Digital Scopes Conquer 1 GHz

March 14, 2012
These instruments have a great deal more to offer than simply oscilloscopes, with the capabilities of logic analyzers, function generators, and protocol analyzers included.

Digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs) can be considered on par with digital voltmeters (DVMs): Both are invaluable for circuit troubleshooting and design work, and both must be trusted to be highly accurate and ultra reliable. The InfiniiVision 2000X/3000X oscilloscopes from Agilent Technologies made quite a splash with their introduction a year ago, offering extremely fast waveform update rates in two- and four-channel models with 1-GHz bandwidths. since its debut, the 3000X oscilloscope line has been further enhanced with a new software (version 2.0) release and five new applications, including expansion arbitrary-waveform-generation (AWG) capability supported by the company's flexible WaveGen control software.

The enhanced 3000X family of instruments includes two- and four-channel DSOs and mixed-signal oscilloscopes (MSOs), each with full 1-GHz analysis bandwidths. Notable are the two- and four-channel models (DSOX3102X and DSOX3104X DSOs, respectively), in addition to the MSOX3102a and MSOX3104A MSOs (which feature two and four analog channels, respectively, and each with 16 digital channels). Versions of these scopes are also available with less bandwidth down to 100 MHz, as needed.

The 1-GHz models provide maximum sampling rates to 2.5 GSamples/s with waveform update rates to 1 million waveforms per second. standard memory is 2 Mpoints per channel, with 4 Mpoints/channel available as an option. The compact instruments show signals on a clear, 8.5-in. WVGA display screen (Fig. 1) with 800 x 480 pixel resolution. The screen boasts simple-to-apply color coding to differentiate signals and channels during analysis, and 64 levels of intensity control.

The 3000X series instruments are something of a "Swiss Army Knife" as basic test benches go, integrating a logic timing analyzer, protocol analyzer, function generator/ arbitrary (arb) waveform generator, and optional DVM. The arb/function generator, for example, can produce sine waves from 0.1 Hz to 20 MHz with 0.5 dB amplitude flatness and harmonic/spurious levels of −40 dBc. The arb/function generator is accompanied by a free version of the company's Waveform Builder software (model 33503A), a flexible program for the personal computer (PC) that aids waveform creation and editing, works with a library of basic signals, and supports importing and editing of signal traces captured on the oscilloscope.

The optional DVM, an additional $75 (USD), provides both voltage and frequency measurements, with 3 digits of AC/DC voltage and 5 digits of frequency (Fig. 2). It includes an autoranging function for automatic adjustment of vertical amplification to maximize the dynamic range during measurements. Also, a built-in frequency counter provides 5-digit measurement resolution to the maximum frequency bandwidth of each DSO or MSO.

In addition, the firm has developed low-cost active probes for use with the DSOs and MSOs, including the model N2795A probe with 1-GHz bandwidth and the model N2796A probe with 2-GHz bandwidth; both include replaceable probe tips. The probes are characterized by low capacitive loading, about one-fourth that of typical passive probes for the equivalent bandwidths, and include a built-in headlight to assist examination of dense circuits.

The DSOs and MSOs each have a built-in Universal Serial Bus (USB) port (version 2.0) for simple transfer of data to and from a PC. These instruments are fully upgradeable, allowing the owner of a 100-MHz DSO to eventually transform it into a 1-GHz DSO or MSO. Prices range from $9950 to $15,550 (USD).

Agilent Technologies, Inc.
5301 Stevens
Creek Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95051
(877) 424-4536
(408) 345-8886
FAX: (408) 345-8475
email: [email protected]

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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