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Alan Wolke's blog


Captured RF Signal Playback on the TSG4100A Using the AFG31000 Thursday, April 23, 2020
Introduction: Radio Frequency (RF) signals are used widely in today’s world. RF transmitters have become so pervasive that they can be found in almost any location imaginable: consumer electronics in homes, medical devices in hospitals, industrial control systems in factories, and even tracking devices implanted underneath the skin of livestock, pets, and people. This presents a challenge with RF …
How to Use Fast Frame on a Realtime Spectrum Analyzer Thursday, March 5, 2020
Fast Frame is a segmented memory acquisition mode designed to save memory when acquiring a large number of low duty cycle events. It is available on RSA5000, RSA6000 and RSA7000 Series realtime spectrum analyzers. A common application is with RADAR signals. RADAR signals are typically very low duty cycle – often 1% duty cycle or less. When acquiring a large number of consecutive pulses for …
MDO4000 Frequency vs. Time Trace Tips Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The MDO4000 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope is a unique and powerful multi-domain instrument that can not only capture and measure analog and digital signals vs. time, but can also do the same with RF signals.  Not only can it show you the RF spectral changes vs. time and vs. the analog and digital signals, it can also show several RF vs. Time traces.  Specifically, it can compute and display RF …
Real-Time, Acquisition and Measurement Bandwidth Friday, April 14, 2017
When talking about Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers, the concept of bandwidth can take on many forms.  This short article addresses the various bandwidth terms and concepts, and what each of these mean in your RSA. Real Time Bandwidth: This generally refers to the maximum capture bandwidth of the RSA. In other words, this is the widest bandwidth over which the RSA can capture/record signals over time …
Keeping your Tektronix & Keithley equipment up to date Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Nearly all modern benchtop test and measurement equipment includes firmware or software that controls the operation, features and user interface.  This firmware will typically be updated a few times per year to add features, functionality, and to fix the occasional bug or two.  The firmware is typically available for download, free of charge, on  You can choose to visit the website …
Spectrum Trace Processing in an RSA Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A real-time spectrum analyzer (RSA) offers a lot of different measurement capabilities, including modulation and time domain analysis, pulse analysis and live real-time spectrum analysis.  First and foremost though, it is a spectrum analyzer. There are differences in the way that an RSA generates spectrum results compared to a conventional swept spectrum analyzer.  This note describes the spectrum …
Calculating RF Power from IQ Samples Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Vector signal analyzers like Tektronix Real-Time Spectrum analyzers operate by converting the incoming RF signal into quadrature baseband (IQ) samples vs. time.  All of the measurements and results that can be displayed, from simple spectrum measurements to complex modulation analysis, are computed from these IQ samples. One common calculation that is performed on the IQ data is to determine …
RF Capture and Playback Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Today’s Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers include features and capabilities that go far beyond the basic measurement capabilities of conventional spectrum analyzers. Among these capabilities is the ability to capture and record RF data vs. time for playback and analysis. So, what is RF Capture and Playback? It turns out, the answer is multi-faceted. There are several different ways that today’s real …
Precompensation Can Flatten Your Response Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The AWG70000 Arbitrary Waveform Generator features sample rates up to 50GS/s and signal bandwidths of 10-15GHz or more. When generating wideband signals, minor impedance discontinuities in the interconnect cables can affect the amplitude and phase flatness.  As signal frequencies increase, they can be subject to the analog bandwidth and sinx/x rolloff characteristics of the AWG.  These signal …
Understanding what makes Tektronix real time spectrum analyzers different from traditional instruments Thursday, October 29, 2015
One of the questions we often hear from customers is how a Tektronix real time spectrum analyzer such as the RSA5000 Series compares to a traditional spectrum or vector signal analyzer for capturing and analyzing signals. Since there are a significant number of distinguishing features I thought this would be a great topic for a blog post where I can go into a bit more depth.   Tektronix RSAs …


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