Radio communication test sets (RCTs) is test instruments used to test and diagnose the performance of radio communication systems by modulating and demodulating RF and microwave signals. Radio communication systems include wireless LMR, Digital land mobile radio, military tactical radios systems and other general RF transceiver devices used for communication.
Most of the RCTS manufacturers has collaborated with Radio (LMR) manufacturers and will have the automated scripting for the testing of radios in automated modes using a radio test set.
To learn more about Radio communication systems, we recommend you check the following articles about RF and microwave bestsellers.
To understand the Radio communication test set in a better way, we recommend you to understand the following associated systems and components.
In this Radio test set article, we will cover,
Radio communication Test Set is an ideal instrument for testing all radio communication analog and digital systems. The availability of inbuilt multiple test instruments and internal flexible switching circuits for the RF and Audio paths make the RCTS suitable for a wide range of RF and Microwave test requirements.
In the Radio Communication test set the users can configure the internal Generators, Receivers, Filters, External Audio sources according to the test and measurement requirements. In the latest RCTS, predefined test scenarios and pre-configured test procedures are available and it will help to saves time and eliminate configuration errors.
The Radio test set is basically classified as the Analog Radio test set and the digital Radio test set. Now, most RCTs manufacturers combine comprehensive analog and digital LMR testing. These systems will have the ability to measure RF network characteristics such as Power level, VSWR, Return Loss, Phase variation etc. Now, most of the manufacturers will have a Radio communication test set with an internal battery for the field operation.
Analog Radio Communication Test Set is used for the testing of the analog land mobile radio parameters. These Radio test sets will have internal generators, modulators and receivers with de-modulators for generating a modulated signal and analyzing the signal received from the LMR. Analog Military Radio Test Set will be used to test today’s latest analog police and armed forces mission radio types of equipment used for critical operations.
In General Analog radio test set will support the operating frequency range of 1 GHz/ 3 GHz, to cover the UHF, VHF and the S-Band Radio test requirements.
Digital Radio Communication Test Set will have the test capabilities to test the digital modulations like DMR, NXDN Conventional, P25 (Conventional & Trunking ), dPMR, TETRA (TETRA TMO and DMO), NCDN along with the analog modulation testing. These Radios are mainly used by the police force and by the business communities to provide communications outside public switch telephone networks.
TETRA Radio Communication Test Set (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is a global standard for digital trunked radios with advanced features such as secure data and voice transmission. Now Most digital radio will have the test features to test different TETRA Modes along with other general modes.
LTE Radio Communication test set will be an advanced Radio communication test set with the additional feature of LTE testing in addition to the general analog and digital radio modulation testing. LTE Radio test set will support the operating frequency up to 6 GHz to cover lower LTE bands for testing.
The radio test set will have basically four sections, Measurement section, Generator section, Display and the Monitor and Control section. All the input and output RF, IF, Antenna connectors are available in the front and back panels of the monitor and control sections of the RCTS.
The measurement section of a radio communication test set consists of different analyzers for the acquire the signal and analyzing it. This is a receiver section in a Radio test set used for testing the transmit features of the Radio under test. In this section, the specifications like signal strength, modulations, frequency accuracy etc of the transmitters of the radio under test is tested. In general, the measurement section will have the measurement capabilities of the following instrument.
The Signal Generator section is a Transmitter section of a Radio test set, which is used to test the receiver parameters of the Radio under test. The generator section will have different analog and digital modulation capabilities. Signals with different frequencies and modulations can be generated by using an internal source or by the reference from an external clock. In general, the following test sources will be available in the generator section of a Radio test set. The digital radio test set will have an additional section called Protocol Generator, to generate the digital modulation like DRM, TETRA, P25, dPMR, NXDN etc.
The display section of the Radio Communication test set is used to present the signal analysis in graphical formats or any other format which is easily understandable to the user. In the advanced systems, the results are presented in various types and formats in the local or at the remote monitors. These sections will have various screens as listed below.
Monitor and Control Sections of the Radio test set consist of the front panel keypads and control knob for various settings and the measurements. The advanced systems will have the remote Interface for the remote operations and monitoring of the test results. Automated test features are also available in some systems, which can be enabled and executed over the remote interface.
Radio Communication Test Set is a multifunctional and portable test instrument for LMR systems. RCTS is an integrated system, which will have many measurement functions like frequency-hopping, Signal Analysis, Signal generation, Modulation and Demodulation, Audio signal generation and analysis, etc.
The radio test set is used for the first level of testing of any RF and microwave systems including short-wave, ultra short-wave radio stations, satellite communication systems, surveillance systems etc. These Radio communication test sets are used for the commercial and military radio communication terminals like surveillance and communication vehicles, ships, Radio-communications and navigational systems etc.
Frequency of operating range, the power output and sensitivity, availability of required analog and digital modulations are the prime specification needed to consider for the radio communication test set for the Land Mobile Radio testing applications.
The frequency range of operation needs to match with the Radio under test for the receiver and the transmitter testing. The frequency of the generator and monitor need to verify for confirming the Tx and Rx test. If need to check only the regular analogue radios, RCTS covering 1 GHz will meet the requirement. For the digital radios, frequency covering 1 GHz or up to 3 GHz will meet most of the test requirements. For LTE testing the operating frequency required will be a minimum of 6 GHz.
For the receiver test for the Radios, the generator power output level of the radio test set need to consider and for the Radio Transmitter performance test, the sensitivity of the RCTS need to consider. The sensitivity of a Radio test set indicates the least power level it can detect and measure. Higher power output range and sensitivity are better for the multiple test requirements.
A Radio test set is an instrument consisting of features of many test and measurement instruments like spectrum analyzer, power meter, oscilloscope, need to check the features of each instrument as per the DUT test requirements.
Spurious and Harmonic specifications for the generator and for the internal spectrum analyzer need to check for confirming the suitability of the test instrument. Lower the Spurious and Harmonic figure for the generator and higher the Spurious and Harmonic measurement capability for the analyzer better for the test requirements.
For the analog radio communication test set, all the available analog modulation need to check to match with the modulations of the Radio under test. Common available analog modulations are Frequency Modulation and Amplitude modulations. For Frequency modulation, frequency deviation and for amplitude modulation, the amplitude depth needs to check to match the DUT.
For the Digital Radio test set, most of the test features will be designed by SDR ( Software Defined Radio) mode. These Digital features can be enabled in the later stage by using a digital key. Need to check the availability of all the required digital modulations like DMR, dPMR, NXDN etc which will be needed to test.
For the radio testing, need to check the availability of the audio modulation like 1 kHz Tone, DTMF, Single Tone, Two-Tone Paging, Private Line, Digital Private Line, 5/6 Tone Paging, EURO Tones, POCSAG etc. Also need to check for the option availability of user Defined Tone Sequences generation options for generating customized tones for the audio testing.
Now the Radio test set is available with the internal battery options for the field testing. Need to check the operating and charging time for these batteries for the field test applications. As needed to save many test configurations and the results, it is ideal to check the availability of the internal or external data storage features for the RCTS.
Display and the Remote Interface Options of the RCTS need to check to match the test requirements. For the remote auto test requirements, need to check the availability of a library of internal Auto-Test applications supports for the standard radios used for public safety, private radio networks, military, airborne radios used worldwide.
Connectors include the RF, IF, Antenna connectors and the remote interface connectors need to check to match to the DUT and the test environment. As the addition of the extra connectors will lead to the degradation of the system performance, the need to select a system with matched RF connectors to the DUT or to the cable used.
Radio communication test sets is an instrument used to diagnose the performance of radio systems by generating the modulated signal to the DUT and by analyzing the demodulated the received RF signals from the Radio under test. RCTS can be used for the testing of general radio equipment, RF transmitting and receiving devices, military tactical radios or for the testing of any communication equipment.
In the manufacturer section, you can check the list of top-rated Radio communication test set manufacturers registered with the www.rfmwc.com website. These RCTs can be used directly to test and measure the standard parameters of the most popular land Mobile Radio manufacturers like Motorola, Harris, Tide etc.
If you would like to add further details about the Radio test sets or RCTS manufacturers to this article, please feel free to contact us over the contact page.
Thanks & Regards