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Steve Nichols, NSI-MI Technologies

Optimising RF instrumentation for challenging measurements



Steve NicholsSteven R Nichols is the Manager of Applications and Systems Engineering at NSI-MI Technologies, where he leads a diverse technical staff to develop innovative solutions for demanding test requirements.

He has over 30 years of experience in developing RF and precision positioning products, including two complete generations of antenna measurement systems and associated instrumentation.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (with highest honors) from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He recently completed a four-year term on the AMTA Board of Directors, serving as AMTA president in 2016. He is a Senior member of the IEEE and served on the Board of Directors for the local IEEE Atlanta section.


As antenna applications evolve to new technologies, test facilities must adapt to them. Broader application of millimeter-wave frequencies, more frequent use of active electronically steered array technology, and a desire for thorough verification are presenting significant challenges to antenna test ranges.

The number of measurement points, frequencies, antenna states, and antenna ports has grown substantially and continues to grow. Some antenna test requirements have resulted in extremely long test times with a vast amount of data to be processed and analysed. The impact of higher test costs and longer delivery schedules can be substantial, and test facility capacity may be stretched to its limits.

As a result, instrumentation products and automated measurement systems are being pressed to provide enhanced performance to meet the challenges of these rapidly growing test requirements. This presentation describes several ways to reduce test time by optimising the data acquisition process and by giving due consideration to RF and millimeter-wave performance trade-offs. Specific examples of test ranges that illustrate measurement challenges and solutions will be provided. A view to the future will conclude the talk.

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12 February 2018
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