How Far Can USB Testing Go?

Aug. 19, 2010
The convenience of devices such as memory cards equipped with Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectors can hardly be debated. The USB standard allows simple connection of memory cards, computer peripherals, and accessories to a laptop or desktop personal ...

The convenience of devices such as memory cards equipped with Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectors can hardly be debated. The USB standard allows simple connection of memory cards, computer peripherals, and accessories to a laptop or desktop personal computer (PC). It is also allowing more and more microwave test instruments to connect to a PC, taking advantage of the processing power already available in the computer and saving some of the cost of a dedicated processor for each different instrument function. Such instruments as power sensors/meters (see story below), signal generators, and digital attenuators are already available with USB interfaces for simple use with a PC and the proper software.

This trend appears to be leading to a full-USB microwave test station. Of course, this would require that certain instruments, such as digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs) and vector network analyzers (VNAs), are eventually available in USB form and that may not happen. Current USB test functions, such as signal generation and power measurement, are easily coordinated by even basic PCs. But those same PCs may not have the processing power, for example, to coordinate the complex error correction and S-parameter computations performed by a microwave VNA. Test equipment designers dedicate processors to these complex functions, maintaining control over measurement performance. With an "add-on" computer, the same performance levels may not be possible.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Designing Wireless Modular Robots Using Advanced 3D Printing Precision

March 28, 2024
Learn how researchers at Southern Methodist University used 3D printing to fabricate wireless modular robots.

Microelectromechanical 3D Printing Resources

March 28, 2024
Check out our curated list of microelectromechanical 3D printing resources and see how PµSL technology offers freedom and speed.