Hand-held RF source finder detects hidden signals

June 09, 2014 // By Julien Happich
The IDA 2 second-generation interference and direction analyser from Narda Safety Test Solutions is a new hand-held instrument that has been designed to provide communications and security professionals with a means of rapidly detecting, analysing and locating sources of RF interference or unauthorised transmissions.

The instrument incorporates a powerful feature called persistence display, which uses different colours to represent the number of times an amplitude value occurs at a given frequency, thereby enabling intermittent or low-level interference to be clearly distinguished when it might otherwise be hidden within the main signal.

This feature, along with the unit's capability to generate high-resolution spectrograms and time-domain displays, are advanced I/Q analysis functions that would normally be associated with expensive test-lab equipment. Using the IDA 2, signals can therefore be detected and analysed on the spot without the need for external computation.

Operating over the radio spectrum from 9 kHz to 6 GHz, the instrument records signals’ in-phase and quadrature components (the I/Q data) in real time at a maximum channel bandwidth of 32 MHz and can store up to 250,000 I/Q data pairs without compression. Computation and analysis can either be performed continuously during the measurement or subsequently from the stored data set.

Since the underlying data remains unchanged in the IDA 2 memory, users can alter display parameters such as the frequency or time resolution afterwards and zoom in on details right down to the original resolution. If required, the I/Q data set can be transferred to a PC via the instrument’s Ethernet port.