The availability of reasonably priced RF digitizers has led to low cost hardware for software-defined radios. Tektronix has used this technology to create a new class of affordable spectrum analyzers based on a USB architecture with a list price of $3,499! The Tektronix RSA306 covers 9 kHz to 6.2 GHz and weighs only 1.2 pounds. It has a measurement range extending from -160 dBm up to +20 dBm.
Jim McGillivary, general manager of RF and Component Solutions at Tektronix, explained, “As with nearly all areas of electronics design and test, requirements for RF and microwave test are changing quickly leading to the need for new instrumentation approaches. As the introduction of RSA306 demonstrates, we're moving aggressively to address these changing requirements across multiple market segments with innovative, industry leading test and measurement solutions.”
The RSA306 has 40 MHz instantaneous bandwidth and works with Tektronix SignalVu-PC software. Available measurements include spectrum emission mask compliance, channel power and adjacent channel power, and CCDF (Complementary Cumulative Distribution Function) plots. Basic vector analysis functions show amplitude, frequency, phase versus time, and RF I and Q versus time. Options allow modulation analysis of 16/32/64/256 QAM, QPSK, O-QPSK, GMSK, FSK and APSK.
I didn't see 8-VSB included among the measurement options. This appears to be more of a decision by the software designers rather than a limitation of the hardware. Perhaps we'll see it as an option in the future.
For more information, see the RSA306 datasheet and the SignalVu-PC Datasheet.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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