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Post Series: TechTips

A signal generator is an electronic test instrument used to create waveforms that may have varied amplitude, frequency, and wave shapes.[i] They are used for function tests to check performance levels of spectrum analyzers. Signal generators are most often used in designing, manufacturing, servicing and repairing electronic devices.

When handling your precision test and measuring instruments, it is important to use preventive measures to avoid unwanted downtime and costly repairs. Here are some tips to maintain and care for your signal generator.

Highlights: Do’s and Don’ts Tips for Preventing Unnecessary Repairs


  • Clean instrument before/after use to prevent measuring accuracy from being negatively affected by dirt or dust.
  • Ensure proper grounding to prevent a build-up of electrostatic charge that may harm the instrument and the operator. For more information about electrostatic discharge, please visit: the Electrostatic Discharge Association’s website:
  • Read and follow warning labels and specifications
  • Protect the RF connector
  • Follow proper RF cable and connector care
  • Ensure that connectors, adaptors, and cables are the correct sizes and are in good condition.
  • Always use torque wrench and follow cable connector care procedures. (See our Tech Tips on the Proper Care of Torque Wrenches and Screwdrivers.)
  • Follow electrostatic discharge precautions; static electricity charge from your finger on the input connector can fry your attenuator and mixer.
  • Check for proper ventilations and humidity
  • Maintain temperature at around 20 °C (68 °F)
  • Use proper lifting techniques
  • Use proper packing for transport
  • Check the instrument’s calibration periodically and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for recalibrating if necessary.
  • Make sure the vendor you select offers a full calibration to meet the manufacturer’s specifications, and not a low-cost abbreviated calibration that only includes a self-check and sample point evaluation.
    • Requesting that the calibration be to “full manufacturers’ specifications” offers protection from a supplier who may normally test just the simple parameters or those which can be checked without investing in expensive test gear. Where the original manufacturer (or recognized standard) has provided guidance on the tests necessary for high confidence in the product’s overall performance, these recommendations provide some practical distinction between significant and less important aspects of the specification.


read-operators-manual-warning-label optimum temperature 68 degrees F
Read warning labels and specifications Maintain temperature at around 20 degrees C (68 degrees F)



  • Avoid overpowering the instrument.
  • Avoid front end damage by using the appropriate signal generator level output configuration. Typical maximum RF reverse protection level is 33 dBm (2W).
  • Never drop or throw your instrument.
  • Don’t lay the instrument on the bench where it can be damaged.
  • Never put your instrument together with hand tools (e.g., cutting tools, files, hammers, and drills) to avoid bumping that may cause vibrations and distortions in readings.
  • Don’t lay the instrument in any kind of debris (metal chips or grinding grit).
  • Don’t use your instrument as a substitute for other tools.
  • Avoid magnetic areas (magnetic worktable) to prevent instrument from being magnetized.
  • Do not exceed the measurement range of the instrument.


no hand tools no magnets
Keep hand tools away from your instrument Avoid Magnetic Areas


Advantages of Calibrating Your Precision Test and Measurement Instruments

  • Provide repeatable accuracy, saving time, money, materials, and labor.
  • Calibrating your precision test and measurement instruments is the easiest way to avoid errors.
  • Reduce the risk of products failing in service.
  • Save money from warranty and rework costs.

Care and Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

Regularly scheduled maintenance including cleaning, adjusting, and verification will ensure optimal performance, avoid unplanned downtime, and extend the instruments life.


  • More likely that your instrument is available when you need it
  • Maintain optimum performance
  • Avoid costly unplanned downtime and repairs
  • Extend the instrument’s useful life


Functional Tests

Operation/Verification tests check various parameters of the instrument to make sure the analyzer is operating correctly. The functional tests are designed to test analyzer’s performance when operating within the temperature range specified. If it does not pass the test, performance tests must be run to validate that a problem exists.

Performance Tests

You can find performance tests for your Spectrum/Signal analyzer in both Manual Tests and Automated Software provided by the instrument manufacturer.


Here are some checklists on care and maintenance of precision test equipment to help you with preventing unnecessary repairs.

Download Checklists

[i] What is a signal generator? Accessed: 5/19/2020


If you have followed these steps and still need to have your spectrum analyzer repaired, we can help.

Calibration and Repair Services

Tra-Cal Repairs Spectrum Analyzers

Tra-Cal repairs a broad range of precision test and measurement equipment. Tra-Cal offers:

Cost Savings

  • Tra-Cal repairs spectrum analyzers and you can save of up to 60% compared to a typical OEM fixed price repair and calibration.
  • We repair to component level to guarantee the most cost-effective solution.

Rapid Turn Around

  • We repair thousands of instruments that are no longer supported by the original manufacturer.
  • We have an extensive parts inventory assuring prompt turnaround times and competitive prices.


  • Tra-Cal has a comprehensive repair capability with the experience, expertise and extensive stock of spare parts necessary to enable us to carry out repairs of over 500 manufacturers’ test equipment including Keysight, Tektronix, Boonton, Fluke, and many more.
  • All equipment types supported including spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, counters, power supplies, power meters, and most other equipment.
  • Our engineers are fully trained and have extensive experience with test equipment repair. All repairs come with a full 90-day warranty.

Industry Leader in RF Microwave Test Equipment Repair

  • We repair obsolete test equipment
  • We rebuild programmable and manual RF step attenuators, oscillators, jigs, and many more components.
  • We repair RF microcircuits
  • We repair down to component level

Get Your Repair Quote Today!

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