How to use the IF simulator

November 21, 2019.

By using an IF simulator it is possible to certify the performance of an RF distribution installation via coaxial cable. Let’s see four methods, to check that the signal delivered to each outlet features the best quality possible using PROMAX IF simulators and field strength meters.

The IF simulator or pilot generator is an instrument that generates stable, calibrated signals in frequency and level to verify the performance of a coaxial cable distribution installation, allowing to equalize the IF band with measurement instruments such as field strength meters.

Testing coaxial cable using pilot generators

METHOD 1: Generic checking of an IF installation

  1. Connect the generator in the headend or in the base of the branch to check.
  2. Configure the generator. If possible, adjust settings such as the pilot levels. It is needed to know the frequency and level of the pilot signals to take measurements in the next step..
  3. Verify pilots level reception with the spectrum analyzer. Take a pilots reference measurement. Next, go to the outlet, place the marker over the pilots, take the measurements and compare them them with the reference measurements in order to find out the attenuation..
Checking a coaxial cable using pilot generators
(1) Connect the generator to the headend. (2) Set up the pilots. (3) Check the reception in each outlet.

METHOD 2: Use a PROMAX analyzer

Step 3 of the above method can be speeded up by using aRANGER Neo TV and Spectrum analyzer because these instruments include the ATTENUATION TEST function:

  • It allows taking a reference measurement of the pilots directly from the generator in order to later compare it with the reception in the outlets.
  • It displays just the pilots disregarding the rest of the band signals, thus making the job easier and faster.
  • It works in pass/fail mode with an adjustable threshold for each pilot.
  • It integrates into the datalogger; therefore they are also showed in the measurement reports to provide the test results in the certificates delivered to the customer.
ATTENUATION TEST in a PROMAX analyzer: The screen only displays the pilots, using a pass/fail threshold, to make easier the understanding of the tests with a pilot generator.

METHOD 3: Using a pilot generator that can be adjusted in frequency and level

We still can reach higher efficiency in the certification of installations by using a pilot generator such as the PROMAX RP-110, because it includes a number of unique features:

  • It can generate up to 6 tones.
  • It allows customizing both frequency and level independently for each tone.
  • It is valid for DTT, Cable and Satellite because it covers CATV upstream & downstream bands and Satellite L band (5 to 2150 MHz).
  • It allows saving several configuration sets.  Useful not to waste time manually reconfiguring the system.
  • Its design is optimized to allow five hours of battery operation time, enough to verify an entire installation.
  • It can be managed from the PC to adjust all its parameters and backing up the configuration sets.
User interface of the RP-110 pilot generator
User interface of the RP-110 pilot generator


METHOD 4: Using the TILT measurement for CATV networks

Mixing the RP-110 generator and PROMAX RANGER Neo analyzers is perfect to check the amplification curve in CATV networks. The RP-110 pilots can be adjusted to the desired frequencies to carry out the TILT test. In a remote location, the TILT function of the RANGER Neo analyzer can be used to check the proper operation of the network amplifiers.

TILT function for CATV networks
RANGER Neo field strength meters include a TILT function for CATV networks. With an RP-110 it is possible to generate pilots in the proper frequencies to check the amplification response.


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PROMAX is a leading manufacturer of test and measurement systems, broadcast and TV signal distribution equipment. Our product lines include measuring instruments for cable TV, satellite TV, broadcast, wireless and fibre optics networks, FTTH and GPON analyzers. DVB-T modulators, IP streamers or IP converters (ASI, DVB-T) are among the company’s latest developments.