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Noise figure and spectrum analysis

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article image The PSA Series high performance spectrum analyser.

AGILENT Technologies has introduced a noise figure measurement personality for its PSA Series high-performance spectrum analyser that allows measurements of noise figure and gain from 200kHz to 26.5GHz at the touch of a button.

The new noise figure measurement personality can be used with any spectrum analyser model in the PSA Series.

Instruments currently in service require a minor hardware upgrade (option 119), the measurement firmware (option 219), and an inexpensive recalibration performed at an Agilent Technologies service centre.

PSA models ordered after December 19, 2002, will incorporate the hardware enhancements, and can be upgraded at any time by purchasing the firmware and recalibration.

To ensure low measurement uncertainty (high accuracy) and improve sensitivity when making noise figure measurements, spectrum analysers generally require a low-noise preamplifier.

The PSA Series instruments incorporate a preamplifier with very low noise, wide dynamic range, and flat frequency response from 10MHz to 3GHz.

This preamplifier and the instruments' inherent performance characteristics combine to produce total measurement uncertainty at frequencies up to 3GHz as low as ±0.05dB, which is comparable with Agilent's NFA Series noise figure analysers.

The NFA Series provides the lowest levels of measurement uncertainty of any commercially available noise figure measurement solution.

The measurement personality makes noise figure measurements extremely easy, automating the various steps in the process and guiding the operator.

All of the calculations required of noise figure and gain measurements are performed automatically. The operator simply connects the noise source, presses "calibrate," then inserts the device to be measured and the results appear immediately.

Unlike other spectrum analyser-based noise figure measurement solutions, the PSA Series has an integrated uncertainty calculator that automatically calculates total measurement uncertainty.

The instrument calculates errors introduced by all elements of the test setup, including the instrument, noise source, and cables.

In addition, the measurement personality provides guided routines for amplifier and mixer measurement that make it simple to characterize the noise figure of these devices.

The instrument prompts the operator to enter all required information and provides assistance throughout the measurement procedure.

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