Touchstone — RF Spectrum Analyzer Software

Touchstone software turns data collected from RF Explorer spectrum analyzers into highly graphical charts and displays, enabling users to more readily visualize the RF environment, monitor RF signals, troubleshoot RF issues, and detect sources of RF interference.

Nuts About Nets has created two different variations of the software — standard and professional. The standard version is free and the professional version is only $49 USD. The table below summarizes their differences:

  • Features

  • Download link

    Download link

  • Supported RF Explorer models

    Supported RF Explorer models

  • Simulation mode

    Simulation mode

  • Profiles (selectable frequency ranges)

    Profiles (selectable frequency ranges)

  • Adjustable Resolution Bandwidth (RBW)

    Adjustable Resolution Bandwidth (RBW)

  • Save Traces in XML or CSV Format

    Save Traces in XML or CSV Format

  • Record / playback mode

    Record / playback mode

  • Create PDF reports

    Create PDF reports

  • Supports Zoom mode

    Supports Zoom mode

  • Monitored Frequencies Mode

    Monitored Frequencies Mode

  • Monitored Bands Mode

    Monitored Bands Mode

  • Compare Two Traces

    Compare Two Traces

  • Show Reference Trace When Scanning

    Show Reference Trace When Scanning

  • Number of diagnostic charts

    Number of diagnostic charts

  • >>>> Spectrum trace

    >>>> Spectrum trace

  • >>>> Heatmap / waterfall

    >>>> Heatmap / waterfall

  • >>>> Topographic map

    >>>> Topographic map

  • >>>> Delta trace

    >>>> Delta trace

  • >>>> Threshold trace

    >>>> Threshold trace

  • Touchstone

  • Free

  • Download link

    Download Touchstone
  • Supported RF Explorer models

    All

  • Simulation mode

    yes
  • Profiles (selectable frequency ranges)

    yes
  • Adjustable Resolution Bandwidth (RBW)

    yes
  • Save Traces in XML or CSV Format

    no
  • Record / playback mode

    no
  • Create PDF reports

    no
  • Supports Zoom mode

    no
  • Monitored Frequencies Mode

    no
  • Monitored Bands Mode

    no
  • Compare Two Traces

    no
  • Show Reference Trace When Scanning

    no
  • Number of diagnostic charts

    2

  • >>>> Spectrum trace

    yes
  • >>>> Heatmap / waterfall

    yes
  • >>>> Topographic map

    no
  • >>>> Delta trace

    no
  • >>>> Threshold trace

    no
  • Touchstone Pro

  • $49

  • Add to cart
  • Download link

    Download Touchstone Pro
  • Supported RF Explorer models

    All

  • Simulation mode

    yes
  • Profiles (selectable frequency ranges)

    yes
  • Adjustable Resolution Bandwidth (RBW)

    yes
  • Save Traces in XML or CSV Format

    yes
  • Record / playback mode

    yes
  • Create PDF reports

    yes
  • Supports Zoom mode

    yes
  • Monitored Frequencies Mode

    yes
  • Monitored Bands Mode

    yes
  • Compare Two Traces

    yes
  • Show Reference Trace When Scanning

    yes
  • Number of diagnostic charts

    5

  • >>>> Spectrum trace

    yes
  • >>>> Heatmap / waterfall

    yes
  • >>>> Topographic map

    yes
  • >>>> Delta trace

    yes
  • >>>> Threshold trace

    yes

For evaluation purposes feel free to download the software applications. Without the RF Explorer device the software runs in a fully functional ‘Demo mode’ using simulated data.

In addition to running as a standalone, handheld device, RF Explorer can be connected to a PC where Windows software (e.g. Touchstone) is used to provide enhanced functionality and data analysis. The connection is made using a mini USB cable. (NOTE: A high quality USB cable should be used in order to limit EMC interference from the PC that could influence your measurements.)

RF Explorer and Touchstone Software

Spectrum Trace View

Touchstone continuously scans and samples the signal strength (dBm) of frequencies in the range the user has specified. In the ‘Spectrum Trace’ view the signal strength data (in dBm) is displayed as a function of frequency.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Spectrum trace view

Waterfall History

The ‘Waterfall History’ view is also known as a “heatmap” graph. It provides a color-based visualization of the RF level and activity over time. As signal levels for specific frequencies or frequency ranges increase and decrease, the waterfall map varies its colors. This feature provides a quick glance back into the sweep history to identify aberrations or fluctuation in frequency levels.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Heatmap / Waterfall view

Topographic Map (Touchstone Pro-only)

The ‘Topographic Map’ chart shows accumulated RF energy as a function of frequency. The power of the signal strength in dBm is shown across the frequency span. A signal strength with a relatively low occurrence is ‘blueish’ in color, whereas increasingly brighter colors are used for signal strengths that occur more frequently. Signal strengths that occur most often are ‘redish’ in color. Over time, this spectral view will approximate the steady-state RF energy signature of a given environment.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Topographic view

Delta Trace (Touchstone Pro-only)

The ‘Delta Trace’ view can be used to view small (or large) changes in the RF spectrum over time. Here’s how it works… When scanning begins the first trace is saved as a ‘snapshot’. For all subsequent scans, the snapshot trace is subtracted from the current trace and the difference, i.e. ‘delta’, is displayed. Plotting the data in this way makes it easy to detect RF changes that occurred since the initial ‘snapshot’.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Delta trace view

Threshold Trace (Touchstone Pro-only)

The ‘Threshold Trace’ view highlights with a yellow box those frequencies whose signal strength exceeds a user-defined threshold. This feature is especially useful for visually emphasizing strong signals (and deemphasizing weak ones), where the user gets to define ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ according to where they set the threshold..

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Threshold trace view

Monitored Frequencies Mode (Touchstone Pro-only)

‘Monitored Frequencies’ mode allows you to monitor specific frequencies. For example, in the setting of a live performance where it is important to monitor the channels that have been assigned to wireless audio devices, this feature can be used to ensure those channels are not being impacted by other sources of RF transmissions. Alternatively, if there are wireless devices that transmit at specific frequencies and you wish to monitor their transmissions, then this mode can be used to verify they are currently operating.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Monitored Frequencies Mode

Monitored Bands Mode (Touchstone Pro-only)

‘Monitored Bands’ mode allows you to monitor specific frequency bands. For example, in a cell-phone free area, the this feature can be used to monitor the frequency bands used by cell phones for the purpose of detecting prohibited transmissions.

Touchstone RF spectrum analyzer software -- Monitored Bands mode

RF Explorer spectrum analyzer is a very unique device. Together with Touchstone software you now have an RF diagnostic tool unmatched in price and performance. Armed with the ability to monitor RF signals, detect RF interference and view all RF activity that occurs in your environment, solving wireless problems just got a whole lot easier.