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The Need for Fully Configurable, Multi-Channel RF Analysis

Engineers and researchers whose work involves MIMO, phased array, and beam forming need a signal analysis tool that offers wide bandwidth and multi-channel capability. Oscilloscopes would seem to be a good choice – except many are either not designed to analyze RF signals or are limited to analyzing a single RF channel at a time.

But RF spectral and modulation analysis of multiple channels simultaneously is possible with Tektronix 5 and 6 Series B MSO oscilloscopes. The key to making it possible is the latest version of Tektronix' SignalVu-PC software.

The 6B Series MSO oscilloscope with SignalVu-PC software for multi-channel analysis.

Installed directly on the oscilloscopes’ optional Windows 10 drive, SignalVu-PC software offers advanced RF analysis on the instrument or offline.  In addition to 5 and 6 Series B oscilloscopes it also provides an interface for Tektronix RSA spectrum analyzers, and another version is available for use with Tektronix MSO/DPO70000 Series oscilloscopes.

Let’s look at an example of where that multi-channel RF analysis proves to be especially useful.

Example: Multi-Beam Radar System Analysis

Consider the need to analyze radar performance where the radar system involves multiple beams.   Modern AESA radars, for example, typically have multiple beams tracking or focusing on multiple targets simultaneously. The signal and its characteristics for each of these beams can be different. Evaluating overall system performance requires each beam to be analyzed for anything from basic spectrum to modulation or to advanced pulse analysis.

The 6 Series B MSO oscilloscope can have up to eight channels, and with SignalVu-PC software installed it can be configured with an independent span, RBW, and center frequency for each source. So, say you wanted to launch multiple spectral displays for multiple sources. Each source can be assigned to any oscilloscope channel – up to as many as eight channels – with the span and the RBW adjusted for each. The sources can also be either IQ or differential IQ. 

Multi-Beam ASEA Radar

Similarly, other RF displays like amplitude versus time and phase versus time can be launched for each source to get more signal insight. Markers can be used to correlate the results between any two channels. Moving the marker or setting the marker on one channel will move the marker on all other channels. This will help to determine useful parameters like amplitude and phase differences between channels easily.

Independent Signal Analysis Over Time

If signals are from two different beams, the signals may be independent and have different modulation and spectral properties, so the signals also need to be analyzed at different time slots on each channel. The time overview in SignalVu-PC software enables you to control the analysis time. The analysis time of different channels can be adjusted to analyze important segments of the acquisition on each channel independently.


Thanks to the high degree of integration between SignalVu-PC software and 5 or 6 Series B oscilloscopes you can make all the changes from the SignalVu-PC software alone.  Almost all the control and analysis features of the oscilloscope can be configured directly in the SignalVu-PC software, including the oscilloscope's trigger.

Simultaneous Pulse Analysis

The multi-channel capability includes pulse analysis on multiple channels simultaneously. The advanced pulse analysis package provides 31 individual measurements for use in automatically characterizing long pulse strains. Cumulative statistics provide timestamps for min/max values as well as peak-to-peak average and standard deviation or multiple acquisitions, further extending the analysis.

A Flexible, Multi-Channel Analysis Tool

SignalVu-PC Software Display for Four Channels.

A Tektronix 5 or 6 Series B MSO oscilloscope with SignalVu-PC software installed offers fully configurable RF controls like span, center frequency, and RBW on all channels together with independent analysis time on each channel and markers which can be correlated across channels. The resulting analysis tool can be easily configured to analyze any number of scenarios, whether multi-beam, as mentioned here, multi-channel, or multi-device-under-test.