1MA124_0e_ tack_the_challenges_of_pulsed_signal_meas

1MA124_0e_ tack_the_challenges_of_pulsed_signal_meas
Tackling the Challenges of
Pulsed Signal Measurements
Application Note
This Application Note describes characterization of devices used in radar systems with pulsed signals. The
emphasis is on measurements using vector network analyzers (VNAs), signal generators, vector signal
generators and spectrum analyzers.
Subject to change Thilo Bednorz, Roland Minihold, Kay-Uwe Sander, Frank-Werner Thummler 01/2008 1MA124_0E
1 Overview ................................................................................................. 3
2 Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network Analyzers and
Signal Generators ........................................................................................ 3
Characterizing Time-Dependent Behavior ......................................... 3
Modulated Pulses. ........................................................................ 4
Point in Pulse Measurement ......................................................... 5
Averaged Pulse Measurement...................................................... 7
Pulse Profile Measurements ......................................................... 9
An Enhanced Pulse Profile Solution ........................................... 10
Pulse Measurements and Signal Generation .................................. 12
Comparing Analog and Vector Signal Generators...................... 12
Table 1 – Signal Generators Compared ..................................... 13
Test Configurations..................................................................... 14
3 Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals ............................ 15
Modulation in the Pulse............................................................... 16
Pulsed Power Measurement and Detectors ............................... 16
A Typical Test Setup................................................................... 18
4 Literature ............................................................................................... 22
5 Additional Information ........................................................................... 22
6 Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence Solutions ......... 23
Signal generators: Versatile performance to 43.5 GHz ................... 23
R&S®SMB100A: Redefining the “mid-range” signal generator .. 23
R&S®SMF100A: Features tailored for defense applications ...... 24
R&S®SMA100A: Perfect fit for ATE and avionics receiver testing
.................................................................................................... 25
Signal and spectrum analyzers: Tailored for tough signal
environments.................................................................................... 26
R&S®FSU67: 20 Hz to 67 GHz – without external mixers ......... 26
R&S®FSQ40: Vector signal analysis and spectral analysis in a
single instrument......................................................................... 27
Vector network analyzers: The industry’s highest performance ...... 28
R&S®ZVT8: The first (and only) VNA with up to eight ports....... 28
R&S®ZVA Series: Unparalleled measurement speed and
accuracy...................................................................................... 29
Rohde & Schwarz
1 Overview
Radar systems, most of which employ pulsed signals, require a unique set
of measurements, and their signals are not often easy to generate or
analyze. However, there are specific techniques, from signal generation to
network and spectral analysis that when properly applied make
characterization of devices with pulsed signals easier and more repeatable
and accurate. This Application Note describes these measurement
scenarios, with emphasis on measurements using vector network analyzers
(VNAs), signal generators, vector signal generators, and spectrum
analyzers. Our goal is to provide basic information on both the
measurements and the equipment used to make them in terms that
designers will find useful.
This Application Note was formerly published as a White Paper at the R&S
North America website under http://test-rsa.com/milaero/index.shtml and
partly in Microwave Journal Sept. 2007.
2 Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network Analyzers
and Signal Generators
In many cases, devices must be characterized by using pulsed signals
instead of CW signals, either by being stimulated with a pulsed RF signal or
a pulsed control voltage. For example, during on-wafer measurements of
power amplifiers, heat sinks are difficult or even impossible to implement,
and by using pulsed stimulus signals, S-parameters can be measured at
the power levels to which the devices will be subject in their intended use
without exceeding a power level that could destroy them. By using an
appropriate duty cycle, the average power can be reduced significantly
while maintaining a high peak power. In addition, components designed for
use in radar systems exhibit their desired performance only under pulsed
stimulus conditions.
Characterizing Time-Dependent Behavior
There are several kinds of pulses in use, the most common being a single
pulsed RF signal as shown in Figure 1. Using periodic single pulses
reduces the average power while maintaining peak power by selecting an
appropriate duty cycle. As a result, the average power of the DUT can be
reduced to a tolerable value to avoid thermal destruction.
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
Figure 1. Single Pulses
Double pulses are used in various types of radar systems, including
weather radar, target tracking radar, and astronomical Doppler-radar. A
double pulse produces a double echo, which goes through signal
processing efficiently and eliminates most noise and other interferers,
ensuring high measurement accuracy. Radar systems employ pulse trains
(Figure 2) in contrast to single or double pulses, and are formed with a
combination of different kinds of pulses such as periodic or non-periodic,
and modulation can be applied to each pulse.
Figure 2. A typical pulse train
Modulated Pulses.
There are three basic types of modulated pulsed signals. Chirp pulses are
essentially frequency-modulated signals that vary their frequency over time,
and in an analogy to bird sounds, are called chirped pulses (Figure 3).
They can be linearly or non-linearly chirped, and can have a specific shape
such as Gaussian.
Figure 3. A pulse with variations in frequency over time (chirped pulse)
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
A Barker pulse (Figure 4) is a binary phase shift keying (BPSK) modulation,
and a bit value of 1 sets the phase to , whereas 0 bits leaves the phase at
0. An additional phase offset may be specified to rotate the constellation
points. This signal processing technique is used for pulse compression
(pulses with inherent modulation applied). In contrast to the analog chirp
signal, it is digitally modulated. For high distance resolution, short pulses
are normally used, which decreases the signal-to-noise ratio. To overcome
this problem, pulse compression is employed to achieve wider pulses and
good signal-to-noise ratio.
Figure 4. A 7-bit Barker code
Point in Pulse Measurement
The point-in-pulse measurement enables accurate S-parameter and power
measurements to be made, allows the moment of data acquisition within
the pulse to be easily shifted, and eliminates the dependency of dynamic
range on duty cycle. However, it requires a VNA with a wide measurement
bandwidth. Using the point-in-pulse measurement technique, the pulse is
monitored only during the “on” phase of the RF bursts so the sampling time
(Tspl) to acquire the raw data of a wave quantity or an S-parameter must be
shorter than the pulse width, ton (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Sampling time for point-in-pulse measurements
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
The sampling time is determined mainly by the receiver’s measurement
bandwidth, and minimum sampling time and measurement bandwidth is
defined as Tspl 1/IFBw. This means that with increasing measurement
bandwidth, sampling time decreases and shorter pulses can be analyzed.
VNAs implement IF filters digitally and typically offer measurement
bandwidths up to 600 kHz, so the sampling time is 1 Ls or more. Some
network analyzers, such as the R&S ZVx Series, have IF bandwidths of 5
MHz or more, which allows sampling times as fast as 400 ns with a 5 MHz
bandwidth. The sampling process should only occur during the on-phase of
the pulse, so a trigger signal synchronous to the RF pulse is necessary to
synchronize the data acquisition of the VNA with the on-period of the pulse.
The VNA is used in “point-trigger mode”, which means that data sampling
for every measurement point starts after the detection of a trigger event.
Active devices such as amplifiers often show settling or ringing effects at
the beginning of the pulse, but designers are typically interested in device
behavior after it has settled. By selecting a suitable trigger delay, the start of
the sampling process can be shifted to the quiet pulse roof of the ampli-fier.
Dynamic range and sensitivity using the point-in-pulse method depends on
sensitivity and the measurement bandwidth of the receivers, which are
independent of the duty cycle of the RF pulse. Consequently, dynamic
range depends on pulse width, which determines sampling time and thus
the required measurement bandwidth. Averaging can be applied to increase
dynamic range by maintaining the measurement bandwidth. Ten times
averaging in the IQ domain (for example) increases the dynamic range by a
factor of 10.
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
Averaged Pulse Measurement
Since the point-in-pulse measurement requires a VNA with a wide
measurement bandwidth, many VNAs are not suited for it when pulse
widths are short. Instead, the averaged pulse measurement technique (also
called the narrowband or high-PRF technique) is recommended. It places
lower demands on the VNA’s performance but requires more knowledge to
configure the setups properly and is dependent on the pulse and VNA
parameters. A pulsed signal is generated by multiplying a periodic low
frequency rectangular signal (LF signal) that varies between 0 and 1 with a
high frequency continuous wave (CW) signal. Multiplication in the time
domain is a convolution of the spectra of both signals in the frequency
domain (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Signals in the frequency and time domains
The spectrum of the pulse envelope (LF signal) is shifted by the convolution
to the frequency fc, and because S21 equals b2/a1 (where a1 is the
incident wave into a device and b2 is the transmitted wave through it), the
ratio between one specific spectral line of a1 and the equivalent spectral
line of b2 can be measured. That is, all S-parameters can be measured. To
achieve maximum dynamic range, the strongest spectrum line at fc (i.e. the
main carrier) is selected:
S21 = b2 (fc) / a1 (fc)
S11 = b1 (fc) / a1 (fc).....etc.
For averaged pulse measurements, the bandwidth must be narrow enough
so it captures only the main carrier. The frequency spacing between the
carriers is equal to the pulse repetition frequency (PRF = 1/T).
To ensure low trace noise, it is important that the adjacent carriers are
suppressed by 40 dB or more, so a measurement bandwidth roughly 10
times narrower than the carrier spacing with respect to the pulse repetition
frequency is typically selected. Decreasing the measurement bandwidth
translates into increased measurement time. The VNA samples and
measures the averaged value of the pulse during several pulses, so it is
called an averaged pulse measurement. Only the main carrier is detected,
which is the convoluted carrier of the LF signal at frequency 0, which
represents the “DC value” of the LF pulse — actually just the average value
of the LF signal.
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
A typical problem for this kind of measurement is the shape of the VNA’s
digital IF filters. VNAs typically stimulate a device with a CW signal, and the
IF filters are designed for fast settling but not for high sidelobe suppression,
which is often 20 dB or less. This can cause problems as soon as one of
the adjacent tones falls into the maximum of a sidelobe. To overcome this
problem, two different procedures can be used. Some instruments use
“spectral nulling” (Figure 7), and depending on the period of the pulse, IF
filters can be selected so that the nulls of the filter are exactly where the
tones to be suppressed are expected. Other “high-end” VNAs use highlyselective filters without sidelobes, so no spectral nulling is required
(Figure 8).
Figure 7. Example of spectral nulling
Figure 8. Digital IF filters of a VNA and the highly-selective IF filters of a
“high-end VNA”
Averaged pulse measurements can be performed in swept mode as well.
The setup is the same as for point-in-pulse measurements, but no trigger is
required. The averaged pulse measurement technique determines the
average values of the wave quantities, so an absolute power measurement
is influenced by the duty cycle. For a duty cycle of 1%, the measured power
of the main carrier is 40 dB lower than the peak power. This phenomenon is
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
called pulse desensitization. For very low duty cycles, the signal-to-noise
ratio becomes very low and limits the dynamic range of the measurement.
So in summary, the averaged pulse measurement technique can be applied
to very short pulses, and does not require a special bandwidth or special
trigger capabilities. However, in contrast to the point-in-pulse measurement,
the averaged pulse method requires a periodic pulsed signal, and the
results represent only average values, including ringing or overshoots that
may occur at the beginning of a pulse.
The VNA must also be able to suppress other signals except for the main
carrier, which requires IF filters without sidelobes or a suitable selection of
IF filter shapes, depending on the repetition frequency of the pulse. The
dynamic range drops by 20 dB as soon as the duty cycle is reduced by a
factor of 10, which can result in poor performance at low duty cycles. In
these cases a point-in-pulse measurement is recommended.
Pulse Profile Measurements
To analyze the time-dependent behavior of a device during a burst, the
VNA must perform a so-called “pulse profile” measurement. Typical
parameters required to characterize the time dependent behavior include
rise time, overshoot, and droop. A representative pulse waveform is shown
in Figure 9. For this measurement, the VNA must have time resolution
significantly higher than the pulse duration. A typical VNA’s time resolution
ranges from 3 to 20 Ls for measurements in the frequency or time domain,
which is not great enough to analyze behavior versus time with sufficient
resolution. Most VNAs have a measurement bandwidth of 600 kHz or less,
which is the limiting factor for high time resolution of pulse widths of 1 Ls or
Figure 9. A pulse waveform with various characteristics identified
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
To achieve resolution of better than 1 Ls, additional external hardware and
software can be used to “chop up” the pulsed signal into slices with different
timing positions within the pulse (Figure 10). The magnitude of these pulse
slices with regard to a specific delay is measured and calculated in
accordance with the averaged pulse method. The delay is then increased
and the next “slices” are measured until a desired portion of the pulse is
analyzed. This chopping can occur in either the receiver paths at the RF
frequency or directly inside the instrument in the IF path. If the IF is
chopped, losses incurred by the required external switches can be
Figure 10. An example of pulse chopping
The pulse profile method can be performed with most VNAs in conjunction
with an external setup for pulse profile measurements. Its disadvantages
are that analysis of non-periodic pulses, double pulses, pulse trains, or
complex modulated pulsed signals cannot be performed, and that offers low
dynamic range for low duty cycles and high resolution, low measurement
speed, and requires recalibration with a change of duty cycle.
An Enhanced Pulse Profile Solution
A new technique developed at Rohde & Schwarz employs wideband
detection and fast data recording that greatly improves pulse profile
measurements. Pulse profile analysis of pulsed signals or S-parameters
with pulsed stimulus is limited by the sampling rate of the A/D converter, the
processing time between two data points, and the available bandwidth.
Sampling rate and data processing time between two data points limit the
time resolution, while the measurement bandwidth determines the minimum
rise and fall time of the pulse that can be analyzed.
The bandwidth-limiting factors are the analog bandwidth of the receivers
and the capabilities of the digital signal processors (DSPs) for digital
filtering. A high-end VNA has an analog bandwidth of 15 MHz (with some
performance degradation to 30 MHz), but the DSP’s IF filters offer
adequate performance only for normal CW or time sweeps with a 5 MHz
bandwidth. The VNA samples downconverted IF signals at a sampling rate
of 80 MHz, which results in time resolution of 12.5 ns. In addition to the
sampling time, there is data processing time between two measurement
points, which is a bottleneck for achieving high-resolution measurements in
the time domain. The limitations are the IF filtering by the DSPs, and the
data processing time limiting the time resolution to 1.5 Ls plus sampling
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
However, pulse profile measurement resolution can be dramatically
improved by sampling the raw data and storing it directly without filtering.
Instead of the DSP, the instrument’s software performs digital
downconversion and digital filtering after recording. The A/D converter
continuously digitizes the data with a sampling rate of 80 MHz and writes it
into high-speed RAM, which ensures that no delay occurs between the
samples of individual measurement points as shown in Figure 11. Because
of the high sampling rate, a measurement point is output every 12.5 ns, so
the time resolution is 12.5 ns. The trigger signal, usually derived from the
rising edge of the pulse, determines the zero point in time. Consequently,
the exact time relation between the trigger detection and the incoming RF
pulse can be measured as well. This relation is especially important for
determining the correct trigger delay in point-in-pulse measurements versus
frequency or level.
Figure 11.
Fast data recording employed in the improved highperformance pulse profile technique
The VNA can then perform extremely-fast pulsed measurements, and with
more than 10 sweeps/s at 1001 test points, devices can easily be adjusted
during the pulse profile measurement. In addition to periodic single pulsed
signals, this new technique handles double pulses as well as user-defined
pulse trains. Devices stimulated with pulses that have frequency and
magnitude modulation, such as chirps, can also be analyzed.
The new techniques also benefits measurement of the S-parameters of
devices with group delays on the order of the pulse width, which has been
difficult or even impossible before. The stimulated RF signal may no longer
be present at the device’s input by the time the VNA receives the
transmitted RF signal from the output. A correct S21 parameter can only be
measured with temporal signal overlapping. Using the new technique, the
VNA solves this problem by applying a time offset to the wave quantities.
Before calculating the S-parameters, it mathematically shifts the wave
quantities by the device’s group delay. A specific time delay can be
assigned to each wave quantity depending on the measurement direction,
so the VNA correctly displays the gain (S21) versus the entire pulse
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
Pulse Measurements and Signal Generation
Most VNAs cannot modulate their internal generator with sufficient
performance, so it is more convenient to use external modulation sources,
especially for very complex pulse scenarios. In most cases, pulses range
from less than a microsecond to several hundred microseconds and carry
data in various modulation schemes. A limited spectral bandwidth may also
require dedicated pulse shaping and often high on-off ratios.
The generation of these pulse signals is not trivial, and simple CW pulses
from analog microwave sources are sometimes not sufficient to fulfill testing
needs. Today’s powerful vector signal generators are generally the best
choice for generating arbitrary pulses containing digitally modulated data
content. The arbitrary waveform mode of these instruments provides
enough memory and great enough resolution for complex and long pulse
trains. With flexible software for vector signal and baseband generators, the
generation of complex pulse patterns used in communication or military
applications can be dramatically simplified. In addition, the precalculated
results (e.g. FFT) can be displayed and directly compared with real
measurements made with a VNA.
Comparing Analog and Vector Signal Generators
An analog generator contains a pulse modulator and a pulse generator. The
pulse modulator is driven by the pulse generator with a rectangle wave
signal. The pulse modulator is essentially a simple switch that activates and
deactivates the RF signal. Its main advantage is in generating very short
(nanosecond-range) pulses with an excellent on/off ratio. However, applying
specific shaping to pulses or modulating them is not possible. In contrast,
for focusing on a specific modulation in a pulse or a user-defined pulse
train, a vector signal generator is the only choice. It takes a precalcu-lated
pulse waveform stored in its internal arbitrary waveform generator and
cyclically generates it. The waveform is then upconverted to the desired RF
frequency by an internal IQ modulator.
In contrast to a normal pulse modulator/generator solution, this concept
offers wide flexibility in setting up pulse scenarios or pulse trains. Software
makes it much easier to set up the pulse scenario, and pulse parameters
can be set and controlled on FFT, vector plane, or time plan displays. A
comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each type of signal
generator for making pulsed measurements is shown in Table 1 (page 13).
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
Table 1 – Signal Generators Compared
Generator type
Analog with
pulse generator
and pulse
• High pulse on-off ratios
(> 80 dB)
• Very short rise and fall times
(<5 ns typical)
• Limited pulse shaping
• Generation of modulated
pulses (e.g., Chirp and
Barker) not possible
• Very short pulse widths
(>20 ns)
• Frequencies well into
microwave region
Vector signal
• Customized pulse shaping,
• On-off ratio limited by the
arbitrary waveform generator
• Arbitrary pulse trains
• Full dynamic range of
arbitrary waveform generator
provides 16 bits for I and Q
signal. Theoretical dynamic
range is 96 dBc, but is in
practice limited to about -65
dBc. However, an internal
marker signal can directly
drive the instrument’s pulse
modulator, increasing
dynamic range to more than
80 dBc.
• Rise and fall times and pulse
widths limited by the IQ
Rohde & Schwarz
Measuring Pulsed Signal Devices with Vector Network
Analyzers and Signal Generators
Test Configurations
For applications in which the device under test requires a pulse-modulated
input signal, a generator with pulse modulation or a vector signal generator
with complex waveforms can be used. The modulated RF signal of the
generator is directly injected into the generator path of the VNA instead of
using the non-modulated internal VNA generator (Figure 12). Because the
modulated signal is also measured by the reference receiver when it
passes the internal coupler, system error correction can be applied on S11
and S21 measurements. A system error or level calibration recorded under
CW conditions thus also applies under pulsed conditions and need not be
repeated when the duty cycle is changed. As the VNA controls power and
frequency of the external generator via LAN or IEEE-488 bus, this setup is
suitable for pulsed measurements versus frequency and level.
Meas. Receiver
Ref. Receiver
Pulsed Source
Figure 12. A test signal generator set-up as a modulated signal source
For measurements with simple RF pulses, a pulse modulator can be
inserted into the generator path enabling bidirectional measurements and
also two-port calibration. With a modulator applied in the generator path of
port 1, the forward parameters S11 and S21 are measured under pulsed
stimulus conditions and the reverse parameters S12 and S22 under nonpulsed stimulus conditions. Only an additional arbitrary waveform generator
is required to control the pulse modulators (Figure 13).
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
Meas. Receiver
Ref. Receiver
Arb. Waveform
Figure 13. A typical test configuration with an external pulse modulator
Either test setup — with external pulsed signal generator or with an external
modulator — does not require recalibration if the duty cycle is changed. A
calibration performed in CW mode is also valid under pulsed conditions.
This setup allows an accurate, calibrated measurement of S-parameters as
well as accurate calibrated measurements of absolute power levels.
3 Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
In addition to VNAs and signal generators, spectrum analyzers are
invaluable tools for characterizing the pulsed signals employed in radar
systems. From a measurement perspective, pulsed signals are difficult to
evaluate because their width and repetition frequencies are not constant
and depend on the radar mode. This effectively eliminates RF power
meters as tools for calculating pulsed signal peak power from mean power.
In addition, many parameters must be measured in order to effectively
characterize a pulsed signal, including peak and average power, pulse
shape, and a pulse profile that includes rise time, fall time, pulse width, and
pulse period. Other measurements include carrier frequency, occupied
spectrum, carrier on/off ratio, pulse repetition frequency, and phase noise.
Spectrum analyzers are by far the best solution for analyzing their
characteristics. Depending on the parameters of the pulse and resolution
bandwidth (RBW), the results can be displayed on a spectrum analyzer in
three ways:
• If the RBW is smaller than the spacing of the spectral lines, changing it
does not change the measured level.
• With a narrower bandwidth than the spacing of the first null in the
envelope (1/pulse width), an envelope spectrum can be displayed.
• If the bandwidth is wider than the null spacing, the entire spectrum falls
within the bandwidth, so the spectrum of the signal cannot be displayed.
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
With further increases in bandwidth, the response approaches the time
domain function of the pulse. Depending on the pulse parameters, the
pulse desensitization factor can also be calculated, which is the reduction of
the level measured within the pulse bandwidth of the spectrum analyzer. In
this case, the marker reading plus the desensitization factor equal the peak
power. The RBW value is very important for pulsed signal measurements
because a change in RBW produces changes in the measured level. The
pulse desensitization factor depends on the pulse parameters and the RBW
if the bandwidth is greater than the spacing of the spectral lines, and the
measured amplitude depends on the number of lines within the bandwidth
and the total signal bandwidth. The RBW correction factor is driven by the
shape of the filter in the instrument because the shape of the bandwidth
reflects the power within the filter bandwidth. If the RBW is too wide, the line
or envelope spectrum changes to a time domain spectrum, and the impulse
response of the RBW filter becomes apparent. Using a spectrum analyzer
in time domain, it is possible to obtain a direct measurement of pulse width.
The peak marker allows measurement of peak power, while the delta
markers allow meas-urement of parameters such as rise time, fall time,
pulse repetition interval, and overshoot. With a wide RBW and video
bandwidth (VBW), the spectrum analyzer can track the envelope of the RF
pulse so the impulse response of the pulse can be seen. The maximum
RBW/VBW limits the spectrum analyzer’s capability to measure narrow
pulses, and a general rule has long been that for the shortest pulse that can
be measured, the pulse width is greater than or equal to 2/RBW.
Modulation in the Pulse
Radar systems generally use modulation within the RF pulse.
Understanding the power characteristics of this modulation is important
because radar range is limited by the power available within the pulse.
Conversely, a longer pulse length will lead to limited resolution. Modulation
formats can range from simple FM (chirp) to complex digital modulation
formats, which modern spectrum analyzers can describe. Spectrum
analyzers can measure traditional analog modulation in pulse (AM, FM, and
phase modulation), as well as perform additional analysis functions
involving demodulation of many digital modulation formats such as Barker
code BPSK modulation within the RF pulse, and pulse-to-pulse phase
Pulsed Power Measurement and Detectors
Testing output power is one of the important measurements on radar
transmitters, and several different types of measurements can be made.
Average power is usually made as a mean power measurement with a
power meter. Another very important value is peak power, and if the Pulse
Repetition Frequency (PRF) and the pulse width are known, the power of
the measured mean power can be calculated. The waveform of a signal in
the time domain is displayed on a spectrum analyzer using a raster scan
CRT or an LCD. The number of pixels in these displays in the level axis as
well as in the frequency or time axis is limited. This leads to limited
resolution for both level and frequency or time. To display the full amount of
measurement data taken in a sweep, detectors are used to compress the
data samples into the allowable number of displayed pixels.
For the measurement of peak power, spectrum analyzers have a peak
detector that can display the highest power peak within a given
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
measurement interval. However, for the mean power measurement of
amplitude-modulated signals like pulse modulation, the peak detector in
spectrum analyzers is not appropriate because the peak voltage is not
related to the power of the signal. However, these instruments also provide
either a sample detector or RMS detector.
A sample detector checks the envelope voltage once per measurement
point and displays the result, but this can cause total loss of signal
information because it is limited to the number of pixels available in the
x-axis of the screen. An RMS detector samples the envelope signal at the
full sample rate of the A/D converter and all samples within the range of one
pixel are used for the RMS power calculation. As a result, the RMS detector
displays a greater number of measurement samples than a sam-ple
The RMS detector measures the power of the spectrum represented by a
pixel by applying the power formula to all samples. For higher repeatability,
the number of samples per pixel can be controlled by the sweep time. With
longer sweep times the time for power integration of each pixel increases.
In the case of pulsed signals, repeatability is dependent on the number of
pulses within the pixel. For a smooth, stable RMS trace result, the sweep
time must be set to a value long enough to capture several pulses within
one pixel. The RMS detector calculates the RMS value of all samples
linearly represented by a single pixel on the screen.
For accurate measurement of peak and mean power on pulse modulated
signals, the instrument’s IF bandwidth and A/D converter sampling rate
must be high enough so it does not influence the pulse shape. With the 10
MHz resolution bandwidth and 32 MHz sampling rate available in the
R&S®FSP spectrum analyzer for example, it is possible to measure pulse
modulated signals with pulse widths as narrow as 500 ns with high
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
A Typical Test Setup
For the measurement examples described here, the R&S®SMU signal
generator is used to create a simulated radar signal and the output signal is
an AM-modulated RF carrier. The broadband AM modulation is generated
by an arbitrary waveform generator to create a sequence of pulses with 500
ns pulse width and a 1 kHz pulse repetition frequency. The pulse level is
changed over time to simulate the effect of antenna rotation for the longterm average power measurement.
For measuring peak power, the spectrum analyzer must be set to a
resolution and video bandwidth wide enough to settle within the pulse width.
In this measurement, the RBW and VBW are set to 10 MHz. The spectrum
analyzer is set to zero span and displays the power over time. The sweep
time is set to a value that allows a single pulse to be investigated. The
spectrum analyzer uses a video trigger to show a stable display of the pulse
shape. The pulse width is varied, and three measurements are plotted with
pulse widths of 100 ns, 200 ns, and 500 ns to investigate the effect of the
resolution filter settling time. The three results of a typical peak power
measurement are shown in Figure 14.
Figure 14. A typical peak power measurement. The blue, dotted trace is
measured with 500 ns pulse width and the green, dashed trace is measured
with 200 ns pulse width and is equal to the calculated settling time. The red,
solid trace is measured with a 100 ns pulse width that is shorter than the
settling time of the resolution filter.
The blue, dotted trace is measured with 500 ns pulse width and shows a
flat response on the top of the pulse. The green, dashed trace is measured
with 200 ns pulse width. This value is equal to the calculated settling time.
The peak level in this measurement just reaches the value measured with
the 500 ns pulse. Marker 1 (T2) is set to the peak value and shows 9.97
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
dBm. This pulse width is the minimum value that can be accurately
measured with the 10 MHz resolution bandwidth. The red, solid trace is
measured with a 100 ns pulse width that is shorter than the settling time of
the resolution filter. In this plot the delta marker reading “Delta 2 (T3)” is set
to the peak value and shows a loss of about 3 dB versus the nominal pulse
The next step is a measurement of pulse width, which is usually defined as
the point at which the signal level is at 50% of its average voltage across
the pulse length (Figure 15). This point is 6 dB below the peak level in a
logarithmic level grid typically used on a spectrum analyzer. For the measurement of pulse width, a marker is set to 6 dB below the average pulse
power on the rising edge, and a delta marker is placed on the point 6 dB
below the average power on the falling edge of the pulse.
Figure 15. Pulse width is usually defined as the point at which the signal
level is at 50% of its average voltage across the pulse length.
The level reading of the delta marker in this case should be 0 dB. Because
of the limited resolution of the measured points, a small level difference
must be accepted. The reading of the delta marker “Delta 2 (T1)” in this
measurement shows a pulse width of 508 ns. The accuracy of this
measurement is influenced by the A/D converter sampling rate that defines
the positions within the trace at which real measurement values are
available. In between these points, the trace data is interpolated to generate
the displayed points of the trace. The sampling rate of the A/D converter is
32 MHz, leading to measurement samples spaced by 31.25 ns.
The pulse modulation the output signal of a radar transmitter is spread
across a wide bandwidth, which can be seen on a spectrum analyzer as the
well-known sin x/x spectrum shape. The individual spectral lines do not
allow direct calculation of the peak or mean power. Without knowing
modulation parameters like pulse width or PRF, the calculation of power is
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
not possible. For channel power measurement, most modern spectrum
analyzers provide software routines for calculating power within given
channels. These routines calculate the power by integrating the power
represented by the displayed trace pixels within the frequency range of the
channel bandwidth.
Measuring mean power requires an RMS detector. When evaluating a
radar signal, integration over several side lobes allows calculation of mean
power, since most of the energy is contained in the main and adjacent side
lobes of the sin x/x spectrum. By using a channel bandwidth broad enough
to capture the main and several side lobes of the signal, the mean power
can be measured.
Figure 16 shows the result of a channel power measurement. The channel
bandwidth is set to a value of 10 MHz to capture the main lobe and both
adjacent sidelobes.
Figure 16.
A channel power measurement with a 10 MHz channel
The same measurement with 50 MHz channel bandwidth captures a bit
more than 10 side lobes on each side (Figure 17). The measurement result
of -23.01 dBm channel power agrees with the calculated mean power of the
pulse signal. Even the measurement with 10 MHz shows good agreement
with the target value, since most of the power is concentrated in the main
and the first adjacent side lobes. For this method of measuring mean
power, no knowledge of the pulse modulation parameters is necessary, and
it is usable for pulse signals with continuously-changing pulse parameters.
Rohde & Schwarz
Spectrum Analyzers and Analysis of Pulsed Signals
Figure 17. A channel bandwidth measurement with 50 MHz channel
bandwidth captures more than 10 side lobes on each side.
Rohde & Schwarz
4 Literature
1) Application Note 1EF48: Power Measurement on Pulsed Signals
with Spectrum Analyzers
2) Application Note 1EZ52: Antenna Measurements, RCS
Measurements and Measurements on Pulsed Signals with Vector
Network Analyzers R&S ZVM, R&S ZVK
3) Application Note 1MA32: Noise Figure Measurements on Amplifiers
in Pulsed Mode
5 Additional Information
This application note is frequently updated. Please visit the website
1MA124 in order to download new versions. Please send any comments or
suggestions about this application note to [email protected]
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
6 Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence Solutions
Signal generators: Versatile performance to 43.5 GHz
• 9 kHz to 1.1, 2.2, 3.2 or 6.0 GHz
• Best signal accuracy and highest output power of any instrument in its
• Maximum output of +18 dBm
(+25 dBm in overrange)
• Frequency setting time <3 ms (frequency), <2.5 ms (level), and less than
1 ms in list mode
• Streamlined four-module architecture enables on-site self maintenace
• Optional pulse generator with minimum pulse width of 20 ns
• Optional pulse modulator with 90 dB on/off ratio and rise/fall times of 10
• Environmentally robust with 0° C to 55° C operating temperature and a
maximum altitude of 4600 m
• Compact unit weighs only 11.6 lb.
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
R&S®SMF100A: Features tailored for defense applications
• 1 GHz to 22 or 43.5 GHz
• Extremely low phase noise and high rejection of harmonic and spurious
• Fast frequency and level setting times
• RF output up to +16 dBm (optionally up to +25 dBm)
• Flexible generation of single or double pulses and pulse trains
• Optional pulse modulator has on/off ratio greater than 80 dB, rise/fall
times of <10 ns, and a minimum pulse width of 20 ns.
• Instrument’s operating system, firmware, and data can be completely
removed to ensure security as well as transport of data and test routines
from one SMF100A to another
• Pulsed measurements begin with signal generation, and Rohde &
Schwarz signal generators deliver the highest levels of performance. Each
one is tailored to serve specific user needs -- and all are well suited for
aerospace and defense applications.
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
R&S®SMA100A: Perfect fit for ATE and avionics receiver
• 9 kHz to 3 or 6 GHz
• Best SSB phase noise performance up to 6 GHz (typ. -140 dBc/Hz at 1
GHz with 20 kHz offset)
• Optional high-performance pulse generator and standard pulse modulator
offer better than 80 dB on/off ratio, 20 ns rise/fall time and 20 ns pulse
• Extremely high measurement speed, excellent signal purity and compact
footprint make it a perfect choice for ATE systems
• Can be equipped with ICAO-compliant VOR/ILS avionics signal
generation option, which combined with its low modulation error and high
level accuracy make the SMA100A an excellent choice for testing avionics
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
Signal and spectrum analyzers: Tailored for tough signal
R&S®FSU67: 20 Hz to 67 GHz – without external mixers
• Only spectrum analyzer to cover this broad frequency range without
external harmonic mixers -- and their inherent drawbacks
• Instrument-controlled internal RF attenuator (0 to 75 dB in 5-dB steps)
eliminates the external manually-operated attenuator needed when
harmonic mixers are used
• Reference level range (-130 dBm to +30 dBm) is much higher than
typically achievable with harmonic mixers
• Unique choice for evaluating radar, electronic warfare, electronic
countermeasures, and battle-field communications systems
• Can make 80 measurements/s in manual mode and 70 measurements/s
including data transfer over IEEE-488 bus
• Noise floor of -158 dBm at 1 GHz and -130 dBm at 65 GHz
• Resolution bandwidth of 1 Hz to 50 MHz
• Total measurement uncertainty <0.3 dB
• Frequency resolution of 0.01 Hz
• Low phase noise over entire measurement range
• Can perform as RF power meter just the addition of a sensor
• Broad array of analysis options
• Wide range of detectors: Sweep from 10 Hz to 50 MHz, FFT filters from 1
Hz to 30 kHz, and channel filters from 100 Hz to 5 MHz, 6-dB-bandwidth
filters include 10 Hz, 100 Hz, 1 kHz, 10 kHz, 100 kHz, and 1 MHz filters
needed for MIL-STD testing
Whether you’re evaluating the performance of components and
subsystems or analyzing the characteristics of suspect emitters, Rohde &
Schwarz spectrum analyzers are the high-performance solution. For
example, we offer the industry’s only spectrum analyzer to cover up to 67
GHz without external harmonic mixers, as well as instruments that combine
both spectrum analysis and vector signal analysis in a single enclosure.
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
R&S®FSQ40: Vector signal analysis and spectral analysis
in a single instrument
• 20 Hz to 3.6, 8, 26.5 and 40 GHz
• All the features of a high-performance spectrum analyzer combined with
versatile signal analysis
•Resolution bandwidth settings up to 50 MHz provide more insight into
pulsed signal analysis in zero-span mode.
•Maximum dynamic range of 170 dB
• 28 MHz demodulation bandwidth - and optionally 120 MHz
•Analog and digital baseband signal analysis flexibility
•Optional external harmonic mixers extend measurement range to 110 GHz
• Demodulates numerous modulation formats
•Support for all current commercial communication standards including
WiMAX, WLAN, WCDMA, LTE, CDMA2000, GSM/Edge, and others.
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
Vector network analyzers: The industry’s highest
R&S®ZVT8: The first (and only) VNA with up to eight ports
• 300 kHz to 8 GHz
• Up to eight ports
• Dynamic range >120 dB
• Output power >13 dBm on all ports
• Power sweep range of -40 dBm to 13 dBm
• Measurement speed of 8 ms for all ports
• Simple configuration of multiport measurements
• Unlimited number of channels and traces
• Can simultaneously perform measurements on all ports of a device
Rohde & Schwarz
Appendix: Rohde & Schwarz Aerospace and Defence
R&S®ZVA Series: Unparalleled measurement speed and
• 8, 24, 40 or 50 GHz maximum measurement frequency
• Up to four test ports
• Industry-leading signal RF performance
• Wide dynamic range for fast and accurate measurements
• Segmented sweep increases speed, accuracy, and dynamic range
• Pulse profile measurement with 12.5 ns time resolution and up to
30 MHz measurement bandwidth
• Point in pulse measurements for pulse widths down to 450 ns
• Parallel measurements up to four times faster
• Two internal phase coherent sources for true differential measurements
• Data transfer while you sweep
• High-speed control of external components
The industry standard in pulse profile measurements
Option R&S®ZVA-K7 “Pulsed Measurements” for the R&S®ZVA and ZVT
Series VNAs employs wideband detection and fast data recording to reduce
or eliminate the bottlenecks that limit a VNA’s ability to make pulse profile
measurements with high resolution at high speed. The raw data is sampled
and stored directly without filtering, and instrument firmware immediately
performs digital downconversion and filtering. An A/D converter
continuously digitizes and samples the data at 80MHz and writes it into
high-speed RAM. The technique produces the fastest, most detailed and
accurate pulsed profiling of any technique commercially available -- more
than 10 sweeps/s over 1001 test points.
Rohde & Schwarz
ROHDE & SCHWARZ GmbH & Co. KG . Mühldorfstraße 15 . D-81671 München . Postfach 80 14 69 . D-81614 München .
Tel (089) 4129 -0 . Fax (089) 4129 - 13777 . Internet: http://www.rohde-schwarz.com
This application note and the supplied programs may only be used subject to the conditions of use set forth in the
download area of the Rohde & Schwarz website.
Rohde & Schwarz
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