Technical Library

A Guide to CMT Software Families and VNA Series

Copper Mountain Technologies (CMT) provides a variety of Vector Network Analyzers (VNA) to accommodate a wide range of test and measurement needs. The CMT VNA line covers a wide span of frequencies starting from 20 kHz, and extending to 20 GHz, with 1-port, 2-port or 4-port configurations. 2-port VNAs are further divided into two groups: one capable of measuring 2-port 1-path measurements, and the other capable of full 2-port 2-path measurements. This application note summarizes the families of each CMT VNA available as of Q1 2016, and identifies differences among installing the particular VNA application needed for all the instrument types. The names of the COM server and legacy aliases are enumerated and the procedure for selecting demo mode after the installation is complete is demonstrated.

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Direct Receiver Access

High input power requirements of some Devices Under Test (DUTs) introduce challenges to the measurement therefore. Various measurement techniques such as load-pull analysis and noise figure measurement may also require a higher input power to the DUT than the maximum output power of the VNA. In such cases, a preamplifier is required to boost the input power of the DUT. Due to the high reverse isolation of the amplifier, forward reflection measurements are not possible without an external directional coupler.

Copper Mountain Technologies offers the Planar 814/1 and C2220 analyzers with Direct Receiver Access (DRA) capability for the reference and measurement receivers. DRA enables the accurate forward reflection coefficient measurement when using a preamplifier. This application note describes the measurement setup for measuring the S-parameters of high power devices via direct access to the reference and the measurement receivers.

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Using Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs in a Linux Environment

Historically, test and measurement applications have been developed primarily with Windows operating systems. In fact, many conventional test equipment devices contain embedded PCs running Windows or Embedded Windows. Unlike such conventional instruments, USB-driven vector network analyzers from Copper Mountain Technologies contain no operating system and in principle the instrument is agnostic to the operating system hosting the USB connection. The purpose of this application note is to describe the configuration of Linux for running the VNA program, and performing automated testing, in a Virtual Windows environment.

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An Undergraduate VNA Lab Cirriculum: Lab 1

Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs are a great fit for undergraduate educational laboratories, and have been adopted by professors at many universities in the US and around the world. Because of their small size and affordability, it is practical to allow undergraduate students to get valuable hands-on time with VNA measurements. In partnership with students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Copper Mountain Technologies has developed a 6-part series of VNA laboratory lessons which can serve as a starting point for educators developing an RF educational lab experience.

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Product Leader for USB VNAs

Frost & Sullivan awarded the 2017 Global Product Leadership Award for USB VNAs to CMT, because we are at the forefront of this trend for affordable and portable high-quality VNAs.

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What Makes a Good VNA?

Everyone knows that a good VNA should have both excellent hardware performance and an easy to use software interface with useful post-processing capabilities. But there are numerous VNAs in the market with different performance levels; some of them are economy grade, and others are truly laboratory test grade. So what separates the best from the rest? This application note focuses on the particular components and design aspects that maximize the performance of a VNA, in part by comparing modern VNAs with designs of the last century.

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Building your own VNA [linked article]

In this very cool blog post, Henrik Forstén--a Finnish student at Aalto university majoring in micro- and nanoelectronic circuit design--outlines the entire design and fabrication process he went through to roll his own VNA! "Since I can't afford even a used VNA I decided to make one myself with a budget of 200€, tenth of what they cost used and about 1/100 of what they cost new. Of course it isn't going to be as accurate as commercial VNAs, but I don't need that high accuracy and it's a good learning experience anyway."

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Why USB VNAs?

USB VNAs increase productivity and lower costs for test, quality control, and design applications, capitalizing on the ever-increasing performance of personal computers. Engineers using this format can downsize their equipment and experience significant productivity gains at a fraction of the cost of traditional analyzers.

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Getting Started with the CMT VNA: Top 10 Tips and Tricks

The examples created in this document are based on the S5048, but apply to most of the Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs in a similar way. These tips will help you use your VNA with ease and help you get more intuitive results.

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VNA Power Calibration with any VISA Power Meter

Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs natively support power calibration with certain specific power meters including the NRP-Z51 USB power sensor. However, power calibration with any other model of power meter from any vendors is possible via an automation process which can be implemented in the programming language of your choice.
In this application note, we describe installation and use of a power calibration plug-in routine developed based on the Agilent N1912A power meter in concert with the N1921A power sensor. The open source C# example can be directly launched from within the VNA’s user interface via its Plugin capability. The Plugin is available for download in the Support section of Copper Mountain Technologies’ website.

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Antenna Statistics of Handheld Wireless Devices with R54 Reflectometer

The Planar R54 Vector Reflectometer can be used to characterize important quality parameters for cell phone antennas, and can be automated to populate an Excel template with the measured data.

In this application note, we describe how a Planar R54 VNA was tethered to the integral US GSM-850/1950 antenna on a typical low-end phone. The antenna was an “inverted-F” configuration implemented as a metal stamping in the bottom rear of the housing. The phone, complete with all shields and battery was tethered to the VNA by a 200mm, 1.13mm dia. diameter test cable soldered in replacement of a 50-ohm coax test “switch” normally used for test and inspection of the transceiver rather than its antenna.

The R54 is a simple sweeping solution to all of the cell phone antenna test and verification applications, while replacing huge bulky VNA’s with something that can fit in the palm of your hand.

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Automation via Wireless (or Ethernet) USB Sharing Hub

Ordinarily, automation of CMT VNAs is accomplished by simply connecting the automating PC to the instrument with a USB cable. This application discusses another method of remote automation: using a LAN/WiFi to USB conversion device. Such a device can reach beyond the length limitation of a USB cable to the limit of Wi-Fi or LAN network coverage. It’s a good solution for network-based automation when situating a PC near the VNA is impractical or undesirable.

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DCOM Configuration Guide

Automation of Copper Mountain Technologies instruments is usually achieved on the same computer which is running the VNA applications. However, in some instances it is desirable to execute the VNA application on one PC and to host the automation environment on a second Windows PC. This configuration requires use of Distributed COM, or DCOM. The main challenge related to DCOM versus COM is getting Windows firewall and security settings, as well as LAN settings, to cooperate. This guide shows all the necessary steps for DCOM configuration on two Windows PCs.

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Using CMT VNA with Socket Server

This application note describes use of a software application “CMT Socket Server” which is distributed and supported by Aphena Ltd. Please email sales@aphena.com regarding purchase of the software and support. Detailed instruction documents describing use of the CMT Socket Server can also be found within its installation folder.

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Design and Fabrication of a TRL Calibration Kit

Copper Mountain Technologies provides metrologically sound, lab grade USB VNAs which support advanced calibration techniques including TRL calibration. True TRL calibration requires a VNA with 2 dedicated measurement receivers per test port; except for the TR series and Planar 304/1, all 2+ ports CMT instruments have all the necessary receivers and internal architecture required for true TRL calibration.

TRL calibration is a mathematically perfect calibration approach, with advantages including accuracy and flexibility. The difficulty with fabricating and using a TRL kit lies with manufacturability and repeatability. This application note introduces TRL calibration, discusses considerations of designing and producing a TRL kit, and walks through kit definition and use in the CMT VNA software.

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Passive RF System Measurements in a Strong RF Environment: Using an Amplifier with a 2-Port VNA

It is sometimes necessary to evaluate passive RF systems in environments where there is significant ingress from other sources. The most common cases are antenna system measurements at community transmitter sites. If there is sufficient RF present in the near field, the antenna being tested doesn’t even need to be particularly broadband for problems to arise. Vector network analyzers are sensitive instruments, typically operated at very low signal levels. With another repacking of broadcast spectrum looming, the congestion will only get worse.

One common technique for overcoming local ingress involves employing a broadband amplifier to raise the test signal well above the noise floor. With two-port VNAs, where direct receiver access is not possible, calibration becomes challenging. Normalization techniques described in earlier papers work well for low-band VHF and FM in-band measurements, as well as broad-band time domain measurements regardless of the operating frequency. However, the method breaks down quickly when making in-band measurements in the upper VHF band, and to a greater extent in the UHF band. The normalization method described in this paper present data that more closely resemble that collected by the VNA without the use of an amplifier.

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Waveguide Calibration of Copper Mountain Tech VNAs

Waveguide components possess certain advantages over their counterpart devices with co-axial connectors: they can handle larger power and exhibit lower loss. Therefore, it is very common to employ waveguide interfaces in the high power devices, such as microwave transmitters. The performance of waveguide components at microwave frequencies are typically measured with a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA). However, when measuring the performance of waveguide components with a VNA, non-idealities of any uncalibrated VNA introduce uncertainty in the measurement results. This application note describes how to perform an SSL calibration with a Copper Mountain Technology VNA. It also covers the procedures and the calculations to define a waveguide calibration kit in the CMT VNA. Finally, it provides an example of the 1-port return loss measurement of a waveguide band-pass filter.

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Using a Databased SOLT Calibration Kit

Databased calibration kits are another option for mechanical calibration kits. It’s likely to be a more cost-effective solution providing similar or better accuracy of measurements compared with precision coefficient-based kits. Defining and using a databased calibration in CMT VNA software is fairly easy and straightforward. This application note introduces databased calibration kits, explains why their use is growing in popularity, and describes how they can be used with Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs.

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VNA Performance Test (Annual Calibration ) with VNAPT

Many engineering test laboratories require periodic checking of the test equipment--often called Annual Calibration--to ensure proper operation, and thereby to increase confidence in tests performed therein. In the case of VNA, the purpose of performance testing is to confirm whether the VNA is meeting its specifications with respect to output power, CW frequency, harmonic distortion, and S-parameter accuracy. Copper Mountain Technologies supplies a free software called VNAPT (VNA Performance Test) to streamline and simplify the performance test process. This presentation introduces new users to VNAPT and explains how to get started with using it for performance testing.

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Calibration Types & Considerations

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Copper Mountain Technologies’ goes something like this: “What about calibration?” It is an unfortunate reality that in the English language the word calibration has two distinct definitions. The first relates to assessing an instrument periodically to ensure it is operating within its specifications. “Performance test” is the procedure by which the analyzer performance is verified, typically annually. The second refers to “Measurement” or “User calibration”, a collection of procedures by which measurement accuracy is maximized and made to exclude elements of the system from those measurements (such as cables, adapters and the like). In this application note, we discuss both meanings of calibration as related to Copper Mountain Technologies’ VNAs. First, we describe Annual Calibration, aka Performance Test, followed by a discussion of measurement calibration.

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Conducting Calibration with the SOLR (Unknown Thru) Method

This article describes the advantages of VNA calibration by the Unknown Thru (SOLR) method, compared to traditional SOLT calibration for measurement of 2-port non-insertable devices. Errors which surface during SOLT calibration are demonstrated, and recommendations are given for assessing the quality of the conducted SOLR calibration

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Measurement Benefits of PC-Driven VNA

Historically, test and measurement instruments have been developed primarily with their own operating systems. In fact, many late model conventional test equipment devices contain embedded PCs running Windows or Embedded Windows. Unlike such conventional instruments, modular or PC-driven instruments contain no operating system. This architecture supports numerous advantages: it enhances instrument lifetime and stability by avoiding operating system and computer hardware obsolescence; it provides a single step to data purging by powering down the machine; it enables easy sharing of the instrument among users in a lab since all calibration and state files are saved on PC; and it greatly reduces the size, weight, power and cost of the instrument for the user.

In this paper and companion PPT slide deck presented at the 2016 ARMMS conference, we describe the benefits of modular test equipment in the particular category of USB Vector Network Analyzers (VNAs), including increased measurement speed, ease of automation.

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Using Vector Network Analysis to Gauge Spacecraft Fuel Levels [slide deck]

Vector Network Analyzers are used in a wide range of applications, ranging from classic workhorse tasks to the esoteric. NASA researchers at the Glenn Research Center have found that vector reflectometery can be used to estimate the amount of propellant in a spacecraft’s tank in a low gravity environment. When a small antenna probe is placed in such a tank, RF measurements reveal resonance frequencies corresponding to the tank’s geometry as well as the amount of fuel inside. As in any space application, use of a measurement device with low power envelope and small form factor is critical. Copper Mountain Technologies' R54 vector reflectometer is the size of a deck of cards, measures vector S11 from 85 MHz to 5.4 GHz, weighs 9 ounces, and consumes less than 2 Watts of power. The R54 has been identified by NASA as a candidate instrument for use in this very unique application.

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Special Considerations When Using VNAs in High Speed Semiconductor Characterization Applications [slide deck]

For most VNA applications, especially when test results are collected manually by an operator, measurement speeds on the order of 100-500 microseconds per point (2,000-10,000 points per second) are more than adequate. However, in certain applications--semiconductor production in particular--such measurement speeds can contribute significantly to test time being a bottleneck in the overall manufacturing process. New instruments from Copper Mountain Technologies, offering measurement speeds on the order of 50,000 to 100,000 points per second while maintaining 80-90 dB dynamic range, are uniquely suited for deployment into such demanding scenarios. Additional considerations for these applications include availability of external trigger inputs and outputs, port switchover time, amenability to external program control, size of the instrument, and parallel processing capability. In this presentation, we will touch on all these points and provide example benchmark data for a hypothetical semiconductor production scenario.

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Simplifying Dielectric Materials Measurement with the 14 GHz R140 Analyze [slide deck]

Vector Network Analyzers have long been used for measurement of materials’ dielectric properties. Traditionally such measurements were made with a large conventional VNA connected with a test cable to a probe head, which was placed in contact with the material to be measured. Results were saved and subsequently transferred to a second software application for post-processing and analysis. By using Copper Mountain Technologies’ R140 vector reflectometer, SPEAG has been able to simplify such measurements even while improving accuracy and reducing the cost of the solution. Due to its compact "deck of cards" size, the R140 can be connected directly to the dielectric probe and held in the operator’s hand, eliminating measurement errors due to the flexure of the test cable. A button on the instrument’s external trigger interface is pressed to capture the measurement directly in a Windows environment, where it is immediately retrieved by SPEAG software and processed to show the final result.

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Modern Workflows for Antenna Matching and Verification (IMS 2016)

Optimization of antenna matching networks is necessary for many applications, ranging from consumer electronics to military systems, and from R&D to production. Traditionally, such matching has been done largely by a trial and error approach: the designer measures the antenna response, designs a matching network, constructs the network, tests its performance, identifies changes to improve the design, and repeats. The process can be tedious to say the least.

A new workflow is enabled by software tools of Optenni and the cost-effective, highly compact yet accurate vector network analyzers offered by Copper Mountain Technologies. The Optenni tools, integrated with the VNA software, collect S-parameter measurements and automatically, in “real time”, choose the best matching network topology and/or component values to be used. Since the analyzers are so compact, the design process can take place in the RF engineer’s cubical—or on her coffee table—significantly increasing the pace of work and reducing intermediate prototype designs. In this presentation, first given at IEEE IMS 2016, we highlight the benefits of using a modern workflow and provide example results applying the methods to a hypothetical antenna match optimization scenario.

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Frost & Sullivan White Paper - High-performance Millimeter Wave Vector Network Analysis

Until recently, millimeter wave (mm-wave) frequencies, which commonly refer to the 30 to 300 GHz range, remained in limited use. However, the situation has changed in the past two years with the emergence of technologies with much higher frequencies. Requiring more capacity and bandwidth, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) across industries, including aerospace and defense, automotive, and wireless communications, have demonstrated an increasing interest in very high frequencies, driving the need for high-performance test and measur ement (T&M) equipment.

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Frost & Sullivan Applauds CMT Vector Network Analyzers

Frost & Sullivan honors Copper Mountain Technologies (CMT) with its 2015 Global Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award for the company’s vector network analyzers (VNAs). CMT’s VNAs stand out for their high performance in a smaller form factor at much lower prices than existing mid-range network analyzers. As VNAs tend to be big, heavy and expensive, CMT’s analyzers are easily transported and deployed in remote locations making this instrument more accessible to a number of customers who have a need for it but can’t afford the expensive existing solutions.

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Residual Errors Determination for Vector Network Analyzers at a Low Resolution in the Time Domain

A method is introduced for determination of a VNA’s calibration residual errors for measurement of the reflection coefficient. The proposed method shows particular advantages when the use of a long verification line is impractical (e.g. at the wafer-level), or for measurements at low frequency ranges or similar cases when the resolution of conventional time domain methods is low. Experimental studies were conducted for two frequency ranges and in coaxial and on-wafer measurement environment. The proposed algorithm is a useful for a wide range of practical applications especially for measuring uncertainty estimation of cost-effective vector network analyzers. (Presented at the 82nd Annual IEEE ARFTG Conference)

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Estimation Of Complex Residual Errors of Calibrated Two-Port Vector Network Analyzer

This video presents a new method for verification of the residual errors of calibrated two-port vector network analyzers based on a special time-domain technique. The method requires two devices under test including a high-precision air line. Calibration residual errors are extracted from a distance frequency system model and special estimation algorithm based on the quasi-optimal unscented Kalman filter. Experimental studies were conducted in coaxial measurement environments and at the wafer level. Suitable applications of the proposed verification method are discussed.

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Covariance Based Uncertainty Analysis with Unscented Transformation

Application of the unscented transformation (UT) and higher order unscented transformation (HOUT) are considered for uncertainty analysis. Using the principle that a set of discretely sampled points can be used to calculate mean and covariance, we can analyze nonlinear systems without the linearization steps and without defining the Jacobian matrix. (Presented at the 82nd Annual IEEE ARFTG Conference)

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How to Test an RF Coaxial Cable using a Vector Network Analyzer

RF coaxial cables are high precision test assemblies, which along with a calibration kit, adapters and a torque wrench ensure the integrity of the measurements taken by test equipment such as a Vector Network Analyzer. An ideal cable transfers maximum RF energy while incurring as little loss as possible. To choose the best cable for a test solution, one has to consider several factors such as: operating frequency, characteristic impedance, insertion loss, return loss/VSWR, power handling capacity, operating temperature, flexibility, size, weight, shielding and ruggedness, with cost as a primary trade-off.

In this application note, Copper Mountain Technologies presents a simple and practical “do-it-yourself” cable test procedure, along with test results derived from the procedure. The results shown correspond to a 50 Ohm 26” N-type male to SMA male Velocity Microwave FleXus cable, using one of CMT’s high precision two-port Vector Network Analyzers: the Cobalt 1220. C1220 is a state-of-the-art instrument developed using modern design and production technologies. The same tests can also be performed using other 2-port and 4-port VNAs.

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Power Integrity Measurements with CMT VNAs and Picotest Accessories

Power integrity measurements are essential in all modern electronics, including RF and Microwave circuits. Poor power integrity results in spurs and degraded phase noise. As is the case with RF and high speed signals the goal is a flat, frequency independent impedance. Unlike RF and high speed signals, the magnitude of the impedance is not defined, and must be determined based on the circuit noise tolerance. The power distribution network (PDN) measurement includes the voltage regulator, printed circuit board planes and decoupling capacitors. Measuring capacitors, ferrite beads and the PDN impedance can be a challenge, including very low impedance magnitudes large dynamic range and a wide frequency range. In this joint application note, Picotest and Copper Mountain Technologies discuss some considerations as well as tips and tricks for successful PDN measurements.

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Testing and Matching PCB antennas: Switches and Other Options

Connecting to an Antenna Under Test (AUT) integral to a Device (DUT) may involve some tradeoffs between measurement accuracy, electrical considerations, and mechanical ruggedness. In this paper, we describe some aspects of this connection with practical advise for such test and measurement scenarios. The typical antenna in the 2.4GHz ISM bands and up is a compromise to begin with because of multiple band requirements and size and space constraints; accordingly the typical SWR may be far more significant than reflection or attenuation from a less than ideal test cable interface. Every device will be different, but keeping the TEM modes in mind in making the test connection won’t hurt and will make for the most accurate test.

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Using a Pair of Copper Mountain Technologies Vector Reflectometers

Reflectometers are used to measure the reflection, or S11 parameter, of a Device Under Test (DUT). This measurement only provides characterization of a single-ended device. For analysis of a two-port device, a traditional Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) is typically used. Using Copper Mountain Technologies’ R series reflectometers however, it is possible to configure two of these devices to measure all four S-parameters’ magnitudes for full characterization of a two-port device’s attenuation behavior. In this application note, we describe the necessary setup steps for utilizing two reflectometers simultaneously to take measurements of S-parameter transmission magnitudes and vector reflections.

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Using Compact USB VNAs with an Off-the-shelf Battery

Copper Mountain Technologies provides Vector Network Analyzers without a built-in computer, which enables the VNAs to be highly compact, lightweight and very low power. Those characteristics allow for easily taking CMT’s well-known lab-grade measurement results into the field.

There are three main categories of VNA form factor available from Copper Mountain Technologies: pocket size 1-port devices (R series); compact instruments (including S- and TR-series devices); and mains-powered rackable VNAs. Using the R-series and compact VNAs without A/C mains is very simple, the latter requiring only a simple external battery pack to provide a +12V supply. This application note describes such configurations and presents related recommendations.

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Using a VNA as a Signal Generator

A common question from users of Copper Mountain Technologies’ USB-based Vector Network Analyzers is whether the analyzer can be used as a signal source. Any of CMT’s VNAs can be configured as a CW source with a few simple steps, often allowing for performance of additional functions in a system when a dedicated signal source is not available.

This application note describes the process of configuring a CMT VNA as a signal source, and the expected performance of an analyzer so-configured.

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Differential Measurements of a Common Mode Filter

Measurement of differential circuits and devices is most readily accomplished with a 4-port VNA such as Planar 808/1. Once calibration of the instrument is accomplished, either using a conventional mechanical kit or the advantageous 4-port Automatic Calibration Module ACM8400T, determining the differential parameters of the device under test is a very straightforward process. In this application note, we describe the fundamentals of differential signalling and perform measurements of a common mode filter developed by students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. After performing 4-port calibration with Copper Mountain Technologies’ 4-port, 8 GHz Automatic Calibration Module ACM8400T, only a few clicks are required to quickly set up the Planar 808/1 VNA to perform differential measurements of the device.

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Multiport Testing with CMT VNAs & Off-the-shelf RF Switches

Copper Mountain Technologies offers VNA with one port, two ports or four ports. But sometimes, more ports are required, for example for testing multi-port devices. There are many options to achieve multi-port measurements, such as manually connecting and disconnecting each port, or using an OEM switch matrix system. One such option is to use an off-the-shelf RF switch to achieve a higher test port count than the VNA contains natively. This application note describes the approach of using off-the-shelf RF switches to achieve multiport measurements, some discussion of considerations when selecting such a switch, and a sample of test results from a specific experiment involving an RF switch.

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RF Mixer Characterization

Engineers developing mixers or integrating mixers in systems often need to measure mixer performance, including conversion loss, phase and group delay, 1 dB compression point, isolation between ports, and port VSWR. Measurements characterizing these parameters are easily performed on Vector Network Analyzers (VNAs) with advanced calibration techniques, including Scalar Mixer Calibration (SMC) and Vector Mixer Calibration (VMC). All Copper Mountain Technologies 2-port, 2-path VNAs include these capabilities. This app note will give a brief overview of mixer fundamentals, describe important mixer characteristics, and detail various measurement processes.

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Microwave Material Measurements Without Cables

Traditionally, RF material measurements have been dominated by the paradigm of taking samples into the laboratory. This is because of the historically large size of both the microwave analyzer equipment and the fixturing. Recent technology developments in both compact spot probes and compact microwave analyzers are enabling a reversal of this paradigm. This article discusses the concept of handheld or robot mounted reflectometers for in situ measurement of microwave relevant materials. The technology described integrates the microwave analyzer and sensor, eliminating the need for RF cables.

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Wi-Fi/Bluetooth & PCB Tuning and Antenna Testing

As the Internet of Things (IoT) starts to materialize, more and more consumer and industrial products are incorporating wireless interfaces such as Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, or proprietary wireless radio technologies. But when a module with external antenna or reference design is adopted, it is possible to optimize the antenna’s performance in the product’s actual housing, and including the effects of the PCB itself. In this application note, we will explain the S11 measurement at an introductory level, talk about some of the specific tools and techniques which will be useful when measuring and optimizing wireless antennas and their matching networks.

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Design and Test a 3D Printed Horn Antenna

The horn antenna is an antenna that consists of a flaring metal waveguide shaped like a horn to direct radio waves into a beam. 3D printing is a fast-growing technology for rapid prototyping of mechanical structures at a relatively low cost. This enables quick production and demonstrations of experimental models and measurement results for innovative ideas. In this application note, we describe our experiences fabricating a pyramidal horn antenna using 3D printing technology.

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Measuring Tunes of a Particle Accelerator with a VNA

CAMD was looking to replace their aging VNA with a more modern, programmable and affordable solution. Vector network analyzers are used in storage rings to provide a diagnostic measure of the “optics” of the electron beam as it passes through magnetic lenses. Through adjustments in the ring controls, the tunes can be guided toward desirable stable points and away from resonances which would decrease the beam’s intensity. Ideally, a portable VNA was desired so that it could be also used in maintenance and testing applications around the facility. The Planar TR1300/1 VNA was more affordable than a looming CRT replacement for CAMD’s legacy analyzer, which has been idle since the TR1300/1 arrived.

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Spectral Analysis with a Vector Network Analyzer

Vector network analyzers (VNAs) are widely used in research, manufacturing, and service environments. In some cases, a VNA receiver can be used for simplified spectrum analysis, which might include detection of self-excitation, determination of signal power and harmonic level, or spectrum deviation from an expected reference spectrum, among other parameters.

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Using Planar 304/1 for Filter Design and Production

R&D Microwaves was looking to equip their test bench with a VNA for tuning bandpass filters in a prototyping and production environment. These tasks included straight tuning of low frequency VHF diplexers and measuring group delay and return loss. The Planar 304/1 VNA improved workflow, saving time and money in the process.

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Wireless Infrastructure Maintenance with a PC-driven VNA

A large wireless provider chose the Planar 304/1 VNA to test antenna feeders and RF duplexers in the field quickly and accurately because it delivered the performance they needed at a price they could afford. The PC-driven VNA fit into a space where no other bench instrument could, communicated test data via USB, and was easily automated for future tests, resulting in higher efficiency and less potential failure of the tower's elements.

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Automated Antenna Testing

Antenna pattern measurement is a critical step in the design process of antennas and wireless devices. Compact antenna measurement systems combined with a high performance VNA are necessary to characterize parameters such as pattern, gain, VSWR, and efficiency. By using an in-house measurement system, multiple design revisions can be tested and pre-certified without the high cost of using an accredited or certified measurement facility for each test. Portability and low cost are particularly important to engineers in various environments like defense and education, respectively. See how these challenges are addressed with the DAMS Antenna Measurement System and the Planar 804/1 VNA.

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Pulsed Measurement Capability of CMT VNAs

Pulsed S-parameter measurements are important when testing a DUT at a higher power than it can handle without damage in the steady state, or when the normal operating mode of the DUT involves RF pulses. Examples include amplifier chips or circuits without their thermal packages and radar components or systems. This application note, developed based on the 8 GHz Planar 804/1 VNA using v3.49 software, describes a simple measurement scenario for investigating CMT VNAs' pulsed RF signal measurement capabilities.

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Measuring PDN on a Budget (By Steve Sandler for EDN)

Over at EDN, Steve Sandler profiles the application of an S5048 VNA in measuring PDN. Useful features include log frequency sweep and 1-port and 2-port time domain functions (TDR/TDT). It is suggested to use the combination of the OMICRON Lab Bode 100 and the S5048 to provide a cost-effective solution for measurements of PDN up to 4.8 GHz.

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Measurements in 75 Ohm Coaxial Transmission Lines Using a 50 Ohm VNA

VNAs can be used to measure 75 Ohm coaxial transmission lines. In this article, we will discuss making these measurements using a VNA with 50 Ohm test ports, in conjunction with 50 to 75 Ohm Minimum Loss Pads (MLP), i.e. impedance matching attenuators with insertion loss of 5.7 dB. The use of an MLP affects the accuracy of measurements by changing the calibration error and, depending on the location of the attenuator in the measurement circuit, impacts stability of measurements related to test cable bending. To assess the impact of MLP on the accuracy of the measurements, we will compare this calibration method with typical errors of VNAs with 75 Ohm coaxial lines after performing SOLT calibration.

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Voltage and Current Measurements with a VNA and DMM

VNAs may be useful in performing voltage or current measurements of active DUTs, with the VNA generator sweeping over frequency or power. This application note shows how to make highly accurate and quick synchronous voltage or current measurements by adding a simple program and an affordable, general purpose DMM.

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Optimizing VNA Measurement Speed

VNA users often need to estimate, and strive to optimize, their instrument’s measurement speed. Many RF Engineers are interested in the trade offs between speed, accuracy and resolution, especially those striving to achieve optimal automation of the instrument in the context of a integrated in a larger measurement system or production environment. This application note details the determining factors for measurement cycle time in a Copper Mountain Technologies VNA.

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CMT Receives Frost & Sullivan Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

Frost & Sullivan honors Copper Mountain Technologies (CMT) with its 2015 Global Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award for the company’s vector network analyzers (VNAs).

CMT’s VNAs stand out for their high performance in a smaller form factor at much lower prices than existing mid-range network analyzers. As VNAs tend to be big, heavy and expensive, CMT’s analyzers are easily transported and deployed in remote locations making this instrument more accessible to a number of customers who have a need for it but can’t afford the expensive existing solutions.

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Automation of the Copper Mountain Technologies VNA

Introduction to automation of Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs.

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CMT VNA Software User Interface Overview

This video covers the basic User Interface for Copper Mountain Technologies VNA software.

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PC-Based VNAs Solve Real Engineering Problems

Engineers are demanding better value, high performance, and more flexibility from the test equipment on the bench or in the field, which led Copper Mountain Technologies team to reevaluate the traditional approach to a lab-grade VNA.

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Prism Microwave Uses a PC-Driven VNA in Filter Design

See how Prism Microwave use a VNA from CMT in their design and production environment. Darren, Chris and their team use network analyzers to make RF conditioning equipment like filters and amplifiers for use in cell tower applications.

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Calculating Stability Parameters with a simple Excel Macro

Post-processing calculation with traditional VNAs can be a chore. The S-parameter data must be saved to storage media, physically transferred to a PC, loaded into a data processing application, and then processed. With Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs, all these steps can be automated from inside the application, be it MATLAB, Python, or even Excel. In this video, we show how easily measured S-parameters can be imported to Excel and converted to amplifier stability parameters K and mu (mu1 and mu2). The spreadsheet demonstrated is available upon request to support@coppermountaintech.com.

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