Known as U2700A Series USB modular instruments (watch video), the new product family is said to be the first of its kind to offer a USB connection. The modular instruments are already seeing use in test applications ranging from solar cells to medical instruments, such as oxygen concentrators.
"In almost any technological application - whether it's engineering, design verification or research - the users have a PC with them," says Kamala Ravindaran K. Manickavasagam, market development manager for Agilent Technologies' Basic Instruments Division, which developed the U2700A Series. "And in most PCs and laptops, a USB connection is available."
The U2700A Series consists of a digital multimeter, oscilloscopes, function generator, switch matrix and source measure unit. Bundled Agilent Measurement Manager software provides the instruments with a graphical user interface, as well as the look and feel of a bench instrument, to help engineers perform quick configuration and measurement acquisition.
Agilent engineers say that for engineers who travel or need portability, the U2700A product family provides advantages over traditional bench instruments. The paperback size of the product is significantly smaller than a six-inch-high, rackmount bench solution. Moreover, USB (universal serial bus) ports are virtually ubiquitous.
"People find it easy to place it on a table, right beside a PC," Manickavasagam says. "They just connect to the PC through the USB port, and it's really easy for them."
Manickavasagam says that Agilent originally designed the technology for use by so-called "road warriors," that is, engineers who travel to remote sites where bench instruments might be too awkward. "But we've found that more and more bench users are starting to adopt this technology," he says. "Students are becoming familiar with it, too, and it's resulting in broader penetration within industry." www.agilent.com