What are RF and microwave switches?Pickering RF/Microwave Switching from 100MHz to 67GHz

They are devices that route high frequency signal through transmission paths. RF and microwave switches are used extensively in microwave test systems for signal routing between instruments and devices under test (DUT). Incorporating a switch into a switch matrix system enables you to route signals from multiple instruments to single or multiple DUTs — allowing multiple tests to be performed with the same setup, eliminating the need for frequent connects and disconnects. 

Download or view these RF & Microwave resources:

RF & Microwave Switching Reference Map  Video: The Importance of Microwave Switching   White Paper: Making the Right Choices when Specifying an RF Switching System

Pickering RF/Microwave Switching

Our RF/Microwave products cover the frequency spectrum including, SPDT, Transfer, MUX and Matrix switches with bandwidths from 100MHz to 67GHz available on PXI, LXI & USB platforms. We offer flexible options for control communications and system architecture, including: 

PXI Switch Modules Available

LXI Switch Modules Available:

Our RF/Microwave switching systems are used for design validation, reliability and production test including 5G, SD radios, S parameter testing for RF cables, antennas, radar and semiconductor verification.

Pickering Application Software and Drivers

All of our products are delivered with software drivers that can be used in virtually all major OS’ and application development environments. While we supply IVI drivers as mandated for LXI instruments, we do offer a common API that interfaces with all products regardless of the communications link to the host PC. This allows customers to choose the platform that is best suited to meet a specific application requirement without needing to incorporate a new software interface. Our drivers include soft front panels (SFP) that provide the ability to manually control the on/off state of each relay. We have recently introduced a shared memory architecture that allows users to monitor the states of the relays on the SFP during program execution which facilitates integration debug efforts. 

Microwave switch systems are often a complex network of interconnected relays, passive components and wiring and we have learned over the years that the integration effort can become a time consuming task for software engineers who need to define the states of all relays required to establish a path between a test instrument and the article under test. To help accelerate integration, our products are supported by our Switch Path Manager signal routing software which enables an entire switching subsystem, including all relays and external interconnects, to be virtually defined using a graphical interface. Once a switch architecture has been defined in Switch Path Manager, software engineers can simply write function calls that connect the desired input to output without needing to manage individual switch states. Some of our customers have experienced considerable time savings in their integration efforts when using the SPM utility.

RF and Microwave switches allow your test system to make full use of the RF test equipment it contains. However, there is no one solution that fits all systems, designing RF switching involves making engineering compromises that involve density, connector choices, bandwidth, cost, switch topology as well as choice about the control interface. 

For applications requiring a mix of RF and Microwave switching functions and the convenience of an Ethernet interface in the same 4U chassis, look no further than our LXI/USB modular chassis. These chassis accept any of our PXI RF and Microwave switches and attenuators.

You can find more information on RF & Microwave switching on our Knowledgebase or contact us to speak to one of our switching experts.

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