A spectrum analyzer is a device that measures the power spectrum. It is often used to examine the components of a waveform, whether it is electrical, acoustic or optical in form. There are basically two kinds of spectrum analyzers, the analog and the digital.
It also displays the received signal and compares the bandwidth to the frequency. A comparison is often done with an Oscilloscope, which compares the strength of the signal against the time.
Spectrum analyzers are also useful in analyzing amplitude against the frequency. Amplitude is normally measured in power or in dBm instead of volts, which is what is normally used in most spectrum analyzer.
The reason behind this is the fact that there are low signal strengths and frequency of movements that may not be measured. Spectrum Analyzers can only measure the frequency of the response at powers as low as –100 dBm. These are the levels that are frequently seen in microwave receivers.
Oscilloscopes, on the other hand, cannot measure such very low voltage. The device can only deal with very low frequency levels and high amplitude.
The analog analyzer uses a filter with a mid-frequency that can be automatically shifted through a series of frequencies where the spectrum will be measured. The digital spectrum, on the other hand, utilizes a mathematical process called the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), which is used to transform a wavform into the different components of its frequency spectrum.
This way, computer programs who do the transformations will make the audio processing much easier. FFTs, however, are not only used for this purpose. They also have applications in other fields.
There are also spectrum analyzers that makes use of a technique wherein the incoming signal is converted into a lower frequency. This hybrid technique uses first the superheterodyne and then the FFT techniques. Examples of spectrum analyzers with this technique are those made by the Tektronix from the real-time spectrum analyzer series.
Spectrum Analyzers have so many applications. One application is the device frequency response measurement, which refers to the amplitude response of a machine against frequency of device.
Another application is Microwave Tower Monitoring, which measures the transmitted power of the machine as well as the power that it receives. This is utilized for the verification if the signal strengths and frequency of the transmitter. A directional coupler is used to tap the power. This is done so as not to disturb or interrupt communications.
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