LONDON RF Engines Ltd. (Isle of Wight, UK) has developed a 32 channel RF signal generator that is designed to enable challenging RF environments to be recreated in labs to test RF equipment.
The design is based on a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA chip that is run within a PC on a PCI-express card. The PCI Upconverter is a flexible and configurable system that replaces racks of expensive RF test equipment.
Existing solutions is for test laboratories to use racks of arbitrary waveform generators coupled to mixers and modulators with each channel. The RFEL solution can generate up to 32 simultaneous channels of complex and bespoke test scenarios
Current solutions also generate signals from data stored on memory chips so that the signals repeat after a few seconds. By contrast, the PCI Upconverter streams its data from hard disks so that 32 channels of different signals can be generated over several days recreating real environments for proper soak testing.
The complex modulated signals themselves can be created in MATLAB or similar programmes with any type of waveform modulation including frequency hopping, TDMA, FDMA, CW, QPSK and QAM, and the characteristics can be manipulated in real-time.
Each channel can be individually programmed with the required bandwidth and being digitally generated, there are no sideband or filtering issues that would be problems with multiple signal analogue systems.
The system is controlled via a simple API on a Windows platform, and is provided with a suite of functions that allow direct control from a MATLAB environment. The integral MATLAB graphical user interface simplifies operations and makes the system look and feel like a piece of test equipment.