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COMPARISON OF VNA CALIBRATION TECHNIQUES BY COMPLEX

S-PARAMETER MEASURENTS FOR COAXIAL COMPONENTS

Gagandeep Kaur*, Kamlesh Patel**, P.S. Negi


* Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology, GGS IP University, Delhi
Electrical & Electronics Standards, National Physical Laboratory, Delhi
**kpatel@nplindia.org

Abstract
For conventional network analysis, different parameters of any one-port or multi-port component
can be measured at microwave frequencies using a Vector network analyzer (VNA) system by
means of various calibration techniques available. In this paper, the study of various calibration
techniques for VNA and the corresponding measurement practices performed have been
presented for coaxial components. A program using C++ is developed to calculate the S-
parameters of error box in respect to the Short-Open-Load-Thru (SOLT) and Thru- Reflect- Line
(TRL) calibration techniques. A coaxial mismatch of VSWR 1.20 and a 20 dB attenuator were
chosen to serve as device under test (DUT). The measured values of the standards used and
DUTs have been employed in the program and then the actual S-parameters of DUTS have
been calculated and compared. A comparison of the measured values of the S-parameters of
the two DUTs obtained using the three calibration techniques, i.e., TRL, LRL, and SOLT
techniques is also presented. This study helps in implementing a particular calibration technique
for a specific application for coaxial systems.

I. Introduction
This paper presents a study of various VNA calibration techniques through the measurements of
a coaxial mismatch (VSWR: 1.20) and an attenuator of 20 dB at National Physical Laboratory. A
number of calibration method for VNA have been developed and studied over the decades
[1,2,3,4]. A comparison between these techniques is needed for proper use based on device
type, application and measurement accuracy. A few comparisons have been performed earlier,
which are not so readily available in general [5,6]. The effects of deviation in the calibration
standards in the measured S-parameters are also reported [7,8]. However one should have a
proper knowledge and implementation of these techniques through its analysis before applying
in real applications.

II. Experiment
During the exercise, three types of VNA calibration techniques were employed, namely, SOLT,
TRL and LRL to measure the S-parameters of one and two-port components in
Magnitude/Phase as well as in Real/Imaginary form on a Wiltron VNA 37247B. The S-
parameters of the measurement standards employed in various calibration techniques were
measured using the VNA. These S-parameters were then used to calculate the S-parameters of
the error box for the respective calibration techniques. Using these error terms and the
measured S-parameters of the respective DUT (mismatch and attenuator), the actual DUT
parameters were calculated through the program codes developed in C++. The calculated DUT
parameters using SOLT and TRL techniques were then compared with the measured DUT
parameters over the frequency range of 2 to 18 GHz. A comparison between the three
techniques is presented by means of graphs in Fig.1 and Fig.2.
ReSOLT ImSOLT MagSOLT PhSOLT
Retrl ImTrl MagTRL PhTRL
0.12 ReLRL ImLRL -18 MagLRL PhLRL
0.10 0.10 150
-19
0.08
100
0.06 0.05
-20
0.04
50
0.02

Im(S
-21

Phase(S
0.00

) (dB)
) 11

0.00 0

11
Re(S

11
)
-0.02 -22

Mag(S
-0.05

11
-50

) (Deg)
-0.04
-23
-0.06 -100
-0.10
-0.08 -24
-0.10 -150
-0.15
-25
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Frequency
Frequency (GHz)
(GHz)
(b)

Fig.1 S11 of a mismatch of VSWR=1.2(a) in real-imaginary form, (b) in dB-phase form


ReSOLT ImSOLT MagSOLT PhSOLT
ReTRL ImTRL MagTRL PhTRL
0.12 ReLRL ImLRL 0.10 MagLRL PhLRL
-20.04
150
0.10 0.08
-20.06
0.08 0.06
-20.08 100
0.06 0.04
-20.10
0.04 0.02 50
Im(S

Phase(S
) (dB)

-20.12
0.02 0.00
)

21
21

0
21

-20.14
Re(S

0.00 -0.02
Mag(S

21
-20.16

) (Deg)
-0.02 -0.04
-50
-0.04 -0.06 -20.18

-0.06 -0.08 -20.20 -100

-0.08 -0.10 -20.22


-150
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20

Frequency (GHz) Frequency (GHz)

(a) (b)
Fig 2 S21 of a 20 dB attenuator (a) in real-imaginary form, (b) in dB-phase form

III. Results
The S-parameter values of mismatch measured using LRL and TRL techniques are in good
agreement with each other; whereas, the measured values obtained from SOLT are quite
different from the other two but close to the nominal values. Therefore, TRL and LRL techniques
do not find suitability in measuring S-parameter of one-port components in general. The
measured S-parameters of attenuator using SOLT technique were quite different at certain
frequency points from those measured using TRL and LRL techniques. The values of phase of
S21 measured using TRL and LRL are almost perfectly in sync with each other. The values of
phase of S21 measured using SOLT oscillate about the values measured using TRL/LRL acting
almost as mean positions.
References:
[1] R.A. Hackborn, An automatic network analyzer system, Microwave Journal, 11(1968) 45-52.
[2] G.F. Engen, C.A. Hoer and R.A. Speciale, The application of ‘Thru-Short –Delay’ to the
calibration of the dual six-port, IEEE MTT-S Int.Symp. Dig. , (1978) 184-185.
[3] G.F. Engen and C.A. Hoer, Thru-reflect-line: An improved technique for calibrating the dual
six-port automatic network analyzer, IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory tech., 27(1979) 987-993.
[4] R.B. Marks, A multiline method of Network analyzer calibration, IEEE Trans Microwave
Theory tech., 39 (1991) 1205-1215.
[5] J.A. Reynoso-Hernandez, E. Inzunza-Gonzalez, Comparison of lrl (m), trm, trrm and tar
calibration techniques using the straightforward de-embedding method, ARFTG Conference
Digest, Spring (2002) 93-98
[6] David K. Walker and Dylan F. Williams, Comparison of SOLR and TRL calibrations, NIST
Publications
[7] U. Stumper, Influence of nonideal LRL or TRL calibration elements on VNA S-parameter
measurements, Advances in Radio Science, 3 (2005) 51-58.
[8] U. Stumper, Uncertainity of VNA S-parameter measurement due to Non-ideal TRL calibration
items, IEEE Trans. Instru. Meas., 54(2005) 51-58.