TTi (Thurlby Thandar Instruments) has developed a handheld RF spectrum analyzer designed to set a new price point – below Euro 1200. The analyzer is based around a Palm handheld computer which provides the display, control, calculation, mass storage and external interface capabilities.
The PSA1301T has a high-resolution (480 x 320 pixel) backlit color TFT display capable of displaying 65,000 colors but still has a relatively low power consumption providing more than 4 hours continuos operation from a single charge. For continuous bench top operation it can be operated from its AC adaptor which also recharges the batteries in less than 4 hours.
Frequency range is 150 kHz to 1.3 GHz with selectable resolution bandwidth down to 15 kHz. Sweep modes include continuous, single, peak hold and average (up to 256 sweeps). Sweep parameters can be set in terms of centre plus span or start plus stop to 1 kHz resolution. A zero span mode with AM or FM demodulation is also provided.
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 and track peaks.
A reference trace can be displayed simultaneously with the live trace, with the two traces clearly differentiated by color. The reference trace is automatically shifted and scaled to match the current sweep parameters when they are changed.
Handheld and PC functionality
Any number of waveforms and settings can be stored to permanent memory using an SD or MMC flash memory card. Data can be saved under default or user-entered file names as preferred. Bitmap images of the whole screen can also be stored for viewing or printing. The PSA1301T can store three types of data: traces, set-ups and screens. Trace data is stored as tables of amplitude against frequency in a comma delimited format, which can be recalled to the screen as a reference trace.
Screens are saved as complete bit-map images of everything visible at the time (traces, graticule, markers and all annotation). These can then be viewed on the Palm itself or transferred to a PC.
PSA1301T data files are stored on removable flash memory cards. A USB linked card reader is supplied which allows files to be transferred to or from a PC using simple drag and drop. Where a wireless connection is available (Bluetooth or WiFi), files may be transferred using email attachments or via a wireless communications application.
PSA1301T trace files have a standard comma separated value (.csv) format which can be imported into other applications such as Excel or MathCad.Control of the analyzer is provided by soft keys created on the touch screen. These are large enough to be finger-operated, eliminating the need for a stylus. Alternatively, all functions can be operated using the hard keys of the handheld unit.
To extend battery life the analyzer can also be set to turn off automatically after a user-defined delay from the last key press.
Portable RF on-site
The PSA1301T should provide RF service engineers a cost-effective and portable tool making it practical for an engineer to carry a spectrum analyzer to areas that have traditionally been difficult to access with benchtop instruments and not cost-effective when using existing portable products offered by other manufacturers. This will reduce the need for a return visit when it is suspected that a spectrum analyzer is required.
Site testing for RFID is expected to be a popular area for the PSA1301T. Availability of an ultra-portable and low-cost spectrum analyzer with full documentation stored in the built-in handheld computer will ensure that RF testing can be performed on any site service visit.
Built-in applications include word processing and spreadsheets (compatible with Microsoft Word and Excel), contacts and appointments diary, multi-function calculator, picture viewing, audio and video players, plus web and email access via Bluetooth and WiFi.
Engineers that have infrequent requirements for a spectrum analyzer will find the device useful and EMC evaluation testing and RF interference caused by high-speed clock signals can be identified quickly. The PSA1301T weighs less than 0.5 kg and measures 170 x 97 x 47 mm.
TTi Thurlby Thandar Instruments