A spectrum analyzer displays signals in the frequency domain. To use one, you only need to know about four controls: reference level, center frequency, and resolution bandwidth. In this episode, see how to use a spectrum analyzer and determine the transmitting frequency of a device.

The example device is my microphone transmitter. It operates around 500 MHz with FM modulation. You’ll see how I step through the spectrum analyzer controls to find the exact frequency. At the end of the episode, I show some advanced measurements you can do with a modern spectrum analyzer. My favorite one is the demodulation.

Early in my engineering career, I worked for an oscilloscope company in the high performance product line. The last project I worked on was defining the features and requirements of a 33GHz (that’s giga-, not mega-) scope. This experience gave me a strong appreciation for processing digitized signals, especially those in the RF range. So when I picked up my first Software Defined Radio (SDR), you can imagine how much fun it was to use… with the help of some open source hardware.