RF and microwave designers take-on the cluttered spectrum

While the traditional spectrum analyzer continues to be the workhorse for RF engineers, real-time spectrum analyzers (RTSAs) offer countless advantages for industries and agencies looking to gather additional information about signals across the spectrum.

With real-time analysis, experts can perform continuous capture and analysis of elusive and transient signals without gaps, which is not something that conventional spectrum analyzers and vector signal analyzers can do. This allows monitoring of a signal in a traffic signal that should not be there or may cause interference.

Experts in Anritsu The Test and Measurement Division of Corp. in Morgan Hill, California explains that RTSA’s test and measurement tools give a much broader view of what’s happening in the spectrum than traditional technology.

“It will be used to sweep the spectrum to check if there are unknown or unwanted transmitters in a base environment that could affect the security of these operations,” says Anritsu product manager Kirby Hong. “The second use could be the general maintenance of the equipment. Is it working properly? Do they meet their specifications? When the radar is turned off, does it inadvertently emit false signals? It might be a security issue. Look for illegal listening devices, especially those that are very transient in nature and don’t broadcast all the time. If there is a bug recording conversations and periodically transmitting to a receiving station somewhere, it may be missed by a traditional spectrum analyzer.

Spectrum scan

Anritsu’s Field Master Pro MS2090A instrument with real-time spectrum analyzer option was selected to locate the disturbing signal. According to the manufacturer, in the optional real-time mode, the MS2090A can accurately measure the amplitude of a single spectrum event in 2 microseconds and detect a single event in 5 nanoseconds. The MS2090A is a robust, size, weight and power (SWaP) optimized handheld spectrum analyzer that can be used in the field and has an analysis bandwidth of 110 MHz and a measurement range of DANL to +30 dBm.

Using the MS2090A RTSA, experts were able to find the cause of the interference alarms at the public safety agency: high winds caused a cable to hit the tower, causing passive intermodulation.

The MS2090A can help with jamming hunting, spectrum clearing, broadcast transmitter analysis, microwave radio link monitoring, satellite system monitoring, pulse radar measurements, 5GNR base station measurement and 5G coverage mapping.

Hong and Angus Robinson, marketing manager at Anritsu, note that thanks to SWaP optimization, the battery-powered Field Master Pro MS2090A can be mounted in aircraft, vehicles and deployed stealthily in cases to discreetly monitor signals throughout spectrum in real time.

“One of the government agencies we talked to is currently installing very large laboratory-type instruments in airframes on military aircraft for this very application,” says Robinson. “So you can imagine that anything you put in the airframe in terms of weight and size is a big problem. They are very excited about the small form factor and the ability to get the same functionality in a much smaller form factor. There’s also a group of people who want to leave these devices in, say, unsuspicious looking Pelican cases… There’s also a big battery in the case and they let it collect data somewhere for a day or what have you and then they go home and take it

A solid recorder

Pentek Inc. in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, recently introduced its RTX 2684 26 GHz RF Sentinel Intelligent Signal Scanning small form factor recorder, which is

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