RF Spectrum Analyzer Adds VITA 49 Functionality

vita 49

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Test and measurement firm Signal Hound has added VITA 49 functionality to its SM200A 20 GHz headless RF spectrum analyzer and monitoring receiver. The VME bus International Trade Association (VITA) 49 standard defines a packet-based exchange protocol for RF devices such as spectrum analyzers and SDR receivers.

The standard is intended to increase interoperability within RF systems by providing a communications format that is hardware and supplier-independent.

The latest version of this standard, VITA 49.2, defines the Signal Data and Context packet types. Signal Data packets consist of variable-sized blocks of I/Q data, along with a 32-bit trailer to convey critical information about the state of the receiver at the time the samples were obtained, such as timestamps and whether the system was being overdriven. The Context packets convey detailed information about the state and settings of the device at a given time. The Context Section is of variable size, depending on how many of the available fields are used.

Typical applications for VITA 49:


Typical applications for VITA 49 are spectral monitoring and scanning, signal intelligence, radar, electronic warfare, direction finding and geo-location.

Advantages of the new Vita 49 functionality:

  • Greater context for signal data including timestamps and system state change indicators
  • Status indicators for calibration to external time reference, stability of time reference, and invalid data due to sample loss or over-range samples
  • Knowledge of system settings including RF reference frequency, bandwidth, reference level, attenuation, sample rate, temperature, device identity, and GPS geolocation
  • Increased compatibility with a wide range of RF applications

“The SM200A plays a critical role in diverse systems—we want to make sure that, no matter the architecture of that system, the SM200A speaks the language,” said Roger Rush, the Signal Hound software engineer responsible for the new program feature. Using the new VRT functions in the SM200A API, VITA 49 Signal Data packets and Context packets help generalize data for integration in complex RF systems. This complements the SM200A hardware features including 100-kHz to 20-GHz span, 160-MHz real-time bandwidth, 110-dB dynamic range, 1-THz/s sustained sweep speed, and low phase noise.


The SM200A VRT functionality is available immediately, at no cost, as part of the Signal Hound software development kit

Click here for more information.


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