Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - 20

RF & Microwave Technology

Improving Transmit/Receive Module
Test Accuracy and Throughput
ture of their design leads to a challenging
test environment. It shows how a VNA
extension unit (the R&S ZVAX TRM) performs this wide range of T/R module
measurements with a single connection.

Phased Array Overview
The physically stationary phased array
antenna beam is steered by changing the
relative amplitude and phase to each radiating element. This steering works on both
transmit and receive. By changing
the relative amplitude and
phase across the
beam, we can
steer the
beam

and reduce the side lobes of the resulting
beam pattern (Figure 1). On the transmit
side, sidelobes are usually unwanted radiations of energy in unwanted directions.
On the receive side, they allow signals into
the receiver from unwanted directions
when the system is in receive mode.
Figure 2 shows the major blocks in a
phased array system. These blocks are
similar for either a communications
system or a radar/EW
system. The

zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com

P

hased arrays have been used in
radar applications for many
decades. Recent trends are driving their adoption into other
applications such as Electronic Warfare
(EW), satellite systems, and even 5G
communications. There are several new
component technologies that are driving
this migration: multiple transmit/receive
(T/R) modules on a chip, higher-performance PCB laminates, and the acceptance of GaN as a power amplifier (PA)
semiconductor process.
Characterizing a T/R module places a
high demand on a test system's performance and flexibility. The test system
needs to support a variety of test modes
while maintaining accuracy and constantly improving throughput. In many
cases, it must measure high output power
while at the same time delivering very
low, highly accurate stimulus power.
The system must provide intermodulation measurements on
pulsed signals and also on frequency-converting devices
under test (DUTs). As a rule,
noise figure and/or spectral
measurements are also required. T/R modules with
separate TX and RX paths
and an antenna connector
call for three-port measurements and also typically require two LO signals.
A vector network analyzer
(VNA) extension unit can support a wide range of measurements in a compact, individually
configurable design. It allows the
user to configure the VNA for customizable signal conditioning and
switching and allows the VNA to specifically provide a suite of measurements
on active DUTs under manual or automatic system control. These measurements can be made in both the forward
and reverse directions, all with a single
connection to the DUT.
This article provides an overview of
the basic building blocks of a phased
array system and discusses how the na-

20

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Cov

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Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021

Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Intro
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Sponsor
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov1
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov2
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Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov3
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