The Key Elements of a Successful Spectral Analysis

spectral analysis

If your occupation implies designing, manufacturing or repairing of the electrical systems and devices, you definitely need a reliable powerful tool allowing you analyzing signals transmitted or passed through the system/device. With the help of the testing tool and smart spectral analysis you can easily determine the effectiveness of the device, detect and recognize problems as well as to troubleshoot them.

This article is meant for those who are unfamiliar with spectrum analyzers work or those who would like to refresh their knowledge. Below we are going to dwell upon the essential points you need to know when working with spectral analyzers of different types.

Understanding Spectral Analysis Basics

To answer ‘what is spectral analysis’ question, we need to understand the principle of the spectrum analyzer work and its specifications. If we want to estimate signals and see what is happening to them when passing through the chosen system/device we need to apply a passive receiver that will not affect the signal, but only receive and display it in comprehensible form. This particular device is called a spectral analyzer. Nowadays there exist different types of these: analog, digital and hybrid; depending on the signal nature there are audio, sub audio, optical, RF analyzers and others. All of them work on the same principle allowing to detect, monitor and graphically display the received signals.

To conduct a proper spectral analysis you need to know the specifications of the device and the testing equipment. These specs can vary dramatically from a sphere to sphere. If you work with communication devices, for instance, the signals will have their specific characteristics, since these will be modulated to the higher frequency carrier first and then deciphered. When testing mixers and amplifiers, it is important to know the nature of the distortion products and their characteristics.

Reading Graphs and Setting Controls

An essential part of the spectral analysis is understanding the output data. Depending on the equipment you use the output can be displayed in the 2D, 3D format or X/Y plot. It takes a while to familiarize with these.

Setting appropriate controls for the testing device is an essential part of the further measurements, since it will minimize distortions and mistakes when reading the output. The frequency, gain, attenuation, scan characteristics and bandwidths should be set correctly for your analyzer to see and measure signals precisely.

Thus, to be able to perform proper spectrum analysis, you need to:

  • apply a corresponding testing equipment (it must receive the same signals type the chosen device transmits; it must be also set correctly);
  • be able to read and process the displayed graphic representation of the signal;
  • find the root of the problem (in case of a break) and make adjustments if needed.

Understanding the nature of the signals, their modulation and reception as well as spectrum analyzer principle are the keystones of the proper spectrum analysis. Taking into account the specifications of the testing device will help you to make more accurate measurements and troubleshoot faster.

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