What is a Real Time Spectrum Analyzer (RTSA)?

Back To Basics – What IS a Real Time Spectrum Analyzer and How Do They Work?

Unlike oscilloscopes, which display signals in the time domain (voltage against time), RF spectrum analyzers display signals in frequency domain (amplitude against frequency). This allows users to track signal levels and phase noise, as well as identify spurious signals and signal frequencies. Essentially, the RF spectrum analyzer is used to measure signals we know (our own transmitters or electrical equipment), or to track and identify spurious signals that we do not already know.

There are two main types of spectrum analyzer: digital and analog (often called sweep analyzers). The majority of spectrum analyzers available on the market today are digital, though there are still analog analyzers out there. As RF congestion continues to worsen, more and more spectrum analyzer users are understanding the need for digital sweeps, and are beginning to realize that what they truly require is real time spectrum analysis. Fortunately for them, real time spectrum analyzers (sometimes just referred to as “RTSA”) are more popular now than ever, offering instant real-time visualization of the RF environment without waiting for individual sweeps.

This is especially handy for short-burst GSM signals, FHSS transmitters, and intermittent spurious signals, as sweep speed can be especially slow in very congested environments or with very high RBW settings. In any mission-critical RF environment, the benefit of real time spectrum analysis is immeasurable.

Types of Real Time Spectrum Analyzers

As technology has advanced, spectrum analyzers have become much more readily available, with a different one for every potential application and budget. The days of traditional, clunky “box style” analyzers are quickly ending, as lightweight and sleek handheld units, small portable USB units, and even remote-controlled rack-mount units become more popular and more affordable, with equally impressive functionality.

Handheld Real Time Spectrum Analyzers
A SPECTRAN V5 Handheld Real Time Spectrum Analyzer shown with optional Locking Frames accessory.

AaroniaUSA offers all of the above-mentioned versions in our latest product line, the Spectran V5 Series of Real Time Spectrum Analyzers. These analyzers work in conjunction with the World’s Fastest Real Time Spectrum Analyzer Software, the RTSA Suite, offering 20GHz scans in less than 20mS at a price point much lower than those box style competitor models. This line of analyzers is fully customizable, with various optional upgrades, accessories, and frequency ranges, allowing you to “mix and match” to build the perfect real time spectrum analyzer kit for your test and measurement application.

Learn More About RTSA

For more in-depth information on how real time spectrum analyzers work, check out this great informational video by Electronics-Notes.com. Keep an eye out for featured AaroniaUSA products in the video, including the Spectran V5 Handheld RTSA and Log Periodic Antenna at 0:19 and 5:32, and the USB-Based Spectran V5 X-Version RTSA at 5:17.

Another excellent resource is the written guide by Electronics-Notes.com, with in-depth details on how analyzers work, what they are for, and what types are available. Make sure to check out the section on the types of spectrum analyzers, to compare the difference between digital, analog, and real time spectrum analyzers (and see the great photo of the Spectran V5 X-Version USB RTSA on the USB Analyzers page).

To learn more about AaroniaUSA Spectrum Analyzers, please call 214-935-9800 or email our Applications Specialists at sales at aaroniausa.com with a list of your Real Time Spectrum Analyzer required specifications.