Product Details

Cable Analyzers


RF and Microwave Cable Analyzer:- About, Types, Application & Selection:

A cable analyzer is an electronic instrument used to verify the electrical signal connections in a cable or any wired assembly. The prime application of a cable analyzer is to verify the continuity between both ends of the cable.

  • Advanced cable analyzers can test and measure the signal transmission properties such as resistance, attenuation of the signal, noise, and interference inside the cable.

To learn more about RF and Microwave systems, we recommend you to check the following Books.

To understand the cable Analyzer operation in a better way, we recommend understanding more about the following components, which are prime components used along with the cable analyzers for testing.

In this RF and Microwave Cable Analyzer article, we will cover,

  • What is an RF and microwave Cable Analyzer?
  • Prime features of Cable Analyzer?
  • Applications of RF and Microwave Cable Analyzer?
  • What are the specifications that need to consider in the selection of a Cable Analyzer?
  • RF and microwave Cable Analyzer Manufactures.

For installing or troubleshooting a new cable, a cable analyzer plays an important role in tests for continuity, attenuation, resistance, and return loss. 

Basics of Cable Analyzer:

A cable analyzer is a portable instrument, mostly battery operated with a source of electric current, and voltage indicators, and with a scanning, arrangement to check each of the test parameters sequentially.

  • Now cable analyzers are coming with a microcontroller to automate the testing process and display the testing results.

In the case of a network cable analyzer, it will test all the new network cabling standards which are continuously being developed and help the professionals when installing, testing, and troubleshooting, copper and fibre cable networks.

  • Network cable analyzers offer the assurance that the network of cables that are installed and tested will provide the desired data transmission capability to the users.

Both ends of the cable need to connect to the cable tester at once, or the current source may be separated for the test current injection and detection and the display of the results will be executed by the cable analyzers.

  • Once the connections are ready and start measurements when an intended connection in the cable is missing it shows the "open" condition and if the intended connection exists it shows the "short" condition.
  • If a required connection "goes to the wrong port" it will be considered as"miswired".

Generally, the testing is executed in two phases called open test and a short test.

Open test:

The first phase is to make sure all the intended connections are good.

Short test:

The second phase is to make sure of no unintended cable connections.

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Design and Application

Prime features of a Cable Analyzer:

Due to advancements in technology, cable analyzers have been optimized for an easy field test with efficient sweep management. Now, most of the cable analyzer comes with full-day battery operating capacity with outdoor viewable touch screen display and user-friendly GUI for efficient and easy field test applications. 

Below are a few of the test parameter capabilities of the cable analyzers.

  • Return Loss and VSWR.
  • Cable Loss.
  • Smith Chart (50/75 ohm selection option).
  • Distance-to-Fault Return Loss and VSWR measurement.
  • RF Power and phase measurement capability.

Nowadays most cable analyzers will have the additional functionality of the antenna analyzer. A few of the additional features, test engineers need to check in the selection of the integrated systems are as follows.

  • Simple functional and operational menus.
  • PC control software, to export files for various radio design and simulation applications.
  • Option to tune an antenna to resonance.
  • Option for PIM testing.

Main types of testing in Cable Analyzer:

There are mainly two common ways used by a cable analyzer to test a connection:

Continuity test:

In continuity test required current will pass through the cable and monitor the current at the other ends. If the current reaches another end cable, the connection is to be good.

Resistance test:

In the resistance test, a known current is passed through the cable and the voltage develops in the cable is measured. From the reading of voltage value and current passed through the cable, the resistance of the cable can be calculated.

Two common short (Among the cable) testing ways.

The short test can be executed among the cable at the low voltage and at the high voltage levels.

Low voltage test:

In a low voltage test, the low voltage source is connected to two conductors which are not supposed to be short and the amount of current is measured at another end. If these cables are isolated, there will be no current reading.

High voltage test:

In a high voltage test, a voltage source of several hundred volts is connected to the cable to find connections that are going to be nearly shorted.

The higher voltage will break down the insulation of nearly shorting wires and the test engineer can get the current reading. These cables can be replaced with a new cable, where isolation is critical.

  • The more powerful cable analyzer can measure the DC resistance of the cable, signal strength loss (attenuation) at particular frequencies, isolation between pairs of a multi-pair cable, and crosstalk among the cable assemblies.

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Basics & Selection Feature

Main specifications need to consider in the selection of a Cable Analyzer: 

When selecting a cable analyzer for the testing of RF communication cables, the following electrical parameters need to consider by a test engineer.

Frequency range & step resolution:

The operating frequency range of the cable analyzer and frequency resolution among the frequency step of an analyzer which can set and measure need to consider.

Measurement Speed:

The measurement speed of reflection is measured in ms/point. Higher the speed ( Lower value), the better the performance.

Measurement Accuracy:

Measurement Accuracy is measured for the Corrected directivity in dB value & Reflection uncertainty. Better the accuracy, the higher the performance.

Output signal shape, availability of output amplifier, and power output level:

Output signal strength of  0 dBm is good for normal test applications. The ability to generate different signal shapes is another feature test engineers can look for.

Maximum Input Level of RF & DC:

Maximum Input Level indicates the average continuous RF power cable analyzer will handle without break down. In general, it will be in the range of 20 to 30 dBm. Maximum input DC level is the maximum DC voltage that the test engineer can feed to the analyzer.

Interference Immunity:

Interference Immunity indicates the on-channel and specific frequency isolation on the cable analyzer. Higher the immunity, better the performance. 

Min. sweep range:

Min Sweep range over the frequency of the cable analyzer needs to check if the sweep range is better for the application.

Distance to Fault (DTF):

Distance to Fault (DTF) measurement capability helps the test engineer to identify the exact point of fault in the RF cable. Need to check for the availability of this feature.

Phase Analyzing capability:

This is an extra feature that helps to analyze the phase variation in the signal when traveling over the cable.

Connector and other Connectivity features:

Test engineers need to select Cable analyzers with the same connector type of the cable on which it is expected to use most to avoid the additional use of connectors.

For the data transmission and monitoring, need to check the features like WiFi, USB, GPS Connectivity, etc.

Availability of RF Power Meter with sensors:

If a power meter is available in a cable analyzer needs to check the frequency range, Dynamic range, Measurement type, Accuracy of it to meet the test requirements.

Batteries, Battery voltage sensor, optional external power supply:

As the application of the cable analyzer is in the field, battery operation is one of the prime requirements.  Need to check the availability of external filed recharging battery capability for smooth operation.


Cable analyzers are available with types like LED display, Colour LCD, and color TFT display. A suitable display helps to read the measurements and proceed faster.

Flash memory for storing graphs:

The data storage feature is needed for the cable analyzer to store the recorded measurements. Higher capacity is better for field applications. Also, check the availability of a USB flash drive.

Environmental features:

Operating temperature support during the AC power and Battery need to verify to match the test field environment. In addition, Maximum humidity, Shock, and vibration parameter also need to verify as per the requirement.

Multilingual support and Warranty: 

Now many Cable analyzers are coming with multilingual language support.

The warranty and extended warranty support need to verify in the purchase process of the cable analyzer. 


Cable Analyzer is one of the prime required instruments for the test and optimizes the performance of a feed line. Cable analyzers are available as a dedicated instrument as well as be a part of other high-end instruments like communication analyzers and vector network analyzers.

Below are the listed cable analyzers manufacturers, who can meet your test requirements.

If you would like to add any further details test engineers need to consider in the selection of a cable Analyzer for this article, please feel free to contact us over the contact or article submission page.

Thanks & Regards

RFMWC: RF & Microwave Community

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