FAQ

Adjusting Sweep time

RF Explorer handles sweep time refresh and RBW selection automatically, as described in the User Manual.

There are some situations where a manual tuning of the sweep time is required, and can be easily achieved in RF Explorer using the Iterations option in the Attenuator Menu.

There are two typical scenarios where this is required:

  • Detecting fast signals: Many modern transmission protocols use frequency hopping techniques (LTE, Bluetooth, ZigBee, etc) that prove difficult to detect in one single sweep. By selecting Calculator:Max mode, you can easily select how many consecutive sweeps will be accumulated by selecting Iterations value. For instance, an Iterations:002 value means 2 consecutive sweeps will accumulate on screen, effectively duplicating the sweep time. The RF Explorer unit allows for up to 28 consecutive sweeps to be accumulated, being that the equivalent to a sweep 28 times slower than realtime. If 28 sweeps is not enough for certain signals, you can use the Calculator:Max Hold which effectively uses an infinite accumulator, which can be reset anytime in the Spectrum Analyzer screen with the RETURN screen. By using the Max Hold mode you effectively control how long the sweep accumulates, some site surveys have the Max Hold mode accumulating for hours to detect sporadic intrusive signals.
  • Averaging noise: Noise is random by nature and can be easily removed from measurement by averaging sweep samples. Some spectrum analyzers define this as “video average”. By selecting Calculator:Average mode, you can easily average samples from consecutive sweeps so the random nature of noise cancels itself. Selecting a correct Iterations value for the Average mode is a compromise between sweep speed and noise cancellation. In most cases, 4-6 accumulated sweeps is enough and still shows a good refresh rate, but every environment is different so start with Iterations:005 and increase it if noise is still visible.

Due to internal memory constrains, the RF Explorer device is limited to 28 internal accumulative iterations max. With a standard sweep time of 100-200ms, 28 iterations mean tuning capabilities for up to 2.8-6 seconds accumulated sweep time.

However, this limitation is not such when connected to a PC: the RF Explorer for Windows software allows for 10 million iterations to be used, with the advantage of saving the realtime capture on file disk and allowing post-processing using different Iteration values in order to easily isolate the signal of interest.

Restoring default settings

Some users ask from time to time how to bring the unit back to default settings, which is useful when the settings have been manipulated so much that is not obvious which settings should be used anymore.

Please use the below description (with firmware v1.11 or higher) as a general rule to reconfigure your unit back to default values.

 

FREQUENCY MENU
Center Freq see note 1
Freq Span 010.000
Start Freq

see note 2

Stop Freq see note 2
Module see note 3

 

  • Note 1: Please select a frequency in the middle of the range of your model. For instance, the WSUB1G has a range of 240-960MHz, therefore the mid frequency point is 240+(960-240)/2=600 MHz, so you can set 0600.000 for the Center Freq in this model.
  • Note 2: the unit will calculate the Start and Stop frequency automatically after the Center frequency is specified, as described in note 1.
  • Note 3: Press ENTER key to select the RF module you want to activate and configure. That option will work for Combo units only which include an expansion module. A single unit come with a base model only, and has a single RF connector available, and will not alter the selection with ENTER key.

 

ATTENUATOR MENU
Calculator Normal
Top dBm -010
Bottom dBm

-120

Iterations 010
Offset dB +000
Units dBm

 

CONFIG MENU
Backlight High
Contrast 3
USB Bauds

500Kbps

Draw Mode Vectors
Marker Peak
DSP Auto

 

 

RF Explorer for Windows displays "Configuration System Failed to Initialize" error message


In some cases users have reported this problem after an application or system crash, leading the RF Explorer for Windows application unable to work from that point on.

The root cause is likely a truncated or damaged configuration settings file, probably the outcome of a prior system crash. To make sure all those old files are deleted and we start fresh from default settings, please follow the next steps, they are a bit different for Windows XP than for Windows Vista/7/8/10, so select the right steps for your operating system.

Important: this process will delete the RF Explorer for Windows application preferences (such as color mode) and will reset everything to default. However, this will not delete the configuration frequencies you may have stored by name (Named Settings) so these will remain untouched.

For Windows Vista/7/8/10:

* Close RF Explorer for Windows and any other application.
* Open a command line started "As Administrator"
* Type the following command:

    rd "%localappdata%\RF_Explorer"   /s   /q

* That will delete all obsolete files. To make sure no settings remain, the next command should return "file not found" or equivalent message:

    dir "%localappdata%\RF_Explorer"  /s   /b

After these steps are completed, please start RF Explorer for Windows (no need to reinstall, just run it normally) and contact us if the problem persist.

For Windows XP:

* Close RF Explorer for Windows and any other application.
* Open a command line
* Type the following command:

    rd "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\RF_Explorer"   /s   /q

* That will delete all obsolete files. To make sure no settings remain, the next command should return "file not found" or equivalent message:

    dir "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\RF_Explorer"  /s   /q

After these steps are completed, please start RF Explorer for Windows (no need to reinstall, just run it normally) and contact us if the problem persist.

Device shows "Pre-calibrating" on screen

Question: My RF Explorer shows "Pre-calibrating" on screen with firmware v1.11 or newer. Is this an issue?

 

Answer: Your unit is ok and does not need any external calibration.

That display is expected, it is an info message you will see anytime the unit changes the frequency center or span as it has to internally recalculate many things and recalibrate internal VCOs. For instance if you go to the FREQUENCY MENU and select a new center frequency, the unit will shortly display a "Pre-calibrating" message before the first realtime measurement can take place.

This message was not visible in earlier versions such as v1.10 because these versions didn't support wide band configuration (such as 600MHz span), and therefore the pre-calibration done was too fast to need any user message in all cases. With 300 and 600MHz span introduced in v1.11, it can take a couple of seconds to complete what otherwise may look like a frozen, blank screen if the unit displayed no progress message.

 

Regardless you see the message (v1.11) or not (v1.10 or earlier) the time it takes for the unit to recalibrate the VCOs after a new frequency selection is the same, the firmware v1.11 just makes it explicit with a message.