Digital RF Signal Generator Breaks Down Complex Tests

This high-performance family merges a touch-panel interface with full digital, vector, and analog modulation in only a 2U rack size.

Signal generators must minimize errors while guaranteeing precision and repeatability, even on the most sensitive analog or digital receivers (Rxs). The 3410 series from IFR, Inc. (Wichita, KS) plans to meet this challenge by combining an RF-level accuracy of ±0.5 dB with a low-output VSWR specification. This family of digital RF signal generators is available in three frequency ranges: 250 kHz to 2 GHz, 3 GHz, and 4 GHz. As a result, the series can be used to test and emulate second-, third-, and fourth-generation (2G, 3G, and 4G) systems, as well as digital Private Mobile Radio, wireless local-area networks (WLANs), and Bluetooth systems.

These devices avoid the path of competing generators, which became bulky and complicated to keep up with modulation formats. The 3410 series' system architecture incorporates high-performance RF modulation in a small package. Compared to competing instruments, this series reduces the size and weight of RF signal generators by 35 to 50 percent. At the same time, the family simplifies the configuration process with its new user interface. It is the first touchscreen user interface for digital RF signal generators (see figure).

Using the external in-phase/quadrature (I/Q) inputs, the 3410 series provides an RF modulation bandwidth of up to 100 MHz. The instruments promise to achieve excellent modulation characteristics over this bandwidth and the signal generators' full frequency range by using a proprietary I/Q modulator design. Typically, the series' adjacent-channel-power (ACP) performance will be better than −68 dBC for a Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) frequency-division-duplexing (FDD) signal. The 3410 family's performance can therefore meet the requirements of the most exacting tests for 3G radio Rxs and power amplifiers (PAs). To reduce vector errors and ensure a low carrier leak at all operating frequencies, the modulator performance can be optimized through user-definable calibration routines.

An optional dual-channel arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) enables the 3410 series to generate digitally modulated carriers with an RF modulation bandwidth of 45 MHz. Using an interpolation filter design, the AWG operates at a high sample rate. This allows smaller files to be created, while eliminating the need for selectable hardware filtering and the associated errors introduced by it. IFR, Inc., 10200 West York St., Wichita, KS 67215; (316) 522-4981, FAX: (316) 522-3022,

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