Supercharging a VNA With an RF Switch Matrix (VNA Port Extension)

The latest wireless standards for Internet-of-Things and 5G cellular telecommunication and wireless sensing technologies incorporate multi-input multi-output (MIMO) and beamforming techniques that enhance the radio performance of modern devices at the expense of drastically increasing complexity. One area this complexity is increased is during RF testing where the high port counts of these new devices and systems have laboratory and automated test designers juggling between several options to accommodate additional ports. 

To address these challenges, a test designer generally must choose either purchasing a very high ticket VNA with the required number of ports, purchasing an array of the most recent modular VNAs that reach the desired port count, or using a switch matrix, or matrix switch, to extend a VNA port count. Of these options, extending a VNA with a matrix switch can be one of the most cost effective, modular, fastest, and least resource intensive methods of reaching a desired port count, all without having to replace any VNAs that may already be on hand.

This article aims to educate readers on how switch matrices can be used to extend the port count of VNAs to meet the testing demands of the latest wireless standards and sensing technologies.

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