NewsPickering Interfaces Unveils High-Performance PXI/PXIe Microwave Relay Modules for Demanding RF &...

Pickering Interfaces Unveils High-Performance PXI/PXIe Microwave Relay Modules for Demanding RF & Communications Applications up to 110 GHz

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Pickering Interfaces, a renowned provider of modular signal switching and simulation solutions, has announced the launch of a new series of PXI/PXIe microwave relay modules. These advanced modules are specifically designed to handle demanding RF and communications applications, including cutting-edge technologies like automotive radar. Unveiled at the prestigious IMS event, this extension to Pickering’s terminated SPDT microwave switches marks the first offering capable of switching 110 GHz signals, delivering unparalleled RF switching performance within Pickering’s switching systems. As the operating frequencies continue to evolve and reach higher levels, Pickering’s RF and microwave switching solutions will increasingly support 110 GHz to address the latest requirements in RF testing.

Microwave relay modules play a crucial role in managing high-frequency signals in the microwave range. They serve as electronic components that enable precise control and switching of microwave signals in various applications, such as RF systems, communications systems, radar systems, wireless networks, and satellite communications.

These modules are specifically designed to overcome the unique challenges posed by microwave signals, including their high frequency, narrow bandwidth, and sensitivity. They feature high-quality materials and components to ensure low insertion loss, high isolation, and minimal signal distortion, guaranteeing accurate and reliable performance in microwave-based systems.

The newly introduced 40-781A-92x (PXI) and 42-781A-92x (PXIe) modules consist of single or dual microwave changeover switch payloads capable of handling signals up to 110 GHz in 50 Ω. They come with external terminations and utilize high-quality SMA 1.0 connectors mounted on the front panel for reliable connections. The externally terminated switches offer additional advantages as users can replace the accessible terminations with higher-power RF loads to accommodate increased signal levels. This switch topology flexibility allows for alternative configurations, such as terminated 4-port bypass (with one termination removed) and 5-port DP3T (with both terminations removed), enabling altered switching functionality to suit specific requirements.

One notable feature of the 40/42-781A-92x range is the inclusion of latching relays. These electromechanical relays retain their contact positions even when the power supply is removed. Unlike standard relays that rely on continuous power, latching relays require only a pulse of current to change their state and maintain it until another pulse is applied. By utilizing latching relays, the heating effects when the switches are energized are minimized, resulting in reduced power consumption and heat generation. Additionally, LED indicators are provided to offer clear visual confirmation of the switch status, ensuring system operation can be easily verified.

Steve Edwards, Switching Product Manager at Pickering, expressed the significance of the new 40/42-781A-92x modules, stating their suitability for emerging microwave technologies like automotive radar, as well as applications in radar systems, satellite communications, and secure short-range land-based communication testing. These modules not only excel in microwave applications but also find utility across the entire RF spectrum, particularly in scenarios where extremely low insertion loss and ultra-high isolation are critical. Furthermore, they can be effectively employed at lower frequencies, offering impressive power handling capabilities of up to 35 W (without termination).

To enhance test system maintenance and longevity, the 40/42-781A-92x range incorporates an onboard relay cycle counting feature. This proactive “health” monitoring capability enables the tracking of relay usage, allowing for predictive maintenance and the identification of relays approaching their end-of-life stage. Leveraging this information, system connections can be reconfigured to distribute signal loads evenly across relay contacts, thereby prolonging the lifespan of the relays.

To ensure seamless integration and support, the 40/42-781A-92x range is supplied with drivers compatible with all popular software programming environments. Supported operating systems include all Microsoft-supported Windows versions, various Linux distributions, and other real-time hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) tools.

With the introduction of these high-performance microwave relay modules, Pickering Interfaces continues to drive innovation in the field of signal switching and simulation, catering to the evolving needs of RF and microwave applications. These modules enable engineers and researchers to achieve precise control and management of high-frequency signals, facilitating accurate testing, verification, and operation in diverse microwave-based systems and emerging technologies.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.