When I was a kid more than 50-something years ago, I saw my first oscilloscope. A door-to-door piano tuner dropped by the house, gently set up his oscilloscope on our upright Baldwin piano, and started tuning.
The oscilloscope's monochrome display flittered with varying sound signals while the tuner intently fiddled with the waves to gain calibration. As a kid, it was a cool scene.
Over the years, I've seen several versions of oscilloscopes in practical use, mostly in healthcare and automotive applications. The waveforms can be analyzed for amplitude, frequency, rise, interval, distortion, and more. Every design engineer has at least one within reach on their workbench.
The oscilloscope tune-up made the piano sound outstanding, although it didn't do me much good personally. I stopped playing after a few instructional books. But the experience did lead me to understand the importance of testing equipment.
In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at oscilloscopes from Digilent and Keysight Technologies for design engineers.
Digilent Analog Discovery Pro 3000 Benchtop Oscilloscopes are flexible test equipment that allow design engineers to test and validate complex systems and help decrease design-cycle time. The ADP series comes with 12 instruments ready to analyze mixed-signal systems through WaveForms, its free software for ADP3450 and ADP3250. ADP3000 devices feature 16 dedicated digital channels and analog inputs accessible via front-panel BNC connectors. The series also includes the Linux Model, which provides an on-device, terminal-based operation system that is a flexible starting point for all types of custom tests and applications. Running embedded on the device itself or using WafeForms, engineers can take advantage of data streaming via Ethernet and the on-device storage to capture millions of buffered samples.
Keysight Technologies Smart Bench Essential Series is a complete lab test bench solution. Users can configure, control, and monitor multiple bench instruments from a single screen. The series sets itself apart with remote connectivity and a signature 7-inch color display. It also works seamlessly with PathWave BenchVue software applications. PathWave Remote Lab Access and Lab Management software applications provide remote setup of basic test equipment with web-based lab management and scheduling administration, instrument control, and remote access for measurement and analysis. The Smart Bench Essentials include a 30W triple-output power supply, single- or dual-channel 20MHz function generators, a 5.5-digit digital multimeter, and a 50MHz oscilloscope.
Oscilloscopes have performed key testing functions for decades, and their applications continue to expand. On a traditional level, they've been essential in teaching labs, general electronics, health care, automotive, and more, but they've also gone from benchtop devices to being used in iOS and Android interfaces and with apps. According to research firm Lucintel, the oscilloscope market will reach $2.9 billion (USD) by 2025, growing primarily in consumer electronics and automotive sectors. Best of all, oscilloscopes can still tune pianos.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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