Today, more than ever, people are using devices that utilize and potentially add to radio frequency (RF). This includes everything from fitness trackers to Wi-Fi enabled devices of all types and sizes. Bluetooth system, medical devices and tablets and computers are all sources of RF that may operate on similar or different RF frequencies and sensitivity ranges.
However, these aren’t the only sources of RF in the environment. Medical imaging equipment, radar, satellites and radio and television also are in this category. Microwave ovens, industrial and manufacturing applications and even fabrication industries all use machines and equipment that generate RF waves.
The importance of RF testing is not just for the ability to receive and transmit data without problems. It is also required on all electronic devices to ensure they are not going to interfere with other devices and that they have immunity from RF. Combined, this will allow them to work in the presence of other electronics.
All testing is completed using specific types of testing equipment. This equipment may be designed to measure short bursts of RF or be designed for a more continuous application. In most types of testing requirements, both issues will be tested to ensure the device is within the standards set for RF emissions and immunity.
Right Equipment for the Job
Equipment for RF testing is highly advanced, offering full compatibility with software programs for automatic testing, data recording and even for analysis. Choosing the correct equipment starts with understanding the specifics of the tests required and then matching the equipment to the test.
The goal of testing is to determine the wavelength and the frequency of the RF present. This is typically expressed in Hertz, which is one cycle per second. To be in the RF spectrum, the electromagnetic waves will have frequencies of 300 gigahertzes.
When products are marketed, they have to be effective to use without being impacted by existing RF or creating large amounts of RF that may impact other devices. In this way, RF testing is geared both towards emissions as well as immunity. Emissions include the RF that is produced by the device while immunity is the ability of the device to be unaffected when other RF fields are present.
Testing can be done through a third-party service or done in-house. For in-house testing, most companies rent the equipment on an as-needed basis. This is more cost-effective and also allows engineers to have access to the latest in testing technology without constantly upgrading testing equipment.