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RF Engines (RFEL) has developed a 32-channel radio-frequency (RF) signal generator that is designed to enable challenging RF environments to be recreated in laboratories to test RF equipment.

The company has created a complete solution on a Xilinx Virtex-5 field-programme gate-array chip that is run within a PC on a PCI Express card.

The PCI Upconverter is a flexible and configurable system that replaces racks of expensive RF test equipment.

Current solutions generate signals from data stored on memory chips so that the signals repeat after a few seconds.

By contrast, the PCI Upconverter streams its data from hard disks so that 32 channels of different signals can be generated over several days, recreating real environments for proper soak testing.

The complex modulated signals can be created in Matlab or similar programmes with any type of waveform modulation, including frequency hopping, TDMA, FDMA, CW, QPSK and QAM, and the characteristics can be manipulated in real time.

Each channel can be individually programmed with the required bandwidth and, being digitally generated, there are no sideband or filtering issues that would cause problems with multiple signal analogue systems.

The system is controlled via an API on a Windows platform and is provided with a suite of functions that allows direct control from a Matlab environment.

The integral Matlab graphical user interface simplifies operations and makes the system ‘look and feel’ like a piece of test equipment, according to RFEL.

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