Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Agilent's RTR Spectrum Recorder and Analyzer Application

In this post, I wanted to share with you Agilent’s new spectrum recorder and analyzer application. This application example that is included with the real-time spectrum recorder (RTR) option, and it is used with the real-time spectrum analysis (RTSA) capabilities on the PXA and MXA series of Agilent signal analyzers.  This application allows you to directly record spectrum signal data on the RTSA signal analyzer itself, and then immediately play back the signal data to look for signal anomalies, which as you know are often the edge cases you need to find during your testing – but also the hardest to detect.

Agilent RTSA background: As a reminder from my earlier Agilent RTSA post, the RTSA allows the user to perform a variety of operations such as real time analysis, frequency mask triggering, and advanced displays of the acquired spectrum. Some additional capabilities include 100% probability of intercept for signal variations up to 37 μ seconds, 160MHz bandwidth, spectrogram view, and exceptional dynamic range.

Overview of the RTR option application: The RTR option enables the Agilent real-time spectrum analyzer (RTSA) to record, playback, and analyze signal and spectrum density data for detecting and analyzing signal anomalies, and for viewing the evolution of signals and spectrum density over time.

The RTR application example addresses many important signal analysis challenges, including:
  • Recording, visualizing, and analyzing signal spectrum density data to address signaling scenarios where density evolution is important
  • Studying a signal spectrum in which low-powered signals are followed by high-powered signals at the same frequency
  • Studying a spectrum in which multiple signal bursts occur at different frequencies at different times and the relative times and the number of occurrences of the signals at each frequency is important
How it works: After the RTR application is installed and the capture started, the application automatically switches the signal analyzer to RTSA mode and provides a Density view.  You directly control the RTSA parameters such as center frequency, frequency span, and acquisition time to set up the acquisition. After configuring the signal analyzer, the spectrum density data on the spectrum analyzer can be saved at a user defined rate and played back directly in this application. This is the configuration panel on the app which makes using the application straightforward:

Detecting signal anomalies:  The application allows you to move back and forth in time to visualize a particular density frame of choice (see the scrollbar at the bottom of the first figure above). 

Marking the density frame of interest:  Amplitude and density markers can be placed directly on the application to obtain further information such as the frequencies of interest and to annotate results.

Loading and saving density data: The recorded data can also be saved for later analysis in the application on your instrument. Alternatively, it can be remotely analyzed on your PC in MATLAB. Of course, previously saved data can be loaded back into this application for post analysis.

Here are more details on the RTR option for PXA and MXA signal analyzers:  
  •  The option includes the following contents: the application example (delivered as a MATLAB App), modifiable source code, and a MATLAB software license to execute and modify it.
  • The RTR application allows you to record and analyze spectrum signals, and to scroll back and forth to help find signal anomalies.
  • Since the application is modifiable the user can customize and extend its capabilities to fit their unique testing needs.

Modifying the application and source code: The application’s capability to be modified/extended cannot be overstated.  This application has been designed for recording and analyzing spectrum analyzer signals.  However, if the application does not provide the specific capabilities that you need, you can modify it yourself with the MATLAB license provided and use it with your instrument.  Below is an example of what it looks like to modify the recorder and analyzer application example.  

Summary: The real-time spectrum recorder and analyzer application example is used to record, visualize, and analyze the evolution of spectrum density.  It includes the application, modifiable source code, and MATLAB software to extend it which makes it unique and valuable.  It is also the first application option available specifically for the RTSA.  I have found this application to be very useful for acquiring and visualizing signals and for detecting signal anomalies.   It also provides the source code and MATLAB software for you to optionally modify or extend the application to your specific signal detection and testing needs.

For more information on this recorder and analyzer application option including its contents and capabilities, visit the Agilent RTR resource page

For more information on making RF and digital measurements with Agilent instruments, view the on-demand Agilent/MATLAB RF and digital webcast