White Paper: Photonics/Optics

Understanding Key Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer Specifications

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Spectrum analyzers are the fundamental instrument used by RF engineers to measure individual signals across a defined frequency band. They capture and display wanted and unwanted signals, enabling a range of measurements including power, frequency, modulation and distortion. There are several different types of spectrum analyzer system architectures. Real-time spectrum analysis allows a spectrum analyzer to conduct continuous, gapless capture and analysis of elusive and transient signals, while conventional spectrum analyzers and vector signal analyzers do not have this capability due to their design. This paper will review the architecture of real-time spectrum analyzers (RTSA), swept-tuned spectrum analyzers, and vector signal analyzers, and highlight their relative merits and compromises.

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