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ITU-T O.42

1988 Edition, November 1, 1988

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EQUIPMENT TO MEASURE NONLINEAR DISTORTION USING THE 4-TONE INTERMODULATION METHOD



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Description / Abstract:

Introduction

Nonlinear distortion impairments on analogue circuits are normally evaluated be measuring the harmonic frequency signals resulting from a sinusoidal test signal, or by measuring intermodulation frequency signals resulting from the interaction of a multitone test signal. Studies and experience have shown that the harmonic distortion method may severely underevaluate the amount of nonlinearity present on a circuit under certain circumstances. When multiple sources of nonlinearity are present on a circuit, harmonic products may tend to cancel each other, whereas the intermodulation products generated by a complex data signal may not cancel and may significantly impair the transmitted message. This effect has become increasingly important with the advent of higher bit rates and with multilevel/multiphase encoded data signals.

The following intermodulation method of testing for nonlinear distortion using a 4-tone test signal is recommended in order to achieve improved accuracy. This method measures certain 2nd and 3rd order distortion products resulting from the intermodulation of the tones in the prescribed test signal. The frequencies of the four test signal tones are selected to generate 2nd and 3rd order intermodulation products that occur in the passband of an analogue circuit and are easily separated from the applied test signal and measured. Four tones are used in order to achieve a test signal whose amplitude distribution is approximately Gaussian.