What is a cable antenna analyzer? | Blog

What is a cable antenna analyzer?

Posted 09/15/2022 by Bird Applications Engineer

What is a cable and antenna analyzer?

What does a cable and antenna analyzer do?

  • Assess the health of antenna and cable systems without the need for RF power 
  • Provides an operational baseline during antenna site commissioning 
  • Tests the overall integrity of the antenna system installation 
  • Verifies antenna system components meet manufacturer’s design specification 
  • Pinpoints the location of the antenna systems faults prior to usage

  • Who needs a cable and antenna analyzer?

    Anyone who is working on a cable and antenna RF system and needs to troubleshoot the common causes of Signal Reflections: Land Mobile Radio, Public Safety, Semiconductor, Wireless, Cellular and Broadcast, Military & Government, Medical, Aviation, Marine, Amateur Radio and Automotive.
    Utilized for commissioning, maintenance and fault-finding of ground-to-air radios, airborne radios, repeaters, antennas, antenna combiners and transmission cables. Locate opens, shorts, improper crimps, bends, moisture, loose connectors, and defective antenna elements that lead to weak or intermittent RF operations. Common causes include: 

    • Cable problems - Open, shorted, dented, kinked, crimped, deformed, bullet hole, over tightened ground kit, over tightened clamp, water intrusion, improper bend radius 
    • Connector problems - Poor quality, improperly installed, improper center pin depth, corroded, water intrusion 
    • Defective Antenna - Improperly mounted, UV damage, damage from icing, lightning damaged, wrong frequency range

    What are the key types of measurements?

    FDR (Frequency Domain Reflectometry) measurement method results in a highly reliable assessment of the health of critical components in your system; ultimately providing a “heads-up” before a failure occurs. An FDR tests and verifies the antennas and cables in your RF system individually, or as a complete system.

    VSWR is an abbreviation for Voltage Standing Wave Ratio and is a measurement of how well the components in a system match impedance. VSWR is expressed as a ratio without units.

    Return Loss is the ratio of the maximum forward power in a transmission line to the power reflected back to the source. It is the power produced by a transmitter that is reflected back to the transmitter that could result in damage to the transmitter and does not add to the carrier’s signal. Expressed in decibels, it is a measurement of how well systems components “match”.

    Insertion Loss is also known as cable loss and is the signal power lost within the feed line itself, including signal loss at joints, connectors, transitions, adapters, etc. Insertion loss takes place in one direction in a feed line and is the amount “lost” between the input end of a cable and the output connector of the same cable or system. Insertion loss is measured in dB.

    Distance to Fault (DTF) is a measurement of how far from the test point a fault occurs. Instead of “hand-over-hand” checking of the feed line up a tower, the device will give a distance to the problem.

    Watch our webinar: Cable & Antenna Measurement Basics