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Alan Wolke's blog


Spectrograms show spectral activity over time with amplitude indicated by color
Spectrogram Types: The Many Faces of the Spectrogram Tuesday, November 15, 2022
What is a Spectrogram A spectrogram is a graphic that shows the viewer how the frequency domain content (spectral content) of a signal or signals is changing or progressing over time. It consists of a collection of spectrum traces that are collected/processed over time and stacked next to each other, much like slices of bread in a loaf. While each individual spectrum trace would be on the “butter …
Engineering using the Tektronix 3 Series MDO touchscreen oscilloscope
How to Get the Most Out of Your Oscilloscope Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Oscilloscope Setup There are two ways to set up modern oscilloscopes. One is using the Autoset button, which will automatically set up your oscilloscope at just the press of a button. However, it provides no understanding of how to optimize each setting on the scope. The other way is to use the Default Setup option on the front panel, which helps you begin setting up at a known starting point …
The Time Overview Window is useful for setting the RF power trigger, particularly when the acquisition bandwidth is set to 40 MHz.
RF Power Triggering on Tektronix USB-RSAs Friday, January 15, 2021
All Tektronix Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers can be triggered based on a RF power threshold to help acquire specific signal bursts into memory for analysis. The family of USB-based RSAs include this capability. This blog will review some of the details of the RF Power trigger characteristics and settings to help you most effectively apply triggering to your application. This applies to the RSA306B …
Captured RF Signal Playback on the TSG4100A Using the AFG31000 Thursday, April 23, 2020
Introduction: Radio Frequency (RF) signals are used widely in today’s world. RF transmitters have become so pervasive that they can be found in almost any location imaginable: consumer electronics in homes, medical devices in hospitals, industrial control systems in factories, and even tracking devices implanted underneath the skin of livestock, pets, and people. This presents a challenge with RF …
How to Use Fast Frame on a Realtime Spectrum Analyzer Thursday, March 5, 2020
Fast Frame is a segmented memory acquisition mode designed to save memory when acquiring a large number of low duty cycle events. It is available on RSA5000, RSA6000 and RSA7000 Series realtime spectrum analyzers. A common application is with RADAR signals. RADAR signals are typically very low duty cycle – often 1% duty cycle or less. When acquiring a large number of consecutive pulses for …
MDO4000 Frequency vs. Time Trace Tips Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The MDO4000 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope is a unique and powerful multi-domain instrument that can not only capture and measure analog and digital signals vs. time, but can also do the same with RF signals.  Not only can it show you the RF spectral changes vs. time and vs. the analog and digital signals, it can also show several RF vs. Time traces.  Specifically, it can compute and display RF …
Real-Time, Acquisition and Measurement Bandwidth Friday, April 14, 2017
When talking about Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers, the concept of bandwidth can take on many forms.  This short article addresses the various bandwidth terms and concepts, and what each of these mean in your RSA.   Real Time Bandwidth: This generally refers to the maximum capture bandwidth of the RSA. In other words, this is the widest bandwidth over which the RSA can capture/record signals over …
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Keeping your Tektronix & Keithley equipment up to date Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Nearly all modern benchtop test and measurement equipment includes firmware or software that controls the operation, features and user interface.  This firmware will typically be updated a few times per year to add features, functionality, and to fix the occasional bug or two.  The firmware is typically available for download, free of charge, on www.tek.com.  You can choose to visit the website …
Spectrum Trace Processing in an RSA Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A real-time spectrum analyzer (RSA) offers a lot of different measurement capabilities, including modulation and time domain analysis, pulse analysis and live real-time spectrum analysis.  First and foremost though, it is a spectrum analyzer. There are differences in the way that an RSA generates spectrum results compared to a conventional swept spectrum analyzer.  This note describes the spectrum …
Calculating RF Power from IQ Samples Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Vector signal analyzers like Tektronix real-time spectrum analyzers operate by converting the incoming RF signal into quadrature baseband (IQ) samples vs. time.  All of the measurements and results that can be displayed, from simple spectrum measurements to complex modulation analysis, are computed from these IQ samples. One common calculation that is performed on the IQ data is to determine the …