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Development Guide Helps Engineers Build Better Test Systems

Test engineers are under constant pressure to maximize performance and flexibility while minimizing cost and complexity. By providing practical advice and real-world examples, Agilent Technologies, Inc. hopes to help them achieve that goal in its 200-page, full-color, downloadable guidebook titled, "Test System Development Guide." The guide is broken down into four sections: Test System Design, Networking Choices, LXI: The Future of Test, and RF/Microwave Test Systems.

The first section seeks to show the reader how a test system can be used to do more than verify the limits of the DUT. For example, it can find weaknesses in a device and predict failures or out-of-specification production trends. The second section, which focuses on Networking Choices, looks at the different options that are currently available. Local-area networking (LAN) is covered in detailin both network and personal-computer (PC) configurations. Universal Serial Bus (USB) also is discussed. The general-purpose instrumentation bus (GPIB) has been the standard interface for connecting test instruments to computers as well as providing programmable instrument control. Now, however, a variety of I/O options are available. They are discussed in these chapters.

In the section dubbed, "LXI: The Future of Test," the guidebook explains how this new measurement platform promises to combine the advantages of PC-based connectivity with the flexibility of card-based instrumentation. LAN Extensions for Instrumentation (LXI) equipment does not require a conventional card cage. As a result, it lowers costs, shrinks footprints, and increases flexibility. To provide even more flexibility, it incorporates a variety of current and future instrument form factors. This section shows how to make the transition from GPIB-based systems.

Section 4 is devoted solely to RF/microwave test systems. Its goal is to provide advice on the configuration of test systems that balance the need for performance, speed, and repeatability. The guidebook's first task is to show how an RF/microwave test system can be more easily configured, updated, and modified both now and in the future. The result will be flexible, longerlasting test systems. The second chapter, titled "Six Hints for Enhancing Measurement Integrity in RF/Microwave Test Systems," includes a short discussion on different types of cable and which ones are right for certain applications. This sectionand the guidebookend with an overview of three approaches that can be used to calibrate RF signal paths and produce accurate, repeatable measurements.

Agilent Technologies, Inc., 5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95051; (877) 424-4536, FAX: (408) 345-8474, Internet:

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