The test and measurement world was an early adopter of PC technology, leveraging the computers for storage and processing power. That’s continuing as manufacturers embrace USB connectivity to provide plug-and-play capabilities.
USB augments the virtual instrument concept, making it simple for engineers to connect various modules to a device. It also simplifies the job of storing data, since samples and other files can be moved to PCs or printers quickly and easily using USB.
The high speeds now offered by USB give the ubiquitous link even more effectiveness in instrumentation. As instrument manufacturers move to the PXI Express architecture, the high bandwidth of USB will play an important role, making it possible to combine speeds and ease-of-use.
DMM trims cost
Agilent Technologies Inc. is unveiling an affordable digital multimeter designed to help manufacturers and educational institutions control costs.
The Agilent 34405A is a 5.5-digit benchtop digital multimeter featuring a built-in USB 2.0 interface. It provides a broad range of measurement functions with expanded capabilities such as temperature and capacitance measurements.
The line is a low-cost extension of the existing Agilent 34401A, 34410A and 34411A product family, which is also part of the Agilent Open suite of products and services.
The key benefits and features of the Agilent 34405A include easy-to-read ac and dc measurements with dual display capabilities, 0.025 percent dc accuracy and 120,000 counts resolution.
Other product features include: DCV, DCI, True-RMS ACV and ACI, two-wire resistance, frequency, continuity and diode test; Standard Commands for Programmable Instrumentation (SCPI) compatibility. The Agilent IO Library Suite and DMM Intuilink connectivity software provide ease of programming and transferring of measurement results to PC. The Agilent 34405A is priced at $745 and is available now.
Scopes combine speed, simplicity
A 200 MHz bandwidth, 2 GS/s maximum sample rate per channel, and USB Flash and device ports are features of Tektronix, Inc.’s TDS1000B and TDS2000B Series of digital storage oscilloscopes.
They feature both Tektronix OpenChoice PC communication software and National Instruments’ SignalExpress Tektronix Edition interactive measurement software. SignalExpress provides true USB plug-and-play oscilloscope-to-PC connectivity.
The 2- and 4-channel scopes provide three ways to make measurements. A front panel USB host port lets engineering technicians capture waveform data on USB Flash drive. At the bench, the USB device port can be used to move data to a PC. The USB device port can also be used for printing with any PictBridge compatible printer.
List prices range from $850 for the TDS1001B to $2,290 for the TDS2024B. The lines also offer the industry’s first lifetime warranty.
Data acquisition line offersversatility
Taking aim at the mainstream market, IOtech Inc. is unveiling a USB data acquisition line, the Personal Daq/3000 Series, with 1 MHz, 16-bit multifunction USB devices. Three models are provide a wide variety of analog, digital and frequency I/O in a compact package.
The line hits the price-performance niche between single function USB devices in the $200-$500 range and multifunction, high-speed devices that cost $2,000 or more. The Personal Daq/3000 Series packs a wide variety of synchronous, multifunction I/O into one device priced from $1,399 to $1,599.
The hardware provides a 1-MHz/16-bit A/D converter and eight differential or 16 single-ended analog inputs, with seven programmable input ranges. The PDQ30 option permits quadrupling the number of analog input channels from 8 differential/16 single-ended inputs to 32 differential/64 single-ended.
Software includes DaqView 8.0, a full-featured Out-of-the-Box data logging and viewing application and support for all popular programming environments including VisualBasic, VisualBasic.NET, Visual C++ and LabVIEW.
Fast acquisition modules provide isolation
National Instruments is offering four USB bus-powered data acquisition devices, blending high-performance with low-cost and isolation options.
The USB-621x devices draw power directly from the USB port so external power supplies are unnecessary. They feature signal streaming technology, offering a fourfold improvement in sampling rate over other NI devices. They include the company’s NI-MCal, a calibration technique that improves measurement accuracy. The family also offers programmable-gain instrumentation amplifiers, which dramatically reduce settling time.
The devices, designed for applications like data logging, portable measurements and academic lab experiments, have up to 32 16-bit, 250 kilosamples per second analog input channels and up to two 16-bit, 250 kilosamples per second analog output channels. They can perform up to four functions simultaneously using NI signal streaming technology.
Two models have built-in isolation technology, which enhances safety by electrically separating the sensor signals that can link to hazardous voltages. The devices include driver and measurement services software, as well as data-logging software. Pricing starts at $499.
Pulse/pattern generators offerhigh precision
Pulse/pattern generators from Keithley Instruments Inc. signal quality and precise control for pulse widths from three nanoseconds to 1,000 seconds.
The Series 3400 Pulse/Pattern Generators offer superior pulse fidelity with precision edge control, providing more precise control of signals. They also have less voltage overshoot, making the signals cleaner and more reliable. Signals also have greater amplitude accuracy and flatness and less edge-to-edge jitter.
The line has a maximum frequency of 165 MHz, a minimum frequency capability down to 1 milli-hertz, and pulse amplitudes of ±10V or ±20V. The minimum attainable pulse width is three nanoseconds, a beneficial level for nanotechnology research.
An intuitive user interface includes soft menu-specific front panel buttons, reducing the total number of buttons. A simplified menu structure also shortens startup time. The instruments include many user connections including GPIB and USB. Users can set critical parameters, including amplitude, rise time, fall time, pulse width and duty cycle, frequency, delay, and offset.
The single-channel Model 3401 costs $12,500, with a $17,500 price tag for the dual-channel Model 3402.
Data acquisition modules have multiple channels
Multifunction USB 2.0 data acquisition modules from Data Translation offer simultaneous analog input for 2 or 4 channels. The DT9832 Series make 16-bit analog measurements at speeds up to 2 MHz per channel.
Each analog channel has a dedicated 16-bit A/D converter. It utilizes a common clock and trigger for simultaneous and synchronous sampling of all analog and digital inputs at the exact same instant in time.
The line has two 16-bit analog outputs for waveform generation at 500 kHz per channel. Two 32-bit counter time channels offer flexible clocking and triggering. Three quadrature decoders allow determination of X/Y positioning and rotation.
The DT9832 ships with the Data Acquisition OMNI CD, which includes device drivers for Windows 2000/XP and an evaluation version of DT Measure Foundry. Data Translation’s test and measurement application builder, and several additional ready-to-measure applications are also included. The modules operate under popular software applications with interface tools to Lab VIEW and MATLAB. Prices start at $1,970.