Communications IndustryMobile device and chipset manufacturers are contending with increasing frequencies and data rates as they keep pace with evolving Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular technology to meet growing market demand. In North America alone, the smartphone market is growing 7.5% annually and will reach $99.6 billion by 2027 owing to increasing per capita disposable income, according to a forecast from

An effective test strategy for testing devices such as smartphones involves using RF and microwave switch matrices to connect expensive test instruments such as vector network analyzers (VNAs), RF signal generators, and spectrum analyzers to multiple test sites. Key issues include keeping signal paths through the matrices short and keeping all signal-path lengths matched within each matrix to ensure accuracy and repeatability. In addition, costs must be controlled by leveraging commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology to the largest extent possible.

VTI Instruments combines a full range of COTS products with the engineering expertise to customize a test solution to a customer’s exacting requirements. For example, VTI worked with one wireless handheld-device manufacturer who needed to perform tests on its handheld devices’ multiple radios operating at Bluetooth, GPS, and cellular frequency bands.

  • The company was using a homegrown switching system to connect VNAs and other instruments to devices under test. The company wanted to replace its homegrown system with a compact, cost-competitive solution that could be deployed across multiple manufacturing locations without its test engineers having to hand-wire the switches and related components themselves.
  • VTI provided a COTS EX71HD high-density microwave switching platform with four relays that the company could evaluate. With the evaluation successfully completed, VTI, to meet the customer’s size requirements, created custom enclosures, including one that is now the COTS EX7204, which can combine up to 16 SPDT or eight multiport, high-performance relays in a 2U footprint.

Another maker of innovative wireless solutions also required a custom microwave switching system for wireless handset test.

  • VTI delivered a microwave design based on its innovative EX7000 family of scalable microwave subsystems and incorporating the EX7204. Built on an open-architecture Ethernet/LXI platform, the EX7000 family simplifies the development of custom RF interface units (RFIU) with its common hardware platform and software communications interface. VTI’s custom design met the customer’s exacting requirements and can be supported as a COTS product going forward. Other advantages for the customer included VTI’s easy-to-use software-configuration tool and IVI drivers for the RFIU.

In addition to supporting test for wireless devices, VTI Instruments provides broadband interface solutions for a variety of broadband application areas, ranging from ground base stations to airborne radar. VTI stands ready to apply its decades of experience to minimize nonrecurring engineering time by leveraging COTS technology incorporating industry standards such as LXI.

VTI Instruments is the only high-performance test and measurement switching provider that offers microwave switching solutions in three different platforms: LXI for high-density, low-cost switching (including custom switching solutions); PXIe for operation in existing PXI test solutions; and VXI for existing large-scale switching solutions. All are designed for performance and value with complete driver and software support for a wide range of software environments including Windows, Linux, LabVIEW, and more.

For related information, visit the VTI Instruments’ Aerospace and Defense industry page as well as the industry pages of AMETEK Programmable Power.