Signal generators are the starting point for any test system. They must provide known, controllable RF/microwave signals to evaluate the performance of components, circuits, and systems. And with the growing number of high-frequency electronic applications outdoors—such as cellular telephones—portability has become a useful trait in an RF/signal generator, as well.

The RoHS-compliant model SSG-6400HS synthesized signal generator from Mini-Circuits provides many of the desirable features and characteristics needed in a modern signal generator. It boasts a frequency range of 250 kHz to 6400 MHz, output-power range of -75 to +10 dBm, and programmability, all in a rugged metal shielded housing measuring just 11.00 x 8.50 x 2.15 in. with a Type-N, 50-Ω female coaxial output connector. Better still, it sports a price that won’t ruin most budgets.

For its small size and low cost, the model SSG-6400HS synthesized signal generator (see figure) offers impressive performance, with an 85-dB dynamic range that can be set in steps as small as 0.01 dB from -75 to +10 dBm across its full frequency range. Output signals can be set for continuous-wave (CW) output signals or as modulated output signals with amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), or phase modulation (PM), with an option for pulse modulation.

In addition, the SSG-6400HS synthesized signal generator can be set to sweep power and/or frequency up, down, or bidirectionally, either one alone or both parameters together. It can be controlled remotely via a personal computer (PC) via its built-in Universal Serial Bus (USB) port or a TCP/IP Ethernet connection.

The SSG-6400HS can be tuned with typical frequency resolution of better than 0.01 Hz across the full frequency range, with frequency accuracy of ±1.5 ppm when using its own internal frequency reference. It switches frequencies with better than 300 μs tuning speed and supports clean connections with RF/microwave cables via typical VSWR of 1.40:1 through 4500 MHz and 1.20:1 through 6400 MHz. The portable signal generator provides typical output power of +12 dBm from 8 MHz through 6400 MHz, with slightly lower power at the lowest frequencies.

In spite of its “portable” status, the SSG-6400HS boasts excellent spectral purity, with low harmonic and nonharmonic spurious levels. Second harmonics are typically -40 dBc through 4000 MHz and typically -25 dBc at higher frequencies. Nonharmonic spurious levels are typically -70 dBc through 3000 MHz and typically -60 dBc through 6400 MHz.

The single-sideband (SSB) phase noise is typically -133 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from a 1000-MHz carrier and -144 dBc/Hz offset 1 MHz from a 1000-MHz carrier. It is typically -123 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from a 3000-MHz carrier and -134 dBc/Hz offset 1 MHz from a 3000-MHz carrier. The phase noise is typically -117 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from a 6000-MHz carrier and -128 dBc/Hz offset 1 MHz from a 6000-MHz carrier.

The model SSG-6400HS synthesized signal generator is truly a plug-and-play test source. It includes a USB 2.0 port for connection to a computer or controller and operates with user-friendly graphical-user-interface (GUI) software which allows a user to select from a number of operating modes, including amplitude, frequency, and pulse modulation, frequency sweep, and power sweep.

The SSG-6400HS can also be used with a wide range of other popular software programs, including LabVIEW® 8 or newer from National Instruments; MATLAB® from The MathWorks; Agilent VEE® from Agilent Technologies; and Visual Basic® and Visual Studio® from Microsoft.

The compact, light-weight model SSG-6400HSwideband synthesized signal generator is supplied with a 12-V AC/DC 12-V adapter, an AC power cord, a USB cable, and a compact disc (CD) containing the GUI control program, plus programming APIs for 32- and 64 b programming environments. The CD software is compatible with software running on Windows or Linux operating-system (OS) computers, as well as with LabVIEW, Delphi®, C++, Visual Basic, and .NET software. P&A: $4995.00 (qty. 1) each SSG-6400HS; stock.

Mini-Circuits, Inc., P.O. Box 350166, Brooklyn, NY 11235-0003; (718) 934-4500, FAX: (718) 332-4661.