How to Test an RSL Microwave Antenna

Written by richard asmus
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How to Test an RSL Microwave Antenna
Engineers strive for a strong RSL on all microwave antenna system designs. (antenna image by michele goglio from

Every microwave radio system receives a signal from a distant source. The receive signal level (RSL) depends on several factors, including the distance and power of the transmitter, the size of the transmitter and receiver antennas, the length of the transmission lines to the antennas and whether the antennas are properly aligned. A low RSL indicates a problem in any one of these areas. When aligning a microwave antenna, always look for the strongest RSL. Test the RSL at the input to the receiver to include the losses in all the components in the system.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Power meter
  • Test cords and adaptors suitable for the system
  • Path data sheet for the system

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  1. 1

    Disconnect the cable from the antenna to the receiver.

    How to Test an RSL Microwave Antenna
    The amount of power any microwave antenna receives is called the RSL. (antenna image by Irina Kodentseva from
  2. 2

    Connect the antenna cable to the power meter. Read the RSL on the power meter.

    How to Test an RSL Microwave Antenna
    Look for the RSL of your satellite dish in the set-up instructions for your system. (satellite dish image by steveinnz from
  3. 3

    Compare the RSL to the data on the microwave path calculation sheet. The reading should be within the tolerances specified on the data sheet.

Tips and warnings

  • A satellite dish is a type of microwave antenna. For a satellite TV system, hook the dish up to your TV and look for the RSL indicator in the set-up instructions for your system.
  • If the RSL is low, move the antenna left, right, up, down and in a circular motion while monitoring the RSL. Tighten the antenna in place when you find the maximum RSL.
  • A low RSL could also mean low transmit power at the distant end, a misaligned transmit antenna, defective or corroded connections on either antenna cable or an improperly calculated data sheet.

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