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N8480 Series Power Sensors

Application Notes

A New Thermocouple Power Sensor for Average or Complex Modulations Power Measurement

Keysight Technologies, Inc. is introducing the N8480 Series power sensors to replace its legacy 8480 Series power sensor (excluding the D-model sensor). The new N8480 Series power sensors offer new features, including a built-in EEPROM, better dynamic range up to 55 dB, better measurement accuracy and repeatability, as well as backward compatibility with existing Keysight power meters. 

This document compares the legacy 8480 and the new N8480 power sensors. It also outlines the step-by-step migration from the 8480 to the N8480 Series with the EPM power meter.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • N8480 Power Sensors
  • Key Specifications and Features
    • Key Specifications
    • Calibration Factor
    • Uncertainties Comparison
    • Power Meter Compatibility
    • SCPI Compatibility
    • Zeroing and Calibration
    • Measurement Range Selection
    • Measurement Speed
    • Measurement Accuracy and Repeatability
  • Step-by-Step Migration Guide from 8480 to N848x with EPM Power Meters
    • How to use N848x with EPM Series Power Meter
    • How to use N848x-CFT with EPM  SeriesPower Meter
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Related Literature
  • Related Links


The 8480 Series power sensor is well recognized as an industry standard for power measurements. It has been available to the industry for over 30 years and is widely used in design, manufacturing, or metrology applications for continuous wave (CW) or complex modulated signals. 

Keysight is introducing the N8480 Series power sensors, a new thermocouple power sensors as a replacement for the 8480 Series power sensors (excluding the D-model sensors). It is enhanced with a few key features such as built-in EEPROM, extended dynamic range, wider frequency range, and — most important— better accuracy and repeatability. 

The N8480 Series can measure true average power for CW or complex modulated signals such as WLAN, WiMAX, or pulse signals. The N8480 Series is compatible with the EPM (E4418/19B and N1913/14A), EPM-P (E4416A/17A), and P-Series (N1911/12A) power meters. The N848x-CFT option is compatible with the power meter function of the Keysight Base Station Test Set (E7495A/B). 

The N8480 Series sensors excluding Option CFT (N848x) measure power from –35 dBm to +44 dBm (sensor dependent), at frequencies from 100 kHz to 67 GHz. 

The N8480 Series sensors with Option CFT (N848x-CFT) have SCPI compatibility with the 8480 Series and cover the dynamic range from –30 dBm to +44 dBm (sensor dependent).

N8480 Series Power Sensors

Traditionally, legacy 8480 Series power sensors are designed without EEPROM and thus require cal factor data to be manually keyed into the power meter. The new N8480 Series comes with a built-in EEPROM that helps you to simplify your measurement processes by eliminating the need to key in cal factors manually. However, you are required to modify your test software to accommodate this new feature of the N8480 Series power sensor. To maintain backward compatibility with the legacy 8480 Series, the N8480 Series was developed with the following two variants:

N8480 Series Standard (N848x)

  • Similar to E-Series sensor behavior 
  • Automatically retrieve the EEPROM cal factor
  • SCPI commands are the same as the E-Series sensors

The N8480 Series power sensor incorporates the latest sensing technology, with value-added features such as the built-in EEPROM circuit, wider dynamic range, and better linearity and accuracy.

Like the E-Series power sensors, the N8480 Series power sensors are designed with a built-in EEPROM to store the sensor characteristics such as model number, serial number, linearity, temperature compensation, calibration factors, and so forth. This feature ensures that this correction data will be loaded into the power meter when the sensor is moved from one power meter to another power meter. Therefore, it provides ease of use and convenience to you.

N8480 Series Option CFT (N848x-CFT)

  • Similar to 8480 Series sensor behavior 
  • Manually enter the cal factor into the power meter 
  • Cal factor table label available at the back of the sensor
  • Supports all 8480 SCPI commands

The N848x-CFT behaves as the legacy 8480 Series sensors. You are required to enter the cal factor data manually for a particular frequency prior to making a measurement or enter the sensor cal factor table manually and select the frequency of the signal to be measured.


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