Editor’s note: This question was asked in response to Interference Technology’s recent webinar by Keith Armstrong. To view the webinar, click here.
Question: Do you have any suggestions for a good low cost/used spectrum analyzer for pre-compliance testing?
Answer: Firstly, there is no definition of the term “pre-compliance testing” – so it is impossible to say what spectrum analyzer will be adequate. In my experience, ‘pre-compliance testing’ can mean:
a) EMC testing as thoroughly as a full test in an accredited laboratory, but without the laboratory accreditation
b) Saving time by cutting a few corners (e.g. radiated immunity testing with half the frequency steps but double the test level) whether the laboratory is accredited or not
c) Using alternative test methods (e.g. GTEM or Stirred-Mode Chamber instead of an open-area test site, or OATS)
d) Using medium-cost non-CISPR-compliant EMC test gear in a medium-cost non-CISPR-compliant EMC test facility
e) Using cheap and cheerful test gear, perhaps including home-made probes and instruments, to quickly get an idea of the likely compliance
However, there are many low-cost spectrum analyzers that can be used in the situations d) and e) in the above list, that can save a ton of money and a ton of time.
Every electronic hardware engineer now needs to have a spectrum analyzer of some sort, which covers the frequency ranges he or she has to design for, on his or her test bench – just like they need an oscilloscope, multimeter, personal computer and logic analyzer.
The good news is there are now many very useful spectrum analyzers available that cost so little that they can easily be provided to everyone.
Here are some examples of low-cost spectrum analyzers I am aware of, but please be aware this is not a complete list and there are probably many more I’m not aware of:
Thurlby-Thandar model PSA1302 (150kHz – 1.3GHz) and PSA 2702 (1MHz – 2.7GHz).
I think both of them are under US$1,500. I’ve been using the older version of the PSA1302 for nearly 10 years now, and it has helped me to solve numerous EMC problems.
Visit http://www.tti-test.com/go/psa/index.htm, or http://pt.farnell.com/aim-tti-instruments/psa1302usc/analyzer-spectrum-1-3mhz-to-1-3ghz/dp/2291498#similarProducts
Aaronia Spectran HF series
Rigol model DSA815 (costs under US$5,000) and other models.
The DSA 815 includes Quasi-Peak and Average detectors, which most low-cost spectrum analyzers do not have. Visit http://www.rigolna.com/products/spectrum-analyzers/
BK Precision, model BK2650A (50kHz to 3.3GHz). Tracking generator and 8.5GHz options available.
Agilent E4400B series (9kHz to 1.5GHz up to 26.5GHz) are excellent colour-LCD screen portable spectrum analyzers (which might not be too expensive to buy new, for some people). They have been around for 20 years or so and there are many second-hand ones are available for reasonable prices. Their Quasi-Peak and Average detectors are almost fully CISPR-compliant. Tracking generators are optional extras. I love these machines! They don’t have USB or Ethernet, but I just photograph their screens with a digital camera – which is generally quicker anyway.
Try, for example: http://savings.tm.agilent.com/index.cgi?ALIAS=spectrum_analyzers&User:LANGUAGE=en
Hewlett-Packard HP 8590 series. Good old “green screen” workhorses, many thousands available second-hand – often with the complete conducted and radiated emissions test kits they were often sold with (just add an open-area test site, an OATS!).
Try, for example: http://www.testequipmentdepot.com/usedequipment/hewlettpackard/spectrumanalyzers/8590de.htm#oi
Various Anritsu models available second-hand.
e.g. from http://www.anritsu.com/en-US/Buy/Used-Test-Equipment.aspx
Laplace Instruments manufacture a wide range of emissions and immunity test equipment, including spectrum analyzers, specifically for pre-compliance testing.