For RF designers looking to record, play back, and analyze wide-bandwidth signals, Aeroflex’s Cupertino division has an answer in the form of its CS9000 broadband signal system. In the CS9000 system, Aeroflex has built the record and playback channels in modular, standalone form. You can hitch up as many as 18 channels of record and/or playback, all connected via the PCI Express bus to a remote controller.
What you end up with is a system that can simultaneously generate, monitor, analyze, and record long samples of complex signals and signal environments. It’ll give you instantaneous RF bandwidths of 60 and 400 MHz with burst rates up to half a million bursts per second. Record and playback channel bandwidths are 72 MHz for use with communication systems, like software-defined radio, or 472 MHz for radar and satellite applications. A maximum memory capacity of up to 32 Gbytes means that at 72 MHz, you’ll have 40 seconds of recording time. If that’s not enough, you can digitally down-convert the signal and extend your recording time to hundreds of seconds.
Within the system, the text editor (TED) board (see the figure) acts as a “motherboard” with modular connections to “daughter cards” to create the personality of a channel. Because the system is modular, the personality of a channel can be changed. For example, by replacing the analog-to-digital conversion card to a digital-to-analog card, the system would have output capability instead of receive capability; this would also require the RF module to be swapped out for an RF-out module. Then the firmware is reprogrammed to finalize the system configuration. RF input and output modules are offered in 6-GHz and 18-GHz versions.
The system comes in a rack-mount configuration for use in the lab. A mobile suitcase version targets on-the-go operation. Aeroflex also has all the software you’ll need for the CS9000, including its Signal Safari analysis suite for time domain, frequency domain, and modulation analysis. This software can show you your signals not only as snapshots, but also what happens to them over time. That’s where you’ll really learn how various parameters couple with each other in subtle ways that can affect overall system performance. You can also generate realistic and complex signals and signal environments, adding real-world signal glitches such as thermal or phase noise, interference, and lots more.
All this will cost you at least $100,000. But if you really need to shake out an RF system for applications like radar, electronic warfare, military or aerospace, or electromagnetic interference (EMI) or electromagnetic energy (EME) analysis, the CS9000 just might be a valuable tool to have on hand.