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EMC Measurement Techniques:

Measurements are performed to meet two requirements. First, measurements to ascertain

the emission and susceptibility of equipment are necessary throughout the design phase. The
purpose of these measurements is mainly diagnostic, in that it helps to identify likely problem
areas and tests the effectiveness of various remedies. These measurements are under the
complete control of the designer and test engineer and hence any number of a range of
techniques may be used according to circumstances. Second, tests on complete equipment are
prescribed by standards and these are mandatory in most cases. The measurement arrangement
and receivers and transducers used are normally described in considerable detail. Hence, there
are certain aspects of the measurement that are fully specified and there is little scope for
variation. In many cases, formal tests required by certification authorities must be performed by
accredited laboratories. If the equipment under test (EUT) fails to meet the standard, it is brought
back to the design office for modification and it may thus undergo further diagnostic and
standards testing.

The purpose of EMC design is to reduce the need for retesting and modification to the
bare minimum. Testing involves, depending on the particular standard, frequencies ranging from
a few kilohertz to several gigahertz. It is obvious that testing on such a scale involves a grasp of
many electromagnetic phenomena and it is subject to many uncertainties. It is fair to say that
EMC measurements are, in general, less accurate when compared to other high frequency
measurements. The reasons for this are complex, as will be explained later. Recognition of this
fact does not, however, absolve the experimenter from the responsibility of ensuring the lowest
possible uncertainty in measurements. The purpose of this chapter is to present the main
experimental techniques and outline areas where large uncertainties may be introduced. Detailed
test arrangements and schedules may be found in the published standards.

A fully specified EMC test facility requires a substantial investment in buildings,

equipment, and personnel and it is not within the reach of medium- to small-sized companies.
However, useful iagnostic work may be done with modest resources and indeed it is essential
that experience of measurements is part of the range of skills available to the design engineer.
The material that follows should therefore be of value to all those involved with EMC.

Measurement Tools:
Irrespective of the formal standard involved, a number of basic tools are required to do EMC
measurements. The issues involved in their selection, characterization, and use are briefly
described below.


In EMC testing, interference is measured using receivers of a specified bandwidth and detector
function. The most common instruments used for this purpose are measurement receivers and
spectrum analyzers. Several units may be necessary to cover the entire frequency range and they
represent a significant investment. Measurement receivers have better sensitivity, higher dynamic
range, and are less susceptible to overloads compared to a basic spectrum analyzer. The latter
feature is due to the presence of a tuned preselector in the measurement receiver, which limits
the total amount of power in the input mixer. A preselector and tracking generator may be added
to a spectrum analyzer to obtain a performance comparable to that of a measurement receiver at a
comparable cost. Hence, in many ways the two instruments offer similar performance. Two
issues determine the configuration of receivers for EMC measurements, namely, the bandwidth
and the type of detector. Clearly, the response of a receiver to a signal will be different depend
ing on whether its bandwidth is narrower or wider than the signal bandwidth. For a narrowband
signal, such as an analogue radio signal, the amount of energy reaching the detector is
independent of the receiver bandwidth (provided the spectrum of the narrowband signal is
narrower than the receiver bandwidth). If this last condition is not satisfied, the signal is classed
as wideband, and the energy reaching the detector depends strongly on the receiver bandwidth.

Thus, in order to make meaningful comparisons between various tests, it is

necessary to specify the receiver bandwidth used in the measurements. Complications arise
depending on the exact nature of the broadband signal being measured. If the signal is noise-like
(uncorrelated), an increase in bandwidth by a factor of 10 results in a tenfold increase in the
energy reaching the detector, i.e., 10 dB. In contrast, in the case of a pulse with a spectrum
consisting of a number of spectral lines phase-related to each other, increasing the bandwidth by
a factor of ten increases the total voltage by the same factor and hence the energy reaching the
detector by 20 dB. Receiver bandwidths are specified in international and national standards. As
an example, CISPR Publication 16 specifies a 6-dB bandwidth in kilohertz of 0.2, 9, and 120 in
the frequency ranges 10 to 150 kHz, 0.15 to 30 MHz, and 30 to 1000 MHz, respectively. The
nature of the detector function was discussed in Section 4.4, where it was explained that,
depending on the choice of the charge/discharge components, the detector may respond to the
peak, average, or any other measure of the signal. There are three basic types of detector
function, namely, peak, quasipeak, and average. The detailed nature of these detector functions is
described in References 6 and 7. The various standards specify different limits depending on the
detector type. The peak detector has a fast response and it is used extensively for diagnostic
testing. It is clear that the response of each detector type will be different for a pulsed signal with
different repetition frequency. Quasipeak and average type detectors require a long settling time
(a substantial fraction of a second) at each frequency. Hence, when a wide range of frequencies
must be covered, measurement time is quite long. The sweep rate must be selected so that the
dwell time at each frequency is of the order of three time constants of the detector.

Field Sensors:(conducted sensors)

In development and diagnostic work, it is often necessary to probe for the electric and magnetic
field near transmission lines and individual circuit components. Similarly, it is often necessary to
build up a picture of the field profile by numerous measurements using very small probes.
Although such measurements are not specified by the various standards, they are nevertheless
useful in giving an insight into the origin and mode of EM emissions. Several equipment
manufacturers provide “sniffer” probes that are designed to respond to the near field from printed
circuit tracks and other wiring. These give an indication of relative activity from various parts of
a circuit, but cannot and should not be used to predict far-field performance. For the test engineer
who wishes to develop in-house probes, the rudiments of design of small field sensors are
described below. Field sensors are small because a detailed mapping of the field may be required
and also to avoid disturbing the field being measured. A sensor is electrically small if its largest
physical dimension is much smaller (say 1/20) of the longest wavelength of interest. In its
simplest form, an electric field sensor is a small piece of wire protruding above a ground plane
(small monopole). If this sensor is placed in an electric field E, the open-circuit voltage is V =
leE where le is the effective length of the monopole. Normally, le is approximately equal to half
the actual length of the monopole. 8 The short-circuit current is similarly equal to I = Cle dE/dt,
where C is the capacitance of the sensor. Thus, whether the sensor responds to electric field or its
derivative depends on the impedance of the measuring instrument. If the time constant of the
antenna capacitance with the measuring instrument input impedance is longer than the field
characteristic time, then E is measured. Otherwise, the arrangement responds to dE/dt. A small
loop is the dual to the electric field sensor and provides a magnetic field sensor. If a loop of area
A is immersed in a magnetic field H, the open-circuit voltage is V = µ0 A dH/dt and the short
circuit current is I = µ0 AH/L where L is the inductance of the loop. It is clear, therefore, that
either the magnetic field or its derivatives are measured depending on circumstances. If the time
constant of the inductance with the input impedance to the measuring instrument is much larger
than the characteristic time of the field, then the arrangement measures the magnetic field.
Various field sensors have been developed to measure transient fields under hostile conditions
and these may also be used as general instrumentation. Another measuring arrangement that
provides for very low distortion of the measured field by the measurement system is one based
on a modulated scatterer. A very short piece of wire is used to probe the field. Incident fields are
scattered by this wire and the scattered signal is received by a second antenna placed in the
vicinity. This received signal contains complete information about the amplitude and phase of
the original incident wave. The only difficulty is that the scattered signal is very weak in
amplitude. In order to increase the chances of detection, a photosen sitive component is placed at
the center of the short probing wire and its impedance is modulated by a modulated light signal
supplied through a fiber-optic link. In this way the scattered signal is also modulated and phase-
sensitive detection techniques may be used to increase the chance of detection of even very weak
signals. The sensitivity of this arrangement is low at low frequencies.

Antennas are specified almost exclusively as the primary field measuring transducer in most
standards. Understanding their behavior in actual test environments is thus of paramount
importance. The basic theoretical background to the characterization of antennas in terms of their
gain, effective aperture, radiation resistance, etc., was presented in Section 2.3.2. From the
practical measurement point of view, the single most important parameter of an antenna is its
antenna factor, defined as

with the parameters defined shown in Figure 14.1a. Normally, the antenna factor is expressed in
decibels, i.e.,

Knowledge of the antenna factor and measurement of the receiver voltage permits the calculation
of the electric field from Equation 14.2. Similar expressions apply for the antenna factor of
antennas sensitive to the magnetic field. The antenna factor may be calculated from first
principles. It can be shown that for any antenna the effective aperture and the gain are related
by the expression Ae = Gλ2/(4π). The antenna may be replaced by its Thevenin equivalent
circuit as shown in Figure 14.1b. The maximum power available is that supplied to a conjugate
load and is therefore

where IVT I is an rms value and RT the real part of the impedance ZT. Assuming that the
antenna is oriented for maximum response

where I Ei I is an rms value and Z0 is the intrinsic impedance of the medium surrounding the
antenna. Equating the right-hand side terms in Equations 14.3 and 14.4 and substituting for A e

where is described as the effective length of the antenna.

In order to calculate the voltage at the receiver, Figure 14.1b is used to give
Hence, the antenna factor is

Antennas supplied by manufacturers are usually provided with a generic calibration, i.e., an
antenna factor at different frequencies for this type of antenna. The antenna factor of the
particular antenna supplied may deviate by several decibels from the generic value. For accurate
measurements, it is thus necessary to calibrate antennas using either approved test houses or in-
house facilities. There are basically three experimental techniques used for antenna calibration.
In the standard field method a receiving antenna is calibrated against a calibrated transmitting
antenna establishing a known field at a fixed observation point. Alternatively, an antenna of a
known antenna factor may be used for calibrating other antennas in the standard antenna method.
Finally, in the standard site method three uncalibrated antennas may be calibrated by doing three
measurements between pairs of antennas. An alternative approach to antenna calibration is to use
numerical simulation to establish the AF of an antenna-to-plane-wave illumination. This
approach has been successfully applied, using the NEC computer code, to dipole and biconical
antennas. It should always be borne in mind that the proximity of antennas to conducting
structures and their use in screened rooms affects their calibration.

A number of different antennas is in use for EMC measurements depending on the frequency
range. The are listed as follows.
Test Environments:
EMC measurements are normally performed in open-area test sites, in screened rooms, or in
special test cells. Standards specify in some detail the basic requirements for each type of test
environment and the experimental procedures to be followed. The problems encountered in EMC
measurements in these different environments are described below.

Open-Area Test Sites

An ideal open-area test site (OATS) consists of a perfectly conducting ground plane of infinite
extent, free from all obstructions, with very low levels of ambient electromagnetic noise. Actual
OATS depart in significant ways from this ideal. They are nevertheless used extensively,
especially for commercial EMC measurements. Open site measurement is most direct and
universally accepted standard approach for measuring radiated emissions from an equipment or
the radiation susceptibility of a component or equipment.

In selecting an OATS, a flat ground area is necessary, of sufficient extent to approximate

the properties of an ideal site (infinite plane). CISPR regulations specify that the flat area is at
least an ellipse having major and minor axes equal to 2L and √3L , respectively, where L is the
distance between receiver and transmitter. Typically, this distance is either 3, 10, or 30 m.
Ideally, this flat area should also be perfectly conducting. In practice, a somewhat smaller
metallized area constructed out of wire-mesh material is used. The mesh must be made out of
material that does not corrode. The mesh must make good electrical contact with the undersoil
and surrounding area. The required flatness depends on the frequency of operation and the
distance between transmitter and receiver and it is typically a few centimeters for test frequencies
up to 1 GHz.
Understanding measurements in OATS requires a grasp of the fact that the signal at the
observation point is the combination of signals arriving directly and after reflection from the
ground, as shown in Figure (a). Calculations are performed by replacing the ground plane by an
image antenna, as shown in Figures (b) and (c) for vertical and horizontal polarizations,

Once an OATS has been found to be acceptable, the test procedure for a radiated emission
test follows well-defined lines.


• EUT is switched on

•The receiver is scanned over the specific frequency range

• It measures electromagnetic emissions from the EUT

• It determine the compliance of these data with the stipulated specifications.


• EUT is placed in an electromagnetic field created with the help of suitable radiating antenna.

•The intensity of the electromagnetic field is varied by varying the power delivered to the
antenna by the transmitter amplifier

• performance of EUT are then observed under different levels of electromagnetic field intensity.

TEM Cell
Note: Additional information regarding anechoic chambers and reverberating chambers.

Screened Chambers:
Open-area test sites have several disadvantages and this has led to a search for alternative EMC
test environments. Among these disadvantages are the difficulty of ensuring a clean EM
environment, dependence on the weather, and land costs. In the case of immunity tests, it is also
difficult to avoid interfering with other users of the EM spectrum. Most military standards,
immunity, or general diagnostic measurements, are therefore made in screened rooms. A
screened room is an all-metal structure where all access for personnel, electrical, or mechanical
services is designed in such a way as to provide a high degree of electromagnetic isolation up to
very high frequencies. A well-designed screened room can be used for emission and immunity
measurements without any EM interaction with the external environment. Screened rooms may
in turn be distinguished as reverberating and anechoic types. In the former case all the internal
surfaces of the room are unlined and highly conducting and the room is thus an electromagnetic
cavity. Any EUT or antenna placed in this room interacts with the conducting surfaces in a
complex manner. An empty rectangular cavity exhibits resonances at specific frequencies
obtained from the formula given below:

where a, b, and c are the internal room dimensions in meters and m, n, and p are integers with no
more than one being zero. Typical room dimensions range from a few meters to a few tens of
meters. The lowest resonant frequency depends on room dimensions and is generally of the order
of a few tens of megahertz. Thus, mode TE101 refers to a mode in which the vertical component
of the electric field has a maximum on a line running from the center of the floor to the center of
the ceiling (y-axis). Higher-order modes exhibit a more complex structure. The presence of
resonances with pronounced field minima and maxima at particular frequencies make
measurements in reverberating rooms difficult to interpret. Thus, most rooms, especially at low
frequencies, can only be described as partially anechoic or highly damped. Each room type is
described in more detail below.

Reverberating Rooms — A typical test arrangement specified in military standards is shown in

Figure below. The EUT is placed on a conducting bench, which is bonded to the room walls. A
conducting extension to the bench may also be fitted to accommodate a rod antenna. Depending
on the room height, the extension may be offset toward the ground to leave adequate clearance
for the rod antenna. Biconical and log-periodic antennas are generally mounted on a mast. In
military standards, a distance of 1 m is specified between the EUT and the measurement antenna.
The presence of the bench, extension, EUT, and antenna disturb the resonant pattern inside the
room. Small shifts from the resonant frequency values obtained from above Equation are
observed and the presence of the bench introduces new resonances. At low frequencies,
understanding of the measurement may be achieved by resorting to lumped-circuit concepts. At
frequencies for which the largest room dimension is smaller than λ/10, quasistatic concepts may
be applied, whereby the coupling between EUT, antenna, and the room is essentially capacitive
or inductive. At higher frequencies and below the first resonant frequency of the room, coupling
between the EUT and antenna is more complex. Apart from the direct coupling (capacitive or
inductive) between the two, a further coupling TEM mode is established. This propagates on a
coaxial line formed by the bench extension (inner conductor) and the room side walls (outer
conductor). This line is terminated by a short circuit (back wall) and an open circuit (end of

At even higher frequencies, the presence of cavity resonances makes the coupling
mechanisms difficult to follow in detail and progress can only be made by resorting to
sophisticated numerical modeling techniques. It is generally anticipated that measurement
uncertainties in this complex environment can amount to up to ±40 dB. As a result there is little
correlation between the same measurements taken inside different screened rooms or in an

Anechoic chambers — Improvements to the uncertainty of measurements in a reverberating

chamber can be made by lining the walls and ceiling with absorbing material (RAM). Two types
of material are used for this purpose, namely, carbon-loaded polyurethane foam in the shape of
pyramidal cones and ferrite tiles. Several manufacturers provide such materials with low
reflectivity, typically in the range –20 to –40 db. For the pyramidal RAM to be effective, its
thickness must be a substantial fraction of a wavelength. At low frequencies this becomes
impractical and uneconomical. In small rooms the reduction in working volume is unacceptable
and in large rooms costs are excessive. Thus, below approximately 100 MHz, rooms cannot be
regarded as anechoic and it must be accepted that a substantial amount of reflection will be
present. An alternative is to use ferrite tiles, which are particularly effective at low frequencies.
In broad terms, conventional RAM is associated with electric field losses whereas tiles are
associated with magnetic field losses. In practice, a combination of ferrite tiles and pyramidal
RAM is the most effective arrangement for a broadband anechoic room, but costs are very
Special EMC Test Cells:
arrangement used for EMC testing is the gigahertz transverse electromagnetic (GTEM) cell,
shown schematically in Figure below. It consists of a tapered transmission line that is
terminated by a distributed 50-Ω load and RAM. Careful design ensures the setting up of a
spherical wave without exciting higher-order modes up to very high frequencies. The maximum
working size of the EUT is again limited to a third of the septum height. The septum is offset, as
shown, to increase the working volume. The GTEM cell can be used in a similar way as the
TEM cell.
Both cells are useful for testing small- to medium-sized equipment and for accurate calibration of
small transducers. A thorough discussion of issues related to the use of the GTEM cell for EMC
testing is presented in References 47 and 48. The GTEM cell can be used for immunity studies
by feeding the single port without the need for a transmit antenna. Compared to an anechoic
room the same field can be achieved with less power. Similarly, for emission studies the field is
inferred by measurements at the port of the cell; no receive antenna is required. For complete
characterization of emissions, the EUT needs to be rotated around three orthogonal axes. The
main field components coupling the EUT and the GTEM cell are the vertical electric field and
the magnetic field normal to the paper (Figure 14.16). However, small cross-polarized field
components are also present and in this respect the cell is inferior to an anechoic chamber.
Measurement Precautions:
1) Electro magnetic environment :
 According to American national standards describes that is conducted and radiated
ambient radio noise and signal levels measured at the test site with the EUT deenergized,
be at least 6 db below the allowable limit of the applicable specification or standard.

2) Electro magnetic scatters:

 One method fro avoiding interference from underground scatters is to use a metallic
ground plain to eliminate stror reflections from under ground sources such as buried
metallic objects.

3) Power and cable connections:

 The power needs used to energize the EUT, receiver and transmitter should also pass
through filters to eliminate the conducted interferences carried by power lines.