Pickering Interfaces increases RF Switching Density with new PXI & PXIe modules

Compact 4x-724 family enables scalability of high-performance RF switching systems & reduces test cycle duration

Pickering Interfaces has introduced new integrated PXI RF matrix modules with a 32×8 topology — representing a 33% increase in matrix density per chassis slot. The new compact-footprint 40-724 PXI & 42-724 PXIe modules provide high performance with a usable bandwidth of 300 MHz for non-loop-thru models.

Facilitating simple scalability, the modules have options with loop-thru ports on the Y-axis for larger applications requiring matrix expansion. To provide the maximum granularity of test system construction, the 4x-724 family is available in four matrix sizes: 16×4, 16×8, 32×4 and the fully populated 32×8. Loop-thru enabled options are provided for each matrix size. The loop-thru ports are connected directly to the matrix, which — unlike other RF matrix products — allows the creation of X-to-X signal paths between cards when cascading multiple modules. This helpful feature increases test system flexibility but with reduced RF performance.

Comments Steve Edwards, Switching Product Manager at Pickering Interfaces: “The family builds on existing Pickering RF matrix module technology to increase the maximum matrix size to 32×8 for use in 50Ω test applications. The increased density, representing a marked increase over existing products, allows complex switching systems to be produced while requiring only two chassis slots.”

4x-724 RF matrix modules feature high-quality, ruthenium-sputtered reed relays, ensuring a long service life. Also, reed relays have an operating time of just 0.5 ms (typical), significantly shorter than electromechanical-based solutions, minimizing the test cycle duration and increasing product test throughput.

The modules are available with a PXI or PXIe control interface providing flexibility in chassis selection. All versions use industry-standard SMB connectors to maximize system performance while simplifying the interface to external instrumentation and DUTs.

The new 4x-724 RF matrix modules are aimed at general-purpose RF testing in many applications, including emergency radios and semiconductor test. All versions of the 4x-724 are supported by Pickering’s eBIRST switching system test tools that can be used for preventative maintenance tests to determine if relays are approaching end-of-life. In addition, the eBIRST tools allow fast fault finding, thus minimizing system downtime. Pickering’s connection division offers both standard and custom cable solutions that can aid with the integration of the module into the test system.