RF power meters measure RF power in the time and statistical domains. A power meter consists of the meter itself, which displays the power reading, and an RF power sensor head, which contains the power sensing element and connects to both the meter and the device under test. RF power meters, also known as a microwave power meters, measure electrical power at microwave frequencies generally over the range of 100MHz to 40GHz. In choosing a power meter, finding a system that matches the user’s RF signals and modulation types is essential.
RF power sensors work in conjunction with power meters, spectrum analyzers and other devices to perform power measurement and analysis. Test engineers select a power sensor based on its frequency range, dynamic range and modulation format, the last being essential to the type of power test to be performed. Power sensors come in a variety of modulations allowing them to measure the characteristics of CW (continuous wave), average, peak and pulse waveforms.
Power specifications are vital to the design of RF components and are reflected directly in the performance of nearly all devices that generate microwaves. This trend is reflected in the growing number of devices that support wideband data transmission and require power meters and sensors to determine average power, peak-to-average ratios and peak power or time-gated profiles. RF power meters and sensors are utilized in a wide array of industries, including consumer, defense, aerospace and auto manufacturing.