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Effect of Additive White Gaussian Noise on

Accuracy of a Six-port Reflectometer


Sahapong Somwong
Computer Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering
Prince of Songkla University
Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand 90 1 12
Sahapong.som@gmail.com

Mitchai Chongcheawchamnan
Computer Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering
Prince of Songkla University
Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand 90 1 12
mitchai@coe.psu.ac.th

Sakol Julrat
Computer Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering
Prince of Songkla University
Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand 90 1 12
Sakol.julrat@gmail.com

Abstract-Effect of additive white Gaussian noise on accuracy


performance of a six-port reflectometer (SPR) is presented in this
paper. Three six-port circuits (sampling line, five-port ring and
ideal design) calibrated with different calibration techniques (five
and seven standard loads based) are investigated. Mathematical
model of a SPR is developed and simulated. To evaluate the
accuracy performance of a SPR at a certain signal-to-noise ratio,

PI

a mean absolute error is computed from mean distance between

Six-port circuit

P2

exact and predicted reflection coefficients for all possible passive


loads. Validity of this work is proven with some experimental
results at 1 GHz SPRs.

Keywords: Six-port reflectometer, additive white Gaussian noise,


reflection coefficient, passive load.

I.

INTRODUCTION

A microwave retlectomer is one of several important


applications of a six-port circuit [ 1]. The concept of this six
port retlectometer (SPR) can be illustrated by the diagram
shown in Figure 1. Port 1 (PI) and 2 (P2) are connected to the
microwave source and the device unit test (DUT),
respectively. The retlected signal a2 from the DUT is scattered
back to the six-port circuit and appeared at port 3 (P3) to 6
(P6) as brb6 Each incident signal at port P3 to P6 is
subsequently down-converted to direct current (DC) by a
power detector circuit. A power equation system for a SPR
can be written as folllows( 1),
where r is a complex retlection coefficient of the DUT, Pi is
DC power reading at port i (i=3,4,5 and 6), and mi, qi are
characteristic parameters of a six-port circuit which can be
obtained from a calibration procedure. By plotting the
equation system from ( 1) in a complex r-plane, one obtains
three circles whose centers are denoted by qj. It is shown in ( 1)
that we can determine r from four DC power signals.
Consequently a SPR has been gained much interest over the
past decades for its low complexity.

978-1-4673-2025-2112/$31.00 2012 IEEE

Figure I.

Diagram of six-port retlectometer

In fact, there are several important issues needed to be


carefully considered when we apply a six-port technique for a
retlectometer. One of the most concerned issues is
measurement accuracy of a SPR. Though there have been
numerous researches on a six-port technique, measurement
accuracy of a SPR has not yet been clearly stated as
measurement error varies with r.
Having considered several published works on a six-port
technique, one can conclude that measurement accuracy of a
SPR does depend on a structure [4]-[7], calibration technique
[2],[3], quality of signal and nonlinearity of the detectors. The
effect of nonlinearity can be alleviated by calibrating the
detectors whereas three other effects mentioned above would
be carefully chosen and justified in the stage of system design.
The quality of signal in a SPR relies on the power of
desired and noise signals. With various devices composed,
several kinds of noise are randomly appeared in a SPR, from
the RF signal source thru the power detectors. Additive white
Gaussian noise (AWGN) is of our interest since it is
commonly found in every measurement system. For a six-port
based system the effect of AWGN on a network analyzer
based on a six-port technique was studied [8]. All systematic
errors were not included in the analysis model. Moreover only
ideal six-port structure was studied. As stated earlier, accuracy
performance of a six-port technique depends on a six-port
structure and calibration technique, therefore the accuracy
results given in [8] is not sufficient to provide useful
information for designing a SPR in practice.

In this paper, the impact of AWGN on accuracy of a SPR


implemented with different structures and calibrated with
different techniques is thoroughly investigated. Section II will
describe a model used for noise analysis and a computing
method for measuring accuracy of a SPR. Section III will
present the simulated and experiment results and the paper
will be concluded in Section IV.
II.

S R
---,
,

Power
t--t-tB,
....--I Detector
,

Processor

'--_ ..

...
,

1....-----1

I AWGN I

ANALYSIS MODEL AND ACCURACY PERFORMANCE

A. Accuracy performance
The systematic error and additive white Gaussian noise
(AWGN) in a SPR can deteriorate the performance of
accuracy. The systematic error, which can be regarded as a
deterministic signal, can effectively eliminated by applying a
calibration technique prior to measuring the load. AWGN,
which is a random signal, cannot reduce by the calibration
process but by adopting a suitable six-port circuit. To study
the AWGN effect on a performance of accuracy of a SPR will
save time and cost considerably.
IA signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) (in dB) can be written as
shown,
SNR

20 .

ioglO

G:)

eM

'
N
""- l II:I - I:I I
N "I-

1
-

Figure 2.

Analysis model of a SPR

r----....---....---...---..... 2.5
2
1.5
1

( 1),

(2),

where N is a number of electrical loads, Ii and Ii are the


estimated and exact reflection coefficients of load i,
respectively. For our study, we select eight levels of SNR ( 15,
30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 dB) to analyze the effect of
AWGN in a SPR.

-75

-55

Figure 3.

-35

-15

(dBm)

Charcateristic function of RF detector

After that, analysis of the errors arising from the mathematical


model comparison with error from implementation six-port
measurement system. Using the powers of the actual
measurement (Power measurement) from SL structure and FR
structure for analysis to compare the accuracy with the results
of simulation using mathematical model as shown in Figure 4.
,---1
,

Model
SPR

Measure
SPR

Analysis model

The analysis model of a SPR is shown in Fig. 2. In this


paper, we define the SNR of a SPR at the outputs of a six-port
circuit. Hence As is amplitude of a reflected signal at port P3,
P4, P5 or P6. A four-channel AWGN source are added at
these ports. The signal including noise outputs are applied to
four power detectors for down-converting to DC. To model
these detectors, one can include a measurement based function
in the analysis model shown in Fig. 2. In our paper, the
characteristic function of this detector is shown in Figure 3.

0.5

RF detector

RF Power

where As and AN are the amplitudes of desired and AWGN


signals, respectively. For a given SNR level, we propose to
evaluate a performance of accuracy of a SPR using a mean
absolute error (eM ). This can be computed from,

B.

,,

i'

,
,
, ......- ,,
,
,
,
,
,

,
,

L ___'

Figure 4.

f---+r
Power
- Processor
....... r'
Detector
...-

Comparison with implement Measurement SPR

From Figure 4. The reflection coefficient from mathematic


model (J) and implementation measurement (r) will be
calculate the mean absolute error. Then we can comparison
the mean absolute error from measurement and analysis the
accuracy of system as shown in the Result and Discussions
section.

III.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

With three different six-port structures (ideal, sampling line


and five-port ring) calibrated with two techniques (five- and
seven-standard load), six combination designs in total are
modeled based on the concept of model presented in Fig. 2.
The number of signal samples for simulating each design for
each SNR level is 1000, which is sufficiently large to ensure
that amplitudes of four detected signals are randomly
distributed with Gaussian function. The accuracy of a SPR for

each SNR was computed from an average value of IIi -Ii ' I
of load i (i
1, 2, ... , 1000), called mean absolute error. To
cover a unit circle in the complex plane, these loads were
randomly chosen in such a way that they are uniformly
distributed in the unit circle.
=

A.

Systematic error

In this subsection, we assume that only systematic error is


occurred where AWGN is discarded. This was achieved by
setting zero amplitude for the noise source shown in Fig. 2. A
sampling line and five-port ring structures designed to operate
as a SPR at 1 GHz were simulated. Having calibrating the
SPRs with two techniques as described above, the mean
absolute errors are summarized as shown in Table. I. It is
shown that systematic errors can be effectively eliminated by
the calibration techniques. The five-port ring based SPR
calibrated with seven-standard loads provides the best
performance among other designs whereas the sampling line
SPR calibrated with five-standard loads achieves the poorest
accuracy. This is in accordance with the reports claim that the
five-port ring SPR can determine Ii more accurate than the
sampling line structure.
MEAN ABSOLUTE ERROR (xlO-12) OF SPRs CALIBRATED WITH
FIVE AND SEVEN STANDARD LOAD TECHNIQUES (NO AWGN)

TABLE I.

Structure

Sampling line
Five-port ring

Calibration technique
Five-load
Seven- load

0.95
0.066

0.0525
0.0054

B. A WGN effect

Amplitudes of the noise source shown in Fig. 2 were set


such that the SNR values at the detector inputs were achieved
for 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 and 120 dB. The mean absolute errors of
the SPRs from simulation for five- and seven-standard load
calibration techniques are shown in Fig. 3, respectively. As
expected, the mean absolute error of the SPR decreases with a
SNR increase. The errors are independent with the calibration
techniques because AWGN dominates in the accuracy
performances of the SPR systems and the calibration
techniques used in this paper can only correct the systematic
error. On the other hands, the dependence of the accuracy of
SPR with a SPR structure is evident. When the SPRs are
perturbed with A WGN, the ideal SPR provides the minimum

error which is in accordance with the previous work. The error


characteristic of the SPR designed with a five-port ring
structure at sufficiently large SNR is close to that of the ideal
one. However the sampling line SPR provides the poorest
performance of accuracy as expected.
It is interesting to note that the error slopes of all SPRs at
large SNR are 10dB/Decade. Since the error slope of the ideal
SPR at large SNR is equal to those of the structures applied in
this paper, we can benchmark the accuracy performance of the
SPR under consideration by calculating the SNR difference
between the SPR and the ideal one. This SNR means an
additional signal power required for a SPR system to equal
with the ideal design. For the performances of five-port ring
and sampling line SPRs, these SNR values are 5.5 and 30.9 dB
respectively.

L.
0
L.
L.
Q.l

LOE+OO

LOE-04

:l

"0
'"

<:II

<:II

LOE-02

LOE-06
LOE-08
LOE-10
LOE-12
15

30

45

60

75

90

105

120

SNR(dB)
Figure 5.
C.

Accuracy performance of SPRs for different SPR structures

Experimental results

Two six-port circuits, five-port ring and sampling line


structures, are applied for SPR. Both six-port circuits, as
shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7, which were implemented on
low cost FR-4 substrate (Er 4.55, tan 0 0.02, h 1.57 mm)
are designed to operate at 1 GHz. The SPR designed with
these two six-port circuits were experimented. Five-standard
load calibration technique was performed prior to
measurement process. To evaluate accuracy of each SPR
design at a given SNR, twenty different passive loads were
used as the OUT for our experiment. Therefore a mean
absolute error for a given SNR was computed over these 20
loads.
Fig. 8 Show the comparison of the measured and the
simulated results. It is shown that the measured errors are
good agreed with the simulated one except for a large SNR in
which the measured errors are appeared to be independent
with SNR level. We expect that this should come from
quantization noise which relates to the quantization level of
Analog-to-Digital used in a SPR.
=

IV.

CONCLUSIONS

Since an error resulted from load estimation by a SPR


depends on the load position, accuracy performance has been
defined by a mean absolute error computed from several
loads. To investigate the effect of AWGN, numerous SPRs
designed with different six-port circuits calibrated with two
different techniques have been tested for their accuracy
performances. It has been found that the systematic error, but
not AWGN, in a SPR can corrected by the applied calibration
techniques. A suitable choice of a six-port circuit is very
crucial for achieving a SPR design with targeted accuracy at a
given SNR. This can be accomplished by analyzing mean
absolute error of a SPR of interest over a range of SNR prior
to implementation.

Figure 6. Sampling line micrsotrip circuit

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This research is financially supported from Prince of


Songkla University respectively. The second author would
like to thank the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) for The Royal
Golden
Jubilee
(RGJ)
Ph.D
Program
Scholarship
(PHD/O 1931255 1).
Figure 7.

r..
0

t:

Q,I
Q,I
....
=

'0
'"

,.Q

;
Q,I

Five-port ring microstrip circuit

1.0E+02

I.

Measurement FR

Engen, G. F.: "Determination of microwave phase and amplitude from


power measurements". IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas. , vol. IM-25, PP.
414-418, Dec. 1976.

[2]

J. D. Hunter, and P. I. Somlo, "An explicit Six-port calibration method


using five standards," IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Tech., vol. MTT33, No. I, pp.69-71, Jan 1985.

FR

1.0E+00

....... Ideal

1.0E-02
1.0E-04

[3]

1.0E-06
1.0E-08

[4]

G. F. Engen, "The Six-port reflectometer: "An alternative network


analyzer," IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory and Tech., vol. MTT-25,
pp.I075-1079, 1977

[5]

B.M. Altrabshed and I.D Robertson "A multi-probe microwave


reflectometer using an improved calibration algorithm," European
Microwave Conference, September 2006, pp. 979-982

[6]

K. Chang, M-Y Li, and T H. Sauter,"Low-cost microwave/millimeter


wave impedamce measuring scheme using a three-probe microstrip
circuit", IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory and Tech , vol. 38, pp.14551460,1990

[7]

F. M. Ghannouchi, "Compact microwave circuit performs swept vector


measurements," Microwave & RF, pp. 67-68, Feb 1994.

[8]

V.A. Yankin, "Effect of qauntization, ampliflier noise and the


parameters of the calibration elements on the accuracy of measurement
using a six-port microwave ampliphase meter", Izvestiya YUZ,
Radioelektronika, Vo1.32, No. 8, 1989

1.0E-10

15

30

45

60

75

90

105

120

SNR(dB)

(a)

'0
'"

1.0E+00
1.0E-02

75

90

105

120

1.0E-06
1.0E-08

1.0E-10

1.0E-12

Q,I

1.0E-04

,.Q

F. M. Ghannouchi, A. Mohammadi, The Six-ports Technique with


pp.65-67, 2009

Microwave and Wireless Implementation,

1.0E-12

r..
0
r..
r..
Q,I
Q,I
....
=

REFERENCES

[I]

Measurement SL

SL
....... Ideal
15

30

45

60

SNR(dB)

(b)
Figure 8. Comparison Error from Mathematical model with Implementation
six-port, (a) FR Measured error with Ideal Six-port, (b) SL Measured error
with Ideal Six-port.