Putting the Less in Wireless Testing

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2020

Putting the Less in Wireless Testing

“Wireless testing” is defined as the actions necessary to assess a device's capability to first, properly and securely connect with other devices and networks, and second, complete the desired operational tasks expected of the connected device successfully. A wireless handover test simulation, for instance, has to perfectly reflect real-world scenarios in which actual handovers will take place. In certain situations, a sequence of wireless tests may also be necessary to verify regulatory compliance and the interoperability of the device, its performance, and the safety of anyone who uses it.

 

As wireless radio technology and Wi-Fi technology evolve at exponential rates, the expectations and burdens put upon a company's testing and verification team grow at a similar, if not faster, pace. Balancing costs, while maintaining time to market and ensuring high levels of quality and safety all have to be considered. In this blog we'll talk about lessoning 3 things: cost, time to market, and footprint of your wireless test stands using portable and programmable devices vs. pre-programmed instruments. New technology presents major testing challenges. Testing for new products often must be completed on multiple networks such as 3G, 4G LTE, 5G wireless, 802.11ax Wi-Fi and more using the same test devices. These new networks have made testing more complex and have presented a challenge to test market vendors to develop equipment that is affordable, effective and reliable. This involves testing for handset manufacturers, semiconductor suppliers, chips, and phones on multiple networks including 5G. New wireless communications are being introduced, including IEEE 802.11ax, which uses multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and multi-user multiple-input and multiple-out (MU-MIMO) technology.

 

The demand is for test equipment to be portable and easily programmable to deliver the ability to conduct “over the air” tests in the field and be able to handle a greater range of scenarios right out of the box AND deliver faster test results.

 

Jason White, Director of RF and Wireless Testing at National Instruments summarizes the key challenges for 5G and other networks as:

 

  • Multi-standard coverage
  • Ultra-wide bandwidths, multiple carriers/beams
  • Total cost of test
  • Channel scaling for MIMO/CA
  • Port mobility
  • OTA calibration and control
  • Calibrated air interfaces and chambers

 

As a result, new testing approaches must include:

 

  • Modularity— add performance as future requirements emerge
  • Frequency and channel agility—flexible mmWave configurations for multi-DUT, multi-frequency and beamforming tests and tight timing and synchronization for MIMO configurations
  • Software-defined signal processing

 

Vaunix offers cutting-edge USB and Ethernet-connected devices that wireless test engineers need today.

 

 

Vaunix meets the demands of wireless test engineers with the Vaunix Lab Brick suite of wireless testing devices. Vaunix offers a range of solutions from single channel attenuator modules to fully integrated rack mount Handover Test Systems with 512 individually controlled channels in easily customizable configurations. Whatever the solution, Vaunix products are tough, versatile, and affordable.

 

All of the portable solutions are powered by a simple and ubiquitous USB connection. The latest products can be controlled through the USB interface or from the highly configurable Ethernet connection. Both interfaces offer an easy to use graphical use interface (GUI), dll files, Linux drivers, LabVIEW drivers and much more. The portable Lab Bricks have been designed to meet the needs of any product or test engineer who wants to create flexible, customized system solutions either in the lab or in harsh environments in the field.

 

The Lab Brick® family of electronic test products also includes rack mounted Attenuator and Attenuator Matrix solutions that double as Wireless Handover Test Systems to give test technicians and product engineers advanced capability to solve unique wireless handover testing challenges. The rack mounted solutions range from single rack 12 and 16 channel attenuators up to 64 x 8 matrix solutions with up to 512 individually controlled attenuators. All of the solutions leverage the same API structure used in the portable products and are easily programmed for fixed attenuation, swept attenuation ramps, and/or fading profiles directly from the included Graphical User Interface (GUI) or other custom programmed solution.

 

The Lab Brick® family of electronic test products allows test techs and engineers minimal set-up and lets them conduct unique single and multi-channel wireless network and microwave tests FAST—without the high cost and learning curve of heavily pre- programmed benchtop equipment.

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