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What's the best way to verify a VNA with limited resources?

Question asked by drkirkby on Oct 4, 2012
I'm fairly new to VNAs as you will no doubt gather from my posts. I don't have the money to go out and buy all the latest calibration and verification kits.

But I am looking to find some ways to increase confidence in my measurements, especially with my 8720D, since it was not bought new. 

The things I have are: 

1) 8720D with valid calibration certificate.

2) N9923A with all the options, but without any mechanical calibration kits, other than those detailed below. (The N9923A  *should* arrive today - I've not actually got it yet). Somehow I am doubting it will be here today. I've never managed to get Agilent to give me a tracking number. 

3) 85032B N calibration kit. 

4) 85055A N verification Kit, which is designed to be used with the 85032F and 85054B N calibration kits - neither of which I currently have. 

5) 85033E 3.5 mm calibration kit. 

6) Precision adapters from N to 3.5 mm, in every sex. 

7) Decent SMA and N attenuators.  Various other passive and active devices. 

I've done obvious checks on the 8720D, like check the return loss is close to 0 dB if the cable is open, or a short attached. Checked the return loss is good if the load is attached. Checked the S11, S12, S21 and S22 are all sensible if I do a SOLT calibration

I'm guessing that measuring some attenuators and cables on the N9923A and the 8720D would be helpful. 

Any more thoughts on what I could do increase confidence the instruments are reasonably accurate? 

I rather wish I'd bought the 85032F, rather than the 85032B, as at least that would have given me the ability to use the N verification kit and saved me the hassle entering the 85032B's data into the 8720D. 

I would have bought an 85032F new from Agilent, had the lead time not been so long. 


Edited by: drkirkby on Oct 4, 2012 6:42 AM