Calibration Thru Methods

Other Cal Topics

What is a Non-Insertable Device

To understand the Thru method choices, you must first understand what is meant by "Non-Insertable device". These definitions also apply to ECal modules. Substitute "ECal module" for "device". Then see ECal Thru Method Choices.

A non-insertable device is one whose connectors could NOT mate together. They either do not have the same type of connector or they have the same gender. This also means that the test port cables would not mate together, as in the following diagram.


An insertable device is one whose connectors could mate together. They have the same type of connector and opposite,or no, gender. This also means that the test port cables would mate together, as in the following diagram.


Choosing a Thru Method of Calibration

The Thru method is selected from the Cal Wizard. Select the  Modify checkbox in the Select DUT Connectors and Cal Kits dialog box.


For ECal, the following choices have different meanings. See THRU methods for ECal.

For 4-port calibration, see How can we measure only 3 THRU connections?

Choice for Insertable Devices: FLUSH Thru (also known as Zero-length Thru)

When calibrating for an insertable device, the test ports at your measurement reference plane connect directly together. This is called a zero-length THRU, or Flush THRU meaning that the THRU standard has zero-length: no delay, no loss, no capacitance, and no inductance. Your calibration kit may not have a physical THRU standard because it is assumed you have an insertable device and will be using a zero-length THRU.

Choices for Non-Insertable Devices

The following methods calibrate for a non-insertable device:

Adapter Removal Calibration

This method is potentially very accurate. However, it requires many connections which increases the chances of inaccurate data.

Two full 2-port calibrations are performed: one with the adapter connected at port 1, and the other with the adapter connected to port 2. The result of the two calibrations is a single full 2-port calibration that includes accurate characterization and removal of the mismatch caused by the adapter.

Performing an Adapter Removal Cal requires:

To select Adapter Removal during a SmartCal, select the  Modify checkbox in the Select DUT Connectors and Cal Kits dialog box. The Cal Wizard will guide you through the steps.

Learn how to perform an Adapter Removal Cal using ECal.

Defined Thru (also known as Known Thru, Cal Kit Thru, ECal Thru, Characterized Thru)

Defined Thru uses the THRU definition that is stored in the Cal Kit file or ECal module. The THRU standard may have worn over time, making it not as accurate as when it was new. Defined Thru is usually more accurate than Adapter Removal, but not as accurate as Unknown Thru method.


  • If performing an ECal, this is the THRU standard in the ECal Module.

  • If Defined Thru appears as a potential THRU method in the SmartCal Wizard, this means that there is a defined THRU standard in the selected Cal Kit. This could be a Zero-length Thru. The SmartCal Wizard will prompt you to connect the required standard when appropriate.

To define a THRU standard in a Cal Kit (not ECal module):

  1. Click Response, then Cal, then Cal Kits.

  2. Select the Cal Kit

  3. Click Edit Kit

  4. Click Add

  5. Select THRU

  6. Complete the dialog box.

The next time you perform a Guided Cal, this Defined THRU standard will be available if the DUT connector types match the THRU standard.

Unknown Thru Cal

Unknown Thru Cal is the preferred THRU method of calibrating the analyzer to measure a non-insertable device.

The Unknown Thru calibration is also known as Short-Open-Load-Reciprocal Thru (SOLR) calibration.

About the Unknown Thru Process

SmartCal guides you through the process. Although the following process describes ports 1 and 2, Unknown Thru can be performed on any two ports when using a multiport analyzer.

  1. Perform 1-port cal on port 1.

  2. Perform 1-port cal on port 2.

  3. Connect Unknown Thru between ports 1 and 2.

  4. Measure Unknown Thru.

  5. Confirm Estimated Delay. This estimate may be wrong if there are too few frequency points over the given frequency span. You can measure the delay value independently and enter that value in the dialog box.

The Unknown Thru Standard

Unknown Thru Limitations

ECal Thru Method Choices

When the ECal module connectors exactly match the DUT connectors, choose from the following THRU methods:

ECal Thru as Unknown Thru   Learn more about Unknown Thru.

Flush Thru (zero-length Thru)   Learn more about Flush Thru

ECal (Defined Thru)

Unknown Thru


When the ECal module connectors do NOT exactly match the DUT connectors, choose from the following two methods:

Adapter Removal

ECal User Characterization

In cases when adapter removal cannot be performed, ECal User Characterization is ALWAYS possible if you have the right adapters. A User Characterization is performed once and stored in the ECal module. However, accuracy is compromised every time you remove, then reconnect, the adapter with the ECal module.