An Ethernet Based Controller for Managing Complex Antenna Measurements with a Vector Network Analyzer

Authors: Marion Baggett, James Langston

Vector Network Analyzers (VNA’s) are finding increasing utilization in antenna measurement ranges. At the same time, complex measurement scenarios involving many data channels in the antenna under test along with integration to beam steering computers for phased array antennas require management of the data collection beyond the VNA. Traditional methods have added control cards in the measurement control computer, increasing software complexity and reducing measurement throughput. The MI-788 Networked Acquisition Controller is designed to manage the hardware handshakes between position controllers, external sources and VNA’s, control up to 16 channels of multiplexed data from the antenna under test and/or interface with a beam steering computer. The MI-788 tremendously increases system throughput, particularly in these more complex measurement scenarios by removing real time data collection responsibilities from the measurement control computer. In addition, this unit makes all instrument communication Ethernet based, eliminating the spacing and operational limitations of GPIB based measurement systems. This paper will describe the operation of the MI- 788 and demonstrate the increased measurement capabilities while using VNA’s in antenna measurements.

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