Industrial Electronics

RF Drive Test Kit captures multiple wireless bands in mobile wireless testing

02 June 2020

Saelig Company Inc. has unveiled the ThinkRF radio frequency (RF) Drive Test System as a complete drive testing solution with one single piece of equipment, providing spectrum capturing, technology analysis and I/Q storage. The RF Drive Test System incorporates a ThinkRF R5750 real-time spectrum analyzer with a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) plus optional D4000 RF downconverter/tuner for performance up to 40 GHz, CelPlan CellWireless software, a laptop PC and a matched antenna with an optional carrying case.

CelPlan CellWireless software captures and stores a multiband IQ spectrum, so processing and analysis can be done in real-time or recorded for later analysis. The software provides unprecedented detail, resolution and visualization capabilities with support for various standards including 4G, 5G, LTE and Citizens BroadcastSource: Saelig Company Inc.Source: Saelig Company Inc. Radio Service (CBRS).

The RF Drive Test System delivers a complete mobile testing solution to drastically reduce the time and cost required for drive-by testing by capturing multiple bands and technologies in a single drive test. Unlike traditional RF drive test solutions and scanning receivers that are limited to a few specific bands, ThinkRF Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers collect and process a multiband spectrum from 9 kHz to 40 GHz at up to 500 MHz real-time bandwidth. Users can simultaneously monitor and record the band of interest as well as the surrounding spectrum for accurate performance prediction, or playback and post-processing. The ThinkRF R5750 Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer with GNSS includes embedded GPS data for time and location of measurements. The ability for analysis of geo-referenced digitized signal (I/Q) after the drive test is completed can greatly increase operational efficiency. With the one-time hardware investment of the 40 GHz CellWireless system, no future hardware upgrades will be required to test different bands.

To assess coverage, calibrate propagation models, evaluate network performance and identify and mitigate RF interference, operators have to conduct regular mobile drive tests. With traditional equipment, each test is only able to cover a single band or technology, such as GSM, LTE and 5G. Operators must purchase new hardware or pay further software licensing fees to measure additional bands on future tests. These hardware limitations make drive tests expensive, time consuming and inefficient. The complexity of the RF spectrum environment continues to increase as new standards, technologies and bands are made available for commercial use. Telecommunication companies and mobile operators use multiple bands and technologies in their network, and a single operator may use a mix of 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, CBRS and 5G technologies spread across various frequencies.

But the cost-effective and portable RF Drive Test System allows users to use one hardware and software solution for both spectrum analysis and wireless technology scanning. Multiband support allows the simultaneous monitoring of a band of interest and the surrounding spectrum. When equipped with directional antennas, users can detect and locate sources of disruptive RF interference, while recording and playback capabilities allow users to conduct in-depth analysis after the test is complete.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com


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