RF Explorer® Signal Generator Manual Datasheet by Seeed Technology Co., Ltd

RF Explorer®
Signal Generator Combo
&
Signal Generator RFE6GEN baseline
User Manual
Updated to Firmware Version 1.30
RF Explorer®
RF Explorer is an affordable Handheld Spectrum Analyzer and Signal Generator family of
products with a growing list of features.
This little powerful unit is the tool you need
to reduce the implementation time and cost
of your next wireless project.
Updates of the RF Explorer User Manual are available online.
Please consider the environment before printing this document.
Table of Contents
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................................... 5
Description of main features ............................................................................................................................... 6
Feature ................................................................................................................................................................ 6
Specifications ....................................................................................................................................................... 7
Connecting RF Explorer Signal Generator ........................................................................................................... 9
Signal Generator CW mode - Main Screen ........................................................................................................ 11
Combo enhanced model ............................................................................................................................... 11
Baseline model .............................................................................................................................................. 13
Using the keyboard ........................................................................................................................................ 14
Using menus ...................................................................................................................................................... 16
Operational Mode menu ................................................................................................................................... 18
Frequency Menu................................................................................................................................................ 20
Power Menu (Combo model) ............................................................................................................................ 21
Power Levels (Combo model) .................................................................................................................... 21
Power Menu (baseline model) .......................................................................................................................... 23
Power Levels (baseline model) .................................................................................................................. 23
Configuration Menu .......................................................................................................................................... 25
Frequency Sweep mode .................................................................................................................................... 26
FM modulation .............................................................................................................................................. 27
Amplitude Sweep Mode .................................................................................................................................... 28
Tracking with Scalar Network Analyzer ............................................................................................................. 30
Harmonics filtering ............................................................................................................................................ 32
Spurious and Phase Noise ................................................................................................................................. 37
RF Explorer internal battery .............................................................................................................................. 38
Charging the internal battery ........................................................................................................................ 38
Using the Battery dedicated screen .............................................................................................................. 39
Charging a fully depleted battery .................................................................................................................. 41
Automatic idle mode with battery charge .................................................................................................... 41
Expansion Modules ........................................................................................................................................... 42
Protecting your instrument from damage ........................................................................................................ 43
RF Explorer Holder ............................................................................................................................................. 44
RF Explorer accessories ..................................................................................................................................... 45
SMA-BNC adapter SMA Plug to BNC Jack straight ........................................................................................ 45
SMA-N adapter SMA Plug to N Jack straight ................................................................................................. 45
RF Adapter RP-SMA Jack to SMA Plug straight-long version ......................................................................... 46
SMA adapter SMA Plug to SMA Jack right angle ........................................................................................... 46
SMA connection cables ................................................................................................................................. 47
10cm length - SMA male to SMA female 6GHz coaxial cable.................................................................... 47
10cm length - SMA male to SMA male 6GHz coaxial cable ....................................................................... 47
50cm length - SMA male to SMA female RF pigtail Coaxial Cable RG316 ................................................. 48
50cm length - SMA male to SMA male plug pigtail cable RG316 .............................................................. 48
Attenuators.................................................................................................................................................... 49
6GHz SMA Attenuator 60dB ................................................................................................................... 49
6GHz SMA Attenuator - 10dB .................................................................................................................... 50
6GHz SMA Attenuator - 30dB .................................................................................................................... 50
SMA Male/Female Adaptor ........................................................................................................................... 51
SMA Termination 50 ohm dummy load ..................................................................................................... 51
Connecting RF Explorer to a computer ............................................................................................................. 52
API programming specification for RF Explorer ................................................................................................ 52
RF Explorer for Windows open source code ..................................................................................................... 52
Specifications ..................................................................................................................................................... 53
Acknowledgments ............................................................................................................................................. 53
FCC and CE regulations ...................................................................................................................................... 53
License ............................................................................................................................................................... 53
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 5
Introduction
RF Explorer Signal Generator has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use. There is no need to read
large user manuals to get advantage of its advanced functionality.
For simple actions, only a keyboard click is needed to start transmitting signals. For most advanced features
like Tracking SNA, the RF Explorer for Windows software will easily guide through steps required so analyzing
RF devices becomes a few minutes task for even the most novice users.
We welcome your feedback and look for ideas to make this manual more useful. Please contribute with
ideas, suggestions, typo corrections and comments on the official support page
support.rf-explorer.com
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 6
Description of main features
The RF Explorer Signal Generator is a powerful, wideband fully programmable RF signal generator. It is the
perfect companion for Spectrum Analyzer RF Explorer product line.
As a standalone unit, RFE6Gen can generate CW and Sweep signals by selecting embedded menu options.
When connected to a PC, it can be fully programmed with the RF Explorer for Windows software tool.
Furthermore, the unit can work as a powerful Tracking Generator when used with RF Explorer Spectrum
Analyzer connected to the same PC, offering full Scalar Network Analyzer (SNA) capabilities. The SNA feature
allows full characterization of filters, amplifiers and any 2-port RF device.
RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo extend capabilities of baseline RFE6Gen model by expanding power and
frequency range, including efficient wideband harmonic filtering in a compact handheld device. An
expansion board is available to easily upgrade baseline RFE6Gen into a Combo model.
Feature
Pocket size and light weight
Solid aluminum metal case
Lifetime free firmware upgrades available, open to community requested features
High capacity Lithium for 10hs+ of continuous run, rechargeable by USB
RF Explorer for Windows free software download
Can be extended with internal Expansion Modules for additional power range, frequency band
support and functionality
Wide band support for CW signal, Frequency and Amplitude Sweep, and advanced Tracking SNA.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 7
Specifications
Parameter
Combo
Signal Generator
Baseline
Signal Generator
Notes
Frequency range
100KHz to 6GHz
23.4MHz to 6GHz
Frequency step/resolution
1Khz
1Khz
Frequency stability
100KHz to 250MHz:
±5ppm
250MHz to 6GHz:
±0.5ppm
±0.5ppm
Frequency accuracy
(internal reference)
100KHz to 250MHz:
±10ppm
250MHz to 6GHz:
±1ppm
±1ppm
Output power range
Calibrated: -40 to
+10dBm
Uncalibrated: -60 to
+18dBm
40dBm to -30dBm
in 3dB steps
-10dBm to 0dBm in
3dB steps
See section Power
Levels (Combo model)
Output power resolution
0.25dB
3dB
Output power accuracy
Typical ±1.5dB
Typical ±3dB
See section Power
Levels (Combo model)
Output power stability
Typical ±0.5dB
Typical ±0.5dB
Output amplitude settling time
500uS
500uS
Temporary spurious
may be present while
signal settles
Output protection
25VDC
25VDC
Harmonics
Typical -40dBc
Typical -10dBc
See section Harmonics
filtering
Spurious
Typical less than
-52dBc
Typical less than
-50dBc
See section Spurious
and Phase Noise
Phase Noise
Typical less than
-125dBc/Hz on
1MHz at 1GHz
Typical less than
-125dBc/Hz on
1MHz at 1GHz
See section Spurious
and Phase Noise
Frequency Sweep settling
< 5ms
< 5ms
Amplitude Sweep settling
< 500uS
< 500uS
Sweep hops range
unlimited
unlimited
Functional modes
CW
Frequency Sweep
Amplitude Sweep
Tracking SNA
CW
Frequency Sweep
Amplitude Sweep
Tracking SNA
Tracking requires a
Windows PC computer
and RF Explorer
Spectrum Analyzer
Operating temperature
5-35C
0-45C
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 8
Connector type
SMA 50 ohms
SMA 50 ohms
Display
Graphics LCD
128x64 pixels
Graphics LCD
128x64 pixels
Excellent visibility
outdoors with sunlight
Backlight
5 levels
5 levels
Excellent visibility
indoors
Weight
205g
185g
Size
113x70x25 mm
113x70x25 mm
Programmable
USB generic API
Python API
.NET API
USB generic API
Python API
.NET API
Software
Windows PC
Windows PC
Free download
Certification
CE/FCC/RoHS/MSDS
CE/FCC/RoHS/MSDS
Internal battery power switch RFESGen Baseline Generator COMBO SMA RF Output SMA RF Output \ ./ LCD Keyboard Mini-USE Connector
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 9
Connecting RF Explorer Signal Generator
The unit includes 50 ohm impedance RF connector standard SMA format.
The RFE6Gen baseline model includes only one connector, the RF SMA on the left in the above
image. This manual will indicate specifics for this model whenever is different from Combo model.
The RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo model includes two SMA connectors, but only the
enhanced functionality of the SMA connector on the right side is enabled. A future firmware may
enable both connectors to allow double signal source but with different capabilities. It is
recommended covering the left SMA connector with a dummy load 50ohm for better protection.
The unit will automatically start running on USB power when a compatible mini-USB cable is connected.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 10
Important: The internal battery power switch must be in the ON position for the battery to charge when the
USB cable is connected. The internal battery will not charge when the power switch is in the OFF position.
Note: There are a number of SMA adapters to easily interface RF Explorer SMA Connector to any other
standard RF connector format, including BNC, N, RP-SMA, etc. For more information of adapters available
see section RF Explorer accessories in page 45.
IMPORTANT m ust before Eb SIGHFIL GEHEFIFITEIFI 3.53.7. 'r'E'r'E‘zEIEEIE Power: -3@.BEdBm Press {ENTER} to enable HF PDMEF
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 11
Signal Generator CW mode - Main Screen
Upon start, RF Explorer Signal Generator goes to this mode automatically.
The RF output power is disabled by default and it is important to connect a LOAD in all cases before enabling
the RF port.
Combo enhanced model
The below screen is an example of a RF signal generator mode configured at 3.767020GHz. This is organized
visually in GHz, MHz and KHz for easy reading.
The power level is selectable with 0.25dB precision, amplitude level on screen is fine selectable from Power
Menu option.
All elements on screen are important parameters to understand how the Signal Generator is working at any
given time. In this advanced model the power selected in Menu is exactly the same as shown in screen.
IMPORTANT
You must have connected a 50 ohm antenna or RF load before you switch your
transmitter ON.
If you switch the transmitter ON without a proper load, you may damage the RF
module of your RF Explorer Signal Generator, as the power amplifier will not have a
load to feed. Think of the equivalent to an audio amplifier running at full power
with no speakers connected: you are likely damaging the power transistors.
You can use any kind of RF 50 ohm load, including a dummy load, a coaxial with a
50 ohm termination, an antenna, etc. If you use a load different than 50 ohm, the
reflected wave may also damage the power amplifier.
Selected CW frequency grouped as GHz, MHz and KHz RF Signal Generator Main Screen EESIBNHL GEHEHHTDR<+— power:="" press=""> to enable RF Power ‘39: 'r'EiEil‘l EIEEIlé —Mode indicator Output power in dBm -3@.BBdBm<’ action="" indicator="" (this="" will="" display="" rf="" power="" on="" if="" the="" output="" is="" active)="" eesighhl="" beherhtdh="" fewer:="" 3e?eeebebe="" -3@.bedem="" hf="" pdheh="" dh="">
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 12
The available indicators are:
Selected CW frequency: This is the currently selected carrier (or CW) frequency, expressed in GHz,
MHz and KHz. It can be modified in the FREQUENCY MENU.
Power Level: This is the actual output power selected in Power Menu for CW. With selective value as
fine as 0.25dB this can go in ranges from -60 to +20dBm, but only -40 to +10dBm are calibrated
ranges. Note: an upgrade firmware will display a special mark to indicate calibrated vs uncalibrated
range.
Action Indicator (current power mode): The Signal Generator display the current status of the RF
output signal, at the selected frequency and selected power level. By clicking on ENTER key the
power signal will be delivered to the RF output port, and the screen will clearly indicate that with RF
POWER ON message.
Please note standard precaution of RF power delivered without a connected load.
SIGHHL EEHEHHTDH 3E: T'ET'E‘EEIEELE Power: -3.1dEm HFHR=fln LEUEL E Prese {ENTER} to enable HF PDMEF Selected CW frequency grouped as GHz, MHz and KHz High Power Switch (ON|0FF) RF Signal Generator Main Screen EBB SIGHF‘L GEHEHHTURF— Mode indicator 3.332 T-‘EEillElEEll‘é Power: -3.1dBm<* hfhr="0n" leuel="E" i="" press=""> to enable RF Power Output power in dBm '~ Power Level (1-4) Action Indicator (this will display RF POWER ON if the output is active)
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 13
Baseline model
The below screen is an example of a RF signal generator mode configured at 3.767020GHz. This is organized
visually in GHz, MHz and KHz for easy reading.
The internal High-Power switch to ON, and the power level in mode 2 (levels are 1-4). This result in (-
3.1dBm) output at this frequency.
All elements on screen are important parameters to understand how the Signal Generator is working at any
given time. In the baseline model (non Combo) model the power level is one of the possible 8 selectable
values from Menu.
The available indicators are:
Selected CW frequency: This is the currently selected carrier (or CW) frequency, expressed in GHz,
MHz and KHz. It can be modified in the FREQUENCY MENU.
High Power Switch: The Signal Generator includes an internal 30dB nominal attenuator. This allows
the unit to generate low level signals for multiple purposes. The attenuator is disabled when the
High-Power Switch is ON.
EESIEHHL EEHEHHTDH Power: 3E?EEEEEBE -3.1dEm HPHn:on LEUEL E HF PDHEH DH EESIGHHL GENERHTUH SIGNHL BENERHTUR EESIGNHL BEHERHTUH 3E?EEE BEBE Power: -3. 1dB m "FIR: on LEUEL: a 33?E?EBEBE Power: —3.1dBm HFIR=0n LEUEL=E E?EEE BdEBé Power: -3. "FIR: nn LEuEL: EB Press (ENTER) to enable RF Power Press (ENTER) to enable RF Power Press (ENTER) to enable RF Power
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 14
Power Level Switch: The Signal Generator includes an internal power switch, with a nominal 3dB
increment on each step. There are 4 steps available. When combined with the internal attenuator, a
total of 8 possible power values can be selected.
Action Indicator (current power mode): The Signal Generator display the current status of the RF
output signal, at the selected frequency and selected power level. By clicking on ENTER key the
power signal will be delivered to the RF output port, and the screen will clearly indicate that with RF
POWER ON message.
Please note standard precaution of RF power delivered without a connected load.
Using the keyboard
In the RF SIGNAL GENERATOR mode screen, the keyboard can be used for easy and convenient tasks as
described below:
Using ENTER key enables and disables RF output power
Using MENU key goes to the last used menu. Note: if the RF power was enabled, MENU will
automatically disable it to avoid unattended power signal to be active. You can re-enable power
once you get back from MENU configuration.
Using buttons LEFT and RIGHT on this screen will increase or decrease the selected frequency by the
amount expressed on the Freq Step value configured in the FREQUENCY MENU.
For instance, if the Freq Step is configured to 100MHz, clicking on RIGHT will increase the CW
frequency in 100MHz increments every time the key is pressed, and similarly clicking on LEFT button
will decrease the CW frequency by 100MHz.
An example of increment from 3,766,020KHz using 1MHz increment step, RIGHT button click will
increase to 3,767,020KHz and then LEFT button click will decrease it back to 3,766,020KHz:
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 15
Using buttons UP and DOWN on this screen will increase or decrease the selected RF power, one
step at a time. It works slightly different depending on the Signal Generator model.
Combo model: For instance, if the unit is at -30.00dBm and the Power Step is defined at 2.5dBm in
POWER MENU, click on UP button once will increase to -27.50dBm, a second click will increase to
-25.00dBm, etc. A click on DOWN button will decrease power by the defined step.
Note: The level is increased up to a maximum of +15dBm and then will circle back to
-60dBm. The opposite is also the case when using DOWN button to -60dBm will circle back to
+15dBm.
Baseline model: For instance if the unit is in High Power:OFF and Level:1 (lowest possible power) a
press on the UP button will increase into High Power:OFF and Level:2. Another press will increase to
Level:3, etc.
Note: The Level is sequentially increased up to the max level Level:4 and, if the High Power is
OFF at that point, it will be set to ON to increase the power in the next increment with UP
button. For instance if the unit is in High Power:OFF and Level:4, the press of UP button will
increase to High Power:ON and Level:1. See section Power Menu (baseline model) on page
23 for more details on power level modes.
FREQUENCY MENU Step Delay: fl.“ PDHEH MENU EEarE EDUE'FI “g5 gfim Stop Power: -2. 1dBm Power Steps=7 fl.“ CUNFIG MENU on ras - USB Bauds: SBBKbps fl...” DPERHTIDNHL MUDE E FECIUEHCH EMEEP Hmplitude Sweep RF Connectlons atteru Hbout
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 16
Using menus
There are several menus in RF Explorer Signal Generator. They are organized on different screens, which you
can iterate through by using the [Menu] key. If you click [Menu] button multiple times, you will visit every
one of them:
Optionally, you can use the [Left] and [Right] keys to go from one screen to another.
You can exit from a menu anytime by using the [Return] key.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 17
The first time you click on [Menu] button in a RF Explorer session, Frequency Menu will open. This may
change as we will see later, so every time you click on [Menu] from Signal Generator main screen, you
actually re-open the last menu you were working with. In this way you save time by not having to navigate
through all the menus to go the same place you were before.
DPEHHTIDHHL NUDE lrE‘lL-lEr'ICH ENE'E'F' HmPlitude Sweep HF Connect1nn5 Battery anut 1+5 '— 24-EBBBMHZ E35113 enhance Hour RF Explorer wlth EKPan51on Modules to cover extra HF bands wwu.HF-EIPLUHEH.com * 3.1-EBBBMHE -4 Expansion board fngnd Left HF connectqr 15 dlsabled: USE Hlaht HF connector only. 2MB HUM Extra found
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 18
Operational Mode menu
The menu displays different functional modes available in your Analyzer.
Use [Up] and [Down] arrow keys to select the desired mode and click on [Enter] to activate it immediately.
RF Generator mode is the default mode, this is used for carrier CW signals
Frequency Sweep allows iterative hops over Start Frequency and Stop Frequency defined by a Step
Frequency and a Step delay.
Amplitude Sweep allows iterative amplitude change at CW frequency.
RF Connections enumerates the installed RF modules and how each one is connected to each SMA
RF port. This example below shows a standard RFE6GEN baseline model with 24 to 6000MHz. Click
on any key to get out of this screen.
With RF Explorer Signal Generator Expansion board installed (Combo model) the screen will display
this information:
HF ExPlnrer Signal Generator SIH:BBHH?EL?EMBSBMEE UEFB1.1? 2?-Feb-1? www.rf-explnrer.cnm
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 19
Battery includes details on internal battery charge level, and assist you on charging the unit when
connected to USB. For more details read section Charging the internal battery in page 38.
About displays information about installed firmware and versioning. Use any key to get out of this
screen.
FHEDUEHEV HEHU _cu Frqu 3?B?. 323 ar rqu StDP Freq: 1233. BBB Step Delay: B1. BBB
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 20
Frequency Menu
CW Freq: CW frequency selected for transmission in MHZ
Freq Step: Frequency step in MHZ used in Frequency Sweep mode and when using LEFT-RIGHT
button increments in CW mode.
Start Freq: Lower frequency in MHZ used in Frequency Sweep mode
Stop Freq: Higher frequency in MHZ used in Frequency Sweep mode
Step Delay: Selected step delay for Amplitude / Frequency Sweep in seconds (with millisecond
resolution)
To navigate through the menu, just use [Up] and [Down] keys to go to the option you want, then click on
[Enter] to edit that option, [Left] or [Right] to go to the digit you want to change, and [Enter] to confirm or
[Return] to cancel.
In above example screen:
CW frequency is 3,767.020 MHz
Frequency sweep will run from 1,100.000 MHz to 1,200.000 MHz with a 5 MHz step and 1 second
delay
PDHER MENU P EH Poweri-EB. ESdBm Power StEP=+BS. BBdB Total StEP5=?
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 21
Power Menu (Combo model)
The RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo model is able to specify output power signal with 0.25dB
resolution.
Values are selectable from -60 dBm to +15 dBm, but only -40 dBm to +10 dBm are calibrated as per
description in section below. A future firmware upgrade will show calibration information more explicitly.
CW Power: Power level used for Generator CW mode and Frequency Sweep mode.
Start Power: Lower power level for Amplitude Sweep
Stop Power: Higher power level for Amplitude Sweep
Power Step: Selected step in dB
Total Steps: number of steps used in Amplitude Sweep, automatically calculated based on
Total Steps: (Start Stop) / Step
power settings. As an example, on picture above, the Power step is defined as 5dB, and being Start-
Stop = -30 5 = -35, therefore 7 steps are automatically calculated.
Power Levels (Combo model)
The RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo model delivers output power signal in the nominal range -60 to
+15dBm. The range is calibrated by bench laboratory grade instruments, sampling 600 measurement points,
and is suitable in the range -40 to +10dBm. Output signals outside this range will not perform with the same
linearity and accuracy as within the calibrated range.
Contact us
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 22
The calibrated range accuracy is described in next table. Uncalibrated or out-of-range power levels are
described as “n/a”. In these ranges the device can be used but output power level may not be accurate.
RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo output power accuracy
Frequency range (MHz)
Power range (dBm)
Typical Accuracy (dB)
Worst case Accuracy (dB)
0.1 to 1
-40 to 0
±2
±5
0 to +10
n/a
n/a
1 to 10
-40 to 0
±1
±2.5
0 to +10
n/a
n/a
10 to 1950
-40 to -10
±1
±2.5
-10 to +10
±1.5
±3.5
1950 to 3600
-30 to +10
±1
±2.5
3600 to 5200
-30 to +10
±1.5
±3
5200 to 6000
-30 to 0
±2
±4
0 to +10
n/a
n/a
Future firmware upgrade will increase accuracy in some frequency and power ranges using internal
calibration table adjusted in factory.
An optional software process will be available to manually calibrate the device and adjust for amplitude
deviation. Contact us for additional details.
Absolute maximum and minimum power levels available are described in next table. Note these levels are
not guaranteed and not calibrated.
RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo Absolute output power range
Frequency range (MHz)
Minimum output power (dBm)
Maximum output power (dBm)
0.1 to 1
-60
0
1 to 10
-60
+5
10 to 3200
-60
+15
3200 to 3650
-60
+10
3600 to 5200
-60
+15
5200 to 6000
-60
0
PDHEH MENU 5”" DUEF- — I'I'I Stop Power=-2.1dEm Power StEPsi ?
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 23
Power Menu (baseline model)
The baseline model has limited power levels available when compared to the Combo model.
CW Power: Power level used for Generator CW mode and Frequency Sweep mode.
Start Power: Lower power level for Amplitude Sweep
Stop Power: Higher power level for Amplitude Sweep
Power Steps: number of steps used in Amplitude Sweep, automatically calculated based on
Start/Stop power settings.
To navigate through the menu, just use [Up] and [Down] keys to go to the option you want, then click on
[Enter] as many times as required to change the power value. The Power Steps setting is not editable
(automatically calculated).
Power Levels (baseline model)
The RF Explorer Signal Generator baseline model delivers 8 different power levels, nominally specified as per
table below:
RF output power (nominal)
High Power
Power Switch
0dBm (1mW)
ON
4
-3dBm (0.5mW)
ON
3
-6dBm (0.25mW)
ON
2
-9dBm (0.125mW)
ON
1
-30dBm (1uW)
OFF
4
-33dBm (0.5uW)
OFF
3
-36dBm (0.25uW)
OFF
2
-39dBm (0.125uW)
OFF
1
These are ideal power levels that are not actually constant with frequency. Actual power levels are a
function of frequency, as depicted in graph below. This graph is generic but every RF Explorer Signal
Generator includes an internal calibration table, produced in the factory at calibration time, with actual
values for accurate reading on screen.
KPm‘aanfln-lfilnlr-KNKFEEEEM Wquww‘anIn-wnn ‘ § 5 _ § :
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 24
The delivered power levels have a linear response up to about 2GHz, for higher frequencies there are some
roll off and power becomes predictable but not constant. The unit is fully calibrated and includes an internal
amplitude calibration table to allow accurate power normalization and measurement done in Tracking
mode.
The exact power level available on each frequency point is available on screen, as well as in the RF Explorer
for Windows application. If you need more details or power level accuracy is important to you, please
contact us.
EUHFIG MENU EDHEFBS E: g USB Bauds: EBBKst
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 25
Configuration Menu
Backlight: Several levels of display backlight. RF Explorer has good visibility indoor and outdoor,
including direct sunlight. The level of backlight should be the appropriate for each condition, and you
may want to limit backlight brightness to preserve battery capacity.
Contrast: There are 10 different display contrast levels to choose from.
USB Bauds: Default is 500Kbps, which is also the recommended setting. In the rare case you
experience a problem when connecting with the PC, you may want to change this to 2400bps slower
speed. However, this is not recommended as the connection will go really slow, so do this only if
there is a good reason to. The port speed in the RF Explorer and PC Client settings must match to
properly establish a connection.
IE! FFIE'JUEHEH’ SHEEP Start: 1:1BBHBBBm2 StnPi 1EEBBHBBEHE Power: -31.?dBm HFHR:0FF LEUEL=E Press {ENTER} tn enable HF iner FHEDUEHEV SHEEP Start: 1E1BBHBBBHE Stop: 1EEBBHBBBHE Power: -32.1dBm HFHH=DFF LEUEL=E FIF F'EILIEFI IIIH
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 26
Frequency Sweep mode
The RF Explorer Signal Generator Frequency Sweep mode allows iterative hops over Start Frequency and
Stop Frequency defined by a Step Frequency and a Step delay.
Signal Generator RFE6GEN baseline model offers power levels limited to 8 values, whereas Combo model
offers advanced power selection with 0.25dB resolution, as described in Power Menu (Combo model)
section. Power screens below are depicted for RFE6GEN baseline model but are equivalent for Combo
model.
To start the Frequency Sweep, press ENTER key. The Sweep will be active until ENTER is pressed again.
In above example, Frequency Start is 1,100.000MHz and Frequency Stop is 1,200.000MHz. The nominal
power level is -31.7dBm with High Power:OFF and Level:2. Using UP and DOWN button will change power
level one step at a time.
The Frequency Step and Step delay used for the sweep is defined in the FREQUENCY MENU.
FHEDUEHEV HEHU _gu firqu 3?E?. 323 a? 'Feq; Stop Freq: 1233. BBB Step Delay: 31. BBB
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 27
FM modulation
RF Explorer Signal Generator RFE6GEN does not directly create FM or AM modulation signals, but can be
easily used to produce low rate modulation including SINAD signals using Frequency Sweep.
For a FM modulation of 1 KHz tone typically used for SINAD, proceed as follows:
Select the Start Frequency the value you need (e.g. 2.000000GHz)
Select the Stop Frequency the FM deviation you need. For instance, for a 5KHz deviation, set exactly
5KHz above (e.g. 2.000005Ghz)
Select the Frequency Step same value as FM deviation (e.g. 5KHz)
Select the Step Delay. For a 1KHz tone, you need 1ms delay, therefore define Step Delay:00.001
Select RF power you need and start transmission using Frequency Sweep operational mode.
With this technique the highest rate tone generated is 1 KHz (which correspond to 1ms step delay). With a
2ms step delay, frequency tone is 500Hz, etc.
HHPLITUDE SHEEP 3E?E?flfiflfifi Start Pwr=-28.1dEm Stop Pwr=-2.1dEm Press {ENTER} to enable HF PDHEF HHPLITUDE SHEEP 3E?E?HEEEE Start Pwr=-28.1dEm Stop Pur=-2.1dEm HF PDHEH DH
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 28
Amplitude Sweep Mode
The RF Explorer Signal Generator Amplitude Sweep allows iterative amplitude change at CW frequency using
Step delay.
Signal Generator RFE6GEN baseline model offers power levels limited to 8 values, whereas Combo model
offers advanced power selection with 0.25dB resolution, as described in Power Menu (Combo model)
section. Power screens below are depicted for RFE6GEN baseline model but are equivalent for Combo
model.
To start the Amplitude Sweep, press ENTER key. The Sweep will be active until ENTER is pressed again.
Using LEFT and RIGHT buttons the frequency can be decremented/incremented manually, as well as using
the Frequency Menu where Step Delay is also configurable.
In above example, amplitude will sweep from -28.1dBm to -2.1dBm at 3,767,020KHz. The amplitude steps
used for the sweep is determined for the many power levels between Start/Stop levels, in this case 7 steps
total. The number of power levels are displayed in the POWER MENU.
PDHEH MEHU ar' DWE'F- — I'I'I StDP Pawer:-2.1dBm Power Step5: ?
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 29
mum Lasi (am RF Explorer SNA tracking-150mm wide mm Fist Wmehand yesponse Ior BPF 1675MH1 m mu m; «— 1600 Frequency (MN
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 30
Tracking with Scalar Network Analyzer
An advanced functionality available when combining RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer and RF Explorer Signal
Generator is to enable Tracking SNA (Scalar Network Analyzer) to efficiently characterize RF devices and
circuits such as Filters and Amplifiers.
Both models RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo and RFE6GEN baseline model can be used to perform
tracking, but the Combo model can cover lower frequency range starting at 100KHz which makes it an
extremely wideband device for a fraction of a bench lab tracking device.
To learn step by step Tracking SNA with RF Explorer please follow these online tutorials:
SNA Measuring RF Filter response link
This tutorial describes how to measure filters or amplifiers and explains how S21 parameter works
SNA Measuring Reflection - Return Loss link
This tutorial describes how to use a directional coupler to measure return loss and describe how S11
parameter works
m: Explorer SNA Tracking , Default Antenna snoMHx Return Lass may sue Frequency (Mal)
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 31
Measure Directivity of Directional Couplers link
This tutorial walks through different directional coupler options and how to select the best, cost
efficient one for the return loss measurement you need
Rev 000 dam KEYSIGHT 41 Muam m’ 149 05700 MHz M 1502200014112 456763 , M2: 49998000 MHz .1219 an 0015* 19999400 Mm .19 54 an 9111:: 99997000 MHz 714.70 on Am; 249 05400 MHz 719 34 as 51.20 2300000 MHz Stop 30090000 MHz fines aw 300 0 kHz vaw 300,0 KHz Swp (1001 ms)
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 32
Harmonics filtering
Harmonics are integer multiple frequencies of the main CW output frequency, and is a common sub-product
of RF circuits of all kinds. In some cases, the harmonics are intended useful output signal but, in most cases,
they are undesired and can cause intermodulation and false output reading in Spectrum Analyzers.
RF Explorer Signal Generator RFE6GEN baseline includes no internal harmonic filtering, and is intended for
use in Tracking SNA and other purposes where harmonics are not an issue. Specifically tracking uses an
iterative, computer control sweep where the harmonics are fully ignored and have no side effect, making
RFE6GEN the lower cost option to perform these tasks.
For more demanding uses where harmonics signals are not welcome, the RF Explorer Signal Generator
Combo model includes a sophisticated yet compact filter bank to significantly reduce the output power of
harmonic signals.
An example of the improvement offered by the Combo model is depicted below:
Example output
signal including
harmonics from a
25MHz CW signal in
RFE6GEN baseline
model.
Note odd value
harmonics 3rd, 5th,
7th, etc are in range
of -12 to -19dBc
These signals are not
an issue when using
Tracking SNA but
may be undesired in
other scenarios.
As comparison the output signal from the new filtered Combo model is depicted below.
Note with the new Combo model only 3rd harmonic is measurable, and attenuated to the range of -50dBc,
where other higher order harmonics are no longer above noise floor.
10.0 1234 4939 flBm 1:44:00 9 45457 03 M5=on M3: 49.998000 MHz 43.39 03 ”6:0! 5m 20.0mm MHz Stop 300.0000 MHz anew 1.000 MHz vaw1.oooMHz 5%! (1001 p05) a a; gamma»- "Mama."
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 33
Example
output signal
including
harmonics
from a 25MHz
CW signal in
Combo
filtered model
with
significant
improvement
over baseline
model.
When these results at 25MHz are translated to the time domain the difference between the squarish output
signal from the RFE6GEN baseline model (in blue below) and the sine from the Combo model (in red below)
are easily identified in a high-speed oscilloscope.
10.0 40"" dB! .30... 4o <50 m="" 1234="" '7‘)"="" a="" an="" keysig="" m1:="" 10000000="" m":="" -31.57="" dbm="" m4="Ofi" m2:="" 19907000="" m":="" .9904="" as="" nus-on="" .="" m3:="" 10005000="" mhz="" 40="" 50="" db="" "0-00="" sum="" 90.00000="" mhz="" smp3200000="" mhz="" tines="" bw300.0="" khz="" vnwzmomz="" swaom="" ms)="" 100="" db]="" 1234="" ~19="" 52="" dbm="" vbwsgm)="" e="" 314132070000="" mhz="" sw00!"="" p's)="">
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 34
An example at CW 100MHz shows dramatic reduction of 2nd and 3rd harmonics:
Image above: 100MHz 2nd (-40dBc) and 3rd (-10dBc) Harmonic using baseline RFE6GEN model
Image above: 100MHz 2nd and 3rd Harmonic using filtered Combo model.
Note output power level is actually 10dB higher than previous measurement
with RFE6GEN and still no harmonics are above noise floor
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 35
The power and frequency ranges below define the efficiency of the harmonic filtering implemented in the RF
Explorer Signal Generator Combo model.
These values are measured at reference output signal at -20dBm, measuring all harmonics order #2 - #10, as
this is representative of worst-case scenario.
RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo Harmonics filtering
Frequency range (MHz)
Best case (dBc)
Typical (dBc)
Worst case (dBc)
0.1 0.5
-42
-40
-20
0.5-250
-59
-57
-42
250-430
-53
-40
-22
430-630
-53
-45
-35
630-820
-39
-37
-22
820-1960
-50
-43
-34
1960-2500
-30
-26
-20
2500-4600
-50
-40
-27
4600-5200
-42
-33
-24
5200-6000
-46
-42
-37
Usually harmonics have better filtering at higher power levels up to +10dBm, and about the same response
on lower power levels. Higher signal levels beyond +10dBm may increase harmonics due to saturation of
internal power amplifiers.
m A h w My ‘1 n n‘ H "19..“11111111.)!“11111111111111.1111111111111111
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 36
Example of specific -30dBm harmonics measurement at 1GHz and 240MHz below.
MM 2 ' ‘ ’ w 1 m WWWmm,» M/WwwwwwW
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 37
Spurious and Phase Noise
RF Explorer Signal Generator Combo uses a low noise signal source and low noise independent voltage
regulators to provide a reduced phase noise output signal.
Below table shows typical values measured at -20dBm output power. These values can slightly increase or
decrease at different power levels.
CW Frequency
Phase Noise @ 1KHz
Phase Noise @ 100KHz
Phase Noise @ 1MHz
2MHz
-93 dBc/Hz
-105 dBc/Hz
-122 dBc/Hz
1GHz
-96 dBc/Hz
-108 dBc/Hz
-128 dBc/Hz
5.8GHz
-74 dBc/Hz
-90 dBc/Hz
-115 dBc/Hz
Spurious signals are created by the internal signal source at multiples of the frequency divider and, even
though they are filtered, some residues signals may display at 1GHz CW output signal.
Spur @ 16KHz
Spur @ 32KHz
Spur @ 4MHz
Spur @ 8MHz
-52 dBc
-72 dBc
-55 dBc
-68 dBc
Signal measured at 1GHz narrow
band displaying spurs at 16KHz and
32KHz.
Signal measured at 1GHz wideband
displaying spurs at 4MHz and 8MHz.
IM PORTANT QC@SeeedStudio.com
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 38
RF Explorer internal battery
The internal battery is a high capacity Lithium-ion polymer 1000mAh. This is the same battery technology
used in cell phones and modern laptops and tablet computers.
The power switch is a true hard switch connecting the battery in ON position, fully isolating the battery in
the OFF position. As the battery is fully disconnected in the OFF position, you can keep your RF Explorer
stored for months and the battery will keep the charge intact, as opposed to cell phones or laptops which
typically implement a soft switch which slowly discharge the battery by drawing a microampere continuously
from it. This doesn't happen in your RF Explorer.
We designed RF Explorer power circuitry in a way you can always have your RF Explorer ready to use!
Note there is actually a self-discharge effect in the battery but it is so negligible that you can store your
device for a year or more and a battery will not be depleted.
Charging the internal battery
To charge the internal battery, plug it in to a powered USB port or USB wall-wart charger via the USB mini
socket. For the internal charger to access the battery, you must set the power switch to ON position,
otherwise the device will be running from USB but will not use or charge the internal battery.
IMPORTANT
Never charge your device unattended or in any place where there is a risk of fire.
Never store RF Explorer in a place where temperature may go beyond 50ºC (122F).
A car can heat up incredibly quickly in the sun, especially in the summer, and
damage or reduce the lifetime of your battery if stored in such an environment.
If you manipulate RF Explorer to assemble an Expansion Module, always proceed
very carefully with the Lithium Ion battery and make sure it is not punctured,
damaged or inflated in any way. A healthy battery is a flat rectangle with no signs of
any deformation. If you have any doubt, please take a picture of your unit and send
it to us for further help.
If your battery doesn't seem to hold a charge or work properly, or if the unit gets
hot when charging, switch the power button OFF immediately and review and/or
replace your battery.
Never use RF Explorer with a damaged battery or with a Lithium Ion battery
different than the one officially supplied by technical service, which includes a
protection circuit for safety. Contact QC@SeeedStudio.com if you have any
question on any matter related with your battery or if you need a replacement.
DPEHHTIDHHL NUDE Spectrum Hnalazer HiFi Hnalyzer HF Connections W IHTEHHHL BHTTEHV DISEDHHEETED Connect to USB and set For Switch to UN for battery to charge
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 39
RF Explorer may draw up to 500mA according to USB standard, and may take up to 3hs max to charge a fully
discharged battery in normal conditions. We recommend the first time to be charged for up to 8hs.
It is ok having the battery connected forever to the USB port, the internal charger will stop and start the
charge when needed.
If your USB port is unpowered it may not be capable of delivering more than 100mA; the battery may not be
charged at all. If you have no other option available than a 100mA USB port, set the LCD backlight to OFF in
the OPTIONS MENU and keep charging for as long as needed (it may take up to 24hs in these conditions so
you should use a powered USB port whenever possible).
Using the Battery dedicated screen
In latest firmware versions, you can use the specific Battery menu option for better battery charge control.
Note: As long as the USB is connected and the power switch is in the ON position, the battery will charge.
However, you can get additional information when using the Battery specific menu.
Inside this INTERNAL BATTERY charger screen, it is easier to realize if the battery is being charged. In this
case below, it clearly indicates the power switch is not in the ON position and, therefore, battery is not being
charged.
As soon as the power switch is set to the correct position, the screen will display correct charging status.
IHTEHHHL SHTTEHV BHTTEHV LEUEL=?SH SHFIFIS I HS IHTEHHHL SHTTEH? SHTTEH? LEUEL:SSH SHFIFIS I HS SLEEP NUDE IHTEHHHL SHTTEH? SHTTER? LEUEL:SSH DISCDHHEET USS SLEEP NUDE Calibrating the battery cagacity
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 40
At this point you can close this screen pressing ENTER or RETURN. If you keep it active for more than 15
seconds, it automatically sets the device in SLEEP MODE - all internal circuits and LCD backlight go off, except
for charging and minimal CPU monitoring - This is the recommended procedure to charge the device
overnight. Note: for the sake of clarity, below black/white screen images are depicted when LCD backlight is
OFF.
In this mode you can stop charging whenever the device reaches 99% or 100%, which may take up to 2 or 3
hours under normal condition and depending on initial battery charge level. When the charging algorithm
detects the battery fully charged and a minimum of 2hs connected, it will suggest disconnecting the USB
cable.
Calibrating the battery capacity
The INTERNAL BATTERY screen, at this point, can re-calibrate the available battery power level. This is a
useful feature to adjust what reference voltage the internal charger considers 100% capacity. This reference
is subject to change over time as the internal battery reduces total capacity over many charge cycles. As a
reference, 500 charge cycles will typically reduce the total battery capacity about 30% - in order for this new
IHTEHHHL EHTTEHV EFIL I EHHT I HE SLEEP NUDE
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 41
capacity to be consistent with the battery icon on screen, you can easily recalibrate after the charge process
completed.
In the previous example screen, if the battery charge remains at 99% (or any other level) after the internal
charger timer completes 3hs charge process, it will keep asking to DISCONNECT USB.
By doing so, the firmware adjusts for a few seconds the new charge level and save in internal ROM for future
use.
After the device recalibrates the internal battery charge reference level, it will automatically restart and you
should see the Battery icon (on Spectrum Analyzer screen) showing full charge.
Charging a fully depleted battery
The firmware includes a protection mechanism to shutdown everything if the battery goes too low, in the
range of 3.3V or less. However, this state will still keep drawing about 1mA from the battery. If you keep the
power switch to ON forever the battery will be depleted but limited to a safe 3V level where battery
protection circuitry will reduce the leakage to about 50uA.
In any case, the internal battery charger will take care of the battery conditions once it gets powered back
from the USB and will charge the battery using an internal efficient algorithm. For that to work properly
when the battery was fully depleted, you should use the Battery menu option as described.
Automatic idle mode with battery charge
As described in previous section, you should enable the Battery screen and keep it charging for the device to
automatically set internal circuits to Sleep for overnight charge.
Note: A more limited, equivalent functionality was available in old firmware versions prior to v1.16 in the
About screen, it has now moved to the new Battery screen. The About screen no longer sets the device to
sleep.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 42
Expansion Modules
RF Explorer Signal Generator includes an internal expansion port to enhance the RF power capabilities and
frequency coverage of the main unit with RF Explorer Signal Generator compatible Expansion Modules.
Note: Spectrum Analyzer modules cannot be connected to the Signal Generator, they are incompatibles and
have a changed gender connector to avoid any change of connecting incompatible modules.
RF Explorer Signal Generator Expansion is an advanced expansion board. It can be used to easily extend RF
Explorer RFE6GEN Signal Generator baseline model into a Combo model.
For more details and assembly information please visit link below.
www.rf-explorer.com/expansion
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 43
Protecting your instrument from damage
Please protect the RF port from static discharge. This is ESD
1
sensitive device.
The RF output port is DC decoupled and can sustain up to 25V DC external voltage.
1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrostatic_sensitive_device
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 44
RF Explorer Holder
This is a great accessory for the RF Explorer Signal
Generator, a high-quality stand / holder for the desk while
USB cable is connected.
The holder is made of robust laser cut blue acrylic and has
provisioned room for a USB cable to connect to a PC.
The USB cable can be connected from behind the holder or
any of the two lateral large holes on each side. They're
even large enough for bulky USB cables with ferrite beads.
A pre-drilled support bracket at the bottom allows for
optionally securing the stand onto a bench for permanent
position.
Feature
Sturdy 3mm acrylic body
Color: blue and silver
Secure support for your RF Explorer Signal Generator for working on the bench
Nice and practical design
Comes flat-packed, assembly required.
mbu
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 45
RF Explorer accessories
RF Explorer uses standard SMA quality connectors.
By using adapters, you can connect RF Explorer to any RF device or antenna. You can buy SMA adapters and
devices on any RF shop, but sometimes is difficult to find what you need and have the certainty the
connector you are ordering is the right one. Therefore, we have included a selection of quality connectors,
adapters and RF devices that are fully compatible with RF Explorer. You can order them from SeeedStudio as
well as many of the RF Explorer distributors.
SMA-BNC adapter SMA Plug to BNC Jack straight
Usually HAM and two-way handheld radio antennas and devices
are designed for BNC connectors. This BNC-female to SMA-male
connector will easily interface your RF Explorer to any other BNC
antenna or cable.
SMA-N adapter SMA Plug to N Jack straight
Laboratory grade RF bench size instruments use N connector size
cables in most cases. This N-female to SMA-male connector will
easily interface your RF Explorer to any other bench size
instrument or cable.
www.rf-explorer.com/buy
WikiQedia for more details
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 46
RF Adapter RP-SMA Jack to SMA Plug straight-long version
Some WiFi antennas and cables are designed for RP-SMA (reverse
polarity SMA) and cannot be connected to a standard SMA plug.
RP-SMA is a variation of the SMA connector specification which
reverses the gender of the interface.
The reason for that was a decision made by FCC in order to prevent
end-users from manipulating certified WiFi devices at home, using
other available SMA antennas. That led to SMA and RP-SMA
devices not being able to connect without an adapter, check Wikipedia for more details
2
.
If you want to use some standard WiFi antennas you may need this adapter in order to interface them with
RF Explorer. By plugin in this adapter your RF Explorer will be able to connect with any RP-SMA antenna,
cable or device.
SMA adapter SMA Plug to SMA Jack right angle
This RF connector is ideal to use RF Explorer deployed horizontally, with any antenna connected onto it.
For instance, when you are on the road and you don't have a RF Explorer Stand, you can still easily fit the
USB cable, the antenna and connect to a computer with easy.
It is also useful to create a more reliable ground-effect for a dipole antenna if RF Explorer is over a metallic
structure such as a car.
2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RP-SMA#Reverse_polarity_SMA
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 47
SMA connection cables
RF cables are an important tool required to directly connect your Spectrum Analyzer to another device (such
as a RF transmitter or an antenna) or with a Signal Generator for tracking.
Cables add attenuation to your measurement and, if not correctly connected or if the cable is low quality, it
may largely invalidate any measurement. If you use a large cable with known attenuation at a certain
frequency, you can compensate that attenuation in the OffsetDB parameter in the CONFIG MENU of the RF
Explorer device.
Different cables have different purposes. For frequencies up to 2.4GHz, we recommend flexible RG-316
cables, whereas higher quality and shorter lengths are suggested for frequencies up to 6GHz, where semi
rigid RG402 is recommended.
10cm length - SMA male to SMA female 6GHz coaxial cable
This SMA male to female is a quality cable able to handle
6GHz with very low attenuation. It is the perfect cable to
connect the RF Explorer Signal Generator to a device, or to
work as a tracking generator.
The semi-rigid nature of the cable allows for stable
measurement independently of the position and helps on
adding mechanical robustness when using RF Explorer
Signal Generator with RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer as
Tracking Generator. You will typically need two of these
cables to connect the Tracking Generator to a device (with
two SMA male connectors) or use an equivalent Male to Male version for a device with different SMA
gender connectors.
10cm length - SMA male to SMA male 6GHz coaxial cable
This SMA male to male is a quality cable able to handle
6GHz with very low attenuation. It is the perfect cable to
connect the RF Explorer Signal Generator to a device, or
to work as a tracking generator.
The semi-rigid nature of the cable allows for stable
measurement independently of the position and helps
on adding mechanical robustness when using RF
Explorer Signal Generator with RF Explorer Spectrum
Analyzer as Tracking Generator. You will typically need
two of these cables to connect the Tracking Generator
to a device (with two SMA female connectors) or use an
equivalent Male to Female version for a device with different SMA gender connectors.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 48
50cm length - SMA male to SMA female RF pigtail Coaxial Cable RG316
RF cables are required when connecting RF Explorer to other
instruments or devices.
This 50cm cable is good for any frequency up to 3GHz, and can fit
RF Explorer with any external SMA-male device or antenna.
If you need extra length for your connection, you can easily daisy
chain two or more of these cables in series.
50cm length - SMA male to SMA male plug pigtail cable RG316
RF cables are required when connecting RF Explorer to other
instruments or devices.
This 50cm cable is good for any frequency up to 3GHz, and can fit RF
Explorer with any external SMA-female device or antenna.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 49
Attenuators
SMA attenuators are used to reduce the input power, and therefore enable RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer
to measure stronger signals, or in a Signal Generator to accurately reduce the output power. It is also used
to protect the input SMA port of RF Explorer when unknown strong signals may be in the environment, so
you can use this attenuator on demand. You can easily unplug the attenuator when measurement is for
weak signals.
You can also combine multiple attenuators to get additional values. For instance, 10 dB + 30dB attenuators
connected in series will give you 40dB total attenuation.
RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer firmware includes an “Offset DB” feature in the Attenuator Menu, you should
specify +0XX dB (where XX is the attenuation value, e.g. 30dB) in this setting when the attenuator is
connected in order to get correct readings on screen.
Attenuators recommended by us are high precision mechanical and electrical, working reliably up to 6GHz
and supporting continuous input power of up to 2Watt (33dBm). We do not recommend low quality or
second-hand attenuators as they may alter amplitude readings and, in worse case low quality SMA
mechanical connectors, even damage your analyzer RF SMA ports.
Based on total input power you may need to measure, we recommend the following attenuator values to be
added to RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer input port:
Measurable input range
Recommended external attenuator
Lower than -30dBm / 1 micro Watt
No need
-30 to 0dBm / 1 microwatt to 1 milliwatt
30dB
-30 to 10dBm / 1 microwatt to 10 milliwatt
40dB
0 to 33dBm / 1 milliwatt to 2 Watt
60dB
6GHz SMA Attenuator 60dB
This robust attenuator is custom made, high quality exceptional
value 60dB total attenuation. You will not find attenuators of this
range anywhere else in the market, the only other option is to
daisy chain two 30dB attenuators together.
Therefore, this unit is cost effective option to measure high
power RF signals. A 60dB attenuation enables any RF Explorer
unit to measure signals of up to 2Watt (33dBm) power without
distortion with a single attenuator, as opposed to connecting
multiple attenuators in daisy chain.
This precision attenuator can measure up to 6GHz frequency range with high amplitude accuracy. Use
OffsetDB: +060 when connected to this attenuator.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 50
6GHz SMA Attenuator - 10dB
This precision attenuator can measure up to 6GHz frequency range
with high amplitude accuracy.
Use OffsetDB: +010 when connected to this attenuator.
6GHz SMA Attenuator - 30dB
This precision attenuator can measure up to 6GHz frequency range
with high amplitude accuracy.
Use OffsetDB: +030 when connected to this attenuator.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 51
SMA Male/Female Adaptor
All RF connectors wear with use. The RF Explorer SMA ports are subject
to minimal wear each time the connector interface is coupled and de-
coupled with an antenna, a SMA Cable, an attenuator or a RF device of
any kind.
If you repeat plug/unplug operations over the RF Explorer SMA port
hundreds of times, the SMA port may underperform over time and
exhibit undesired attenuation.
To protect the SMA port for frequent plug/unplug operations, you can use this adaptor and keep it directly
attached to the RF Explorer port. Then you plug/unplug other RF devices into this adaptor, not the original
SMA port. After hundreds of operations, if the adaptor wear and show attenuation or reliability problems,
you can just replace it by a new one and always keep your original RF Explorer SMA port intact.
SMA Termination 50 ohm dummy load
Using SMA termination or Dummy Load is suggested for protection of
the SMA port of your RF Explorer when the device is exposed to
unwanted high radiation or strong electronic fields.
For instance, if you carry on your RF Explorer that is exposed to an X-Ray
scanner in the airport, you should remove the SMA antenna and plug a
protection 50 ohm SMA termination.
SMA termination are also required when using Signal Generator while not connected to an antenna; in this
way the generator sees a correct load to avoid damage.
www.drexgloremomlsoftware www‘r'fiexgloremomlAPl .NET Pflhon GITHUB hacker corner link
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 52
Connecting RF Explorer to a computer
RF Explorer device can be connected to a computer (Windows, Linux, Mac and Android) for additional
capabilities, including higher resolution screen, additional features and programmability.
For free, open source RF Explorer for Windows tool, please check this link: www.rf-explorer.com/windows
For additional software options developed by a growing list of 3rd party companies, please check this link:
www.rf-explorer.com/software
API programming specification for RF Explorer
RF Explorer offers a compact, easy to use, USB / RS232 programming interface. It can be used to automate
external solutions when connected to an external computer or device.
For full specification of the current API, check www.rf-explorer.com/API .
There are .NET and Python libraries available in GITHUB repository, ideal for custom work required by your
application.
RF Explorer for Windows open source code
RF Explorer is a hacker friendly device. Full open source under LPGL license is offered to the community.
As hackers ourselves, we do like customizing, tinkering and expanding gadgets. We certainly designed and
built RF Explorer with these factors in mind.
We love and make good use all community contributions, contact us or send us a PULL request if you have
source code contributions you want integrated in the final product.
Check our hacker corner link for more details.
RF Explorer Signal Generator User Manual page 53
Specifications
For a complete list of features and RF Explorer Signal Generator models, expansion boards available, and
accessories please check the RF Explorer Model Map online.
Acknowledgments
This product could not be possible without the SeeedStudio Team who manufacture, test and distribute RF
Explorer worldwide.
RF Explorer is a reality thanks to the great community behind, always suggesting features and providing
useful feedback.
FCC and CE regulations
RF Explorer is a Test and Measurement device, and therefore compatible with US FCC regulation 47 CFR Part
15.103(c).
RF Explorer is certified for CE compliance under regulations EN/IEC61236 and EN/IEC61000.
License
RF Explorer embedded firmware is copyrighted © by RF Explorer Technologies, 2010-2019
RF Explorer for Windows is Open Source software released under GPL v3, so you are free to modify,
distribute and use it based on GPL terms.
RF Explorer is a registered trademark in USA, Australia, China, Japan, Canada and all EU Countries.
www.rf-explorer.com/models