RF Power Snitch: RF Power Measurement Companion for Protecting RF Equipment

Thank you to Majodi Ploegmakers who wrote in and wanted to share a product he's created that might be useful for some RF enthusiasts. The product is called the "RF Power Snitch", and is a tool used to quickly measure RF input power to determine if input power from a signal source is too strong and could damage measurement equipment such as an SDR or NanoVNA. The product is not yet for sale, but Majodi has an availability notification signup page.

NickStick Design Announces - RF Power Snitch –
“Your RF Measurement Companion”

The Netherlands: Today, NickStick Design, an electronics design company for Makers, announced their RF Power Snitch. After a successful launch of SwarmDrive through Crowd Supply last year, NickStick Design went on and designed another useful tool for makers in the RF (Radio Frequency) domain this time.

Of the company’s recent crowd funding campaign, Majodi said, “We were very pleased with the interest our last, somewhat niche, product received. It spurred us on to develop and realize our next idea”.

Today, the RF domain has become accessible to everyone through affordable tools that many could only dream of before. The only tool missing though, is a simple device for checking the, potential, destructive power of the signals one would want to analyze. Because, although tools like the TinySA, NanoVNA or SDR devices are extremely affordable today, for a maker it is still an investment worth protecting.

That’s why our goal was to develop a low-cost companion device that can help makers and experimenters (especially beginners) in the RF domain to gain insight in the power levels of a signal before hooking things up to their valuable test equipment. As an extra to this we also made it possible to attach an MCU for doing power readings and plotting.

Website: https://powersnitch.nickstick.nl

The RF Power Snitch
The RF Power Snitch

5 comments

  1. Majodi Ploegmakers

    Yes, you are right about that. You should be very careful at all times with these kinds of delicate devices. That’s why I added the disclaimer. But about your question on average/peak power, the RF Power Snitch will give you more of a fluctuating average power level. It does not retain a peak over a longer time, it measures continues. In most situations this translates to what other devices will experience. But as you point out, some devices can be extra sensitive for peak powers which you wouldn’t catch with the Power Snitch.

  2. snn47

    The question is this power detection based on an average power detector or is a peak power detector used to define the power.
    Some modulation/waveforms have a high PAPR (Peak to Average Power Ratio). This means the average of the waveform may not exceed 0 dBm, but the peak powers values of a waveforms with high PAPR can exceed the average value by more than 10 dB, e.g. OFDM type modulations.
    Depending on the receiver sensitivity to high peak power can stiil be damaged even though the average value is 0 dBm.damage receiver.

  3. Scott rich

    Sorry Nick, but this seems like a pretty useless product, TinySA can actually accept a higher input power then this device. Also there are a heap of cheap rf power meters on ebay which tell you the exact value, not just a light indicating a range.

    • Majodi Ploegmakers

      I have done tests with several devices and found that there is no such thing as an exact value with equipment in the range of a few hundred bucks. Many factors like frequency, harmonics, impedance matching, etc. play a role. The RF Power Snitch can give you value readings by using the sense pin breakout (which can be hooked up to an MCU/Display). The chart ( https://powersnitch.nickstick.nl/about.html ) can be used as a starting point even using a plain multimeter. But the main reasoning behind the led indicator was to have a simple but effective tool for a quick check of the power level before hooking it up to other devices for more in depth measurements. The input network can handle higher powers for a brief moment but it is meant to function for signals you would like to feed to devices like a vna or SDR (below 0 dBm).

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