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Passive Intermodulation Fundamentals

Jay R. Maple Applications Engineer 303.378.3475

Smiths Group PLC
 Global Technology Company  Listed on the London Stock Exchange  22,000 employees, Active in 50 countries  2010 sales = $5.4 Billion USD

New company name
 Kaelus is global company that designs and manufactures complex and technically sophisticated RF products for use in the rapidly growing wireless communications market.  We are not a new company but the consolidation of some leading industry brands within Wireless Telecoms: Triasx, Summitek, Allrizon and the commercial division of TRAK Microwave Ltd.

Test Instrument Heritage Summitek Instruments: Denver. Acquired by Smiths in 2008  Recognized leader in the design and manufacture of innovative RF filter based products  Pioneered development of Portable PIM systems with Telstra in Australia in 2004  Partnership with Summitek in 2007  >1000 Portable PIM systems worldwide #1 PIM Test Equipment manufacturer worldwide. Australia  Founded in 1995. Acquired by Smiths in 2001  Summitek’s primary business is manufacturing Passive Intermodulation (PIM) test equipment  >800 Bench-top PIM systems worldwide Triasx: Brisbane. . CO  Founded in 1996.

What is Passive InterModulation (PIM) PIM = Interference PIM = Noise generated by Tx signals interacting with materials in the RF path PIM = Reduced BTS Coverage and Capacity .

.What causes PIM? Anything introducing distortion within the RF path.  Loose / inconsistent metal to metal contacts  Not enough contact pressure.)  Contamination  Trapped between mating surfaces  Trapped between plating layers  Surface Oxides. nickel. etc.  Cracked solder joints  Cold solder joints  Scratches or dents at mating interfaces  Burrs  Metal flakes. chips. dust  Improperly formed / sized parts  Misaligned parts  Rough mating surfaces (saw cut)  Loose bolts  Ferromagnetic materials (steel.

The result… MANY unwanted frequencies are generated. Desired Interference f 1 2f -f 3f -2f 1 2 4f -3f 1 2 1 2 f 2 2f -f 2 1 Interference f -f 2 1 3f -2f 2 1 4f -3f 2 1 2f f +f 1 2 1 2f 2 3rd Order 5th Order 7th Order .

.Ideal Infrastructure Minimum loss Incident signals Linear Infrastructure (No new frequencies) Transmitted signals Minimum Reflected signals  Reflections measured by sweep test  Measures the quality of impedance matching in the system.

1% 1.4% 99.8% PT 50% 75% 87.5% 6.6% 0.3% 3.2%  Return Loss is a ratio of Power Reflected to Power Transmitted  Has become the standard quality metric to measure installation quality .9% 98.7% 96.5% 93.Return Loss: Return Loss -3 dB -6 dB -9 dB -12 dB -15 dB -18 dB -21 dB Pr 50% 25% 12.

Non-ideal Infrastructure Incident signals Transmitted signals Non-Linear Infrastructure (Creates new frequencies) Reflections still measured by sweep test Reflected + interference signals Interference measured by PIM tester .

.Smiths Group PLC  Sweep test measures efficiency of signal propagation  PIM test measures ability to propagate signals without generating interference Both tests are important and necessary to insure quality site construction.

PIM testing is not new!  Summitek Instruments has been producing “bench top” PIM test systems for more than a decade  Summitek has delivered more than 800 BPIM systems worldwide  These systems have been used by RF equipment manufacturers to reduce PIM in their component designs .

What is new is the availability of rugged.  Portable PIM test sets were developed in Australia at the request of Telstra by Summitek’s sister division. portable versions. Triasx  Summitek / Triasx have delivered more than 1000 PPIM systems worldwide  These systems are being used by network operators worldwide to reduce PIM in their RF infrastructure .

How does a PIM tester work? PIM Test Equipment Low PIM Load PIM Source .

Transmit tones in Guard Band frequencies BTS Receive BTS Transmit IM3 F1 F2 Test Tone (5 KHz) Guard Band A 1945 MHz D .

PIM level is expressed in either dBm or dBc dBm 2 x 20 Watts +43 dBm 0dBm CARRIER dBc 0dBc -100 dBm PIM CARRIER = -143 dBc Absolute power relative to1mW Power relative to the carrier level PIM .

20 Watts   PIM level is VERY dependent on test power level 2 Watts +43 dBm 3dB change in PIM level for every 1dB change in test power CARRIER 2W not enough power to certify a site IEC 62037 recommends 2x 20W (+43dBm) test carriers +33 dBm 0dB m  -100 dBm CARRIER  -130 dBm PIM Noise Floor PIM .PIM level is meaningless without also stating the carrier power level.

     Light weight (11 lbs) Battery operated Highly portable Able to identify loose connections Able to find very bad components .However… 4W test sets are useful.

 Cracked / Cold Solder joints  Contact Pressure .PIM Sources at the cell site:  Site  Guy Wires  Steel Tower  Other Sites IMD  RF In-Line Surge Arrestors  Low Grade Antennas  Roof Flashing/Vent Hoods  Installation  Poorly torqued connectors  Scratches  Stress Fractures  Contamination • On conduction materials • Dielectric material  Materials  Rust  Ferromagnetic materials  Poor Quality Plating  Test Equipment  Poor Quality Loads  Low quality or damaged jumpers. adapters and connectors  Misc.

On site PIM testing reveals:  Installation workmanship issues  Components damaged during installation  Components damaged in transit . “Portable” PIM test equipment enables system level testing to be conducted at the cell site.Relatively new Portable PIM test equipment.

 A low power signal is transmitted into the system and the magnitude of the reflected signal is measured  The Tx frequency is stepped across the operating range of the site and the ratio of Reflected Power vs.Historically. “Sweep” testing has been the only method available to measure installation quality. crushed coax  Poorly matched components (Antennas. Transmitted Power is displayed at each frequency  Sweep testing will identify many defects:  Kinked jumpers. Filters)  Sweep testing can not identify PIM problems at a site  One frequency transmitted at a time  At very low power .

11 countries 70.0% PIM problems VSWR problems 5.0% 30.  This is illustrated by test data collected at cell sites exhibiting poor KPI’s 80.5% .0%  Many PIM problems recorded  Few VSWR problems found  The sites were originally commissioned with Sweep test equipment so it is no surprise that the VSWR results are good 40.0% 20.0% 60.0% 0.4%  >100 feed lines surveyed  19 operators.Both Sweep testing and PIM testing are needed to ensure optimum cell site performance.0% 10.0% 50.0% Survey Results 73.

PIM defects found:
 The PIM defects found were primarily due to workmanship issues at the RF connections  Many lines had multiple defects
50%

Survey Results
70% 62.50% 60%

 Other Passive Devices with PIM problems included:

41.25% 40%

  

30%

Diplexing filters Surge Protectors Bias-T’s

20%

17%

16.25%

10%

 KPI improvements reported on the majority of sites repaired

0%

Feed Cables

Jumper Cables

Antennas

Other Passive Devices

How to recognize PIM problems in your network:
High Dropped Call Rate
 PIM induced noise shrinks the effective cell size.  Gaps in coverage result in higher dropped call rate.

Significant increase in call drops after a new carrier was added to a DAS system with PIM problems.

How to recognize PIM problems in your network:
GSM: Elevated Interference on Idle (IOI) channels
High interference levels before fixing PIM problems. PIM problems corrected

Increased successful traffic channel (TCH) allocations

Decreased interference after fixing PIM problems.

How to recognize PIM problems in your network: CDMA: High Access Channel Utilization   BTS is “blind” to new mobiles trying to access the cell Not impacting Dropped Call Rate because the call never initiated on the sector PIM problems corrected Significant improvement after fixing PIM. .

PIM problems corrected  BTS PIM causing elevated average noise on the Main branch Rx levels tracking together Main  Diversity path not impacted  Key indicator of an “internal” interference problem  External interference would impact both paths equally Diversity .How to recognize PIM problems in your network: High Average Receive Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) differential between Main and Diversity paths.

DAS) • Wider bandwidth signals = higher probability of PIM in the Rx band (LTE) • Low order PIM in a Rx band = high noise rise ..g.Severity of PIM in your system: f1 IM3 IM5 IM9 IM7 f2 IM3 IM5 IM7 IM9 RX Band TX Band  Higher Tx power = higher PIM levels • IM3 increases 3dB for every 1 dB increase in Tx power  Lower order non-linearity = higher PIM level  Frequency combinations: • More operating bands sharing a feeder = higher probability of PIM in a Rx band (e.

PIM Severity: 5th Order 11th Order -93 dBm 9th Order 7th Order 3rd Order -60 dBm Outside PCS Rx band for F1 & F2 selected Metal flake Spectrum Analyzer Mode  Higher order products can be quite severe!  Repairing IM3 reduces ALL IM products. .

Resistive loads generate PIM .

90º connectors typically not as good as straight connectors. .

RF Connector Selection:  Avoid using Type-N 7-16 DIN connectors are more robust and produce less PIM .

Poor cable preparation Dirt / trash .

Poor cable preparation .

Poor cable preparation .

Cable damage .

PIM testing should be dynamic  Passing a static PIM test does not necessarily insure long term performance  Lightly tap RF connections  Flex cables while holding connector fixed  If PIM level jumps out of specification – make repairs  Find problems before Mother Nature does!  Wind induced vibration  Temperature variations .

Multiple PIM Sources 1 2 Largest PIM generator may mask smaller sources. PIM displayed PIM Source #1 PIM Source #2 .

Multiple PIM Sources 1 2 Larger PIM source must be removed before lower level source can be seen. PIM displayed PIM Source #1 PIM Source #2 .

PIM sources can be external to the system! Incident signals Transmitted signals Linear Infrastructure PIM Reflected + interference signals .

External PIM Sources .

(1.2m) 800MHz End View (Azimuth Pattern) Side View (Elevation Pattern) 8 ft. (2.Typical 65º Beamwidth Antenna Patterns 4 ft.4m) 800MHz .

If external PIM is suspected. PIM PIM 45º Rotation . rotate antenna on mast.

PIM PIM 15º Rotation .Elevation tilting may be more effective to identify external PIM sources.

External PIM Sources .

not the side Use a “known good” antenna to verify the test environment before testing PIM PIM SKY PIM SKY    .Antenna Testing Make sure there are no PIM sources within the field of view of the antenna! Recommendations:  BE SAFE!  Point antenna toward the sky  No metal objects within the half-power beam widths of the antenna in both Azimuth and Elevation Antenna should be placed on non-metallic supports during test Test equipment and test operators should be located off the end of the antenna.

Antenna Testing .

.The Benefit Rx Noise floor before PIM testing 5dB reduction in Rx Noise floor after correcting PIM problems.

1dB improvement in receiver sensitivity can mean as much as 11% fewer radio base stations Source Harri Holma and Antii Toskala. publisher John Wiley and Son USA . WCDMA & UTMS Nokia Finland 2004.

Held calls before PIM testing Increased held calls after reconstruction using PIM tester .

Summary  PIM = reduces site performance  PIM sources can be eliminated / minimized through:  Careful construction techniques’  Use of low PIM components  Careful site design  PIM testing should be dynamic (not static)  PIM testing AND VSWR testing are needed to verify system performance .

Break .

PIM test equipment: iHA Series:      Highly portable Battery operated 2x 2W test tones Fixed frequencies Useful for component testing / fault finding .

PIM test equipment: iMT Series:       High Power .Economy 2x 20W test tones Fixed frequencies Rugged construction Integrated transit case Laptop interface for reporting New iMT-850B .

on-board reporting .Premium Adjustable power (2 – 20W) Adjustable frequencies Rugged construction Integrated transit case Panel PC with touch screen interface.PIM test equipment: iQA Series:       High Power .

Accessory Kits: iQA-130A – Soft Case iQA-110A – Hard Case         Transit case Jumper cables Adapters Wrench Torque Wrench Low PIM load PIM source Cleaning kit .

iQA Series .

Precautions .

iQA Physical Characteristics Telescoping handle Shock mounted electronics 360º air inlet filter surrounding electronics Fold-out legs for bench use. Cooling fans 2 on sides 4 internal Storage pouch Wheels Rugged case .

iQA User Interface 6 5 7 2 3 1 4 .

iQA Software 15 USER SCREEN 16 14 17 18 13 20 19 8 9 10 11 12 .

iQA Software – Additional User Modes Time Trace Frequency Sweep Spectrum Analyzer .

PDF format  Screen shot “pictures” available for engineering reports .iQA Software .Reports  Build final site report as you go  No post processing of data required  Output finished report from the iQA in .

iMT series .

iMT Physical Characteristics Telescoping handle Weather resistant seal Internal Cooling fans Wheels Rugged. integrated transit case .

iMT User Interface 6 5 7 8 2 1 4 3 10 9 .

 Very similar to iQA software  Serial connection between laptop & iMT  Laptop controls iMT operation  Reports stored directly to laptop computer .iMT Software Remote Terminal Application loaded on Laptop Computer.

iHA Series .

iHA Series RF on button • Battery Check •Display Mode Measurement Level LEDs Alarm LEDs RF Output Port RF ON indicator .

Verification Procedure .

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