TODAY'S RF TEST SYSTEMS must test S-parameters, compression, intermodulation distortion (IMD), spurs, and noise figure while performing faster and more accurate measurements at a lower cost of ownership. Conventional "rack and stack" RF test systems comprise multiple instruments, such as a vector network analyzer (VNA), spectrum analyzer, signal generators, and power meters. Additional equipment is required to test lownoise amplifiers (LNAs) and provide an interface to the device under test (DUT). In an application note titled, "Using Modern VNAs to Automate Traditional Multi-Instrument RF Test Systems," Agilent Technologies asserts that VNAs can provide a cost-effective, automated-test-equipment (ATE) system-friendly replacement to traditional RF test systems.

The five-page document explains that modern VNAs contain sophisticated hardware with excellent specifications. They can perform a range of RF measurements beyond S-parameters and compression with both speed and accuracy. In addition, their internal switches provide more flexibility for test setups, thereby eliminating the need for a switch matrix when measuring, for example, forward and reverse S-parameters on a DUT. Among the benefits realized by this approach are simpler test systems, faster test times, higher accuracy, and flexible hardware. The note uses the firm's PNA-X series network analyzer as an example and clearly details how it can be used in place of a traditional RF test system to handle components from 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz.

Agilent Technologies, Inc., 5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95051; (408) 345-8886, FAX: (408) 345-8474, Internet: www.agilent.com.