PicoVNA Series

Low-cost, professional-grade 6 GHz and 8.5 GHz VNAs for both lab and field use

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PicoVNA® Vector Network Analyzers

VNA 5 Software update

PicoVNA 5.2.6 has arrived, bringing with it:

  • Configurable additional synthesiser settling time, for measurement of electrically long or high-Q DUTs

  • User data can be imported from a text file to a specific memory channel

  • Live data can be saved to a specific memory channel

Plus fixes including software running issues on versions of Windows with non-Roman character sets.

 View the PicoVNA 5 playlist

PicoVNA: High performance, portability, and low cost

  • 6 GHz and 8.5 GHz models
  • 300 kHz to 6 or 8.5 GHz operation
  • High speed, up to 5500 dual-port S-parameters per second
  • PicoVNA 5 software: Intuitive and direct user interface
  • > 10 000 S11 + S21 per second
  • Quad RX four-receiver architecture for best accuracy
  • Up to 124 dB dynamic range at 10 Hz bandwidth
  • 0.005 dB RMS trace noise at a maximum bandwidth of 140 kHz
  • Half-rack, small-footprint, lightweight package
  • Reference plane offsetting and de-embedding
  • Time domain and port impedance transformations
  • Up to 4 live + 4 memory traces on dual y-axis display channels
  • Save on trigger for high-speed device profiling (PicoVNA 108)
  • Dual-frequency mixer measurements with VSWR correction (PicoVNA 108)
  • Phase meter, P1dB, AM to PM, and stand-alone signal generator utilities
  • Male and female SOLT and automated E-Cal calibration standards
  • Guided 8/12-term, SOLT, TRL, and TRM calibrations including unknown-through
  • Confident measurement based on traceable data for all calibration and check standards

PicoVNA 5: The game changer vector network analyzer software

View the PicoVNA 5 playlist

PicoVNA 5 software achieves compatibility with older computing hardware while making efficient use of modern hardware (PC, Mac, or embedded systems; x86-64 or AArch64, inclusive Raspberry Pi3B+ and up) to unlock new processing and feature possibilities.

With a PicoVNA 106 or PicoVNA 108 the PicoVNA 5 software enables you to customize an array of frequency domain and time domain viewports (display channels). In addition, you are able to add and group markers with comprehensive user configurable readouts, and be able to cross-reference memory traces. Organize all of this on a thoroughly modern, snappy, multi-port UI (User Interface). Whether local, network remoted or SCPI commanded; or an inter-acting combination of all three!

PicoVNA 5 has been designed for all our system and OEM embed integrators, that we know are out there. A high-performance API separately provides you (e.g. LabVIEW, MATLAB, Python users, etc.) with SCPI or API options when interfacing. Both the software and the API are designed to be capable of rapid expansion to meet ever-evolving user requirements; which we hope you will share with us via an in-application feedback utility. Ongoing development of PicoVNA 5 will port all functionalities of its predecessor PicoVNA 3 across to the new software.

While that continues, PicoVNA 3 remains available and fully supported as does its remote interface DLL.

PicoVNA 5 software will be preferred by most users. There will however be a brief period for which certain PicoVNA features are not yet addressed in the new software. PicoVNA 3 software therefore remains available and fully supported. The link below gives a full detailed comparison of the VNA 5 and VNA 3 software features.

Compare PicoVNA 5 and PicoVNA 3 here >>

Download PicoVNA 5 software >>

Download PicoVNA 5 software >>

Vector network analyzers for the many

Once the domain of an elite few, microwave measurement has encroached into the lives of scientists, educators, surveyors, inspectors, engineers, and technicians alike. Today’s microwave measurements need to be straightforward, portable, accurate, cost-effective and easy to learn.

Pico vector network analyzers are UK-designed, professional USB-controlled, laboratory-grade vector network instruments of unprecedented performance, portability, and value for money. Despite their simple outline, small footprint, and low cost, the instruments boast a four-receiver architecture to minimize the uncorrectable errors, delays, and unreliability of internal transfer switches.

The PicoVNA 108 delivers an exceptional dynamic range of 124 dB at 10 Hz (118 dB for the PicoVNA 106) and less than 0.006 dB RMS trace noise at its maximum operating bandwidth of 140 kHz. The instruments can also gather all four S-parameters at each frequency point in just 182 μs (PicoVNA 106) or 189 μs (PicoVNA 108), or S11 + S21 in less than 100 μs. In other words, a 201 point 2-port .s2p Touchstone file in less than 38 ms or up to two .s1p files in less than 20 ms. Their low price makes them cost-effective as deep dynamic range scalar network analyzers or single-port vector reflectometers as well as full-function dual-port, dual-path vector network analyzers. They are affordable in the classroom, in small businesses, and even in amateur workshops, yet capable of meeting the needs of all users up to the laboratory or production test technician or the metrology expert.

Automated PicoVNA E-Cal and TRL/TRM calibrations

Many users of a vector network analyzer insist upon an automated calibration solution. Automation can provide extra speed, efficiency, and a simplified process. Automated VNA calibration can also improve overall calibration quality and even reduce uncertainties or errors.

TRL (Through Reflect Line) and TRM (Through Reflect Match) calibration typically gain favor when needing to measure substrate-mounted DUTs, for example, surface-mounted networks or components on a PCB or ceramic.

More on E-Cal and TRL calibrations: Automated E-Cal and TRL calibrations.

Vector Network Analysis in the field, the workplace or as embedded function

The PicoVNAs' small size, lightweight, and low cost suit them to field service, installation test, OEM embedded, and classroom applications. With their remote automation capability, they are also attractive in applications such as:

  • Test automation, including multiple VNA control and measurement
  • Manufacturers needing to integrate a reflectometry or transmission measurement core
  • Inspection, test, characterization, and calibration in the manufacture, distribution, and service center industries:
    • Electronics component, assembly, systems, and interface/interconnect ATE (cable, PCB, and wireless)
    • Material, geological, life-science, and food sciences; tissue imaging; penetrating scan and radar
  • Broadband cable and harness test and matching at manufacture and installation, and fault-over-life monitoring
  • Antenna matching and tuning

Software development kits, including code examples in MATLAB and MATLAB RF toolbox, LabVIEW, C, C#, and Python, are all available for download from Pico Technology’s GitHub pages. Examples include multiple instrument addressing and control.

Network Metrology Training and Metrology Kits

In the classroom, Pico supports Network Metrology education through a low-cost, potentially one-per-student classroom kit. The Network Metrology Training Kit comprises PCB based passive and active circuit and transmission line examples, calibration standards and test leads, and for Microwave Office users, the project files used in its design. Just add the PicoVNA to start making and learning about network measurements and their critical role within the Design-Simulate-Implement-Measure design cycle.

View the kits

Network Measurement Training Kit circuit board

Features

Comparison of software features PicoVNA 5 to 3

PicoVNA 5 software will be preferred by most users. There will however be a brief period for which certain PicoVNA features are not yet addressed in the new software.
PicoVNA 3 software therefore remains available and fully supported. Click the feature category indexed on the left to see comparison for each software version below.

PicoVNA 5 software will be preferred by most users. There will however be a brief period for which certain PicoVNA features are not yet addressed in the new software.
PicoVNA 3 software therefore remains available and fully supported. Select the feature category from the drop-down field to see comparison for each software version below.


Operating system, platform and display PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Supported operating systems Linux, Windows 7+, macOS 11 (Big Sur)+
(Linux test distributions Debian 8 "Jessie" , Ubuntu 18.04 (LTS), Mint Cinnamon "Vera", openSUSE Leap 15.0, Fedora 28, Arch Linux.  No problems anticipated on other distributions)
Windows 7+ only
Supported controllers PC, Mac (ARM or Intel), Raspberry Pi 4 and 5 PC only
Supported display resolution All Limited rescaling to monitor aspect and resolution
Development environment Generic, foundational and ground-up design. Built for speed, scalability and cross-platform compatibility. Maintains compatibility with older computer hardware while making efficient use of modern hardware to unlock new data processing possibilities. Designed to be capable of rapid expansion to meet ever evolving user requirements. Legacy MSWindows design environment and toolset, limited scope and design efficiency to rapidly meet ever increasing user needs.
Measurement viewports (channels) PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Live traces per viewport (plot channel) 2 4
Dual-axis plots Yes
Memory traces per viewport (plot channel) Unlimited* 4
No. of viewports (plot channels) 1 to unlimited* 1, 2 or 4
No. of live time domain viewports (plot channels) Unlimited*
(from any span setting)
1
(requires 2n measurement points)
User scaling and positioning of plots Drag position and shape with snap to infinite grid  No, three built in layouts only
Plot variants PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Plot types Cartesian (time and frequency), Polar, Smith
Plot formats Log mag, lin mag, phase, Re, Im, group delay, VSWR, TD
Plot interpolations User prefered linear, cubic spline or Akima spline applied to mag/angle or Re/Im, or dot join Linear dot join on frequency domain plots, cubic spline on TD plots
Time domain variants Low pass (step / impulse) and band pass (impulse)  with Hanning, rectangular and Kaiser Bessel windowing and auto/manual DC termination Low pass with Hanning, rectangular and Kaiser Bessel windowing and auto/manual DC termination
In viewport (channel) controls and readouts PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
On plot parameter edit Span (time or frequency), plot parameter / type / format, sensitivity, offset, ref position Sensitivity, offset, ref position
Hover on plot cursor readout Yes, all traces No
Click to drop and drag marker Yes, all traces No (menu apply + drag)
Markers count Unlimited independent or grouped to reference.  Note: readout display area scrolls 1 - 8 repeat across all plots and frequency locked together
Reference markers Unlimited 1
Auto markers Not in current release. Bandwidth, Q, peak search auto markers to follow. Search ±3dB and ±6dB
Multiple and delta readouts Yes user configurable per marker or group Yes, plot format dependent
Auto scaling of plot axis Not in current release Yes within Display menu
Magnify, zoom and processing features PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Zoom multiple span segments Yes, define frequency or time segments for a new display port. Multiple segments per plot supported. Supports cursor readout and fine marker drop and drag No
Magnify region of any plot Yes, choose to magnify any region of any plot. Includes any focal point on Smith Chart for example. Supports cursor readout and fine marker drop and drag No
Trace averaging, smoothing and peak hold Yes, averaging (unlimited), smoothing 0-10%. Peak / trough hold to come. Yes, averaging 1-255, smoothing 0-10% and peak/trough hold
Trace vector maths Not in current release Yes, vector math, live + memo, live - memo, live / memo
Interpolated re-sampling and re-format Touchstone Yes, reformat Touchstone as MA, DB, RI. Re-sample and more to come. No
User workspaces PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Multiple independent workspaces Yes, unlimited.
Independent settings, spans, displays, calibrations, de-embeds, preferences
No
Calibration Features PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Supported calibration methods Fixed SOLT, TRL/TRM (single or dual line) and e-cal
Supported calibrations S11, insertable and non-insertable, unknown thru with/without enhanced isolation S11, S21, S11+S21, insertable and non-insertable, known / unknown thru with / without enhanced isolation
Graphical calibration assist wizard Yes, with measurement plotting No (text user prompts)
Supported cal kit definition Pico.kit file, TouchStone, polynomial coefficients and TRL (1/2 frequency bands) and open or short reflect. Includes in-app kits editor Pico.kit file, TouchStone via external conversion to .kit, polynomial coefficients and TRL (1/2 frequency bands and open or short reflect. Includes in-app kits editor
Import/export, save/recall and offline working PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Save / recall session Yes, save all with selection at recall of calibration, settings, data. Yes, save settings or calibration and settings
Import / export Yes, .csv (comma or point separator), Touchstone V1/V2, MA,DB,RI, a-b wave.csv Yes .csv, Touchstone MA, a-b wave.csv
Standalone (off-line) operation Yes; load, process, display, measure and re-save your data without instrument connection. No
Save and print display, viewport and readouts graphics Not in current release - print screen or graphics grabbers available Yes, plots + readouts with user print title labelling
Remote Interfacing PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Remote control and retrieve SCPI compliant GUI control and retrieve with local / remote operator interaction.  Plus separate high performance API. Separate GUI-less DLL
Compatibile with PicoVNA 3 command set No, PicoVNA 3 control.dll remains supported and there are comprehensive SDK examples to assist migration. Yes
Network presence Network present application that allows fully remoted command and retrieve, GUI operation and display mirroring. No network remote support
Fixture or feed removal and Z0 conversion PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Reference plane shift Yes, manual in current release, independent on each port and can be combined with embed / de-embed networks as below Yes, manual or automatic, independent on each port
Normalisation No, not in current release. Yes, either via trace math or loss at 1 GHz.
Embed / de-embed Yes, embed or de-embed separate Touchstone defined networks, one or multiple on each port, which can be applied in addition to Ref Plane Shift from above. Yes, de-embed separate Touchstone defined networks, one on each port
System impedance adjust - Z0 conversion Not in current release Yes, 10Ω to 200Ω, purely resistive and applicable to live and memory traces
Features yet to be migrated and enhanced** PicoVNA 5 current release PicoVNA 3
Limits editor and test Not in current release.  Significant enhancements envisaged. Yes, upto six specified test limit bands with plot highlighted and audible fail.
Non-linear calibrations and measurements Not in current release.  Significant enhancements envisaged. Includes P1dB and AM-PM measurement and plot utilities that include necessary calibrations
Save on trigger rapid characterisation Not in current release Included for PicoVNA 108, allows rapid multiple stepped parameter network / device characterisations based on hardware trigger 
Offset frequency / mixer measurements
(conversion loss, port isolation, compression)
Not in current release Yes (for PicoVNA 108), supports fixed or tracking external L.O. Includes direct USB remote control of tracking L.O. signal generator, for example, PicoSource AS108.
Absolute port power calibration Not in current release Yes, in the context of above mixer measurements.  Includes direct control of external USB power sensors or other port receiver
Compare data with traceable uncertainties Not in current release.  Significant enhancements envisaged. Includes tabular comparison utility with combined instrument and reference uncertainties
CW sweep mode Not in current release Yes, allows timebased trending of a single frequency measurement down to sub millisecond time increment
Phase meter mode Not in current release Yes, phase meter utility allows port receivers to lock to two external signals at a known frequency.  The two are then compared for continuous measurement of their relative phase and amplitudes
Signal generator mode Not in current release Yes, allows for use as a sweeping (PicoVNA 108 only) or CW signal generator via either port.

* Actual practical limitation derives from display size and resolution and resulting plot scaling

** These features will be developed, along with new capabilities, according to user demand and priority expressed in user feedback

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