One Brick at a Time: The Evolution of Vaunix

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Collaborations Attract

The founders of Vaunix, Scott Blanchard and Alan Olsen met over 20 years ago while working for Advanced Techcom, Inc. (ATI) — a Massachusetts based design and manufacturer of digital microwave and millimeter-wave radio systems for short and long haul voice, data, and video applications. During their time working at ATI, a number of fortuitous events allowed them to work together more closely.

 

Between 1998 and 2000, a string of acquisitions of ATI led to the opportunity for Scott and Alan to run the North American branch of the Norwegian wireless telecom company Nera Networks. With Scott as the Vice President of Engineering and Alan as the Principal Engineer, together they worked on a number of extensive projects including designing microwave radio equipment ranging from 6-38 GHz, designing production lines for the manufacture of their equipment, and setting up a radio repair service center.

 

Collaborators Combine

In the early 2000's the slide of the telecom market forced Nera to contract out engineering support. The production line was moved to Asia, the engineering development programs were pulled back to Norway, and sales activities relocated to Texas. During this process, Scott and Alan realized the potential for a business niche and needed to find a better solution for supporting their customer base. With that, Vaunix was born. In 2005, the business started as a way to continue radio repair services and provide 24/7 customer service for the US customer base.

 

Brick by Brick

In the process of establishing their radio repair services, Vaunix discovered the need for low-cost test equipment to support the repair business. They needed a signal generator that could provide solid performance, but that did not necessarily come with all of the features and cost of a standard signal generator. Conveniently, with their background as radio design engineers, signal generation was their forte. With an in-depth understanding of how to design high performance and robust synthesizers that are nearly immune to microphony and power supply noise, they were able to design their first Lab Brick signal generator. By keeping the design in-house, the engineers at Vaunix were able to include two features that were crucial to their own internal use of these products: PC programmability, and USB power and control. These features were missing from the market and Vaunix was certain other wireless engineers would find them useful as well.

 

Fading into the Black

While working on fading tests at the radio repair bench, the engineers at Vaunix began to develop their own digital attenuator, which became the next Lab Brick product, and an instant market success. Scott and Alan decided to market their PC-driven digital attenuator, Noticing now that there was ubiquitous need for a suite of programmable components, Vaunix began an aggressive research and development plan to build a full line of functional solutions. With our radio repair team as test lab and customer #1, the signal generator and attenuator lines have grown quickly and are now accompanied by Lab Brick switches, phase shifters, and a high performance USB hub. 

Since the start of the company, Vaunix has evolved with the needs of our customers. We recently added a new higher frequency attenuator, the LDA-203, that has a range of 1-20 GHz, and another state-of-the-art attenuator that covers up to 6 GHz in 0.1 dB steps, the LDA-602EH. Other new products include two additions to the LMS series of signal generators. The LMS-802DX, covering 2-8 GHz, and the LMS-183DX, covering 6-18 GHz. Both of these models have 80 dB of power control range and harmonics of less that 30 dBc. Each addition to the Lab Brick family aims at covering specs that were not available previously, and if there is a feature you are still not seeing, we'd love to work with you to design the product you need.

 

Foundation in Place, Time for a New Building

In 2014, Vaunix purchased a new facility in the thriving city of Newburyport, Massachusetts to accommodate our continuous growth. After fit-out, in 2015, we moved into the new 7,100 square foot facility.  

It's HQ and operations center in one. We're sticklers for quality control so we do all of our final assembly and test in-house. Some board-level services are sourced locally from trusted partners that are committed to helping us provide the highest quality products, but we're a tight knit team who likes to keep our eye on the ball. And yes, Scott and Alan are still working side-by-side, and still rolling their sleeves up in the lab.

 

Ready to build something together on your test bench? Contact us today >>

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