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RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer

RF Explorer for Windows display

Another feature of the RF Explorer spectrum analyzer is the PC software that really enhances the display and functionality of the unit.  The spectrum analyzer ships with "RF Explorer for Windows" software that is included in the purchase price.  Other software is available at a price from at least one other company.  This Windows software is well supported by the developers and will suit most people's needs no doubt. 

Using your spectrum analyzer at your work bench with the PC connected really does enhance the features of the unit.  The display on the spectrum analyzer is more than adequate for use in the field.  Plugging it into your PC turns it into spectrum analyzer that offers features and functions found on much higher priced analyzers.   The screen capture shown above is a display of one of my video transmitters fed with a video signal from the FPV camera.

There is a supportive online user community that dates back 8 years and is more than ready to help a new user.  You don't have to be a radio guru to get help.  Many people are just the opposite.....they bought the spectrum analyzer to solve a problem and have no idea on how to use it.  The 52 page user manual is well done and does not suffer from a poor translation to English.  Release notes are well updated for each release of the spectrum analyzer firmware and the Windows software.  The analyzer's firmware upgrade process uses a bootloader.  As I write this, I've done one firmware upgrade and it went perfectly.  Compared to the many firmware updates I've done on my RC equipment, this one ranked at the top of the list.

 

WiFi Channel Mode

Wondering how the home Wi-Fi is doing?  You can use the spectrum analyzer to check power levels and frequency.  Changing the position of the Wi-Fi router can change the coverage and subsequent performance of the unit.  How do you know if its better?  Bring up the Wi-Fi channel analyzer feature on the RF Explorer and evaluate it in real time.  Take a walk around your house or yard with the spectrum analyzer in hand and see how it is performing.  The spectrum analyzer also has this feature available for the 5.8 Ghz Wi-Fi channels. 

The spectrum analyzer can also measure RF power up to a reasonable level.  Most pilots always want to know if their brand new 600 milliwatt (mW) video transmitter is actually putting out the full 600.  The competitive micro-quad racers are limited as to how much power their video link can transmit.  The spectrum analyzer will show the power level and the signal spectrum for these kind of situations.  I've read numerous posts in the forum from these "race officials" and it appears that the RF Explorer

 

30db attenuator

To get an accurate power level, the spectrum analyzer must be connected directly to the transmitter.  The spectrum analyzer's ability to measure a mere micro-watt of power also prevents it from safely handing a larger signal, such as 1 watt of RF energy supplied by some of the commonly used RC transmitters.  To accurately measure these higher power levels, a short length of quality RF coaxial cable and one or more attenuators is used.  The attenuator(s) reduces the power going into the spectrum analyzer so as not to damage it.  A 60 dB attenuator will safely reduce the power so the spectrum analyzer can accurately measure it.  It is threaded unto the SMA connector of the port being used for the measurement.

 

CentricRF attenuator

I found a Texas based company, CentricRF, that sells small signal quality attenuators for a very reasonable price.  I picked up three, a 10 dB, a 20 dB, and a 30 dB attenuator.  They can be connected in series to make up to 60 dB signal attenuation.  60dB of attenuation enables any RF Explorer unit to measure signals of up to 2Watt, (+33dBm) power, without distortion or damage to the unit  These attenuators are rated at 2 watts which is more than enough for the RC transmitters I fly.  The frequency range covers 0 to 6 Ghz and these attenuators are priced less than those offered by seeed.  I posted the spec sheet on the spectrum analyzer forum and the forum administrator agreed that the specs were good.  You can view the specs here

I've been involved with RF for quite some time.  It wasn't until recently that I realized that this spectrum analyzer could do everything I needed and then some.  I highly recommend it to anyone. 

Just a tip....if you are considering a purchase, seeed seems to do promotions around the various U.S. holidays and a reasonable amount can be saved if you purchase during that time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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