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Shahriar Shahramian finds the digital heart of the Rohde & Schwarz 4.0GHz Portable Spectrum Rider—a Zynq SoC

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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Earlier this year, Shahriar Shahramian, who regularly posts in-depth electronics videos on his YouTube channel “The Signal Path,” reviewed and then tore down a Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Rider FPH. This hand-held, battery-powered, portable spectrum analyzer has been on the market for a couple of years now and covers 5kHz to 2, 3, or 4GHz, depending on options. (Shahriar Shahramian is department head for millimeter-Wave ASIC Research at Nokia Bell Labs.)

 

 

 

Rohde and Schwarz 4GHz Spectrum Rider FPH.jpg 

 

 

Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Rider FPH portable spectrum analyzer

 

 

 

Shahriar’s extensive user review and teardown video of the Spectrum Rider FPH lasts an hour, so here are some salient points in the video.

 

 

1:10 – Model comparison of R&S portable spectrum analyzers

 

5:44 – Instrument hardware overview and GUI characteristics

 

22:24 – Using the FPH Spectrum Rider to analyze unknown wireless signals including a multi-tone, QPSK modulated signal, AM/FM demodulation analysis and frequency hopping

 

46:46 – FPH teardown and analysis

 

55:33 – Overview of the Instrument View remote connection software

 

57:42 – Concluding remarks

 

 

 

Most important for Xcell Daily, at 48 minutes into the video Shahriar finally cracks the instrument apart and finds a Zynq SoC handling essentially all of the instrument’s RF digital signal processing; I/O control; its clean, responsive, elegant, and well-thought-out user interface based on hard buttons and a pinch-sensitive touch screen; and its Instrument View remote front-panel interface that operates over the USB port or Ethernet.

 

The Zynq SoC is a perfect fit for such an application. The Zynq Processing System (PS) handles the user interface and general supervision. The Zynq Programmable Logic (PL) section with its high-speed programmable logic and DSP slices handles the instrument’s high-speed control and signal processing.

 

Here’s a photo clipped from the video. Shahriar is pointing to the Zynq SoC in this photo:

 

 

 

Rohde and Schwarz 4GHz Spectrum Rider FPH Zynq Detail.jpg

 

A Zynq SoC manages the overall operation and digital signal processing for the Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Rider FPH

 

 

 

You should note that this portable, hand-held instrument has an 8-hour battery life despite the rather sophisticated RF and digital electronics. I strongly suspect the high level of integration made possible by the Zynq SoC has something to do with this.

 

Because of its All Programmable flexibility, the Zynq SoC makes a terrific foundation for entire product families. You can see this here because Rohde and Schwarz has also used the Zynq SoC as the digital heart of its Scope Rider, a multi-function, hand-held, 2/4-channel, 500MHz DSO (as reported by the Powered by Xilinx Web page.) The family resemblance with the Spectrum Rider FPH is quite strong:

 

 

 

 

Rohde and Schwarz Scope Rider.jpg

 

Rohde & Schwarz Scope Rider

 

 

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that there’s a lot of shared code (not to mention case tooling) between the company’s Scope Rider and Spectrum Rider FPH. The Zynq SoC’s PS and PL along with its broadly programmable I/O pins combine to create a very flexible design platform for a product family or multiple product families. That kind of leverage allows you to create an assembly line for new-product development with competition-beating time to market.

 

 

 

Here’s The Signal Path’s YouTube video review of the Rohde & Schwarz 4.0GHz Spectrum Rider FPH:

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the Spectrum Rider FPH and the Scope Rider, please contact Rohde & Schwarz directly.

 

 

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