Advanced Antenna Measurement System Architectures

Author: Steven R. Nichols

Since the early days of antenna pattern recorders, advances in instrumentation and computers have enabled measurement systems to become highly automated and much more capable. Automated systems have provided higher productivity, more efficient use of test facilities, and the ability to acquire more data in less time. In recent years, measurement speeds of microwave receivers and vector network analyzers have advanced considerably. However, to take full advantage of these speed improvements, the measurement system architecture must be carefully considered. Small differences in instrument timing that are repeated many times can make large differences in system measurement time. This paper describes a general method of calculating system measurement time based on the primary factors that affect system timing, including position trigger detection, frequency switching time, multiplexer switching time, receiver measurement time, and timing overhead associated with triggers, sweeps, and measurements. It also shows how key features of instruments available today can be used along with improved antenna measurement system architectures to optimize system throughput.

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