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Relying On Those Measurement Tools

Losing a hard disk can be devastating, especially when all those files are gone without a trace or a backup system. As with many electronic tools, we come to rely on laptop computers, cellular telephones, and PDAs so much that they are often taken for granted. In the world of RF and microwave engineering, the same can be said of test equipment. In the laboratory, it provides invaluable insights into a new design or prototype. On the production floor, it decides what can ship and what needs rework. RF/microwave test equipment is a critical part of any company hoping to succeed in this industry.

Radar measurements can be among the most challenging of RF/microwave measurements because they involve pulsed signals. Unlike standard CW signals, radar signals must be gated to be appreciated, since they rely on timing as well as frequency and modulation. The test tools are not standard, but must have the capability of gating these pulsed signals while capturing phase and modulation information, and displaying information in the time domain. Many of the challenges of performing accurate pulsed RF radar measurements are detailed in a new White Paper from Agilent Technologies ( called "Perfecting Pulsed RF Radar Measurements," included in the August 2007 issue of Microwaves & RF and also available from the Microwaves & RF website at

The Agilent-sponsored white paper describes the differences between pulsed RF radar signals and other RF/microwave signals, and explains why some test equipment falls short when trying to characterize pulsed RF radar signals. The white paper also details two types of test instruments, notably the P-Series peak power meters (and its associated power sensors) and the PSA Series spectrum analyzers, with digital intermediate-frequency (IF) filters, built-in Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and software-aided vector-signal-analysis (VSA) capabilities, and how these two types of instruments can speed and simply measurements on pulsed RF radar waveforms. The white paper is free, either in the magazine or on the web site. Don't pass up the chance for a free education.

by Jack Browne, MWRF Technical Director

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