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Application Notes

  • Advantages of High Resolution in High Bandwidth DigitizersOpen or Close

    Two of the key specifications of digitizers are bandwidth and amplitude resolution. These specifications are not independent - with increasing resolution available with decreasing bandwidth. Users must make a tradeoff in selecting a digitizer to meet their measurement needs. This article discusses the advantages and limitations of high resolution in high bandwidth digitizers. Where high resolution is greater than 12 bits and high bandwidth is greater than 20 MHz.

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  • Application Examples for Multi-Channel T&M SystemsOpen or Close

    Electronic test and measurement, driven by necessity, continues to move in the direction of multi-channel and multi-functional instruments. Electronic devices under test continue to increase in complexity using parallel and array topologies that require more measurements to be made at higher speed while maintaining time coherence.

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  • Boxcar Average FunctionOpen or Close
    Analog Boxcar Averaging (sometimes referred to as Gated Integration) is a technique that has been used by engineers and scientists for more than 50 years to reduce unwanted noise on signals. In more recent times, with the development of fast high-resolution digitizer technology, digital Boxcar Averaging has been used to achieve the same type of results. Furthermore, digital Boxcar Averaging brings with it additional benefits in that it can improve a digitizer?s overall resolution and its dynamic performance. This white paper shows how digital Boxcar Averaging can be used to reduce signal noise, even on single shot events. Read more
  • Characterization of Remote Keyless Entry deviceOpen or Close

    Automotive technology is packing more functionality into every device. Consider the vehicle key fob, it has evolved from a simple mechanical key to a miniature electronics power house, incorporating remote key entry (RKE), remote starter, and keyless ignition. Remote key entry and remote starter use an ultra-high frequency (UHF) transmitter employing intelligent encoding to maintain security. Design verification and testing of the physical layer operation of these devices requires tools that can acquire and measure the RF signals of relatively long duration and do further processing to extract additional information. Modular digitizers are ideal measurement instruments for RKE measurements, a study of typical RKE measurement parameters will reveal the specifications required to select an appropriate modular digitizer.

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  • Closed-Loop applications and latency with or without CUDA GPUOpen or Close

    There are different potential applications on the market that need a low latency to make fast decisions or to make fast modifications. These applications are normally covered under the name "real-time" applications. This name originally referred to hardware based real-time applications, where you need a defined and guaranteed response time to be sure that your controlling setup is reacting in time to an external stimulus.

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  • Common Digitizer Setup Problems to avoidOpen or Close

    When it comes to making measurements with modular digitizers it is important to be aware of some common setup problems that will result in bad data and lost time. Among the setup issues that can arise are aliasing, insufficient amplitude resolution, incorrect amplitude range selection, improper coupling, improper termination, poor trigger setup, and excessive noise and spurious pickup. This article will look into each of these issues and provide insight into how to prevent these errors from occurring.

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  • Creating AWG Waveforms in SBench 6 using EquationsOpen or Close

    Arbitrary waveform generators (AWG's) are among the most powerful signal sources available for testing. They offer an extensive range of waveshapes which can be created and selected to rapidly provide a broad range of test events.

    This article shows how to use SBench 6 equations to generate waveforms

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  • Creating, Capturing and Transferring AWG WaveformsOpen or Close
    The Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG) is a powerful and flexible signal generator capable of outputting any wave shape within the bandwidth of the generator. Once you have the AWG you will need to populate it with waveforms. The cost of creating, capturing, modifying, and transferring test waveforms can easily match the cost of the generator. This application note is intended to make the process easier by providing examples of creating, capturing, modifying, and transferring waveforms to your AWG. Read more
  • Designing PCIe Digitizers for very high precision measurementsOpen or Close
    For nearly 30 years Spectrum Instrumentation has been designing and manufacturing PC based instruments, typically digitizer and generator products, for the electronics Test and Measurement market. The company recently decided that it was time to replace its popular M2i.49xx series of digitizer cards, that were first designed over ten years ago Read more
  • Dynamic Parameters and Waveform DigitizersOpen or Close

    When selecting a digitizer for acquiring electronic signals the primary specifications considered tend to be sampling rate, bandwidth and resolution. The first two parameters help to define the maximum frequency content that the digitizer will be able to capture. As a general guide for accurate and repeatable measurements users typically try to sample their signal at least ten times faster than its highest frequency content

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  • HybridNETBOX Source Responce TestingOpen or Close

    In the world of electronic testing there are two classes of testing. Self-excited electronic devices such as power supplies, oscillators, transmitters, and signal generators are tested using data acquisition type instruments like digitizers, oscilloscope, or spectrum analyzers. The second class of testing involves testing devices like amplifiers, filters, receivers, and digital interfaces that must be externally excited by a signal source before the signal acquisition instruments can be used. This class of test is called source-response testing.

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  • Introduction to Modular Arbitrary Function GeneratorsOpen or Close

    Electronic test and measurements equipment can be classified into two major categories; measurement instruments and signal sources. Instruments such as digital multi-meters, digitizers, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and logic analyzers measure electrical characteristics of an input signal, most typically electrical potential difference or voltage. Signal sources are required to provide signals to be used as a test stimulus. In many test situations the devices being tested do not generate signals on their own. Take for example an amplifier. Without a signal source to provide an appropriate input signal no significant electrical measurements can be made. It is the combination of measurement instruments and signal sources that make electrical testing possible. In this note we will be discussing the use of arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs), signal sources that can create test stimuli with a variety of wave shapes.

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  • Introduction to Modular Waveform DigitizersOpen or Close

    Introduction to modular digitizers explaining history, digitizer terms and selection criteria. The product note also elaborates the question when a digitizer iand when an oscilloscope should be used.

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  • Introduction to PXIe and PXIOpen or Close
    PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation or PXI is a computer based hardware and software platform for test and measurement systems. Developed in the late 1990?s as an open industry standard based on the compact PCI (cPCI) computer bus, PXI provides a basis for complex, rugged, modular instrumentation systems. The PXI standard is governed by the PXI systems Alliance (PXISA) which maintains and controls the evolution of the standard to insure interoperability of instruments from hundreds of vendors. Read more
  • LIDAR - Light Detection and RangingOpen or Close

    The development of laser technology over 50 years ago led to the creation of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems that delivered a breakthrough in the way distances are calculated. The principles of LIDAR are much the same as those used by radar.

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  • LXI based Multi-channel Digitizer InstrumentOpen or Close
    In this article we will discuss the key features of the digitizerNETBOX, an LXI digitizer instrument, and demonstrate how it can make real world measurements on an air compressor. We?ll show how to install and connect the instrument and then set up the measurement with the included software - all within a few minutes. Read more
  • Mass Spectrometry and the Modern DigitizerOpen or Close

    The scientific field of Mass Spectrometry (MS) has been under constant research and development for over a hundred years, ever since scientists discovered that charged particles could be separated via electromagnetic fields based on their charge-to-mass ratio (Q/m). While spectrometry systems now come in numerous configurations their performance largely depends on a few fundamental elements.

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  • Mechanical Measurements Using DigitizersOpen or Close

    Measurements on mechanical devices and systems using a modular digitizer requires the use of a variety of transducers or sensors in order to convert mechanical parameters such as force, acceleration, pressure, rotational speed, and their kindred into electrical signals you can measure. This article is a primer on making such measurements using a modular digitizer.

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  • Multi-Channel T&M systemsOpen or Close

    The trend for multi-channel testing has never been stronger as more electronic devices use array and parallelization methods to increase system speed and performance. Requirements can be found in almost every field, such as testing MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) antennas that are used for radio links in communication, or the transmitter and receiver arrays employed in advanced radar, sonar, and ultrasound systems. Even in general electronics the need for multi-channel testing is expanding. Components continue to increase in complexity, coming with higher pin counts, while micro controller and processing systems utilize faster and more complex logic circuitry and bus systems.

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  • Power Measurements Using Modular DigitizersOpen or Close

    Line power measurements are commonly required to evaluate the performance of devices or circuits. Modular digitizers can make these power measurements. Digitizers are voltage responding measurement instruments. They can also measure current using suitable current probes or current shunts.

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  • Proper Use of Digitizer Front-End Signal ConditioningOpen or Close
    Modular digitizers and similar measuring instruments such as the Spectrum Instrumentation model M4i.44xx series shown in Figure 1, need to match a wide variety of signal characteristics to the fixed input range of the internal analog to digital converter (ADC) Read more
  • Radar Signal Acquisition and Analysis Using High Speed Modular DigitizersOpen or Close

    Radar signals which use pulsed waveform with short duty cycles, multiple modulation types, and critical timing require measurement systems that provide high bandwidth, proportional sample rate, long memory, and fast data transfer. High speed modular digitizers are ideally suited for acquiring and processing radar signals and offer multiple benefits fitted to these measurements. They offer high bandwidth, long acquisition memories, and special acquisition modes to maximize memory usage, these compact instruments provide high speed measurements and analysis of great accuracy. This article will highlight some of the advantages of using high speed modular digitizers for radar system measurements.

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  • RF Measurements Using a Modular DigitizerOpen or Close

    Modern modular digitizers, like the Spectrum M4i series PCIe digitizers, offer greater bandwidth and higher resolution at any given bandwidth than ever before. Although they are in the class of general purpose measuring instruments they are capable of many RF and lower microwave frequency measurements. This article focuses on some examples of common RF measurements that can be performed with these modular digitizers.

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  • SBench 6 Software Tool for Digitizer DataOpen or Close

    Modular digitizers are typically small compact devices that allow the capture and conversion of analog electronic signals into digital data. The data can then be stored in on-board memory or transferred to a PC. As digitizers are "blind" instruments they do not normally have an integral display to view, measure or analyze the data they collect. Instead, these functions are usually performed by a PC.

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  • Signal Processing for DigitizersOpen or Close

    Modular digitizers allow accurate, high resolution data acquisition that can be quickly transferred to a host computer. Signal processing functions, applied in the digitizer or in the host computer, permit the enhancement of the acquired data or the extraction of extremely useful information from a simple measurement.

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  • Software Support for Modular DigitizersOpen or Close

    Although modular digitizers can be considered computer hardware they require suitable firmware and software in order to be integrated into the host computer system. Digitizers use embedded software and require device drivers, maintenance software and operational applications to control, view and transfer the digitizer's data. Software can be supplied or it can be custom developed, this application note provides an overview of the software required to support modular digitizers

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  • Solving the Data Transfer Bottleneck in DigitizersOpen or Close

    With most modern PC based digitizers and data acquisition systems a common problem is caused by the fact that the ADC technology usually runs in advance of PC bus technology. In high-speed and high-resolution digitizer products this causes a bottleneck effect where the ADC can digitize much more data than can be easily transferred to the PC environment.

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  • Stimulus-Response Systems with AWG and DigitizerOpen or Close

    Self-excited electronics like power supplies, oscillators, transmitters, and signal generators can often be tested using a measuring instrument (digitizer, oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, etc.) alone. Externally excited electronic devices like amplifiers, filters, receivers, and digital interfaces require a signal source and a measuring instrument for testing. Modular Arbitrary Waveform Generators (AWG's) and modular digitizers are available with multiple source and measurement channels that can be configured in bandwidth, sample rate, and memory.

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  • Testing electronic aircraft systems using modular instrumentsOpen or Close

    Core electronic aircraft systems include those for power generation and distribution, as well as those for internal data communication, between all devices and systems within the aircraft, and RF devices for external communication. All the other avionic elements depend on these essential buses for either power or data communications. In this article we will see how modular instruments, be they PCIe, PXIe or LXI, offer the necessary multichannel data acquisition and signal generation capabilities required to test and troubleshoot these systems.

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  • Testing embedded microcontrollers using multiple types of modular instrumentsOpen or Close

    Embedded systems, used in applications ranging from toys to advanced aircraft, use microcontrollers to execute specialized operations within a more complex system. Most microcontrollers are mixed signal devices using a combination of analog and digital signals. These embedded controllers need to communicate with other system components using complex serial interfaces and protocols that, while commonplace, can be difficult to verify and troubleshoot.

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  • Testing Power SuppliesOpen or Close
    The use of lower voltage rails in current integrated circuits requires power supply designs with tighter dynamic specifications for those supplies. In addition, multi-rail power supplies require test instruments that can analyze multiple channels simultaneously. They must also provide very high dynamic range (up to 16 bits) and acquire very long records with high time resolution. Modular digitizers fill this need offering 16 bit digitizers with up to 256 channels and record lengths to 512 Mega Samples. Read more
  • The Amplitude Resolution of DigitizersOpen or Close
    Amplitude resolution is a key specification for digitizers. How is this specification matched to the measurement requirement? What are the technical tradeoffs involved in the selection of digitizer amplitude resolution? Having made such a selection what can be done to improve the resolution of the acquired data? These are all common questions to answer about digitizers or other digital instruments. Read more
  • Triggering and Synchronization in Modular DigitizersOpen or Close
    Digitizers are used to convert electrical signals into a series of measurements that are then output as a numerical array of amplitude values versus time. To make this information useful the time information is typically related to a specific reference point which is most commonly the trigger position. The trigger point can be something that occurs within the measured signal or it can be from other external sources. The function of triggering is to link the time measurements to a specific known point in time. For repetitive signals the trigger must be stable in order to enable measurements from one acquisition to be compared with others. When multiple digitizers or related acquisition instruments are integrated into a multi-channel system meaningful data can only be obtained when all channels are referenced to a common time axis. This requires time synchronization of the data acquisition elements of the system with all the digitizer channels normally being triggered by the same event. This application note will focus on the related topics of triggering and synchronization. Read more
  • Ultrasonic ApplicationsOpen or Close

    The use of Ultrasonic products is increasing as new techniques and improvements in instrument performance constantly expand the range of applications. Spectrum digitizers are ideal tools for making ultrasonic measurements and can play a key role required in the development, testing and operation of these products. Spectrum digitizers and arbitrary waveform generators offer a wide range of bandwidths, sampling rates, and dynamic range to match the broad spectrum of ultrasonic measurement needs

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  • Using Arbitrary Waveform Generator Operating Modes EffectivelyOpen or Close

    One of the great powers of Arbitrary Waveform Generators (AWG?s) is that they can generate an almost infinite number of waveform shapes. The AWG?s operating mode controls the timing of how these waveforms are output. In this application note we will investigate the effective use of the operating modes for the Spectrum M4i.66xx series of AWG?s, concentrating on the sequence mode which offers the ability to control the selection of the output waveshapes in near real-time.

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  • Using Digitizer as OscilloscopeOpen or Close

    When can a digitizer be used as an Oscilloscope and what is the difference between an Oscilloscope digitizer and a Non-Oscilloscope digitizer? This is an interesting question and the best way to start to answer it is the look up the dictionary definition of an oscilloscope:

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  • Using Modular Digitizer Acquisition ModesOpen or Close
    Modular digitizers like the Spectrum Instrumentation M4i.44xx models shown in Figure 1, offer many acquisition features matched to the primary application of acquiring multiple channels of input data and transferring that data at high rates to analysis computers. They also offer multiple acquisition modes that are intended to use on-board memory efficiently and decrease the dead time between acquisitions. This is especially true with signals that occur at low duty cycles in such applications as echo ranging (including radar, sonar, lidar, and ultrasound), and transient data collection applications (such as time of flight spectrometry and other stimulus-response based analysis). Read more
  • Using Probes and Sensors with Modular DigitizersOpen or Close

    Probes convert signal levels, change impedance levels, or offer convenient connection methods. Sensors or transducers convert physical phenomena to electrical signals. Examples include current probes, accelerometers, and photomultipliers. Both types of input devices are supported by Spectrum digitizers. This application note deals with using both probes and sensors with Spectrum modular digitizers.

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  • Using software based fast block averagingOpen or Close

    The block, or segmented memory, averaging mode is used with Digitizers for different applications where incoherent noise needs to be removed from a signal. Independent of the manufacturer of the digitizer all FPGA based hardware implementations of the block averaging mode limit the maximum size of the segment to be averaged. The limit depends on the capacity of the FPGA and usually ranges from 32k up to 500k samples.

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  • Vehicular Testing with Modular DigitizersOpen or Close

    Modular instruments reduce the size of traditional instruments so that they fit on a circuit card. Multiple cards can be inserted into a frame with a common computer interface, power, and interconnections. Modular instrument frames include computers, using the standard PCIe interface, PXI test frames, or LXI based boxes. Generally, multiple cards are used and configured by the engineer into a test system. The system may contain multiple instruments, single instrument types with multiple channels, or a combination of both.

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