Pickering Interfaces's 4x-890 range of configurable PXI switches.

Pickering’s 4x-890 range of configurable PXI switches covers frequencies up to 110 GHz

  • Pickering Interfaces, provider of modular signal switching & simulation products for electronic test & verification, showcases its new 40/42-890 family of PXI microwave switches at IEEE Autotestcon 2023, at The Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, USA from August 28-31, 2023.
  • These configurable RF switching solutions cover frequencies up to 110 GHz.

Ideal for test environments requiring high-frequency microwave switching, from radar, satellite, and short-range land-based secure communications to consumer electronics and 5G infrastructure, the new 40/42-890 microwave switch family provides highly configurable RF switching solutions up to 110GHz via the PXI platform, delivering flexibility, versatility, and test system optimization.

“This new PXI/PXIe family allows RF test engineers to select from and combine a wide range of high-performance microwave relay types to suit their exact application requirements while minimizing chassis slot usage by combining multiple relay and connector types on a single module,” said Steve Edwards, Switching Product Manager at Pickering.

A full range of SPDT, SPnT, and transfer switch types are offered in PXI/PXIe, with terminated or unterminated ports at frequencies up to 110GHz – with options available in 50Ω or 75Ω impedance. RF test engineers can therefore specify the combination and topology of relays needed to create a bespoke solution tailored to their application requirements. Switching systems also benefit from reduced chassis slot count since multiple relay types can be combined in a single module. This helps minimize cost by combining the switch payload onto a smaller number of modules when compared to single switch type products.

This ability to combine a mix of relay types allows users to create larger and/or higher frequency multiplexers (MUXs) than offered via dedicated switches. For example, by combining two SP6T terminated and one SPDT relay, users can – with the addition of linking cables – create an SP12T terminated MUX rated to frequencies exceeding the 18GHz offered via dedicated switches. A range of predefined solutions are offered as standard in the 4x-890 family to illustrate the possibilities. With PXI or PXIe control interface options, test engineers also benefit from flexibility in chassis selection – and the Pickering connection division can provide a full range of cabling solutions to support the 40/42-890 range.

Each relay fitted to a 4x-890 module has associated front panel LED indicators to show the current energized path. This signal path indication provides a clear visual confirmation for verifying system operation, greatly simplifying the debugging of test application software. On-board relay counting is also offered, allowing the quantity of switching operations to be monitored as part of a test system predictive maintenance process. To facilitate rapid in-field repair, relay types that can be quickly replaced by simply withdrawing them through the front panel are used.

Test engineers can configure front panel layouts for the 4x-890 family using Pickering’s free web-based Microwave Switch Design Tool (MSDT), selecting panel size, relay types, LED indicators, cooling slots, images, and labeling. Once the various elements are added to the panel, the user can position them as required before submitting them to Pickering for production. Each custom build will be assigned a specific part number to provide traceability and ease the reorder process. 4x-890 modules are also supplied with soft front panels for each fitted relay, enabling manual control of the switches to simplify application software development and debug.

The 40/42-890 range is supplied with drivers that enable support across all popular software programming environments and operating systems, including Windows and Linux, as well as other real-time hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) tools.