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TEVET and Keysight are Bringing Flexible, Modular Switching to RF Testing

TEVET and Keysight are Bringing Flexible, Modular Switching to RF Testing

Designing an RF and microwave switching solution isn’t easy under the best circumstances. Custom switching in particular can be costly and exceedingly complex, not to mention unnecessary for a wide range of test applications that don’t require extensive signal conditioning or routing. Helping customers meet demanding performance requirements while also delivering on cost and utility is at the heart of TEVET’s mission, and Keysight’s L8990M Modular Switch Matrix helps us do that with flexibility, accessibility, and wide RF range for testing a variety of devices. The L8990M is an extension of Keysight’s proven switching, coupler, divider and programmable attenuator families and provides the performance the company is known for in a low-cost, expandible platform that supports up to 128 channels in 2U or 4U chassis configurations. Targeting applications from D.C. up to 67 GHz, the L8990M is designed specifically for engineers that need to create solutions - either as a standalone benchtop application or part of an automated test system - that are easy to set up while allowing for multiple module types in a single box.

 

Reconfigurable, Expandable Modular Switching

In today’s test landscape, staying ahead of trends and features is important for device manufacturers. This puts a premium on test systems that can adapt to changing requirements, and expandability is also one of the key benefits of this platform. Being able to expand the number of modules or introduce higher frequency modules is an important consideration, and the L8990M makes it possible to make these adjustments in the field. This level of convenience, coupled with the ability to swap modules directly on the front panel, makes this an ideal solution for reuse. When one program ends, the switch matrix can be adapted for another project.

 

An Answer to Cost-Prohibitive Custom Switching

The level of effort required to get a custom switching solution up and running isn’t the only barrier; sometimes you simply don’t need a high degree of complexity. But without creating a custom solution in-house or reverting to manual switching, there haven’t been a lot of solutions that strike the right balance of performance and simplicity. The Keysight platform stands out here, particularly in the number of slots available and the level of flexibility afforded to the user in administering that space. Supporting 2U or 4U rack-mountable enclosures with multiple switch types, couplers, dividers, and programmable attenuators, the L8990M offers users the flexibility to choose the types of modules, frequencies, and where they go. This emphasis on user-defined configuration is one of the stand-out features of this platform and offers an alternative to the limitations of custom switch matrices. Keysight has a unique, easy-to-use interface on the L8990M that allows users to reconfigure their modules, so if something needs to be added or customized, users have an avenue to make those adjustments quickly.

 

Maximize Your Investment

We mentioned the importance of reuse, which isn’t always a viable option with highly complex switch matrices. But extending the life cycle of test equipment is an increasingly important feature as programs are juggling the competing pressures of building long-term solutions and managing budget expectations. One of the challenges test organizations face is having the equipment they need when they need it. You might have the switches you need, but no controller. Or you might have the controller, but no SCPI command reference standard. The Keysight solution lends itself to on-the-fly configuration and makes it possible for test organizations to have equipment available for groups or projects to set-up quickly without having to wait to procure each component needed. The L8990M features automated and manual control based on the Keysight Smart Switch Controller with LAN, SCPI command set, and web-based GUI so it can be configured right there with minimal mechanical complexity.

Another unexpected benefit of automated switching was realized in 2020 when COVID-19 forced engineering teams to figure out how to perform their jobs remotely. In simpler times, a user would likely have an engineer available to route the signals as needed. But with nobody in the lab, automated switching makes it possible to connect and set up the tests, and route it to different instruments as needed from home.

 

Simplifying the Procurement Process

TEVET and Keysight together have a long track record of bringing customers the right solutions and this strengthens TEVET’s ability to provide complete solutions from a single OEM. Consolidating the purchase of each component needed from a network of different suppliers can burden procurement teams. More than an issue of convenience, reducing the number of vendors involved can dramatically cut costs as well. For more information about why this is important, check out our whitepaper, “The Value of Vendor Consolidation.”

Of course Keysight’s offerings extend to custom switching as well, with an emphasis on quality and low-loss, high repeatability. But now customers can choose the best route based on the level of customization required and can move forward without being saddled with extensive engineering requirements just to get up and running. For more information on the L8990M, for help with configuration and purchasing check out our Configuration Form here.