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Modules Extend Frequency Range of Testers into Millimeter Range

Dec. 22, 2016
Millitech has released a pair of wireless modules that bolt onto test equipment and extend their frequency range into the millimeter waves.
The Spartan Test Module. (Image courtesy of Millitech).

Millitech has released a pair of wireless modules that bolt onto test equipment and extend their frequency range into millimeter waves. It is a part of the wireless spectrum that is being plumbed for transmitting a much larger volume of information than today’s low frequencies.

The Spartan Test Modules, as they are called, extend a vector network analyzer instrument into the 69 GHz range, also known as the V-band, and the 90 GHz or E-band range. The modules link to existing testers using standard connectors, saving engineers money that would otherwise be spent on custom test setups, the company said.

Millitech, which is based in Northampton, Mass., and a subsidiary of Smiths Interconnect, said that the modules were designed to test radar components, like switches and filters, which must be tested over a wide frequency range. The receiver part of the module can also double as a downconverter for extending the range of spectrum analyzers.

The modules represent one of the latest attempts to make regular test equipment compatible with millimeter frequencies, which are challenging to generate and often require multiple devices. Another effort came from National Instruments, which in February revealed a radio platform to better understand the behavior and capabilities of millimeter waves, which have already been opened for communications.

In July, the Federal Communications Commission ruled to open new bands of unlicensed spectrum between 64 and 71 GHz. Many companies have already started pilots of next-generation wireless gear. Intel is testing millimeter wave equipment at its office in Austin, Texas. The company is trying out the 15 GHz and 28 GHz bands, which like all millimeter waves have trouble traveling far and penetrating obstacles. 

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