FPC1500 Spectrum Analyzer - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: FPC1500 Spectrum Analyzer

Author: geralds

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Connectors & Cable

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: -

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Connecting to the host via USB port, the FPC1500 makes a virtual LAN as a webserver and reconfigure with the R&S InstrumentView the given LAN so that the host losts his router. Then i have the problem going to the internet, also connecting with the other hosts in the LAN. The firmware is frozen during switching between the FPC1500 applications.

Detailed Review:

Dear Element 14 Road Test Team, Dear R&S Supplier,


Thank you very much for selecting me to participate to the road test about the FPC1500.


After the fantastic road tests of the other road testers with the spectrum analyzer FPC1000, in my road test I concentrated more on the vector network analyzer in the successor FPC1500.
The spectrum analyzer FPC1000 already shows fantastic values in spectrum analysis mode. The situation is similar with the successor in the spectrum analyzer mode of the FPC1500.
Here both devices are the same in these functions.

3GHz Spectrum Analyzer - R&S® FPC1000

FPC1500 Spectrum Analyzer



In addition, there is the output of a signal generator that can be used to test components as a network for signal reflection or signal transmission.
I've focused on these features in my RoadTest.



First Impression:

Receiving the package,....



First Problem - via USB to PC:

A relative big problem was to connect the FPC1500 to the PC using the USB port.
I described here what happened when I made the connection.
The PC completely lost the connection to the LAN and Internet, because the FPC1500 worked as a web server and had the IP address reconfigured.




Spectrum Analyzer:


Update the firmware:

On the R&S website you will find the actual firmware for download.


In the release note as well there is the description how to update.



After restart, the FPC1500 enters the standard application mode, which is defined in a preset script.

Access: Preset "- it is described in the manual in chapter 6, page 32. It works fine as expected.



Applications, Applications, Applications, ….


First start:




Digital Demodulation:





Software Test:





Software error:



The firmware from the FPC is frozen. It is amazing.
What could that be? A few days ago I wrote here in the forum, in this discussion, that the FPC is freezing, and asked Shabaz to check that he could have this problem as well.
But I could not catch that because it was at the beginning of the test setup and the camera was not turned on yet.

Now before I did the software test where the problem did not occur.

At the same time the WLAN connection with the InstrumentView was active, and I had disconnected this connection after the software test in the InstrumentView in the menu.
InstrumentView took a long time, but it worked.
On the FPC was still the connection with the wireless router active and I have not turned off.
At the same time I have uploaded a few videos for review on the PC to E14 and written some text.
The connection with the PC to the WLAN router is with cable, the connection with the FPC with WLAN.
During the upload (it took about 2 hours in which I left the FPC) I wanted to do some tests with the FPC again and I wanted to switch to a different application with the Mode button.
For the VNA, because I wanted to test with different cable types.
After two clicks, the display turned blue. After that, you see that in the video, I had to unplug and reconnect the power cable and start up the FPC.

This is interesting, I think, here is not the problem of calling the applications via the Mode button, but, I think the problem is deeper, it is in the direction of network connections.
Because there are also massive problems between the LAN and USB on the FPC to connect to the PC.
This is just my firstly think about.
I do not know the philosophy of R & S, e.g. to assign the USB port with a virtual LAN and also with a fixed IP address, so that everything else in the network does not work anymore.
It's like putting a nail in a piece of wood. This wood, so, this LAN becomes immobile.
My view is that local should be local, flexible, as the LAN should remain flexible and not mix up and down across.






Vector Network Analyzer (VNA)


In comparing between the spectrum analyzers FPC1500 to the ZVH in vector network analyzer mode:

In the user manual of the ZVH you will find a very fine description in details to understand the calibration procedure.
The copied extraction of the descriptions shows the important points for the calibration.
At the same time this is a comparison between the two user manuals.

For the FPC User Manual insert more details, because in the ZVH manual you can understand well how the calibration procedure should be carried out.
For this purpose also possible types of measurement are suggested in this manual.


VNA - CalibratingCalibration for measurements

Network Analyzer Mode (R&S ZVH-K42)

Operating Manual 1309.6946.12 - 09


6.1 Calibrating Measurements

(beginning at page 178)


In its default state, the R&S ZVH uses factory calibration. Factory calibration is a full 2-port calibration over the complete frequency range of the R&S ZVH model.

When factory calibration is active, the status line reads . In many cases, this calibration already provides accurate results.


To get the best and most accurate results, however, you have to calibrate the measurement manually, because factory calibration does not take the actual test setup into account (e.g. cables).

The R&S ZVH provides several calibration methods.

You will need one of the available calibration standards R&S FSH-Z28, -Z29 (order no. 1300.7804.03 and 1300.7504.03) or R&S ZV-Z121 (order no. 1164.0496.02/.03).

Alternatively, you can create customized calibration kits with the functionality of the R&S ZVHView software package and transfer those to the R&S ZVH.

Before you calibrate the R&S ZVH for the current measurement, you should set the frequency parameters, reference level and attenuation levels. If you change one of these parameter after a successful calibration, it may become invalid.


To successfully calibrate the test setup, you have to connect the calibration standard at the reference plane, usually the output of the RF measurement cable.

During calibration, the R&S ZVH removes systematic errors from the measurement. This process is based on correction data it gets while performing the calibration.

The correction data for transmission measurements is based on the results of comparing the transmission characteristics of the test setup to the frequency response of the tracking generator.

The correction data for reflection measurements is based on the results of a reflection measurement at a short and an open on the bridge.

Calibration remains valid after turning off the R&S ZVH or changing into another operating mode as calibration data is saved in the internal memory of the R&S ZVH.

If you save the measurement in a dataset, calibration data is part of that dataset. When you restore the dataset and perform the same measurement again, you do not have to recalibrate the R&S ZVH.

- - -

Each calibration method is suitable for certain kinds of measurement tasks.

For high isolation measurements, use the normalization and isolation calibration

For filter measurements requiring high standards (for example S11 in passband

For full s-parameter measurements on attenuators or amplifiers, use the full 2-port


- - -

You can also use calibration kits other than the R&S FSH-Z28 or -Z29 in combination with their characteristics.

However, make sure that the electrical length of the calibration kit in use is similar to that of the R&S FSH-Z28 or -Z29.

The electrical length of the "Open" and "Short" of the R&S ZVH calibration kits is 5.27 mm. If the electrical length is different, it may cause additional phase error.

Some measurement setups may include additional cables or adapters that may have an additional electrical length.

To correct their phase error, you can include the electrical length of additional test equipment. The R&S ZVH distinguishes if the equipment is connected to port 1 or port 2.

- - -



User Manual 1178.4130.02 ─ 05

10 Calibration

(beginning at page 49)


Available for the R&S FPC1500 and in the spectrum and VNA applications. Before you measure S-parameters, you should calibrate the measurement.

Calibration or system error correction is a separate measurement that determines systematic, reproducible errors.

Determining these errors allows you to remove those errors from the actual measurement results, which in turn improves the accuracy of the measurement.

The calibration requires a calibration standard (or calibration kit), whose response characteristics (magnitude, phase and frequency) are known.

During calibration, the R&S FPC compares the measurement results of the standards with their known, ideal response.

The difference is used to calculate the system errors and derive a set of system error correction data.


For successful and valid calibration, you connect the calibration standard at the reference plane. The reference plane is usually the output of the RF measurement cable.

Calibration remains valid after turning off the R&S FPC or changing into another application as calibration data is saved in the internal memory of the R&S FPC.

If you save the measurement in a dataset, calibration data is part of that dataset. When you restore the dataset and repeat the same measurement, you do not have to recalibrate the R&S FPC.

Before you calibrate the R&S FPC for the current measurement, you should set the frequency parameters, reference level and attenuation levels.

If you change one of these parameters after a successful calibration, it can become invalid.

- - -

Every calibration kit has different phase characteristics. Therefore, you have to specify the calibration kit you are using to avoid phase errors during calibration.

The R&S FPC then corrects the measurement results accordingly.

You can either use one of the calibration kits designed for use with the R&S FPC, for example the R&S FSH-Z28 and -Z29 calibration kits.

Those kits provide an "Open", "Short" and "Load" calibration standard in one piece. The characteristics of these calibration kits are already stored in the R&S FPC firmware.

In addition, you can create and edit calibration kits with the R&S InstrumentView software package and then transfer them to the R&S FPC.

When you use calibration kits, make sure that the electrical length of the calibration kit is similar to that of the R&S FSH-Z28 or -Z29.

The electrical length of the "Open" and "Short" of these calibration kits is 5.27 mm.

If the electrical length is different, an additional phase error can occur.

- - -


My own created calibration kit


Also as explained by   in his review, under the item "Determining Inductor Quality (Q) Factor", the problem of finding the right components:

FPC1500 Spectrum Analyzer - Review


Thinking too, "lots of adapters, that may not be right for a calibration set, the FSH-Z28 has N-connectors, and I need other connectors, like SMA, and I need to hook this N-adapter to it for calibration?" - That does not fit my logic.
! "Read this .... Manual!" ...>->
So as described above, I also used the saved file of the FSH-Z28 calibration kit as a reference for creating my calibration kit, so I built my calibration kit with the SMA connector for, "Open".
Also, I contacted R & S Support last week to ask what the matter is with the 5.27mm, and i also ordered datasheets from the FSH-Z28 and -Z29 calibration kits.


He wrote in his email:
"Here are the datasheets for FSH-Z28 and FSH-Z29.
The Calibration Kits FSH-Z28 and FSH-Z29 are our value products and therefore have no individual calibration data.

These have our high-end calibration kits such as the ZV-Z270, but also cost many times.
However, the FSH-Z28 / Z29 data is enough for use with the FPC1500.
For one thing, because you do not get that high in the GHz range, and second, because the basic accuracy of the FPC1500 is also limited. "

…>-> I read it and intuitively i was right.


A second email, because i asked hin about the further coefficients, he wrote:

It is perfectly Ok, that for FSH-Z28, or -29 only the length of 5.27mm is specified.
The further coefficients such as C0, C1, C2, C3, L0, L1, L2, L3 are in practice to be set to 0. (in the table of the calibration kits)
They only come into play in the higher GHz range.
Please also bear in mind that the measuring accuracy of your setup is also limited by FPC1500.



1) use the best cable you have for the lead from the FPC1500 to the application, so this cable must be better than your application.

I used the low loss 240 flex coaxial cable from Telegärtner (Germany). It is a kind of the Belden (Germany) cable, or its brand.

Type: BELDEN VENLO Holland 2017 50 Ohm Low Loss H155 PE

Using the datasheet of this cable i created a dataset of a cable model in the InstrumentView on the PC and transmitted it into the FPC1500 as well.

2) use the plugs and jacks that are better than your application is.I used the devices from Telegärtner.


From top to bottom:

firstly i used a 1cm "OPEN"; (as mentioned from Shabaz, at "Determining Inductor Quality (Q) Factor", this was shown in an image in his review).

Then I've read the manual in detail. ...


2. I cut the middle contact to 5.2 mm (the 0.27 mm plus comes by trimming, moving, in the plug).

3. I cut the plug to the same dimension as the terminator "LOAD".

4. I placed the middle contact in the plug housing and the isolation behind the contact, so that the contact then can not move back.

5. I closed the hole with a piece solder wick and solder.



Then, we can see what we have created.




The compatible calibration kits which are used for the FPC1500 are listed in the calibration kit folder:




(Image Owner: R&S)












(brochure including a word to the ZV-Z132)





VNA - Reflection - Calibrating:



(I just made photographs, that you see in that table, not a video; Its enough i thought)

After calibration and corresponding to the conversions, you can save the values in a data set.
You can create these values in the R & S InstrumentView under the folder Preparation / Calibration Kits, as shown in this example.




VNA - bad calibration - reflections because adapters in the cable:



VNA - bad calibration - reflections - Smith diagram:



Also, the jacks and the plug must be properly connected, also well and measured to be fixed with a Newton-meter wrench defined.
Every μm counts. As an example, here I have turned out these adapters far enough that growing in the Smith this impedance.





VNA - DTF (Distance to fault):






VNA - 1 port cable loss:





VNA - Transmission S21 - using a Filter:



VNA - Transmission S21 - Details with Markers and Lines:



The lines are not on grid.


R&S InstrumentView, PC Application:



FPC1500 - File Manager:




The problem with the file manager in the FPC is that the folders can not be opened to display the contents in the folders.
If this is a feature, hm, then it seems to be a folder manager, not a file manager.
I do not know if that's a mistake, maybe that's what they want, but at least that's not a good idea.

After resetting the instrument, all personally created and stored records are lost, only the records that come with the firmware are retained.
Ok, that's also described in the manual. But it can be an expense if a lot of records have to be transferred from PC to instrument after each initial setting.
Okay, that may be so intentional, but it causes unnecessary costs.
Namely, if the records were checked, such as: the cable data from the data sheets, and stored in the instrument, what would be against if they are not deleted?
They would not cause destruction of the instrument, on the other hand, it would be an advantage if they stayed.

They could also be transmitted regularly by R & S (via download), so that the records always stay up to date.





InstrumentView - Create a dataset and transfer it to the FPC1500:






The Material, the components I used:


RG 58 / U cable with BNC plugs, 10255 mm long, for the DTF and 1-port cable loss measurements.



R191421000 - RADIALL - HF-/Koaxial-Adapter, Koaxial zwischen verschiedenen Baureihen, Gerader Adapter | Farnell AT

(Radiall - R191421000 is a straight BNC to N Adapter)


R411820124. - RADIALL - HF-/Koaxial-Adapter, SMA-Dämpfungsglied, 20dB | Farnell AT

(SMA Coaxial Adapter - Attenuator 20dB)


R191329000 - RADIALL - HF-/Koaxial-Adapter, Koaxial zwischen verschiedenen Baureihen, Gerader Adapter | Farnell AT

(Radiall - N Male to SMA Female Straight Adapter)





(Telegärtner Crimp Steckverbinder Typ N, 50Ω Stecker gerade, Kabelmontage, 1.5/3.8, 1.5/3.8 FLEX)



(HF-Abschlusswiderstand (Terminator), SMA, Stecker, 50Ω, gerade, Kabelmontage, 0 → 6GHz, 1W)




(Low Loss 240 flex coaxial cable -  50 Ω Schwarz Telegärtner L01021C0005)



In any case, I would suggest this cable to always use it as a lead for the test setups.
The cable is definitely better than most coaxial assemblies used with coaxial cables.

The right plugs and jacks, you can find it here:




(Abschlusswiderstand (Terminator - N) Telegärtner J01026A0012)



(SMA-Steckverbinder Stecker, gerade 50 Ω Telegärtner J01150A0611) - this SMA jacks are for the flex cable



(Adapter SMA-Jack - SMA-Jack Telegärtner J01154A0041)




(Rosenberger RF - SMA SHORTING CAP  32Z111-000L5)



(Rosenberger SMA Jack to BNC Jack 50ohm Jack Adapter)



Adapters for the Antenna:

I created it with the components from the older Router because this antenna needs a reverse SMA plug.


Bluetooth - 434MHz transmitter: you can buy it by Conrad-Electronics, or similar, or per self made.


Filter for the S21 test:

Eagle Comtronics

It's an old filter used in RF-Communication Equipments, it's a cannel filter that separate  TV channels from RF communication.


Eagle Comtronics part no.: - 10MLL-245 349/406 032;

… and BNC-Chinch-F, F-Chinch-BNC adapters.

Eagle Comtronics The Dexterity to Perform The Experience to deliver!



If you use a 50/75 Ohm balun, you can easily build it as RAM or RAZ:


(R&S - RAM, RAZ)





What can I say .. The spectrum analyzer is a fantastic device. It is definitely useful for the lab and service.
According to email communication with R & S, the device is rather limited in terms of basic accuracy.
The range is "only" up to 3 GHz, whereby it is really interesting and, above all, very expensive.
That's how I understood this email.
This also means that the calibration kits do not have to be too fussy.
That can and that is also a philosophical thing.

Just as I read the super great road test from the other reviewers, "you have to be very, very careful", I can not fully confirm this with the FPC1500.
It is 100% suitable for a simple and industrial laboratory. But if you want to know it very well, then you have to consider the larger devices.


For my laboratory in my company, the device is ideal and I will use it extensively.
We focus on remote-controlled household articles. Here the WIFI and cable connections come to the application, mostly Bluetooth, or WLAN.
A big advantage would also be if you can use the FPC more complex pass / fail, or worst-case, settings.

The trigger input with its max. 3V voltage range is very low.
Namely "TTL" - minimum would already be the well-known 5V_TTL voltage.
I just had 5V on the trigger, because "TTL". But then I switched off quickly and I have to check now in the next few days, if the input is still okay.
Question: Which volt is really absolutely possible without the input being destroyed?

So, that was a few tests. There are many more features to test, but they really would exceed the 2 months.
I will bring some more, but I have to rebuild the lab even further.
Hidden device errors, or PC software errors often come to light only after many days, because you have to proceed step by step.

The most important thing for me is to check and repair in the first place: the USB port.
That irritated me right at the beginning, that a USB port is linked to a LAN.
Most users do not use a 172.xxx subnet. Most people use something like 10.xxx or 192.168.xx.
Therefore, the fixed assignment of an IP for the USB is a big problem.


Thank you very much for allowing me to test the fantastic device. It was really a great honor for me.
I'm looking forward to being selected again for a road test by Rhode & Schwarz and the great E14 team.

Best Regards


  • This is a very good roadtest review.  You really did roll up your selves and dig in deep.  I also thought you did a good job documenting the function as well as the dis-function of this instrument.

    Good job.


  • Thorough detailed review showing some interesting test results.


    Kind regards

  • Very good road test report.


    Well done.



  • Hi Gerald,


    It was great to read your review! It is really good that you're going to use it extensively, I feel the same - the functionality it provides is really great.

    I didn't experience the lock-up, so I'm wondering if it could have been due to the WLAN.. maybe the OS was waiting for it to connect or something? : ( Although of course it shouldn't lock-up.

    Regarding wiping of all data when the full reset is done, I suspect this is to satisfy their government/military customers - they always demand a way to fully remove all data. In a large lab it could be awkward to recover unless the files are (say) on a shared drive, but if it is one FPC1500 per desk, then the attached PC will have a copy of all the data anyway (and backed-up using normal PC backup procedures), since the data files are prepared using the PC software (InstrumentView).


    For the USB, I thought maybe you already had a 172.xx.xx.xx network, and that was causing a conflict? If you don't already have a 172 network, then I think it should work. When I tested, I had only a 192.168.1.xx network. When I plugged in the USB, as you say, it saw an IP address on the 172.xx.xx.xx network, but the PC also assigned itself an extra IP address on that 172.xx.xx.xx network. So, InstrumentView and the FPC1500 did successfully communicate, provided InstrumentView was running on that same PC. The PC would direct the 172.xx.xx.xx traffic (i.e. that which is specifically addressed to the FPC1500) through the USB port, and any remainder traffic over to the default gateway (i.e. or or whatever, same as usual). If you're running InstrumentView on a different PC, then I agree that USB will be complicated, because some routing or next hop would be needed to be configured somewhere, and it may not even work due to PC OS firewall or other policies. If this didn't function, I'm wondering if it could be some firewall issue on the PC.


    Also, great work on the custom open/short! Excellent seeing how to do it, using your detailed photos. It's a good point you mention about using the wrench to properly tighten to the correct amount. I don't have that currently, and there is a major effect when the connector is slightly loose, it can throw everything off : (


    For my T-shaped OSL calibrator with no length parameter supplied (other than my basic length measurement and iterations) : ( I've found a solution - there is a firm based in the UK, called Kirkby Microwave, that is willing to provide me with a calibration file and coefficients, for a very reasonable cost - about £50GBP depending on payment method and delivery, for any frequency range (up to 20GHz) that I specify. Basically I just ship the OSL calibrator, and Dr. David Kirkby will measure it for me and ship it back along with the results via e-mail. I'll let you know how it goes.


    That Belden cable looks very good with the double shield. What part code SMA male connector fits it?


    Awesome review! I learned a lot, including all the things I did not get around to testing.