Design Challenges in Modern Digital-IF Spectrum Analyzers

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

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Distinguished Microwave Lecturer Program

Dr. Gordon R. Strachan

Keysight Technologies

Design Challenges in Modern Digital-IF Spectrum Analyzers

Tuesday March 1, 2016 – 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm  – E5 – 4106-4128


The last twenty years has seen tremendous growth in both cellular and wireless network communication. The increasingly crowded spectrum and growing demand for greater bandwidth has made modern digital Radio design extremely challenging. Radio Frequency design Engineers require sophisticated Test and Measurement Equipment to aid in both the design and verification of communications systems. To address these needs, modern performance spectrum analyzers combine the functionality of traditional swept tuned spectrum analyzer, a vector signal analyzer and, most recently, a real time spectrum analyzer.

In this presentation, we discuss the design challenges of performance spectrum analyzers. We discuss the design trade-offs of various spectrum analyzer block diagrams and how these trade-offs affect final performance. We pay particular attention to the digital IF section and the DSP algorithms that are central to modern signal analyzers. Finally, we will deal with the sources of errors in the instruments and calibration techniques which are used to measure and remove the errors.


Dr. Gordon Strachan earned his Ph. D. at the University of Waterloo where he studied Optical Signal Processing under Dr. Chaudhuri. He joined Hewlett Packard in 1995 where he worked on embedded software in network based graphics terminals. In 1999, he joined the Microwave Instrument Division of Hewlett Packard where he designed software for Spectrum Analyzers. He has spent the last sixteen years working at HP, Agilent, and finally, Keysight Technologies. He specializes in wideband digital IF processing and system calibration. He is now the senior systems architect for the X-Series Spectrum Analyzer product line. His current research interests include Sparse Signal Measurements and Processing, Joint Time-Frequency Analysis and wideband calibration techniques