Agilent Technologies have introduced a digital receiver for radio frequency (RF) signal monitoring. The Agilent N6841A RF Sensor is a software-defined, network-based receiver housed in a compact, weatherproof enclosure with a wide operating temperature range suitable for outdoor deployments.
Multiple receivers may be combined to form RF sensor networks to improve detection, monitoring and geolocation of emitters in commercial, radio regulatory, security and defense applications.
According to Tom Burrell, Vice President and General Manager, Agilent Technologies, modern signals with complex modulation and higher information bandwidths are challenging traditional approaches to spectrum monitoring. These signals are harder to detect and are more dynamic.
The N6841A Sensor allows a different approach by using easy-to-deploy receivers with low installation cost. The sensor takes advantage of advances in computer network and synchronisation technologies to build RF sensor networks with geolocation capabilities that were not possible before.
The N6841A RF Sensor from Agilent Technologies monitors signals over a frequency range of 20MHz to 6GHz using a 14-bit ADC to accurately digitise signals with a 20MHz information bandwidth. A 512MB signal capture memory buffer follows the ADC and signal processing. Receivers may be tightly synchronised using the optional GPS receiver or through the network interface, providing both measurement synchronisation and accurate time-stamping of measurement data. The network interface allows the sensors to be distributed within a building, throughout a city or across the world.
The weatherproof IP67-rated (Standard IEC 6529 International Protection 67) enclosure and wide operating temperature range of -35°C to +55°C (-31°F to 131°F) allow the N6841A Sensor to withstand harsh environments. The small, low-profile form factor -about the size of a laptop - offers many discreet deployment and mounting options, including pole-top or wall-mount. Co-locating the sensor with the antenna also helps minimise signal loss due to coaxial cable attenuation. The receiver is convection cooled and contains no moving parts.
The Agilent N6841A RF Sensor is compatible with the Agilent N6820E signal surveyor monitoring software for automated high-speed RF signal search, detection, classification and alarming. The N6841A RF Sensor also includes an open programming interface allowing the receiver to operate as remote RF signal digitiser for custom applications. With narrower signal bandwidths, the N6841A RF Sensor is capable of streaming gapless data over the network, making it suitable for real-time demodulation and signal analysis applications. Wider bandwidth signals can be captured gap-free into the signal capture memory buffer and then transferred as a block.