Author Topic: Questions about RF test equipment  (Read 401 times)

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Offline jonalbert

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Questions about RF test equipment
« on: June 05, 2020, 08:08:46 pm »
I'm looking into purchasing some RF test equipment so that I can do some design work at home. My current job doesn't offer any RF design opportunities and I was thinking that this might be my only way to get into the design field (and out of test engineering).

There are some spectrum analyzers with tracking generators on Amazon for $5k, but I've never used GOWE or RIGOL products before. I was hoping that someone on here would have some advice.
 

Offline tautech

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Re: Questions about RF test equipment
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2020, 09:46:04 pm »
Welcome to the forum.

An indication of the frequences you will be working with would be helpful to narrow in on suitable gear.
You might like to research Siglents SVA models as just a single box contains a spectrum analyser, TG and VNA.
Great if you have limited room on the bench.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Questions about RF test equipment
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2020, 10:18:32 pm »
I second the suggestion for a VNA although a VNA usually has a higher noise floor. A spectrum analyser with a tracking generator isn't very useful for RF design work. For RF design work you'll also want to know the phase so you can measure the complex impedance.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Elasia

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Re: Questions about RF test equipment
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 11:05:36 pm »
I'll just leave this here... something a few of us have been working on for our home labs

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/siglent-ssa3000x-spectrum-analyzers/msg3084766/#msg3084766
 

Offline eevcandies

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Re: Questions about RF test equipment
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2020, 07:36:04 am »
Get yourself a lab grade Anruitsu MS8609A for $1000-$1700 (to 13 GHz), and an SMHU generator (to 4.3 GHz) & You'll have some fun.
 
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Questions about RF test equipment
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2020, 09:40:10 am »
I'm looking into purchasing some RF test equipment so that I can do some design work at home. My current job doesn't offer any RF design opportunities and I was thinking that this might be my only way to get into the design field (and out of test engineering).

I suggest you consider what is the minimum necessary so that you can put something on your CV that will get past the robots/HRdroids and get the CV into the hands of engineers that influence hiring. Being able to say "I bought and used an expensive piece of test equipment" probably won't!

As an engineer, what I look for in a CV is someone that:
  • does more than their job/studies require, because the subject fascinates them
  • sets a goal that gets them out of their comfort zone and stretches their capabilites, but which is also a realistic goal. "Make two meals for 10 people" is realistic, "feed the hungry" isn't :)
  • plans how to achieve the goal, given the constraints
  • achieves something close to the goal
  • can define the choices they made and why they were sensible choices
  • can define what worked well, and what didn't
  • can define what they would do better next time
Note that nothing there requires great expense. What is does require is realism, determination, imagination, plus an understanding of the available tools, their limitations, and how to use them to best advantage.

Examples...

I designed and implemented my first computer (6800, TTL, 128bytes RAM) using switches, an analogue voltmeter, and LEDs. Made many mistakes, learned a lot. The interviewers were most impressed.

I built an audio preamp. One (competent) interviewer asked me why I had chosen that particular one to build. I explained what the designer thought were important features and why, he continually probed deeper into my understanding, and finally I admitted that I didn't understand why the designer thought one feature was important. I was offered the job.

Make something that can measure filter responses up 1.5GHz for less than $50 - use an SDR dongle, a noise diode, a little software. Define its limitations. Then work out how to use it as a poor man's TDR.

So, it is worth considering buying something cheap and experimenting with it. That may well be sufficient.

It is also worth speed reading an old Asimov story that shaped my attitudes and is as true today as it was then: "Profession". It is online, in all its GeoCities glory, a http://www.abelard.org/asimov.php
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 


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