# Reducing Measurement Uncertainty In EMC Test Laboratories

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1 Reducing Measurement Uncertainty In EMC Test Laboratories Bruce Archambeault, Ph.D. IBM Colin E. Brench Compaq Computer Corporation Introduction Calculating measurement uncertainty has been the subject of many technical articles and presentations recently. There has been a lot of confusion about how to calculate a realistic, and meaningful, measurement uncertainty quantity. There is even more confusion about how to handle this uncertainty quantity. A realistic consideration is how well a measurement can correlate between two different test laboratories. Radiated emissions tests for commercial EMC standards are notorious for their poor correlation between laboratories. While some test facilities claim +/- db, once everything is taken into account, the real number is more likely to be about +/- 4 to greater than +/-7dB! Such a large correlation deviation can easily cause one test facility to pass a given product, while another test facility will fail the same product. Clearly, this is undesirable, especially when a given product is likely to be tested in different facilities, and at multiple times as various options are added. It is necessary to develop a means of ensuring both, that all sites are within tolerances acceptable for compliance testing, and that data can be correlated from one site to another. To do this, additional correction factors must be introduced. While these are not (yet) acceptable for the preparation of data to show compliance, they do provide a high degree of confidence that all sites are operating properly and providing a quality service. Sources of Deviation Deviations are caused by a number of different sources. The quality of the test environment (OATS or Anechioc room), the test process, and the accuracy of the measurement equipment all contribute to this deviation. Some of these issues are technical in nature, that is, better calibration can reduce the deviation, while others are not technical and are more difficult to control. The quality of the test environment is made by comparison to an ideal open area environment with an infinite metal ground plane. Reflections from the edge of the metal ground plane, reflections from walls (and anechoic materials), as well as reflections from other objects all contribute to the imperfection of the test environment. The site attenuation measurement serves to quantify the amount of error across the frequency range. The site attenuation measurements serve to show that the site is within the acceptable limits for the specific type of test being performed. However, regulatory agencies do not accept data, which has been corrected for these variations when submitting data for compliance. A deviation of +3dB at one site could be 3.5 db at another. The uncertainty of the site is based on the accuracy of all the measurement equipment as well as the site itself. Site deviations caused by the test process come from a number of factors, but mostly from the process used to optimize the emissions. Once a signal is under suspicion, then the cables and peripherals are moved manually to find the combination which produces the highest emissions. Optimization is done in many different ways and at various measurement distances. For example,

4 impedance is as close to free-space antenna impedance as possible. The impedance variation is about db for the horizontal polarization, and only db for the vertical polarization. There are two factors, which help the log periodic antenna in this test. Electrically it is much higher above the ground plane, and the strong inter-element coupling dominates over the ground plane effects. It can be clearly seen in the figures that the log periodic antenna is affected much less than the biconical antenna. These tests were repeated with additional antennas (of the same type), and the results were consistent with the data in Figures 8 though. However, while the variation was consistent, the exact impedance at a given frequency could vary by to db, as shown in Figure. This implies that any characterization of antennas with height must be done individually and not for a given antenna type. Having a set of antenna factors for different heights could reduce the measurement uncertainty due to the antenna factor variation. While this initially sounds like a bookkeeping nightmare, it is much less hassle when the measurement system is automated. The antenna factor becomes a simple table lookup function. Overall Site Accuracy Establishing the overall measurement site accuracy is not a trivial task. The first requirement is to have an electric field source that is well known in the environment in which it is used. A simple dipole antenna would have to be carefully calibrated in a metal ground plane environment, and then the repeatability and accuracy would still be doubtful as different signal generators are used as the source. To overcome this problem, a spherical dipole source (SRS-) was calibrated at the NIST open field site in Boulder, Colorado. Testing showed this unit to have a calibrated accuracy of about.5 db, and a repeatability of about.5 db. Having a total uncertainty of only.75db this was considered the best possible electric field source for this type of site comparison. The spherical dipole source was taken to a number of different test sites, all of which were fully approved. A series of measurements were made to determine how accurately each test site reported the field level. Figure 3 shows a typical result from a laboratory. The tests were repeated a number of times over a period of a few months to determine repeatability. As can be seen from Figure 3, the repeatability was very good. However, the absolute accuracy varied from 6 db to +4 db. This measurement included all the normal correction factors. That is, no special calibration of receivers, antennas (height), etc. was used. Figure 4 shows a typical example of the variation between different measurement sites. Each site was measured using the same source. As can be seen in the figure, the variation from site to site could be as much as 4 db. While this is very good it does place a requirement for all products to have a minimum of a 4dB guard band in order to ensure passing at any test facility. The accuracy and consistency results are somewhat lower than desired. It is certainly undesirable to either overdesign a product (due to reporting the emissions as higher than they really are), or underdesign a product (due to reporting the emissions as lower than they really are). However, the overall accuracy (and therefore site-to-site consistency) can be improved using the data from these tests. Note: because of the level feedback provided in this unit, the dependence on the signal generator calibration was eliminated.

5 Figure 5 shows an example of a site calibration factor for a given test site based upon the average of a number of tests as shown in Figure 3. This site calibration factor includes all errors due to the site, the antennas and the test equipment, so is therefore dependent on all of these being stable. If an antenna was changed, or a receiver changed, then the calibration factor would have to be recalculated. Figure 6 shows an example of the relative accuracy for a test laboratory using its site calibration factor. The accuracy has been improved, and of course, so has the siteto-site consistency once both sites use their individual site calibration factors. Regulatory Issues The work presented here does go against a number of existing regulatory requirements. Site attenuation measurements are made to verify the suitability of a test site for compliance testing. It is not permissible, however, to correct measured data for any imperfections in the test site. This leaves the potential to have data errors of up to +/-4dB when compared to the ideal site. A similar, though more complex, situation arises when considering the antenna factor behavior of the measurement antenna. It has been shown that the effective antenna factor can vary by over db with height. By using a matrix of antenna factors for height, polarization, and frequency, it is possible to increase both site to site correlation and overall accuracy. However, for regulatory compliance, a single antenna factor is required, theoretically the free space values, though more usually the values are determined at a height of 4m above the ground plane. These two issues severely limit the application of site correction techniques. However, within a given group of test sites there is no reason not to use this approach to ensure consistency and to create a tool to rapidly pinpoint when one site has a problem. Summary The technique of calibrating both the measurement equipment and the physical test site as a single entity has been presented. Additionally a key individual effect, the variation of effective antenna factor with height and polarization has also been shown. These considerations provide a mechanism for reducing measurement uncertainty and improving site to site correlation. Measurement uncertainty can be reduced, while increasing site-to-site measurement correlation by increasing the accuracy of the measurement receiver. This can be accomplished either by selecting a more accurate receiver, or by additional calibration. Additional calibration of the antenna (vs. height) can also increase measurement accuracy. Finally, the overall measurement system can be calibrated (eliminating the need for individual calibrations) by using an accurate field source and combining all the various factors into one overall correction factor. While accurate EMI measurements are difficult, and large measurement uncertainties have been accepted in the past, most companies can no longer afford to place large guard bands on their products, effectively lowering the regulatory limits to ensure product passing. The only way to reduce the large guard bands used by most responsible companies is to increase the measurement accuracy. This increase in measurement accuracy (and reduction in measurement uncertainty) requires additional effort and calibration by vendor s beyond that called for by regulatory agencies. However, the tools are available today, for those wishing to use them.

6 Measurement Error for HP Spectrum Analyzers Quasi-Peak (~ dbm) SA# QP SA#3 QP SA#4 QP SA#5 QP SA#6 QP SA#7 QP Freqyuency (MHz) Figure.5 Measurement Error for R&S Receivers Quasi-Peak ( ~ dbm) RS# QP/LN RS# QP/LD RS# QP/LN RS# QP/LD RS#3 QP/LN RS#3 QP/LD RS#4 QP/LN RS#4 QP/LD Figure

7 Difference Between Peak and Quasi-Peak for Spectrum Analyzers (~ dbm).5 SA# SA#3 SA#4 SA#5 SA#6 SA#7 -.5 Figure 3 Difference Between Peak and Quasi-Peak (Low Noise) for R&S Receivers ( ~ dbm) RS# LN RS# LN RS#3 LN RS#4 LN RS# LD RS# LD RS#3 LD RS#4 LD Figure 4

8 Difference Between Peak and Quasi-Peak for HP8546A EMI Receiver ( ~ dbm) Figure 5 3 R&S Receiver Absolute Measurement -6 dbm - RS# PK RS# QP/LN RS# QP/LD RS# PK RS# QP/LN RS# QP/LD - -3 Figure 6

9 HP 8546A EMI Receiver Absolute Measurement dbm HP EMI # PK HP EMI # QP HP EMI # PK HP EMI # QP Figure 7 4 Bicon Antenna Factor (Horz) Variation over Ground Plane Relative to 4 meter height (Ailtech SN#9) 3 Deviation (db) m.5m.m.5m 3.m 3.5m E+7 5.E+7 7.E+7 9.E+7.E+8.3E+8.5E+8.7E+8.9E+8.E+8 Frequency (Hz) Figure 8

10 Bicon Antenna Factor (vert) Variation over Ground Plane Relative to 4 meter height (Ailtech SN#9) 3 Deviation (db) - - m.5m.m.5m 3.m 3.5m E+7 5.E+7 7.E+7 9.E+7.E+8.3E+8.5E+8.7E+8.9E+8 Frequency (Hz) Figure 9.5 Log Periodic Antenna Factor (Horz) Variation over Ground Plane Relative to 4 meter Height..5 Variation (db). -.5 m.5m.m.5m 3.m 3.5m E+8 3.E+8 4.E+8 5.E+8 6.E+8 7.E+8 8.E+8 9.E+8.E+9 Frequency (Hz) Figure

11 Log Periodic Antenna Factor (Vert) Deviation over Ground Plane Relative to 4 meter Height Variation (db).. -. m.5m.m.5m 3.m 3.5m E+8 3.E+8 4.E+8 5.E+8 6.E+8 7.E+8 8.E+8 9.E+8.E+9 Frequency (Hz) Figure 5 Maximum Variation of Bicon Antenna Factor (Vert) over Ground Plane Relative to 4 meter height (Ailtech ) Maximum Deviation (db) SN#8 SN#9.5 3.E+7 5.E+7 7.E+7 9.E+7.E+8.3E+8.5E+8.7E+8.9E+8.E+8 Frequency (Mhz) Figure

12 Test Lab # Horizontal Polarized Electric Field Deviation from NIST Calibrated Levels 6 4 -Jan-98 4-feb-98- Deviation (db) - 4-feb-98-4-feb-98-4-feb Mar Figure 3 3 Comparison of Different Test Labs Average Measurement Deviation From NIST (Horz Polarization) Deviation (db) Figure 4

13 Lab # Site Calibration Factor (for NIST Accuracy) May 98 3 Correction Factor (db) Figure 5.5 Lab # Horizontal Polarization Measurement Deviation (from NIST) with Site Calibration Factor.5 Deviation (db).5 -Jan-98 4-feb-98-4-feb-98-4-feb-98-4-feb Figure 6

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