Wednesday 16 January 2013

Truly handheld RF Spectrum Analysers

Aim-TTi have launched a new series of handheld RF spectrum analysers, the PSA Series II. Available in 1.3GHz and 2.7GHz versions, the new instruments are smaller, lighter and have longer battery life than other handheld RF products.

Whereas a typical “handheld” spectrum analyser weighs over 2kg (4.4lb) and is considerable wider than a hand width, the PSA Series II weighs only 560 grms (20oz) and is just 9.2cm (3.6”) wide, fitting perfectly into the hand.

Despite their small size, the analysers incorporate a 4.3” (11cm) backlit TFT colour display with touch screen. A high capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery gives more than 8 hours operation from a charge.

The PSA1302 has a frequency range of 1MHz to 1300MHz whilst the PSA2702 operates up to 2700MHz. Dynamic range is 80dB with a noise floor approaching -100dBm. Resolution bandwidth is selectable down to 15kHz. Sweep modes include continuous, single, peak hold and sweep average. Sweep parameters can be set in terms of centre plus span or start plus stop to 1kHz resolution. A zero span mode with AM or FM audio demodulation is also provided using a built-in speaker.

Dual markers are incorporated with simultaneous readout of absolute amplitude and frequency plus difference values. Markers can be scrolled manually, or set to automatically find or track peaks. Up to three traces can be displayed (Live, View and Reference) clearly differentiated by colour. Traces or complete screen images can be saved to files.

Advanced features include data logging for traces, data points or screen images. Up to 10,000 entries per file can be stored with triggering from a manual key press, internal timer, external trigger, or the limits comparator. The 1.8GB of internal memory enables many large files to be stored.

Limit lines and limit patterns can be displayed with a full limits comparator enabling audible warnings, output pulses, halting of the trace, or entries into logging files. Compensation tables for antennae or other external transducers can be created and loaded.

The instruments have a full filing system capable of storing up to 1,000 each of traces, screen images, set-ups, logging files, limit patterns or compensation tables under auto incrementing names or user-defined names. USB host and device connectors allow the connection of USB Flash drives or direct connection to a PC.

Control of the analyser is provided by finger operated soft keys created on the touch screen. These form a hierarchical menu system that gives rapid access to the menu functions. Alternatively, all functions can be operated using the hard keys alone.

The ruggedized casing incorporates rubber protection buffer and includes a bench stand and screen protector. For bench-top use, the instrument can be operated continuously from its AC charger. For portable use, the long battery life of eight hours can be further extended by selecting auto-off which turns the instrument off after a delay of 5 to 60 mins. from the last key press whilst retaining all data.

The PSA Series II will offer RF service engineers a cost effective and highly portable tool that will make it practical to a carry a spectrum analyser to areas that have traditionally been difficult to access with bench top instruments and not cost effective when using existing portable products offered by other manufacturers. This can reduce the need for a return visit when it is suspected that a spectrum analyser is required.

Other engineers working on the bench will appreciate the low cost of the products enabling them to justify the purchase of an RF spectrum analyser for tasks where the cost would have been previously been difficult to justify.

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