Portable Analyzers Bring More Power to the Field

May 4, 2015
This family of spectrum analyzers and combination analyzers, which covers different frequency ranges to 26.5 GHz, offers several new options that help ease in-field cable measurements.
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Several lines of portable FieldFox handheld analyzers from Keysight Technologies now come with options that help improve measurements of high-frequency cables and cable assemblies. The analyzers include compact, portable vector network analyzers (VNAs) and combination instruments with frequency ranges starting at 30 kHz and reaching 4.0, 6.5, 9.0, 14.0, 18.0, and 26.5 GHz.

1. The battery-powered FieldFox portable analyzers are available for use at frequencies to 26.5 GHz. Their combination of measurement functions make them suitable for harsh environmental conditions.

There are also spectrum analyzers with full-band tracking generators for frequency coverage of 5 kHz to 4.0, 6.5, 9.0, 14.0, 18.0, and 26.5 GHz. The two new options deliver time-domain-reflectometry (TDR) cable measurement capability (Option 215) and extended range transmission analysis (Option 209). Option 215 is available for VNA and combination models, while Option 209 comes with the combination and spectrum-analyzer models. 

Finding faults in communications cables requires a measurement tool that can help isolate and identify the fault under a wide range of environmental conditions (Fig. 1). Option 215 for the complements existing measurement capabilities within the FieldFox analyzers—the return-loss and distance-to-fault (DTF) measurement functions—to help isolate and identify coaxial cable faults.

The TDR measurement option for the FieldFox cable and antenna analyzers measures the impedance changes along a cable and helps identify specific faults. The return-loss measurement function looks for impedance mismatches along the cable and at cable/connector junctions, while the DTF measurement capability identifies the distance from the analyzer to an identified fault. With the TDR option, the portable VNA instruments can simultaneously perform TDR and frequency-domain-reflectometry (FDR) measurements on coaxial cables.

Performing measurements on long runs of coaxial cable in the field is aided by a portable spectrum analyzer that features a built-in tracking generator and capabilities such as wide dynamic range, suitable frequency range, and fast processing speeds. The second option for the FieldFox analyzers (Option 209), Extended Range Transmission Analysis, enables in situ measurements on systems with long cable runs, including lossy microwave cables.

Such measurements have traditionally been performed by connecting a suitable-frequency signal generator at one end of the cable run and a spectrum analyzer at the other end of the cable to be analyzed, or with a signal generator and a power meter/detector to gauge cable loss. Unfortunately, both approaches are time-consuming.

2. A pair of FieldFox spectrum analyzers with built-in tracking generators can be set up as transmitter and receiver at both ends of a long cable run for in-field analysis.

Fortunately, thanks to their built-in tracking generators, a pair of FieldFox spectrum analyzers can perform cable fault measurements without calibrations or long warmup times. The two portable analyzers are step-synchronized with hardware triggers to perform an accurate analysis of long cable runs.

In addition, Option 209 can be configured with a frequency-offset function to measure communications cable runs with frequency-translation devices, such as RF/microwave mixers. The measurements take advantage of the spectrum analyzers’ high selectivity to reject out-of-band signals and interference while providing a wide dynamic range to measure signals of interest (from the tracking generator). The instruments use a proprietary InstAlign spectrum-analysis technique to make accurate measurements on long cable runs with a pair of spectrum analyzers/generators without the need of calibration or warmup.

“Carrying precision into the field is the key driver behind Keysight’s FieldFox analyzers,” says Dan Dunn, general manager for Keysight’s RF handheld instruments. “Our new measurement options further build on this idea by enabling customers to use FieldFox to perform comprehensive cable testing in the field, while continuing to deliver Keysight-quality measurements.”

P&A: $1,000 added to the price for all combination analyzers and VNA models with Option 215 and $5,000 added to the price for all FieldFox combination analyzers and spectrum-analyzer models with Option 209.

Keysight Technologies Inc., 1400 Fountaingrove Pkwy., Santa Rosa, CA 95403; (707) 577-2663

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About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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