Tek’s compact, USB spectrum analyser spans 6GHz for under €3k

November 04, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
The RSA306 spectrum analyser from Tektronix marks a departure for the company; it has packaged a 6.2-GHz spectrum analyser in a “screenless” handheld module that is PC hosted, connected and powered by a USB 3.0 port.

The company has taken its real-time spectrum analysis technology from its bench instruments, and applied it to the new format. Priced at €2,810, the unit spans 9 kHz to 6.2 GHz, has a capture bandwidth of 40 MHz (that is, in one capture it can “see” any 40-MHz segment in its range) and a corresponding real-time bandwidth of 40 MHz.

The instrument relies on Tek's SignalVu software running on the host PC: in the same release, the basic SignalVu software package becomes free-of-charge (it has been around $2000), and software modules that implement more advanced measurement and analysis functions are significantly reduced in cost.

The signal processing architecture of the real-time spectrum analysis technique places a limit on the minimum duration signal that can be captured; for the RSA306, 100% assurance of capture extends down to 100 µsec. With a swept-spectrum analyser, this figure can be much higher. The real-time technique, Tek also asserts, also allows capture and characterisation of pulse waveforms, and the software can present information in multiple formats, all derived from the real-time capture. For example, the PC screen can simultaneously display signal parameters; a constellation diagram; a spectrogram of power vs. time; as well as the basic amplitude/frequency representation.

An obvious pairing for field use would be to use a powerful tablet as host; Tek says it will not offer a “bundled” tablet but will issue a recommended list of suitable devices.

The company says the unit will not replace any of its bench-top instruments, but will open up the option of having “one per engineer” of the compact units and retaining the conventional instrument for the most demanding measurements. Other application targets include mobile radio network installation, interference hunting – an option allows real-world mapping and triangulation to aid interference detection – and university level lab classes (each analyser has a PC-style “Kensington” locking point).

The RSA306 is Tektronix’ first USB spectrum analyser and will,