MCA3000 Series Datasheet

MCA3000 Microwave Counter Analyzer Power Meter, Datasheet

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With industry-leading frequency and time resolution, the MCA Series comes standard with internal memory, a fast data transfer rate of 250k Samples/s to memory, and an integrated power meter. The multi-parameter display shows auxiliary measurements alongside your main measurement to provide you with the results you need at a glance. With the industry’s most comprehensive analysis modes, including measurement statistics, histograms, and trend plots, you have the tools you need to quickly and accurately analyze your signal.

Key performance specifications
  • 27 GHz and 40 GHz models
  • Microwave analyzer channel with CW or Burst
  • Two 300 MHz general-purpose channels
  • 100 ps single-shot time resolution
  • 12 Digit/s frequency resolution, 14 digit display
  • 25 ms (auto) or zero (manual) acquisition Time
  • 3 mV voltage resolution
  • Optional 1.5×10–8 ultra high-stability oven time base
  • –35 dBm to +10 dBm power range
Key features
  • Measurement throughput
    • 250k Sample/s data transfer rate to internal memory (up to 750k samples stored)
    • 5k sample/s data transfer rate over USB/GPIB bus (block mode)

  • Available functions and features
    • Automated measurements: frequency, period, ratio, time Interval, time interval error, pulse width, rise/fall time, phase angle, duty cycle, maximum voltage, minimum voltage, peak-to-peak voltage

    • Integrated power meter
    • Multi-measurement display
    • Trend plot mode
    • Measurement statistics mode
    • Histogram mode
    • Allan deviation
    • Zero dead-time frequency/period measurements
  • USB device and GPIB ports on rear panel for quick PC connectivity
  • GPIB interface supports full SCPI-compatible programmability and offers an emulation mode for Plug-and-Play replacement in existing ATE systems
  • External arming input
  • 10 MHz reference oscillator output
  • Includes national instrument’s LabVIEW SignalExpress™ TE limited edition software for connecting your bench
Optional application software
  • Optional TimeView™ software available for modulation domain analysis

Industry-leading performance for demanding designs

Fast high-resolution frequency or power measurements with a very short acquisition time of 25 ms (Auto) or zero (Manual) is essential for validating today’s complex designs. For calibration and metrology applications, the MCA3000 Microwave Counter Analyzer Series offers very high accuracy through a stable internal OCXO time base, low systematic time interval A-B error, and high resolution.

MCA3000 Series instruments outperform every microwave counter on the market today in terms of resolution, speed, and acquisition time. Including an integrated power meter, the MCA3000 Series packs many different functions into one feature-rich instrument.

Besides being an outstanding microwave counter, the MCA3000 Series also serves as a general-purpose timer/counter with two additional 300 MHz inputs.

Fast throughput reduces test time

The MCA Microwave Counter Series offers industry-best throughput, saving you up to 90% on your testing time compared to other microwave timer/counters on the market. Up to 250,000 measurement results per second can be stored in the internal memory. Alternatively, you can transfer up to 5,000 measurement results per second in Block mode through the GPIB or USB interface.

Power measurements

With an integrated power meter, the MCA Series provides measurement of frequency and power with a single connection at any supported frequency level. For the first time, variations in signal power can be seen, collected, and analyzed in the same manner as frequency, both numerically and graphically. With 0.01 dBm at 100 ms measuring time resolution and a wide power range from –35 dBm to +10 dBm, you have the flexibility for a broad range of power measurement applications.

Analyze your device with the Industry’s only graphical display

With the unique display of the MCA Series, you can measure multiple parameters of the same signal from one test connection. To reveal signal quality issues like drift, intermittent transients, and stability, you can view the data as a real-time trend plot or a histogram with the MCA Series graphical display mode, or you can use measurement statistics to track how signal parameters are changing over time. A single-button Analyze mode gives you fast insight into the behavior of your device right on the timer/counter’s display.

Multi-parameter display

With the multi-parameter display, you can read important auxiliary measurement values (such as Vmax, Vmin, and Vp-p) displayed with your main frequency, time, period, or phase measurements. With one glance, you can see the information you need to quickly assess your device’s performance.


With three input channels, you can measure the relationship between different signals. For example, you can measure the phase relationship between the input and output signals of your device. You can read other critical parameters simultaneously, such as the test frequency of the signal and the voltage ratio (in dB), in one glance with the multi-parameter display.

Measurement trend plots

Depending on your test case, your signal parameters may change from instant to instant. With the Trend Plot Analysis mode, you can graphically plot the trend of a measured value over time.


Measurement statistics

With integrated statistics processing, you can calculate the average, standard, and Allan deviation of a measurement, as well as track the minimum and maximum measured values, all with the push of a button.


Histogram plots

The histogram function lets you graphically see the average and standard deviation of a set of measurements, and the distribution of measurement results.


Optional modulation domain analysis

With the optional Tektronix TimeView™ software (TVA3000), the MCA Series products become high-performance modulation domain analyzers. With high measurement speeds (up to 250k measurement/s) and memory depth at 750k, fast frequency changes can be captured in real time and then analyzed with TimeView. This comprehensive software tool allows for remote instrument control, and the analysis and display of measurement results in a choice of graphs. For example, results can be displayed as raw data, statistical histogram, waveform graph (as if you were using an oscilloscope), or as an FFT spectrum graph. TimeView further allows analysis of modulation parameters like modulation depth or frequency modulation index.


Designed to make your work easier

The MCA3000 Series are designed with the ease of use and familiar operation you have come to expect from Tektronix.

Intuitive operation

Menu-oriented settings reduce the risk of mistakes. With dedicated and menu-driven front-panel buttons, you will have fast access to frequently used functions and parameters, reducing setup time. For example, a single-touch Analyze key toggles you between Statistics, Trend Plot, and Histogram modes.

Autoset function

Similar to Tektronix oscilloscopes, the front-panel Autoset button automatically sets optimum trigger levels and hysteresis adapted to the actual signal applied.

Easy PC connectivity

Connect to your PC with the rear-panel GPIB or USB device ports. The GPIB interface operates in SCPI/GPIB for plug-and-play replacement in existing ATE systems or easy integration into larger test systems. If desired, an emulation mode for existing timer/counters is available.

Connect your bench for intelligent debug

Easily capture, save, and analyze measurement results from your MCA Microwave Counter Series with the special Tektronix Edition of National Instruments LabVIEW SignalExpress™ software. Every MCA3027 and MCA3040 ships with a free copy of the Limited Edition version of SignalExpress for basic instrument control, data logging, and analysis. The optional Professional Edition offers over 200 built-in functions that provide additional signal processing, advanced analysis, sweeping, limit testing, and user-defined step capabilities.

SignalExpress supports the range of Tektronix bench instruments 1 enabling you to connect your entire test bench. You can then access the feature-rich tools packed into each instrument from one intuitive software interface. This allows you to automate complex measurements requiring multiple instruments, log data for an extended period of time, time-correlate data from multiple instruments, and easily capture and analyze your results, all from your PC. Only Tektronix offers a connected test bench of intelligent instruments to simplify and speed debug of your complex design.

1 For a complete listing of Tektronix instruments supported by NI LabVIEW Signal Express, visit

Performance you can count on

In addition to industry-leading service and support, every MCA Series Microwave/Counter/Analyzer comes backed with a three-year standard warranty.


All specifications are guaranteed unless noted otherwise. All specifications apply to all models unless noted otherwise.

Frequency A, B, C
Input Input A, B DC to 300 MHz
Input C 300 MHz to 40 GHz (MCA3040) 300 MHz to 27 GHz (MCA3027)
Resolution 12 digits in 1 s measuring time
Acquisition C Auto or Manual
Acquisition time 25 ms in Auto (typical)
Aux Parameters Input A, B Vmax, Vmin, Vp-p
Input C Power C in dBm or W
Frequency burst A, B, C
Range Input A, B 0.001 Hz to 300 MHz
Input C 300 MHz to 40 GHz (MCA3040) 300 MHz to 27 GHz (MCA3027)
Acquisition C Manual
Minimum Burst Duration Down to 40 ns
Minimum Pulses in Burst Input A, B 3 (6 above 160 MHz)
Input C 3 × prescaler factor
PRF Range 0.5 Hz to 1 MHz
Start Delay 10 ns to 2 s, 10 ns resolution
Aux Parameters PRF
Period A, B (single or average), C (average)
Mode Single, Average
Range Input A, B 3.3 ns to 1000 s (single, average)
Input C 3.3 ns down to 25 ps (40 GHz) 3.3 ns down to 37 ps (27 GHz)
Resolution 100 ps (single); 12 digit/s (average)
Acquisition C Type Auto or Manual (within ±40 MHz)
Acquisition time 25 ms in Auto (typical)
Aux parameters Input A, B Vmax, Vmin, Vp-p
Input C Power C in dBm or W
Ratio A/B, B/A, C/A, C/B
Range (10–9) to 1011 
Input frequency Input A, B 0.1 Hz to 300 MHz
Input C 300 MHz to 27 GHz (MCA3027) 300 MHz to 40 GHz (MCA3040)
Aux parameters Freq 1, Freq 2 
Time interval A to B, B to A, A to A, B to B
Range Normal calculation: 0 ns to +106 s Smart calculation: –106 s to +106 s
Resolution 100 ps single
Min Pulse Width 1.6 ns
Smart Calculation Smart Time Interval to determine sign (A before B or A after B)
Positive and negative pulse width A, B
Range 2.3 ns to 106 s
Min Pulse Width 2.3 ns
Aux Parameters Vmax, Vmin, Vp-p
Rise and fall time A, B
Range 1.5 ns to 106 s
Trigger Levels 10% and 90% of signal amplitude
Min Pulse Width 1.6 ns
Aux Parameters Slew rate, Vmax, Vmin
Positive and negative duty factor A, B
Range 0.000001 to 0.999999 
Frequency Range 0.1 Hz to 300 MHz
Aux Parameters Period, pulse width
Phase A relative B, B relative A
Range –180° to +360°
Resolution Single cycle: 0.001° to 10 kHz, decreasing to 1° >10 MHz. Resolution can be improved by averaging (statistics)
Frequency Range Up to 160 MHz
Aux Parameters Freq (A), Va/Vb (in dB)
Vmax Vmin Vp-p A, B
Range –50 V to +50 V, –5 V to +5 V. Range is limited by the specification for max input voltage without damage (see input A, B)
Frequency Range DC, 1 Hz to 300 MHz
Mode Vmin, Vmax, Vp-p
Resolution 3 mV
Uncertainty (5 V range, typical) DC, 1 Hz to 1 kHz 1% + 15 mV
1 kHz to 20 MHz 3% + 15 mV
20 MHz to 100 MHz 10% + 15 mV
100 MHz to 300 MHz 30% + 15 mV
Aux Parameters Vmin, Vmax, Vp-p
Time stamping A, B, C

Raw time-stamp data together with pulse counts on inputs A, B, or C, accessible through GPIB or USB only.

Max Sample Speed See GPIB specifications
Max Frequency 160 MHz
Time-stamp Resolution 100 ps
Power C
Range Power –35 dBm to +10 dBm
Frequency 300 MHz to 27 GHz (MCA3027) 300 MHz to 40 GHz (MCA3040)
Display Units dBm (default) or W
Resolution 0.01 dBm at 100 ms measuring time
Accuracy, typical
Acquisition Auto or Manual (within ±40 MHz)
Acquisition Time, typical 20 ms to 30 ms in Auto
Aux Parameters Frequency C
Inputs and outputs
Inputs A, B
Frequency Range DC Coupled: DC to 300 MHz AC Coupled: 10 Hz to 300 MHz
Impedance 1 MΩ / 20 pF or 50 Ω (VSWR ≤ 2:1)
Trigger Slope Positive or negative
Max Channel Timing Difference 500 ps
Sensitivity 15 mVRMS (DC-200 MHz) 25 mVRMS (200-300 MHz)
Attenuation X1, X10
Dynamic Range (X1) 30 mVp-p to 10 Vp-p within ±5 V window
Trigger Level (Readout on display) Resolution 3 mV
Uncertainty (X1) ±(15 mV + 1% of trigger level)
AUTO trigger level Trigger level is automatically set to 50% point of input signal (10% and 90% for rise/fall time)
Auto Hysteresis Time Min hysteresis window (hysteresis compensation)
Frequency One-third of input signal amplitude
Analog LP Filter Nominal 100 kHz, RC type
Digital LP Filter 1 Hz to 50 MHz cutoff frequency
Max Voltage without Damage 1 MΩ 350 V (DC + AC peak) to 440 Hz, falling to 12 VRMS (X1) at 1 MHz
50 Ω 12 VRMS
Connector BNC
Input C
Impedance 50 Ω nominal, AC coupled
Connector 2.92 mm spark plug female
Frequency Range 0.3 to 27 GHz (MCA3027) 0.3 to 40 GHz (MCA3040)
Operating Input Voltage Range 0.3 to 18 GHz –33 dBm to +18 dBm
18 to 20 GHz –29 dBm to +18 dBm
20 to 27 GHz –27 dBm to +18 dBm
27 to 40 GHz (MCA3040) –23 dBm to +13 dBm
VSWR 0.3 to 27 GHz
27 to 40 GHz (MCA3040)
FM Tolerance Manual acq. 50 MHzp-p, Frequency C >3.5 GHz 30 MHzp-p, Frequency C
Auto acq. 20 MHzp-p, for any Frequency C and modulation frequency >0.1 MHz
AM Tolerance Any modulation index (minimum signal must be within sensitivity range)
Automatic Amplitude Discrimination 10 dB separation between 2 signals within 30 MHz; 20 dB otherwise
Max Voltage without Damage +18 dBm (1.78 VRMS); 27 and 40 GHz models
Overload Indication ON when Input C power > +10 dBm
Rear panel
Reference Input 1 MHz, 5 MHz, or 10 MHz; 0.1 to 5 VRMS sine; impedance ≥1 kΩ
Reference Output 10 MHz; >1 VRMS sine into 50 Ω
Arming Input (Arming of all measuring functions) Impedance Approx. 1 kΩ
Frequency range DC to 80 MHz
Compatibility IEEE 488.2-1987, SCPI 199953131A Compatibility mode
Interface Functions SH1, AH1, T6, L4, SR1, RL1, DC1, DT1, E2
Max Measurement Rate GPIB 5k readings/s (Block mode) 500 readings/s (individual GET triggered)
To internal memory 250k readings/s
Internal Memory Size 750k readings
USB Version 2.0 full speed (11 Mb/s)
Additional functions
Trigger holdoff
Time Delay Range 20 ns to 2 s, 10 ns resolution
External start and stop arming

Arming can be used to synchronize the frequency and power measurements with the start of a burst signal. Minimum burst length must exceed 100 μs.

Modes Start and Stop Arming
Input Channels A, B, or E (Ext. arming input)
Max Rep. Rate for Arming Signal Channel A, B 160 MHz
Channel E 80 MHz
Start-time Delay Range 20 ns to 2 s, 10 ns resolution
Other functions
Measuring Time 20 ns to 1000 s for frequency, burst, and period average. Single cycle for other measuring functions
Time-base Reference Internal, external, or automatic
Display Hold Freezes the result, until a new measurement is initiated through a restart
Limit Alarm Graphical indication on front panel and/or SRQ through GPIB
Limit Values Lower limit, upper limit
Settings Off, or alarm if value is above, below, inside, or outside limits
On Alarm Stop or Continue
Number of Stored Instrument Setups 20. Instrument setups are saved/recalled from internal nonvolatile memory. 10 can beset as user-protected
Mode Closed case, menu controlled
Calibration Frequencies 0.1, 1, 5, 10, 1.544, and 2.048 MHz
Math functions
Functions Maximum, Minimum, Mean, ΔMax-Min, Standard Deviation, and Allan Deviation
Display Numeric, histograms, or trend plots
Sample Size 2 to 2 × 109 samples
Limit Qualifier Off, or capture values above, below, inside, or outside limits
Measurement Pacing Pacing Time Range: 4 μs to 500 s
Math functions (K*X+L)/M, (K/X+L)/M, or X/M-1. X is current reading and K, L, and M are constants; set using the keyboard or as frozen reference value (X0)
Time-base option characteristics
Standard (medium stability) High stability (Opt. HS) Ultra high stability (Opt. US)
Time base type OXCO OXCO OXCO
Uncertainty due to aging:
  Per 24 hr –9 1 –10 1 –10 1
  Per month –8 –8 –9
  Per year –7 –8 –8
Uncertainty due to temperature variation, typical:
  0 °C-50 °C –8 –9 –9
  20 C-26 °C –8 –9 –10
Short-term stability (t = 1 s) –10 –11 –12
Root Allan variance (t = 10 s) –10
Power-on stability –7 –8 –9
  Deviation versus final value after 24h ON time, after a warm-up time of: 30 min 10 min 10 min
Total uncertainty, for operating temperature 20 °C to 26 °C, at 2σ (95%) confidence interval
  1 year after calibration –7 –7 –8
  2 years after calibration –7 –7 –8

1 After 1 month of continuous operation.

Display Numeric + Graphic. Backlit LCD graphics screen for menu control, numerical readout, and status information
Number of digits 14 digits in Numerical mode
Resolution 320 × 97 pixels
Physical characteristics
Height 90 mm (3.6 in.)
Width 210 mm (8.25 in.)
Depth 395 mm (15.6 in.)
Net 2.7 kg (5.8 lb.)
Shipping 3.5 kg (7.5 lb.)
Environmental, Safety, EMC
Temperature Operating 0 °C to +50 °C (+32 °F to +122 °F)
Storage –40 °C to +71 °C (-40 °F to +160 °F)
Humidity 5-95% (+10 °C to +30 °C) (+50 °F to +86 °F) 5-75% (+30 °C to +40 °C) (+86 °F to +104 °F)
5-45% (+40 °C to +50 °C) (+104 °F to +122 °F)
Altitude Operating 2,000 m (6562 ft.)
Storage 12,000 m (39,370 ft.)
Power 90 V to 265 VRMS, 45 to 440 Hz,
Safety, EMC
Class MIL-PRF-28800F, Class 3 
Safety Directive 2006/95/EC, EN61010-1, UL61010-1, CAN/CSA C22.2 No. 61010-1 
EMC EU Directive 2004/108/EC, EN61326-1, EN61326-2-1, Class A

Ordering information

Microwave/Counter 27 GHz / 100 ps
Microwave/Counter 40 GHz / 100 ps

Includes: Microwave/Counter; line cord; calibration certificate; Quick Start User Manual; CD-ROM with user manual (English, French, German, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese); Programmer's Guide; Technical Specifications; Trial version of TimeView™ Software; CD-ROM with National Instruments LabVIEW SignalExpress™ Tektronix Edition, Limited Edition Software.

Three years
Recommended accessories and software
Rackmount shelf kit for 2 units
Hard carrying case
Soft carrying case
USB host to device cable, 3 ft.
GPIB cable, double shielded
BNC male to BNC male, cable shielded, 9 ft., 50 Ω
BNC male to BNC male, cable shielded, 3 ft., 50 Ω
National Instruments SignalExpress™ Tektronix edition interactive measurement software – professional version
TimeView™ Modulation Domain Analysis Software
Instrument options
High-stability oven time base
Ultra high-stability oven time base
Power plug options

Specify the power plug when ordering the instrument

Opt. A0
North America power plug (115 V, 60 Hz)
Opt. A1
Universal Euro power plug (220 V, 50 Hz)
Opt. A2
United Kingdom power plug (240 V, 50 Hz)
Opt. A3
Australia power plug (240 V, 50 Hz)
Opt. A5
Switzerland power plug (220 V, 50 Hz)
Opt. A6
Japan power plug (100 V, 50/60 Hz)
Opt. A10
China power plug (50 Hz)
Opt. A11
India power plug (50 Hz)
Service options
Opt. C3
Calibration Service 3 Years
Opt. C5
Calibration Service 5 Years
Opt. D1
Calibration Data Report
Opt. R5
Repair Service 5 Years (including warranty)
Opt. SILV600
Standard warranty extended to 5 years
Last Modified: 2016-02-01 04:00:00

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