warfare systems. To generate its complex troubleshooting signals, the AWG5200 offers advanced capabilities that previously have been possible only with multiple generators.

The instrument provides 16-bit resolution, 10 billion samples per second, and fewer than two microseconds of latency. The channels, which support signal generation up to 4 gigahertz, contain independent paths out, individual amplification, sequencing, up-conversion, and dedicated memory. The channels can be controlled independently and support multi-unit synchronization.

"Signal generation has been a major problem for RF designers and researchers for some time now, and it is only getting worse as their needs have grown more complex,” said Jim McGillivary, general manager of RF and component solutions at Tektronix, in a statement.

But generating highly detailed waveforms isn’t cheap. The instrument starts at $82,000, which Tektronix says is affordable for the cumulative value of the features offered. McGillivary claims that the cost is “much lower overall” than buying “dozens of individual AWGs and attempting to get them to work together.”

Test equipment from rivals like National Instruments is based on the modular PXI standard, which lets engineers choose parts for a custom test bench. Keysight, the former test division of Agilent Technologies, recently released a waveform generator for PXI systems, with three channels and 16-bit resolution, but only a single gigahertz of bandwidth. The starting cost is $22,000.

Tektronix offers tools to offset the steep cost. The AWG5200 comes with a library of plugins for generating standardized signals, pre-distorted waveforms, and automated tests. The built-in display lets engineers replay, edit, and sample signals captured with oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers without using a personal computer.

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