Rolling out the Red Carpet for Test and Measurement

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



Football, pumpkin spice lattes, and back to school – it’s the September issue of Power Systems Design! By the time you read this, you may have heard our PSDcast on a rather unique 3D-printing application. Rapid prototyping is poised to revolutionize our industry, and with 3D-printed guns stealing headlines and medical applications paying the bills, Test and Measurement is suddenly the topic dujour.

Larry Sharp with Chroma Systems Solutions explores one facet of T&M with “A Quick Guide to Automotive DC-DC Converter Test.”

As Sharp mentions, DC-DC converters have a specific input voltage operating range, and to confirm the converters work across the entire range, “they are tested using a programmable DC power source to provide the input voltage and power.”

“To test the minimum input voltage turn-on level, the DC-DC converter is turned on using the nominal input voltage and applying the maximum rated output current using the electronic load. The input voltage is then decreased until the units output begins to drop or the minimum input voltage setting is met.”

Meanwhile, the Rohde & Schwarz trio of Dr. Georg Schnattinger, Michael Kaltenbach, and Marcel Thränhardt discusses a new sensor type that “combines the strong points of traditional RF power meters and measurement receivers.”

A frequency selective power meter merges the strengths of dedicated power meters – higher accuracy, lower purchasing cost and more compact size – with that of measurement receivers, namely higher sensitivity and a dynamic range. The R&S NRQ6 fits the bill.

The new power sensor “achieves better performance as it combines the advantages of different measurement concepts. It allows even very low RF powers to be measured fast and accurately.”

And while conventional diode power sensors “cannot perform fast and accurate measurements below –70 dBm due to the relatively high inherent noise component measured,” the receiver architecture of the new power sensor eliminates that traditional weakness.

Finally, Anritsu EMEA’s Andy Cole introduces the concept of Forward Error Correction (FEC), whereby errors can be simulated and corrected in the received data – Equipment Management Systems can manage normal problems, but minor errors, where only a small number of bits in the frame are corrupt, aren’t so easily spotted. Hence the need for FEC.

With Forward Error Correction and “by repeating the same algorithms at the far end, the receiver has the ability to detect errors at the single bit level and correct them (correctable errors) without the need to have the data retransmitted.”

Enjoy the September issue, and be sure to check out our T&M-themed PSDcast on and this issue’s Final Thought, which discusses the most mainstream application of Test and Measurement.

Best Regards,

Jason Lomberg
North American Editor, PSD