NIST Traceable RF Attenuation Measurement System
Chitta, Nikhil Chand Kashyap
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The motivation for this work is to identify and reduce the significant source of uncertainty in an attenuation measurement system, thereby allowing it to measure with less than 1% uncertainty. The Attenuation is determined by comparing the Device Under Test (DUT) with an accurate reference standard. This work focuses on building attenuation measurement system to facilitate the comparison where the significant source of error can be limited by the error of reference standard. To build such a system, we first create a simple budget model representing the system architecture of series Intermediate Frequency (IF) substitution in the schematic of Advanced Design System (ADS) allowing us to plug in specifications from datasheets of Commercially Available Off-The-Shelf (COTS) equipment and simulate the system operation. Accordingly, we acquire the equipment and demonstrate successful attenuation measurement. Finally, we compare results of the attenuation measurement with that of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) calibrated attenuators. We perform a thorough analysis to determine the key sources of error and calculate uncertainty to establish NIST traceability. The demonstrated system reports attenuation of the DUT along with its uncertainty, adhering to the guidelines of Guide to the expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM). This prototype is currently capable of making an accurate measurement with ±1.051 dB uncertainty. Additionally, we discuss appropriate methods to reduce the uncertainty in measurement to ± 0.007548 dB achieving less than 1% uncertainty.