In a break with tradition Textronix have announced their first USB-based item of test equipment. The RSA306 is a spectrum analyzer with a 9 kHz to 6.2 GHz frequency range and a 40 MHz instantaneous bandwidth. According to the press release this is just the first of many test instruments the firm will be launching which takes advantage of the availability of affordable desktop computers and laptops with sufficient processing power to handle complex test and measurement analysis along with high-speed USB 3.0 interfaces.

“As with nearly all areas of electronics design and test, requirements for RF and microwave test are changing quickly leading to the need for new instrumentation approaches,” said Tektronix general manager Jim McGillivary. “We’re moving to address these changing requirements across multiple market segments with test and measurement solutions.” Tektronix is also supplying its SignalVu-PC software suite at no cost, giving open access to powerful signal analysis tools that have previously been only available with the purchase of expensive bench instruments. It offers advanced analysis capabilities for such applications as budget-conscious research and development, mobile radio network installation, interference hunting and university level lab classes. An open API allows customers to use their own custom Windows-based interface such as Matlab or Python to manipulate raw data coming from the instrument.

With prices starting at €2,810 (or £2,340) the RSA306 is considerably less than conventional analyzers of a similar spec. Tektronix will be showcasing the analyzer at the upcoming electronica exhibition in Munich.