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Measurement equipment provides invaluable insights into the performance and behavior of different RF/microwave devices, components, and systems. All the same, compiling and organizing test results can be both tedious and challenging. With the aid of modern test-and-measurement software programs, however, the tasks of making the measurements and analyzing the results can be controlled and automated, allowing for dramatic increases in measurement speed and efficiency. Measurement software is available at many different levels, for testing devices through systems, and for many different instruments in both the frequency and time domains.

The complexity of modern measurements is not lost on the companies making the test equipment, and at least one of those firms has invested in organizing educational materials into a free DVD (while supplies last): “Back to Basics: Modern Measurement Fundamentals.” This resource covers numerous topics of interest to engineers working both in the digital and RF/microwave electronics spheres. These include analyzing agile signals in real time, characterizing DC power supplies, understanding signal generators and analyzers, the basics of vector network analyzers (VNAs), improving spectrum analysis, the fundamentals of arbitrary waveform generation, and the fundamentals of RF/microwave power measurements.

With respect to more traditional measurement software, Agilent recently announced its model M9099 Waveform Creator software, intended for use with the company’s model M9381A PXIe vector signal generator (VSG) to create complex test signals (see figure). Creating a signal with the software is simply a matter of dragging and dropping waveform segments into tracks and modifying segments n those tracks by user-definable parameters; signals are produced by plug-in hardware modules controlled by the software.

Waveform Creator

LabVIEW™ from National Instruments is a standard measurement software for many engineers, providing templates and examples for a wide range of measurements (from analog and RF/microwave through digital and system-level). The current version of the software, LabVIEW 2013, features improved Internet services (including secure web services communications). It incorporates a number of productivity enhancements, such as more flexible mouse programming, more versatile event-driven programming, and improvements to block diagram objects within the software. LabVIEW 2013 also features new and improved examples to better demonstrate the capabilities and measurement possibilities with the software.

The NI Modulation Toolkit for NI LabVIEW and LabWindows/CVI software provides functions and tools for signal generation, analysis, visualization, and processing of standard and custom analog and digital modulation formats. The software makes it possible to rapidly customize generated and analyzed waveforms when working with such hardware instruments as the firm’s modular test instruments, including the model PXI-5660 VSA and the model PXI-5671 RF VSG. 

AR/RF-Microwave Instrumentation has developed its emcware® software for electromagnetic-compatibility (EMC) testing. Running on a personal computer (PC) and with the appropriate test equipment, the software simplifies measurements of radiated susceptibility, conducted immunity, and radiated and conducted emissions. The latest version of emcware (3.0.0) includes emissions capability per Comite International Special des Perturbations Radioelectriques (CISPR) regulations. The software is available free of charge for a 60-day trial period and can be converted to a fully licensed version at any time following registration. It runs on PCs with Windows XP through Windows 8 operating systems. A free version of the emcware software is available.

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