About 15 months ago, Agilent’s N9912A FieldFox RF vector network analyzer broke new ground for the portable category (see the video). Now the test giant is following up with its N9923A FieldFox analyzer (see the figure). This version shares the same packaging and form factor (weight: 6 lb) as its predecessor but improves upon its performance in some important ways.
Whereas the earlier N9912A incorporated ancillary capabilities including spectrum and interference analysis, the N9923A is more squarely intended as a vector network analyzer (see the video). This is borne out in its specifications. The instrument sports a full 100 dB of dynamic range compared to the older version’s 80-dB range. It is also a full two-port instrument, enabling users to simultaneously measure and display all four S-parameters in multiple formats, including Smith chart, polar, and group delay.
Anyone who’s ever carried a vector network analyzer into the field knows that traditional calibration of these instruments can be a pain. An important feature of the N9923A is its QuickCal function. The instrument is fully self-calibrating without the need for an external calibration kit and without mechanical standards. A QuickCal calibration run takes just seconds and is an easy way to eliminate a source of potential measurement errors.
Field instruments often suffer from a high degree of drift over temperature. This tendency won’t make itself felt in temperature-controlled indoor environments but rather in a true outdoor field setting. According to Agilent, the N9923A is the industry’s most stable instrument of its kind with a stability specification of 0.01 dB/°C.
Other key specifications include a frequency range of 2 MHz to either 4 GHz or 6 GHz and directivity of more than 42 dB. Trace noise is 0.01 dBmRMS. Internal storage is a minimum of 16 Mbytes (up to 1000 traces). The analyzer offers a micro-SD card slot and two USB 2.0 ports as well as one mini-USB port and a local-area network (LAN) connector. It meets MIL-PRF-28800F, Class 2 environmental specifications. And, its field-replaceable battery operating time is specified at 3.5 hours.
The N9923A FieldFox handheld RF vector network analyzer starts at $12,000. The average configuration will cost around $14,500.