From P2P Radio to PC-Driven Test Equipment: The Evolution of Vaunix

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2016
By Scott Blanchard

How Scott and Alan Met

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 project 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.

 

How Vaunix Got its Start

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 &ndash Nera 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.

 

Vaunix Expands its Reach

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 internal use of these products &ndash PC programmability and USB power and control. These features were missing from the general market and if the engineers at Vaunix found them useful, engineers elsewhere would as well.

 

The Lab Brick Diversifies

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. Scott and Alan decided to market their PC-driven digital attenuator, noticing that there was ubiquitous need for cellular and WiFi fading simulators. Eventually, more and more of the test equipment used in the Vaunix test lab was replaced with various Lab Brick products including: RF switches, phase shifters, and eventually a high performance USB hub. 

 

Since the start of the company, Vaunix has evolved with the needs of their customers. They recently added an 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 &ndashthe 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, Vaunix will work with you to design the product you need.

 

New Facility

In 2014, Vaunix purchased a building to accommodate their continuous growth as the space in the old facility started to tighten up. In 2015, Vaunix moved into the new 7,100 square foot facility in the thriving town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. In order to control production processes and quality, Vaunix does all of their final assembly and test in the new facility. The majority of the other services are sourced locally from trusted partners that are committed to helping Vaunix provide the highest quality products on time.

 

Interested in learning more about how Vaunix can improve your test bench? Contact us today.

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