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They are devices that route high frequency signal through transmission paths. RF and microwave switches are used extensively in microwave test systems for signal routing between instruments and devices under test (DUT). Incorporating a switch into a switch matrix system enables you to route signals from multiple instruments to single or multiple DUTs — allowing multiple tests to be performed with the same setup, eliminating the need for frequent connects and disconnects. RF and Microwave switches allow your test system to make full use of the RF test equipment it contains. However, there is no one solution that fits all systems, designing RF switching involves making engineering compromises that involve density, connector choices, bandwidth, cost, switch topology as well as choice about the control interface.

At Pickering we pride ourselves on being able to offer a wide range of RF and Microwave switch solutions to fit all applications. These solutions are offered in many different switch topologies, relay types and form factors—covering frequencies from low RF to 65GHz in both Ethernet LXI and PXI controlled platforms:

RF and Microwave Switching

Avionics Busses

Virtually all aircraft systems communicate with other systems for functionality and diagnostics and human interface via one or more serial bus channels. OmniBus supports high channel counts of single or multiple protocols and is available from Ballard in both PCI and PXI formats.

Aerospace Load Management

The testing and verification of aircraft electrical and electronic systems often requires the connection of high current loads to the Unit Under Test (UUT). Pickering provides a wide range of switch Modules that can support up to 40 Amp load switching within a PXI or modular LXI chassis. For higher current requirements, our relay driver modules allow the test system to control external relays.


Instrumentation Management

Whether you are testing low level or higher frequency signals, fire control systems, RADAR, or avionics equipment. Uncommitted relays, multi-pole multiplexers and cross-point matrices are available with voltages up to 1000 VDC and bandwidths up to 65 GHz. Fiber Optic switching is also available.

Environmental Testing

Testing of complex aerospace systems in an environmental chamber requires the sharing of external instrumentation/resources to stimulate and collect data from the UUT’s over the cycles of the test.?

Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation

With pressure on product lead times and the need to reduce development costs simulation can be an important tool in the engineer’s tool set, but only so much can be done through the use of computer simulation. Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation adds to the simulation tools by including real pieces of hardware in the system that are representative of the product design. By emulating sensors, solenoids, power sources and other devices a representation of the product hardware can be simulated that is closer to reality and it can be tested for response under different conditions. More development work can be completed concurrently with the product development, speeding up time to market and reducing the debug time in control systems. Pickering manufactures devices which emulate sensors and I/O devices that interface with the control systems. Support for real time operating systems ensures you can control these devices in accurate and predictable ways to ensure the response is as close as possible to the hardware under development. Complementing the sensor and I/O solutions we also provide a wide and expanding range of fault insertion and signal conditioning devices.

Resistor Simulation

The ability to simulate the resistive nature of many of the environmental sensors in the engine compartment and vehicle cabin is important when it comes to Engine Management Unit (EMU) test. Pickering’s line of programmable resistor / potentiometer modules feature down to 2 milli-Ohm resolution on multiple channels. Custom resistance ranges are available from the factory for an additional charge. We offer the only strain gauge emulator in PXI .

Digital I/O

Our?digital I/O modules allow you interface directly with high current loads such as solenoid coils. Our modules have fully protected outputs that can withstand high current and voltage surges without damage and include thermal protection that ensures that even long term connection to a faulty load will not cause instrumentation damage. Our digital inputs feature adjustable dual thresholds that allow you to easily establish if a digital input is in a low, high or indeterminate state. Their high input voltage capacity makes them an excellent choice for monitoring systems working from high voltage power supplies commonly found in aerospace applications.


Signal Conditioning

Most PXI signal/arbitrary waveform generators lack the amplitude necessary to drive signals that simulate peripherals. Pickering’s high voltage amplifier (41-650) features multi-channel, gain selectable amplifiers that work with many instruments including our function generator (41-620) . Our high voltage attenuator (41-660) features selectable input ranges that accept up to 600 volt waveforms.

Fault Insertion in Product Development

When designing new safety-related ECUs, it is important to verify how the ECU responds in both a good and a faulty working environment. Pickering’s fault insertion modules allow for testing with known good signal conditions or alternatively injects faulty signals or stuck bus lines under program control. This speeds up your certification programs and provides repeatable fault testing.

RF and Microwave

Our RF and microwave switching solutions range from having a maximum frequency of 300MHz all the way to 65GHz. Solutions are based on use of reed relays, EMR's to 3GHz, solid state switches to 6GHz and microwave mechanical switches to 65GHz. We also offer a programmable attenuator from DC to 3GHz and an attenuation depth of 63dB in 1dB steps.


Just providing the switching and instrumentation modules for military and aerospace testing is not enough, you need fast and effective ways of connecting your investment to the device under test. The modules in our PXI, PCI and LXI systems are fully supported by a comprehensive range of connector and cable accessories

At Pickering we know that military and aerospace electronic modules have unique testing needs that are driven by requirements for long operating life, high reliability and hostile environmental conditions. Please contact us to discuss your military or aerospace test application in detail or feel free to download our aerospace catalog.

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