Vector network analyzers (VNAs) are test instruments considered almost synonymous with the RF/microwave industry. They are vital to the 50-Ω impedance matching of components through their scattering-parameter (S-parameter) measurements, and are rarely used outside of companies and laboratories working with RF/microwave equipment. Nonetheless, they have traditionally been “high-end” instruments, in terms of both performance and cost.
Many high-frequency designers can probably volunteer a story or two about waiting for their company’s VNA to be available for testing. Well, the wait is over, with the introduction of the quite affordable, yet precise, TTR500 two-port VNAs from Tektronix.
Priced at $12,000 USD for a 6-GHz VNA and $9,000 for a 3-GHz instrument, these VNAs literally bring S-parameters to the RF/microwave engineering masses—at least wherever there is a PC with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 port to run the test software and control the TTR500. The measurement capability at these prices paves the way for affordable wireless products, such as for Internet of Things (IoT) and Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications networks.