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Equipment For An Electrical Engineer's Wish List

December 04, 2020

Test equipment is on many engineers’ wish lists for the holidays. It may be merely a voltmeter, or it could be as elaborate as a spectrum analyzer or digital storage oscilloscope (DSO). There is one thing that most of us have in common around this time of year: it is a time of wishful thinking, sizing up what’s on the test bench right now versus what might be added for the new year.

Purchasing test equipment as a gift can be costly. Fortunately, reliable sources such as Axiom Test Equipment rent high-quality test equipment and sell it used. Either way is a chance for test equipment gift giving at a fraction of the cost of new equipment and a way to put a dent in an engineer’s test equipment wish lists for the holidays.

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A wish list for test instruments may have any number of instruments on it, with performance levels determined by where the instruments are used. Renting is a great way to find out if a particular instrument is the right one, without committing to it. With the global interest in Fifth Generation (5G) wireless cellular communications networks, for example, many instrument wish lists are moving higher in frequency, into the millimeter-wave range, for test instruments capable of checking 5G infrastructure not just below 6 GHz but also at 24 GHz and beyond. Cellular 5G systems will use those higher frequencies for high-speed data links and wireless network providers will require test signal sources as well as test signal analyzers capable of wide bandwidths to 50 GHz and beyond.

Since 5G is being promoted as the world’s next great wireless communications technology, signal generators and analyzers for 5G infrastructure testing are sure to be on many wish lists. Finding the best instruments for a particular application is never easy, especially when working in typically uncharted territory such as the millimeter-wave spectrum of 5G networks. But renting is a way to explore the capabilities of different instruments and how they fare for a measurement application that is also on the wish list.

As an example, the R&S® FSW85 Signal and Spectrum Analyzer from Rohde & Schwarz captures and shows signals to 85 GHz. It has a large display screen for ease of use, with enough bandwidth not only for 5G network installers but for just about every commercial, industrial, medical, and military RF, microwave, and millimeter-wave signal analysis chore. Since it can measure pulsed as well as continuous-wave (CW) signals, it is also a good fit for another explosive application area, testing the safety radar systems now being installed in advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) equipment in self-driving autonomous vehicles.

For engineers still working at 6 GHz and below, the lower-frequency portion of 5G systems, signals under test often a boost. While the installation of equipment at 24 GHz and above will go quickly, the majority of applications for RF/microwave electronic hardware fall below 6 GHz, and a test amplifier such as the Amplifier Research 200S1G6 solid-state Class A linear amplifier can deliver the power (200 W from 0.7 to 6.0 GHz) to make signals more visible on an oscilloscope or signal analyzer.  

One test requirement that may not be on every engineer’s test equipment holiday wish list but probably should be is for electromagnetic-compatibility (EMC) testing, to ensure that a new electronic design will operate without interfering with other equipment. As commercial, industrial, and military applications move higher in frequency, their EM fields expand in different ways and should be checked. The HP 8593EM EMC pre-compliance analyzer from Agilent/Keysight Technologies makes a versatile addition to any test equipment holiday wish list since it can function as an EMC pre-compliance tester as well as a standard spectrum analyzer. It is an older model, which is reflected in the low price. Alternatively, if you’re wishing for something with more enhanced specifications, consider the fully compliant R&S ESW8 EMI Test Receiver.


Whether by renting or purchasing used test equipment, the upcoming holidays offer an excuse to fill some test-instrument wish lists at least for a short time, and with the opportunity to see just how much value a different instrument may bring to a company’s measurement department. Whether rented or purchased used, the equipment is fully tested and calibrated and ready to perform to full expectations.

The instruments cited here are just a small number of test equipment examples; more can be found on the Axiom Test Equipment website at, by contacting Axiom Test Equipment’s sales department at, or by calling an Axiom sales representative at 760-806-6600.

And please don’t forget: From all of us at Axiom Test Equipment to our customers, our equipment suppliers, and your families, we wish you a safe and happy holidays with the hopes that your wish lists are filled for 2021!

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I just received the unit in my lab. This is better than Amazon!

Scot M.

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