Troubleshooting RF, Microwave, Wireless, and Internet of Things

HP8510C vector network analyzer
HP8510C vector network analyzer
Phase noise of ADF4355 at 2.4 GHz
Phase noise of ADF4355 at 2.4 GHz

Troubleshooting of RF, microwave, and Internet of Things circuits and systems is one of the activities performed by Aerospace Consulting. One of the reasons that RF and microwave circuits and systems can be so difficult to work with and troubleshoot is because of the wide array of test equipment that is needed. Aerospace Consulting has all of the required test equipment and software that is required to work on circuits and systems operating at frequencies from DC to over 26.5 GHz. Some of the test equipment includes the following:

  • Spectrum analyzers and vector signal analyzers
  • Phase noise and spurious measurement capabilities
  • Network analyzers
  • Regular synthesized RF signal generators and sweepers
  • IQ modulation capable RF signal generators and sweepers
  • Base-band arbitrary waveform generator
  • Oscilloscopes
  • Logic analyzers
  • DC power supplies, both regular and computer controlled
  • Noise figure meter
  • Power meter
  • Vector signal analyzer
  • Antenna test range
  • Calibrated horn antenna
  • Slide screw tuners
  • High power (up to 1000 watts) attenuators
  • Extensive sets of chip components of many sizes like capacitors, inductors, and resistors
  • Microscopes and micro-photography equipment
  • Extensive suite of software for recording data from most types of test equipment to document performance and problems
  • Extensive suite of RF, microwave, math, and antenna and electromagnetic (EM) design and simulation software

While proper test equipment is essential, I also use software for troubleshooting. By using software, it is often possible to determine what is causing a problem more quickly than by running extensive tests on the bench. If a problem is identified with simulation, it is often possible to then confirm the problem with test equipment. (See my articles on the white papers page for details about how I use software to speed-up the troubleshooting task.)