Instrument configuration tips for MET/CAL Gold procedures, with an RF spectrum analyzer example

Even though RF procedures in MET/CAL require only typical MET/CAL instrument configuration, a LOT of equipment is required.  RF calibration systems are complex, and require complex configuration in order to automate them in MET/CAL (or any automated platform).  This can be a daunting task for even seasoned MET/CAL users, especially when considering the number of devices supported by the often-used 4418 FSC, and by each flexible driver used.  For example, the 8563E MET/CAL Gold procedure requires extensive configuration, as described below.

These are the instrument lines reviewed by this example, please note that we (Fluke) will fit as much information as we can on the instrument line to describe the procedure and required reference list:

INSTRUMENT:            HP 8563E: (2 yr) VER /9640-LPN,E4418,LFCTR,LO,SWPG
INSTRUMENT:            AT 8563E: (2 yr) VER /9640-LPN,E4418,LFCTR,LO,SWPG
INSTRUMENT:            AT 8563EC: (2 yr) VER /9640-LPN,E4418,LFCTR,LO,SWPG

System Instruments:

CONFIGURATION:         Fluke 9640A (LPN)
CONFIGURATION:         Fluke 9640A-50
CONFIGURATION:         Agilent E4418B
CONFIGURATION:         HP 8485A on channel 1
CONFIGURATION:         HP 8482A on channel 1

 1. Fluke 9640A with LPN option checked, or Fluke 9640A-LPNX
a. Must also configure a 50 Ohm leveling head.
2. Agilent power meter (see notes) with an 8482A sensor and 8485A sensor configured as auxiliary devices on Channel 1.
a. The 4418 FSC programs the Agilent E4418B and Agilent/HP E4418A (formally EPM-441A) Power Meters.
b. Procedures written using the 4418/M4418 FSCs will also execute when an Agilent E4419B or Agilent/HP E4419A (formally EPM-442A) is used.
c. Note: When the 4418 and M4418 FSCs are used to control an EPM-441A or E4418A, you must configure the instrument as an "Agilent E4418B" as shown in the drop-down list in the "Add Instrument" configure dialog. Similarly, the EPM-442A and E4419A must be configured as an "Agilent E4419B". 

Flexible Standards: 

CONFIGURATION:         Low Frequency Counter
CONFIGURATION:         Local Oscillator
CONFIGURATION:         Pulse Generator
CONFIGURATION:         Sweep Generator

From the configuration lines and procedure header comments, the following flexible standards are required.  These must meet the minimum use requirements as detailed in the procedure's header comments below, they must be supported flexible standards (i.e. must have a matching entry in user_config_instr.ini), and each instrument must be configured with the highlighted alias that matches its intended purpose.

The frequency reference must be added as a user configured instrument, and then selected in the “Configure Frequency Reference” dialog.  This standard must have an accuracy file, and the accuracy file’s mode string must match the entry in the “Configure Frequency Reference” dialog.  This mode string entry is also how you could configure MET/CAL to utilize any high accuracy options in use (e.g. mode string “timebase” vs. mode string “timebase Opt001”).

Below are comments taken directly from the procedure header, describing the minimum use requirements of the flexible standards used by this procedure.  These comments are preceded by the string "#@" to mark them for inclusion on our Procedure CD.  Comments like these will be viewable on the CD, before even installing the procedure package.

#@ Flexible Standard(s) Required:
#@       Synthesized Sweep Generator (SWPG):
#@         Frequency Range:    10 MHz to 26.5 GHz, CW
#@         Frequency Accuracy: Lockable to 10 MHz External Reference
#@         Amplitude Range:    -80 dBm to +16 dBm
#@         Amplitude Accuracy: ±2 dB
#@         Pulse Modulation:   Externally modulated
#@       Local Oscillator (LO):
#@         Frequency Range:    2 GHz to 8.00005 GHz, CW
#@         Frequency Accuracy: Lockable to 10 MHz External Reference
#@         Amplitude Range:    -35 dBm to +13 dBm
#@         Amplitude Accuracy: ±2 dB
#@       Pulse Generator (PGEN):
#@         Frequency Range:    1 Hz to 144 kHz
#@         Pulse Width:        200 ns to 500 ms
#@         Amplitude Range:    0 V LOW to 5 V HIGH
#@         Output Impedance:   50 Ohms
#@       Low Frequency Counter (LFCTR):
#@         Channel A
#@           Frequency Range:    10 MHz
#@           Frequency Accuracy: ±0.030 ppm or better (standard)
#@                               ±0.625 ppm or better (Option 103)
#@         Channel C (UUT Option 007 only)
#@           Frequency Range:    300 MHz
#@           Frequency Accuracy: < 0.025%
#@         Time Interval
#@           Range:              30 ms to 100 s
#@           Accuracy:           < 0.25% or better
#@       Frequency Reference:
#@         Frequency Range:    Suitable for use with configured LFCTR
#@         Frequency Accuracy: ±0.030 ppm or better (standard UUT)
#@                             ±0.625 ppm or better (Option 103)

Manual Standards:

And finally, the following manual standards must be configured.  The name of the configured instruments must match exactly.  The asset number of the configured device will determine what is shown by the Run-Time report.

STANDARD:              Bench Oscilloscope
STANDARD:              Directional Coupler
STANDARD:              Agilent 11667B

Hopefully you find these configuration tips helpful.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

Chad Dodds
MET/CAL Procedure Development Manager
Fluke Calibration


Date Votes
Louie Gorceski

Hi Chad,

With regards to the sensors listed above, we can add others on the list as well? Such as E4413A, E4412A & E9304A correct?

Also, can you add the 909D 50ohm load that's required for the DANL test as a Manual Standard list..  



Michael Schwartz



In most cases yes.. But remember the E441xA and E930xA Power Sensors are not as accurate as the 848xA Series Power Sensors because they have an added Linearity Error. Mike
Chad D.

Hi Louie G., yes the procedure can be modified to support different model sensors.  As Mike suggested, it is up to the procedure writer to ensure that changing the sensor(s) will continue to produce acceptable uncertainties.

I like your suggestion, and will update our guidelines to require a genericly named "50 Ohm Termination" when required, similar to the way a "Directional Coupler" is required above.  The asset number configured for this instrument will determine the Standards Used information printed on the report, whether it is a 909D, or a suitable substitute.

Thank you!


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