Benefits of the NI RF Platform for Your Test Applications


National Instruments delivers fast, flexible, and accurate RF hardware powered by NI LabVIEW software to meet the ever-changing demands of the wireless industry and see the engineering process through from design to validation to production.

To keep pace with the constantly growing number of standards, LabVIEW graphical design software offers a set of tools for signal generation, analysis, visualization, and processing of standard and custom digital and analog modulation formats.

Tailored software and flexible hardware address a wide range of test needs including WLAN, GPS, WiMAX, MIMO, ZigBee, and RFID. This software-designed approach delivers the powerful and cost-reducing wireless test systems that engineers have come to rely on from National Instruments.

Engineers seeking a new level of flexibility and performance in their test systems combine LabVIEW with PXI RF modular instrumentation. These compact, high-performance measurement systems feature advanced timing and synchronization and the latest PC technologies, providing high throughput for measurements from DC to 6.6 GHz.


Using the NI WLAN Measurement Suite with PXI Express RF instrumentation, you can conduct fast and accurate 802.11 a/b/g/n measurements. Combined with high-performance multicore processors, PXI Express WLAN measurement systems can complete most 802.11 measurements two to 10 times faster than traditional box instruments. In addition, the high-performance RF front ends of the 6.6 GHz RF instrumentation suite help you perform many of these measurements with accuracy that rivals considerably more expensive instrumentation. Finally, because PXI Express RF instrumentation is software-defined, you can test multiple standards with the same set of instrumentation. Thus, you can use the same hardware to test DVB-T, GPS, WiMAX, WCDMA, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and many other standards.

Figure 1. NI WLAN Test System


With the NI GPS Simulation Toolkit for LabVIEW, you can create simulated global positioning system (GPS) waveforms for use with NI RF signal generators to produce customized and repeatable GPS receiver tests. The advanced API helps you create custom motion trajectories, adjust individual satellite power levels, and incorporate real-time feedback from the device under test (DUT) into your test system. With the GPS Simulation Toolkit, you can stream a simulated signal as it is created with the NI PXIe-5672 or PXIe-5673 RF vector signal generators and adjust signal characteristics during generation or create predefined scenario tests for up to 24 hours of repeatable test.

Figure 2. NI GPS Simulator


With the NI Measurement Suite for WiMAX, you can provide fast and accurate IEEE 802.16-2004 (OFDM) and IEEE 802.16e-2005 (OFDMA) measurements on a flexible test platform. Combined with PXI RF instrumentation, these toolkits help PXI Express WiMAX measurement systems achieve R&D-grade accuracy and measurement times three to 10 times faster than traditional box instruments. In addition, world-class RF instruments such as the NI PXIe-5663 RF vector signal analyzer and NI PXIe-5673 RF vector signal generator deliver industry-leading measurement accuracy for the price. Finally, you can use this software-defined test platform to test multiple wireless standards including GPS, WLAN, GSM/EDGE/WCDMA, and many others with the same RF hardware. 

Figure 3. NI WiMAX Test System


The NI RF MIMO system helps you synchronize multiple RF vector signal generators and analyzers in up to 4x4 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) configurations. Using LabVIEW software with the built-in timing and synchronization capabilities of PXI, you can configure multichannel phase coherent measurement systems for MIMO and beamforming applications. Typical PXI configurations can achieve better than 0.1 deg of channel-to-channel jitter, yielding an industry-leading phase coherent measurement solution. In addition, by using the modular approach to RF instrumentation, you only purchase the components you need, resulting in a cost-effective MIMO test solution.


Figure 4. NI MIMO Test System


The NI ZigBee solution includes flexible software utilities and modular RF instrumentation for the generation and acquisition of ZigBee signals. You can combine these tools to perform comprehensive protocol and parametric tests in accordance with the IEEE 802.15.4 specification including simulated impairments for interoperability testing, comprehensive PHY layer measurements and analysis, and protocol validation with MAC layer information.


The flexible NI RF software utilities and modular RF instrumentation for the emulation and measurement of radio frequency identification (RFID) readers and tags allow for RFID emulation and measurement in one system. You can combine these tools to perform comprehensive protocol and parametric tests in accordance with international RFID standards. The NI RF platform provides faster test times than traditional instrumentation and lower test costs through an integrated RFID solution that allows for easy expansion to handle multiple wireless protocol tests.

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