Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.

Signal analysis is a grueling but necessary part of the design of many defense electronic systems, including radar, electronic-intelligence (ELINT), and signal intelligence (SIGINT) systems. Fortunately, the latest version of Spectro-X signal analysis software from X-COM Systems, LLC (a subsidiary of Bird Technologies) removes a great deal of the tedium in finding and identifying signals across wide instantaneous bandwidths.

The Windows-based software works with signal data files from the firm’s high-performance signal record/playback systems or other signal-capture sources. Users can quickly find and dissect signals of interest—precisely identify them in frequency and time—as needed when evaluating the performance of a radar system.

Spectro-X software features improved pulse analysis and waveform search capabilities along with advanced filtering functions that help screen signal data files for particular signal characteristics. For example, the software can simultaneously analyze as many as four captured-signal data files for specific signals from among thousands of emitters, with precision of ±1 sample.

Fig. 1Spectro-X works with signal data files saved by wideband instruments, such as X-COM’s IQC5000B series or model IQC91000A signal record and playback systems. It can also scrutinize modeled or simulated data from commercial simulation software, such as MATLAB from MathWorks, to identify signal events.

The software’s toolkit contains signal search engines for carrier, arbitrary waveform, and pulse search functions. Signals can be searched relative to time, frequency, or both, with results displayed graphically (see figure). The software provides the functionality to search and locate signals without need of additional programming; it can save portions of large files into formats usable by commercial measurement equipment (e.g., microwave vector signal analyzers) for further demodulation and study.

When using the pulse search functions in Spectro-X, pulse waveforms can be characterized by carrier frequency—as well as by key pulse-specific parameters, such as pulse width, pulse repetition frequency (PRF), rise/fall time, and peak/average power. This latest version of Spectro-X software uses the 3-dB points (from peak amplitude) to define a pulse location and provide consistent, industry-accepted characterization of a pulse. It also performs computation of pulse frequencies at five points within each pulse to determine the pulse type or whether it is a modulated signal. To help with pulse/modulated-signal definitions, phase transitions are included in the pulse signal results.

When four different signal files are being analyzed, they can be aligned in time to facilitate comparisons, or else offset in time and labeled with markers to study (for example, the performance of a radar system design under a number of different operating conditions or environments). As an aid to working with multiple signal files, X-COM also offers graphical RF Signal Editor software when it is necessary to edit or make modifications to modeled or captured signal files.

The improved signal analysis software includes advanced functions to search for a waveform of interest within a single file, or within all files in a directory. The software can step in frequency to locate matches over a range of frequencies, and exclude unwanted frequencies from a signal data file. A highly selective filter is also part of the software, with the capability to attenuate unwanted signals such as interference from a signal data file.

The software boasts versatile windowing and zooming functions to provide closer looks at signals of interest. In addition, an arbitrary waveform search function provides a search through multiple waveforms based on a particular waveform characteristic or relative to a reference waveform. Similarly, certain known reference waveforms, such as commercial wireless signals, can be disregarded during a search when looking for particular signal traits.

Together with the company’s signal/spectrum recording and playback instruments, which permit capture of broadband over-the-air signals, the signal analysis software helps to speed and simplify a task that can be quite time-consuming and nerve-wracking. To introduce operators interested in the software, the firm is offering a 30-day trial version of the Spectro-X software on their website.

X-COM Systems, LLC (a subsidiary of Bird Technologies), 12345-B Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20191; (703) 390-1087

Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.