Measurement Errors


You can improve accuracy by knowing how errors occur and how to correct for them. This topic discusses the sources of measurement error and how to monitor error terms.

See other Calibration Topics

Drift Errors

Drift errors are due to the instrument or test-system performance changing after a calibration has been done.

Drift errors are primarily caused by thermal expansion characteristics of interconnecting cables within the test set and conversion stability of the microwave frequency converter and can be removed by re-calibrating.

The time frame over which a calibration remains accurate is dependent on the rate of drift that the test system undergoes in your test environment.

Providing a stable ambient temperature usually minimizes drift. For more information, see Measurement Stability.

Random Errors

Random errors are not predictable and cannot be removed through error correction. However, there are things that can be done to minimize their impact on measurement accuracy. The following explains the three main sources of random errors.

Instrument Noise Errors

Noise is unwanted electrical disturbances generated in the components of the analyzer. These disturbances include:

You can reduce noise errors by doing one or more of the following:

Switch Repeatability Errors

Mechanical RF switches are used in the analyzer to switch the source attenuator settings.

Sometimes when mechanical RF switches are activated, the contacts close differently from when they were previously activated. When this occurs, it can adversely affect the accuracy of a measurement.

You can reduce the effects of switch repeatability errors by avoiding switching attenuator settings during a critical measurement.

Connector Repeatability Errors

Connector wear causes changes in electrical performance. You can reduce connector repeatability errors by practicing good connector care methods. See Connector Care.

Systematic Errors

Systematic errors are caused by imperfections in the analyzer and test setup.

Reflection measurements generate the following three systematic errors:

Transmission measurements generate the following three systematic errors:

Notes about the following Systematic Error descriptions:

Directivity Error

All network analyzers make reflection measurements using directional couplers or bridges.

With an ideal coupler, only the reflected signal from the DUT appears at the 'A' receiver. In reality, a small amount of incident signal leaks through the forward path of the coupler and into the 'A' receiver. This leakage path, and any other path that allows energy to arrive at the 'A' receiver without reflecting off the DUT, contributes to directivity error.

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Directivity Error.

  1. During calibration, a load standard is connected to Port 1. We assume no reflections from the load.

  2. The signal measured at the 'A' receiver results from the incident signal leakage through the coupler and other paths.

  3. Directivity error is mathematically removed from subsequent reflection measurements.

Isolation Error

Ideally, only signal transmitted through the DUT is measured at the 'B' receiver.

In reality, a small amount of signal leaks into the 'B' receiver through various paths in the analyzer.

The signal leakage, also known as crosstalk, is isolation error which can be characterized and reduced by the analyzer.

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Isolation Error

  1. During calibration, load standards are connected to both Port 1 and Port 2.

  2. The signal measured at the 'B' receiver is leakage through various paths in the analyzer.

  3. This isolation error is mathematically removed from subsequent transmission measurements.

Source Match Error

Ideally in reflection measurements, all of the signal that is reflected off of the DUT is measured at the 'A' receiver.

In reality, some of the signal reflects off the DUT, and multiple internal reflections occur between the analyzer and the DUT. These reflections combine with the incident signal and are measured at the 'A' receiver, but not at the 'R' receiver.

This measurement error is called source match error which can be characterized and reduced by the analyzer.

 

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Source Match Error

  1. During calibration, all reflection standards are connected to Port 1. Known reflections from the standards are measured at the 'A' receiver.

  2. Complex math is used to calculate source match error.

  3. Source match error is mathematically removed from subsequent reflection and transmission measurements.

Load Match Error

Ideally in transmission measurements, an incident signal is transmitted through the DUT and is measured at the 'B' receiver.

In reality, some of the signal is reflected off of Port 2 and other components and is not measured at the 'B' receiver.

This measurement error is called load match error which can be characterized and reduced by the analyzer.

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Load Match Error

  1. The Port 1 and Port 2 test connectors are mated together for a perfect zero-length thru connection. If this is not possible, a characterized thru adapter is inserted. This allows a known amount of incident signal at Port 2.

  2. The signal measured at the 'A' receiver is reflection signal off of Port 2

  3. The resulting load match error is mathematically removed from subsequent transmission and reflection measurements.

Frequency Response Reflection Tracking Error

Reflection measurements are made by comparing signal at the 'A' receiver to signal at the 'R1' receiver. This is called a ratio measurement or "A over R1" (A/R1).

For ideal reflection measurements, the frequency response of the 'A' and 'R1' receivers would be identical.

In reality, they are not, causing a frequency response reflection tracking error. This is the vector sum of all test variations in which magnitude and phase change as a function of frequency. This includes variations contributed by:

Frequency response reflection tracking error can be characterized and reduced by the analyzer.

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Frequency Response Reflection Tracking Error.

  1. During calibration, all reflection standards are used to determine reflection tracking.

  2. The average 'A' receiver response is compared with the 'R1' receiver response.

  3. Complex math is used to calculate Frequency Response Reflection Tracking Error (see the following diagram). This frequency response reflection tracking error is mathematically removed from subsequent DUT measurements.

Note: In reflection response calibrations, only a single calibration standard is measured (open or short) and thus only its contribution to the error correction is used.

Frequency Response Transmission Tracking Error

Transmission measurements are made by comparing signal at the 'B' receiver to signal at the 'R1' receiver. This is called a ratio measurement or "B over R1" (B/R1).

For ideal transmission measurements, the frequency response of the 'B' and 'R1' receivers would be identical.

In reality, they are not, causing a frequency response transmission tracking error. This is the vector sum of all test variations in which magnitude and phase change as a function of frequency. This includes variations contributed by:

Frequency response transmission tracking error can be characterized and reduced by the analyzer.

How the Analyzer Measures and Reduces Frequency Response Transmission Tracking Error.

  1. During calibration, the Port 1 and Port 2 test connectors are mated together for a perfect zero-length thru connection. If this is not possible, a characterized thru adapter is inserted. This allows a known amount of incident signal to reach Port 2.

  2. Measurements are made at the 'B' and 'R1' receivers.

  3. Complex math is used to calculate Frequency Response Transmission Tracking Error (see the following diagram). This frequency response transmission tracking error is mathematically removed from subsequent DUT measurements.

.

 

3-Port Error Terms

The following flow diagram displays the 3-port error term model:

where:

E = error term

DIR = Directivity

MAT = Forward Source Match and Reverse Load Match

TRK = Forward Reflection Tracking and Reverse Transmission Tracking

 

4-Port error terms

A full 4-port calibration requires the following terms:

Learn about the port numbering convention for error terms.

 

 

 

Source Port

 

 

1

2

3

4

R

e

c

 

P

o

r

t

1

DIR 1,1

RTRK 1,1

SRM 1,1

LDM 1,2

TTRK 1,2

XTLK 1,2

LDM 1,3

TTRK 1,3

XTLK 1,3

LDM 1,4

TTRK 1,4

XTLK 1,4

2

LDM 2,1

TTRK 2,1

XTLK 2,1

DIR 2,2

RTRK 2,2

SRM 2,2

LDM 2,3

TTRK 2,3

XTLK 2,3

LDM 2,4

TTRK 2,4

XTLK 2,4

3

LDM 3,1

TTRK 3,1

XTLK 3,1

LDM 3,2

TTRK 3,2

XTLK 3,2

DIR 3,3

RTRK 3,3

SRM 3,3

LDM 3,4

TTRK 3,4

XTLK 3,4

4

LDM 4,1

TTRK 4,1

XTLK 4,1

LDM 4,2

TTRK 4,2

XTLK 4,2

LDM 4,3

TTRK 4,3

XTLK 4,3

DIR 4,4

RTRK 4,4

SRM 4,4

Reflection terms

Transmission terms

How can we measure only 3 THRU connections?

On a 4-port PNA, a full 4-port cal can be performed while measuring only 3 THRU connections. Measuring more than 3 THRU connections will give higher accuracy.

By measuring all of the reflection terms, and 3 transmission THRU connections, there is adequate information available to calculate the remaining transmission terms. The following is a high level explanation of the concept. The actual calculations are much more complex.

To simplify, let's substitute letters (A,B,C,D) for port numbers from the diagram above so that they can be combined without confusion. Also for simplicity, let's assume that the source match and directivity errors are zero.

 

 

A

B

C

D

A

AA

AB

AC

AD

B

BA

BB

BC

BD

C

CA

CB

CC

CD

D

DA

DB

DC

DD

The following shows how the BC term is calculated from BA and AC:

Similarly:

Monitoring Error Terms using Cal Set Viewer

You can use Cal Set Viewer to monitor the measured data and the calculated error term. This will help to determine the health of your PNA and the accuracy of your measurements.

By printing or saving the error terms, you can periodically compare current error terms with previously recorded error terms that have been generated by the same PNA, measurement setup, and calibration kit. If previously generated values are not available, refer to Typical Error Term Data in Appendix A, "Error Terms", of the Service Guide.

Note: The service guide for your PNA is available at http://www.Keysight.com/find/pna

Viewing Cal Set Data

See the error terms equations.

How to access Cal Set Viewer

Using front-panel
hardkey
[softkey] buttons

Using Menus

  1. Press Cal

  2. then [Manage Cals]

  3. then [Cal Set Viewer]

  1. Click Response

  2. then Cal

  3. then Manage Cals

  4. then Cal Set Viewer

How to use Cal Set Viewer

  1. Use the down arrow to select a Cal Set. Then click either:

    • Error Terms - calculated data.

    • Standards - the raw measurement data of the Standard. ONLY available with Unguided Cal (not ECal or Guided Cal).

  1. Use the down arrow to select an error term or standard to view.

  2. Select the Enable check box to view the data on the PNA screen.

Port numbering convention for error terms is the same as for S-Parameters:

E Term (Receiver, Source) with the following exceptions:

  • Load Match (2,1) - The match of port 2 which is measured by making an S11 measurement.

  • Load Match (1,2) - The match of port 1 which is measured by making an S22 measurement.

  • Transmission Tracking (2,1) - The port 2 receiver relative to the port 1 reference. (source=port 1).

  • Transmission Tracking (1,2)  - The port 1 receiver relative to the port 2 reference. (source=port 2).

  • And so forth for multiport calibrations.


Last modified:

17-Mar-2014

Added link to equations

3-Sep-2008

Removed legacy content