Small-Footprint Oscilloscopes Reach 2 GHz

Nov. 16, 2006
Aside from providing a large screen for their small size, these oscilloscopes promise to find and display rare anomalies in circuit behavior.

While the basic function of an oscilloscope is to display voltage as a function of time, the capabilities of commercial instruments vary widely depending on their intended application. For engineering design and test, the most popular oscilloscope bandwidth is 1 to 2 GHz. Three new oscilloscopes from LeCroy Corp. (Chestnut Ridge, NY) have now brought a big-display/small-footprint form factor to this well-traveled section of spectrum. These oscilloscopes also boast the WaveScan search and analysis feature, which locates problems more quickly by integrating advanced algorithms to continuously scan for unusual behavior.

Two of the models stem from the WaveRunner Xi line. The WaveRunner 104Xi is a four-channel, 1-GHz model. Its sibling, the 204Xi, claims to be the only 2-GHz oscilloscope available in a big-display/small-footprint form factor. The devices boast a 10.4-in. touchscreen display. For both scopes, the sampling rate is 5 GSamples/s on four channels, which can be interleaved to 10 GSamples/s for two-channel operation. The instruments boast a serial trigger and decode for both I2C and Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI). They are supplied standard-with 10 Mpts/channel of memory-interleaving to 20 Mpts/channel. The third new oscilloscope hails from the WaveSurfer line. The WaveSurfer 104Xs flaunts 1 GHz of bandwidth with a sample rate of 2.5 GSamples/s on four channels, which can be interleaved to 5 GSamples/s for two-channel operation. Like the two WaveRunner oscilloscopes, it supports CAN, I2C, SPI, and mixed-signal (MS-32) options. Compared to previous products in the series, it features a new serial trigger, decode, and WaveScan toolsets.

In fact, WaveScan has been added to the entire bandwidth range of WaveRunner and WaveSurfer oscilloscopes down to 400 MHz. WaveScan's algorithms continuously scan for unusual behaviors by using up to 20 different search modes including pulse width, frequency, rise time, runt, duty cycle, and more (see figure). To perform such scanning, one must simply select a search mode from the nearly 20 that are available and apply a search condition, such as "in a range." In a single acquisition, WaveScan will identify the unusual event with a red box. It also will list the values in a table. The user can zoom to view or apply additional analysis tools for complete debugging.

WaveScan also can search for an event over a period of hours or days. The scanning modes are not just copies of the hardware triggers. For example, the oscilloscope can be configured to scan for a frequency value outside of an expected range. It can then take an action to stop scanning, save waveforms and continue scanning, save a screen image and continue scanning, etc. In WaveRunner Xi, found events can be overlayed in a ScanOverlay view so that they can be easily compared. For measurement-based scanning modes, a ScanHistogram can show the statistical distribution of found events.

The WaveRunner 104Xi and 204Xi start at $16,250 and $22,250, respectively. The WaveSurfer 104Xs sells for $12,890. LeCroy Corp., 700 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977-6499; (845) 425-2000, FAX: (845) 425-8967, Internet:

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