Wireless Applications

Compact Receiver Offers Improved Spectral Awareness

April 2, 2009

Agilent Technology's N6841A RF Sensor receiver is easy to deploy and enables spectrum monitoring over a 20 MHz to 6 GHz range.


SANTA CLARA,CA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A) introduced an extremely cost-effective digital receiver for radio frequency (RF) signal monitoring. The Agilent N6841A RF Sensor is a software-defined, network-based receiver housed in a compact, weatherproof enclosure with a wide operating temperature range suitable for outdoor deployments. Multiple receivers may be combined to form RF sensor networks to improve detection, monitoring and geolocation of emitters in commercial, radio regulatory, security and defense applications.

"Modern signals with complex modulation and higher information bandwidths are challenging traditional approaches to spectrum monitoring," said Tom Burrell, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Signal Networks Division. "These signals are much harder to detect, they're more dynamic and there are a lot more of them. Spectrum-monitoring organizations are telling us they can't afford more people carrying around spectrum analyzers, and traditional monitoring stations are too expensive and hard to install in any kind of quantity. The N6841A allows a different approach using inexpensive, easy-to-deploy receivers with low installation cost. The sensor takes advantage of advances in computer network and synchronization technologies to build RF sensor networks with geolocation capabilities that simply weren't possible before."

Agilent's N6841A monitors signals over a frequency range of 20 MHz to 6 GHz using a 14-bit ADC to accurately digitize signals with a 20 MHz information bandwidth. A 512 MB signal capture memory buffer follows the ADC and signal processing. Receivers may be tightly synchronized using the optional GPS receiver or via the network interface, providing both measurement synchronization and accurate time-stamping of measurement data. The network interface allows the sensors to be distributed within a building, throughout a city or across the world.

The weatherproof IP67-rated (Standard IEC 6529 International Protection 67) enclosure and wide operating temperature range of –35°C to 55°C (–31°F to 131°F) allow this unit to withstand harsh environments. The small, low-profile form factor–about the size of a laptop–offers many discreet deployment and mounting options, including pole-top or wall-mount. Co-locating the sensor with the antenna also helps minimize signal loss due to coaxial cable attenuation. The receiver is convection cooled and contains no moving parts.

The Agilent N6841A RF sensor is compatible with the Agilent N6820E Signal Surveyor monitoring software for automated high-speed RF signal search, detection, classification and alarming. The N6841A also includes an open programming interface allowing the receiver to operate as remote RF signal digitizer for custom applications. With narrower signal bandwidths, the N6841A is capable of streaming gapless data over the network, making it suitable for real-time demodulation and signal analysis applications. Wider bandwidth signals can be captured gap-free into the signal capture memory buffer and then transferred as a block.

The Agilent N6841A RF Sensor is available now with delivery in June. Pricing starts at $13,351.

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A) is the world's premier measurement company and a technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 19,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenues of $5.8 billion in fiscal 2008.


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