Software Simplifies Microwave Testing

Software Simplifies Microwave Testing

The second major release of BenchVue software provides flexible data logging, along with the capability to combine functionalities of different measurement equipment.

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Measurements provide windows on performance, but RF/microwave measurements have grown in complexity in recent years as test equipment continues to gain in functionality and power. Fortunately, a personal computer (PC)  with the right software can coordinate and simplify those measurements, and that software just may be Release 2 of the BenchVue software from Keysight Technologies.

Fig. 1
1. Using the measurement view, BenchVue can be used to correlate results from different measurements in one PC.

It supports simplified connectivity among different types of test equipment, including oscilloscopes, power sensors, function generators, digital multimeters, power supplies, and spectrum analyzers. The Keysight BenchVue software for the PC makes it easier to operate the many different instruments that it supports, either at the laboratory bench or remotely under the appropriate wireless control. And one of the best features of all about this software: It is free of charge.

The BenchVue PC test software is extremely easy to use, with simple point-and-click data capture and the ability to manipulate of test results on a PC. BenchVue now supports seven instrument types: oscilloscopes, power supplies, spectrum analyzers, digital multimeters, function generators, power sensors, and data acquisition units.

This latest version of the test software works with more than 200 Keysight instrument models, including 2000 X-Series, 3000 X-Series, 4000 X-Series, and 6000 X-Series oscilloscopes; models 33621A and 33622A function generators; and PXA N9030A and MXA N9020A spectrum analyzers.

This new version of the BenchVue software can do more with spectrum analyzers, such as screen image capture, screen image logging, trace logging, and deep data capture of advanced signal information, including in-phase/quadrature (I/Q) signal data. It also features expanded capabilities with oscilloscopes, enabling the various scope models to perform measurement logging along with screen image capture and trace capture.

Fig. 2
2. The BenchVue PC software provides extensive data trace and logging capabilities to analyze data from different measurement instruments.

The test software enables a user to show information from different connected test gear—such as a spectrum analyzer, oscilloscope, and power supply—simultaneously (Fig. 1), and can also enable closer views of data on a single screen (Fig. 2). The test data can be manipulated into different file formats and exported as required. In addition, the software provides quick access to instrument user manuals, drivers, frequently asked questions (FAQs), videos, and other useful details about the instruments it is helping to control and operate.

To use the software, a user plugs an instrument into a PC running BenchVue by means of a General Purpose Interface Bus (GPIB), Universal Serial Bus (USB), or local area network (LAN) connector. A compatible instrument is automatically configured for use in BenchVue; no separate instrument drivers are needed. Measurement data can be captured with just a few mouse clicks on the PC.

The software can be loaded free of charge. Upgrades for all of the different instrument types are available at moderate cost, ranging from $150 (USD) for a BenchVue Power Supply Pro Software License to $750 (USD) for a BenchVue Function Generator Pro Software License. In spite of their price tags, these “Pro” versions feature enviable functionality. For instance, a mobile application allows engineers to remotely monitor and respond to their test bench via a smartphone or tablet.

The BenchVue software supports more than 200 instrument models, and this latest version provides enhanced capabilities for the types of instruments (such as spectrum analyzers) that were controlled by its predecessor.

Keysight Technologies, Inc., 1400 Fountaingrove Pkwy., Santa Rosa, CA 95403; (707) 577-2663

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