Test & Measurement


Trends in oscilloscope technologies

10 October 2018 Test & Measurement

The faster and more complex electronic circuits become, the greater the performance requirements are for the equipment with which to test and verify their performance. At the same time, the smartphone revolution has elevated users’ expectations in terms of ease of use and versatility. We asked Jason Strydom, account manager at Comtest, to elaborate on some of the ways in which oscilloscope technologies are advancing to keep pace with these demands.

What are some of the latest features in user interfaces?

The user interface is one of the biggest changes more recently, with a move towards larger touchscreens and USB-based devices. Larger touchscreens are now coming in high definition with true design for touch. This improves the sensitivity of the touchscreen and allows the user to more accurately control what they need to on it.

There is also a trend with light-up buttons on the device which change colour depending on which channel is selected. This ensures that the user knows which channel he is taking his measurement on or adjusting the settings for.

USB-based oscilloscopes, on the other hand, are bringing this functionality at a lower cost as they are able to interface to an already existing PC with a monitor for greater control compared to the previous instruments in the industry.

These options now make using these devices more ergonomic and allow the user to reference and control the instrument more easily so they can get their desired measurements faster, and save time during the design and development cycle.

What must engineers consider with regards to data interfaces?

Interfaces are all about what you want to do with the data or instrument. USB connection has become a great way to get your data locally and fast; this is useful if you want to use RF software on a PC coupled to the oscilloscope.

Alternatively, if users require remote connection then an IP connection can be very useful for controlling the instrument over a network (e.g. someone in their office being able to control an instrument that is in the lab). Additionally, for a Windows-based device, a video output port could be considered to incorporate multitasking on the device.

GPIB, among other interfaces, can be used to incorporate the device into an automated test system. PXI is an open standard that only a few vendors support, and is typically used where users need to incorporate multiple different types of high-speed instruments (not just an oscilloscope) into a particular system.

How are bandwidth and channel counts keeping pace?

We are seeing bandwidth upgrades and higher channel counts on mid-range instruments, indicating the mid-range is shifting upwards. We now have options for up to 8 channels on a single device, something that hasn’t been common until recently.

We also have the ability to synchronise multiple instruments, should the user need more than 8 high-speed measurement channels. Additionally, there are options to upgrade the standard bandwidth on many devices, even after the device has been acquired by an end user.

What other features are engineers looking for?

There are a few standard criteria that users should always be on the lookout for, such as bandwidth at least 5 times faster than signal speed, sample rate at least 5 times faster than your signal, and enough input channels

It is also important to consider having compatible probes of the right type (passive probes, active probes, current probes, near-field probes for RF, or even high-speed probes with a solder connection onto the board to be tested). Accessories (transit cases, software for in-depth analysis, adaptors, preamplifiers or even interposers), easy operation, connectivity, serial bus decoding, and in-country support are also important factors.

Additional features that users should be looking for are integration of time and frequency domain (RF) analysis on a single device, visual triggering, power measurements, built-in demonstration files so the user can see how to easily set up their acquisition, and the ability to mount network drives on non-Windows oscilloscopes.

For more information contact Jason Strydom, Comtest, +27 10 595 1821, jason.strydom@comtest.co.za, www.comtest.co.za



Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Maintaining backup battery systems for maximum usage and reliability
30 September 2020, Comtest , Power Electronics / Power Management
Standby battery backup systems play a critical role in keeping essential operations functional in the event of a utility outage. Facilities like data centres, hospitals, airports, utilities, oil and gas ...

Read more...
Real-time dashboards for remote test data access
30 September 2020, Comtest , Test & Measurement
Tektronix announced the availability of a native integration between the Keithley DAQ6510 and DMM6500 instruments with Initial State, an loT dashboard for data streaming and visualisation for world-class, ...

Read more...
Miniature SMT noise sources
31 August 2020, RF Design , Test & Measurement
Pasternack has released a new series of miniature SMT packaged noise sources that are ideal for built-in test equipment, dithering for increased dynamic range of A/D converters and as a source for bit ...

Read more...
New digital storage oscilloscope
31 August 2020, RS Components (SA) , Test & Measurement
RS Components is now stocking the Tektronix TBS1000C digital storage oscilloscope. Affordable, compact and easy-to-use, the TBS1000C comes with enhanced user interface and courseware, proving a great ...

Read more...
High-spec, low-cost oscilloscope for industry and education
31 August 2020, RS Components (SA) , Test & Measurement
RS Components has introduced the Tektronix TBS2000B digital storage oscilloscope, aimed at industrial design and maintenance engineers and the educational sector. A higher-specification but low-cost drop-in ...

Read more...
Digital storage oscilloscope for STEM learning
30 September 2020, RS Components (SA) , Test & Measurement
RS Components is now stocking the Tektronix TBS1000C digital storage oscilloscope. Affordable, compact and easy to use, the TBS1000C comes with enhanced user interface and courseware, proving a great ...

Read more...
Rigol extends RF portfolio
30 September 2020, Coral-i Solutions , Test & Measurement
Rigol Technologies has announced the new RSA3000N and RSA5000N Spectrum Analysers, which extend the flexibility and capability of the UltraReal platform with a new Vector Network Analyser measurement ...

Read more...
RS PRO queue management system
31 August 2020, RS Components (SA) , Test & Measurement
The RS PRO SMART-Q queue management system is a high-quality and robust configurable beacon tower that manages the flow of customers and staff, by helping them to move around safely and efficiently in ...

Read more...
Network metrology training kit coupled with Microwave Office
29 July 2020, Comtest , Test & Measurement
Pico Technology has added significant functionality and value to its low-cost, high-performance vector network analyser, by joining the NI/AWR Connected Partner community. The PicoVNA interface wizard ...

Read more...
UCT chooses Tektronix instruments for training lab
29 July 2020, Comtest , News
Comtest, local partner to Tektronix, recently assisted the University of Cape Town (UCT) physics department in refurbishing its electrical training laboratory. All of the existing analog oscilloscopes ...

Read more...