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ADVERTORIAL: The evolution of scopes


by Graham Cave, Product Manager, RS Components

Latest scopes add functionality without adding complexity or cost

Electronic systems signals are becoming faster, more numerous and complex. The ability to capture fleeting glitches, instability or other signal errors puts ever more demands on today’s oscilloscopes.

The design of scope probes also needed to evolve, ensuring that loading effects are minimised and measured waveforms are faithfully reproduced on the chosen display.
Today’s oscilloscopes come in a vast array of shapes, sizes and specifications. Of the 350 models stocked by RS Components, just 10 are analogue versions – although still preferred for radio frequency applications by some engineers. Functionality, waveform display, storage, manipulation and reporting have continued to grow and evolve. However, manufacturers have been diligent in ensuring that the interface between instrument and user remains  undemanding. As scopes have become more useful and affordable, users have become expert in adapting them to specific test and measurement tasks.
The time taken to identify faults, even within high speed, complex waveforms, has been greatly reduced. Here’s some of the latest innovations in oscilloscopes from RS.
PC-based scopes
For mobile service engineers, PC-based scopes combine features that are integral to high performance bench instruments with ergonomic packages. At their simplest, the Picoscope 2104/2105 models are 1-channel scopes capable of 50/100 MS/s real-time sample rates and 10/25MHz bandwidths. For more sophisticated applications, the 6403 is a 350MHz bandwidth, 4-channel instrument capable of real-time sample rates up to 5GS/s and boasting a 1GS buffer memory for easy signal analysis – yet still smaller than a laptop.
Hand-Held Instruments
Fluke Scopemeters are popular with maintenance engineers as self-contained, battery-powered digital storage oscilloscopes. The recently introduced Fluke Scopemeter 199C is a 2-channel scope operating for up to 4 hours from a rechargeable NiMH battery pack. It offers 200MHz bandwidth, real-time sampling at up to 2.5GS/s and a deep memory of 27500 points per input. There’s a choice of advanced triggering modes and the input sensitivity ranges from 5mV to 100V/division.
Bench Instruments
The Agilent InfiniiVision range of MSOs (mixed signal oscilloscopes) and DSOs (digital signal oscilloscopes) includes products with real-time bandwidths from 100MHz to 1Ghz. At the heart of these instruments is the MegaZoom III ASIC, combining fast waveform update rates and usable deep memory with smooth, responsive controls. The scopes are upgradeable, so you can start with a DSO and upgrade to an MSO later.
Tektronix MSO/DPO4000 mixed-signal scopes feature up to 20 channels (2 or 4 analogue and up to 16 digital), analogue bandwidths up to 1Ghz, real-time sampling at up to 5GS/s and 20 Megapoint record length. With a suite of advanced triggers, the scopes have 10.4-inch displays, a 147mm deep footprint and weigh 5kg. Connectivity includes USB 2.0 Host Ports on front and rear panels and there is optional application support for power analysis and both HDTV and custom video analysis.
The Istotech IDS8104 is an economical DSO with a bright colour TFT LCD display, 1GS/s single shot sample rate and 25K record length for capture of multiple and complex waveforms. The 25GS/s equivalent time sampling mode maintains an effective high sample rate for fast time base settings and repetitive signals. USB connectivity supports unlimited waveform and panel set up to USB memory sticks.
The Lecroy MSO 104Xs-B mixed signal oscilloscope is a top-end instrument with integral 10.4 in touch screen aimed at efficient system design and debug applications. The 4-channel, 1GHz bandwidth model delivers real-time sampling at up to 10Gs/s and a wide range of serial data trigger and decode tools for I2C, SPI, UART, Serial Audio, CAN, and LIN. The hardware allows for fast processing of long memory, even when looking at all 22 inputs.


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