The PicoSource™ AS108 Agile Synthesizer is designed to meet the needs of both benchtop and integrated module applications. Its broad 300 kHz to 8 GHz frequency range, fast settling and programmable phase, frequency and amplitude match it to a wide range of applications, with the added advantages of low cost, small footprint and 12 to 15 V power requirement.
The AS108 has professional-grade performance that is effective in both static and parameter-agile applications, making it a bench or field instrument for developers, scientists, educators, students, and service and installation technicians. Its speed, external clock referencing and trigger capabilities all suit it to system integrations such as automated test, unmanned installations and multi-signal stimulus. A user-programmable power-up mode is planned for a future update.
The AS108 is a full-function USB-controlled vector (IQ) modulating signal synthesizer. It is supplied with a clean, easy and efficient user interface for controlling its amplitude, frequency and phase agility; including modulations, sweeps, hopping and list modes from Microsoft Windows. Multiple synthesizers can be controlled from multiple instances of the software running on a single controlling PC or device. Remote control is also possible using the API included.
PicoSource AS108 Features
300 kHz to 8 GHz operation
–15 dBm to 15 dBm dynamic range
Fast 55 μs frequency settling time to 10 ppm
Fast amplitude settling: < 25 μs to 1 dB and < 200 μs to 0.1 dB
Sweep, hop and list of frequency and level or phase and level
−100 dBc/Hz phase noise typical at 1 GHz and 10 kHz offset
Powerful and capable
FM, ØM and AM modulation, internal sine or external input
External reference clock I/O and trigger I/O
Use sweep lists to emulate schemes such as QPSK, QAM, ASK, FSK
Adjustable dwell and trigger sweep or trigger next point modes
Work in and convert units of measure to suit application
Programming examples for LabVIEW, C, C#, Python, MATLAB
Suited to bench, field and system integration applications
USB-controlled from Windows PC and display or tablet
Touch, mouse, keyboard or remote interface software (API included)
Multi-unit operation with synchronized modulation, sweeps, hops and lists
(Planned for a future release) Configurable stand-alone operation mode
Remote control operation
The PicoSource AS108 is supplied with a DLL that allows you to control the device from C and C-compatible languages and applications such as C , C#, Python, Keysight VEE, National Instruments LabVIEW and MathWorks MATLAB. See the PicoSource AS108 Programmer’s Guide for details.
Multiple device operation
You can control multiple AS108 signal synthesizers from a single PC by running multiple instances of the PicoSynth 2 software. Each time you start a new instance of PicoSynth 2, it will list all compatible connected devices that are not yet being controlled. You can then select any device in the list for connection.
The “User Interface Demo” device is always available in this list and allows PicoSynth 2 to run for demonstration purposes without a connected device. You can use this mode to try out the software before buying a device.
PicoSource AS108 Software
PicoSynth 2 software
The PicoSynth 2 software presents a clean, efficient, touchscreen-compatible user interface for direct and convenient access to synthesis parameters. These can be typed, scrolled or stepped by a configurable increment value, in a selectable unit of measure such as dBm, mW, V RMS, V pk-pk or degrees and radians. Its flexibility matches or exceeds that of the traditional control panel of a benchtop synthesizer.
The controls are presented in three independent parameter tabs, each of which holds separate settings for convenient mode switching:
Carrier wave and basic modulations
Sweep or hopping of parameters
Arbitrary list of parameters
Carrier wave and basic modulations
Set carrier wave frequency, level and phase using typed values or scrolled digits, or by stepping by an increment of your choice, and then enable the output. When required add frequency (FM), phase (ØM or PM) or amplitude (AM) modulation using internal sine modulation synthesis or an external DC-coupled source connected to the front-panel BNC interface. Modulations are derived from digital IQ modulation and the external trigger output (rear-panel BNC) is synchronous with the internal modulation source.
Sweep or hop parameters
Set up sweeps and hops between two parameter values: start of sweep and end of sweep (stop). Either can be the higher value. Set the number of points in a sweep (between 2 and 10 001 points). The dwell time then defines a duration for which each point in the sweep will be output. PicoSynth calculates and displays the duration of the whole sweep and the linear step size between each point. A bidirectional sweep will sweep from the start to stop and back to start in completing a single sweep of the parameter. A hop is a limited case of sweep in which there are only two parameter values that are alternately output.
The AS108 can sweep or hop the frequency, level or phase parameter. It can also sweep or hop two parameters at the same time: frequency and level, or phase and level. This allows, for instance, a simple linear flatness or loss-compensating profile to be applied to a sweep or hop, perhaps increasing output level as frequency increases. The example shown applies a 5 dBm increase in level as the frequency sweeps from 1 GHz to 2 GHz. Sweeps and hops can be synchronized to external events and instruments using the external trigger input and output (rear panel BNCs) or software trigger. Trigger occurs at, or initiates, a sweep start or next point in sweep. This synchronization flexibility can be of particular value to high-speed system sequencing in, for example, high-speed test.
Arbitrary parameter list
Import a parameter list file to generate an arbitrary sequence of frequency/level or phase/level points. The file is in a straightforward comma-separated values (CSV) format that you can create using any text editor or export from a spreadsheet program.
PicoSynth 2 shows a summary of the file contents to help you verify that you have selected the correct file. You can program the dwell time (time between points) and trigger mode.
Save, recall and other settings
Parameter step increment values and the saving and recall of user settings are found under the Settings tab.
In a future firmware update, we plan to enable the loading of modified power-up settings into the device, allowing the signal source to power up in a known state without further connection or control over USB.