Test & Measurement

Martin Rowe
Senior Technical Editor
Technical information about test and measurement equipment and strategies from the point of view of the R&D or design and development engineer. Topics include T&M hardware such as oscilloscopes and signal generators/analyzers, as well as software and test methodologies.

EMC Band plays first outdoor gig

Besides playing the usual songs from the 70s, the EMC Society Band added Bach and a Mandarin Chinese song, all outdoors along the Potomac River. Read More...

Meters measure milliohm resistance

BK Precision’s 2840 series of DC resistance meters offers greater accuracy and resolution than typical multimeters. Read More...

Build your own oscilloscope probes for power measurements (part 2)

In this concluding part, learn how to design and construct an n:1 voltage probe and two high-frequency current probes. Read More...

Remote module leverages Thunderbolt 3

National Instruments now offers the PXIe-8301 remote control module, which enables laptop control of PXI Express systems using Thunderbolt 3. Read More...

Build your own oscilloscope probes for power measurements (part 1)

When bandwidth and cost are limiting your measurements, consider building your own probes. In Part 1 of 2, learn what it takes to build a 1:1 and n:1 voltage probe. Read More...

IoT: The Interference of Things

A technical session at the 2017 IEEE EMC+SIPI Symposium made it clear that EMI engineers will be constantly fixing interference problems as billions of wireless devices come online. Read More...

Can we accept autonomous vehicles with autonomous bugs?

Are the many bugs in today’s high-tech cars an indication of what may impede the widespread introduction of self-driving cars? Read More...

Measure 16 temperatures, controlled online

The WebDAQ 316 from Measurement Computing lets you measure 16 thermocouple channels and includes a built-in web server. Read More...

Dead meters expose battery terminal design issues

When $1000 worth of meters die, an engineer must investigate and critique the design. Read More...

Bench VNA goes small & light

The ZNLE vector network analyzer from Rohde & Schwarz takes up less bench space than other bench VNAs. You want smaller? Then you need a handheld unit. Read More...

AC sources boast low THD

Two programmable single-phase AC power sources from B&K Precision, the Model 9832 and Model 9833 deliver 2000 VA and 3000 VA, respectively. Read More...

Machine learning improves production test

See how machine learning was applied to speed production test and increase yield. Read More...

GigE cameras deliver up to 5 Mpixels

FLIR Systems’ Blackfly S GigE POE machine-vision cameras offer CMOS image sensors with resolutions of 1.3 Mpixels, 3.2 Mpixels, and 5 Mpixels. Read More...

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Transcendental resistors simplify precision design

The right resistor value can make the difference between a successful, elegant design, and an abject failure. Read More...

Color sensor achieves high dynamic range with auto exposure

For machine vision and other applications, this circuit provides consistent RGB sensing regardless of illumination level. Read More...

Multi-decade current monitor the epitome of simplicity

This DI will likely make the simplest piece of T&M gear on your bench. Read More...

LTC Design Note: Uncompromised clocking solution for 16bit 2.5Gsps DAC

System performance & phase noise depend on clock as much as DAC quality. Read More...

Moving averager rejects noisy outlier values

Improve data-acquisition performance by implementing a smart filter in your FPGA, SoC, or code. Read More...

In-circuit PROM tester

Maintaining old tech takes some resourcefulness. Read More...

LTC Design Note: Precision op-amp enables fast multiplexing at low power

A multiplexed DAQ design presents some subtle challenges, and parts selection plays a crucial role. Read More...

Active load handles high voltages

This electronic load design presses an electric kettle into service as a power resistor. Read More...

Circuit remotely adjusts PSU voltage

This DI circuit allows for remote regulator/PSU programmability or trimming. Read More...

Programmable-gain amp achieves high gains

Roll your own PGA to get the exact high gains you need. Read More...

Fast, low-noise JFET amp is stable over temperature

This Design Idea combines the strong points of JFETs and CFAs to make a high-impedance amplifier that’s fast, stable over temperature, and quiet. Read More...

AC power measurement uses PWM & PAM

Use clever pulse modulation techniques to multiply signals and measure power. Read More...

Simplified kurtosis computation detects signal interference

The statistical kurtosis operation, reinterpreted and implemented on an FPGA for this Design Idea, can detect various forms of interference in RF and other signals. Read More...

De-embed transmission lines with FIR filters

This DI uses MATLAB to design de-embedding filters which clean up high-speed signal measurements. Read More...

Instrumentation amp makes an accurate transimpedance amp too

The interesting topology in this Design Idea turns a monolithic in-amp into a good transimpedance amp for photodiode or similar applications. Read More...

Transient load gives power systems a workout

Verify power supply performance with this transient load generator. Read More...

Bad-bulb finder fixes Christmas lights

15 years later, here’s a new take on one of our most popular Design Ideas ever! Read More...

Power transient buffer enables IC & circuit testing

This DI lets you use a versatile function generator to test a circuit’s response to power transients and noise. Read More...

Antilog converter linearizes carbon dioxide sensor

Simplify gas sensor interface with some analog preprocessing. Read More...

Sub-picofarad measurement with CMOS inverters

Measure capacitance down to 2.5pF full-scale using this hex inverter-based design. Read More...

Short circuit tracer/finder uses low power

Build this bench tool and become a master at pinpointing shorts. Read More...

LabVIEW real-time seismic alert system

National Instrument’s LabVIEW has uses beyond instrument control, as demonstrated by this Web app. Read More...

LTC Design Note: Robust 10MHz reference clock input protection circuit and distributor for RF systems

Design a protected 10MHz reference input without degrading phase noise. Read More...

Milliohm Squawker great at finding shorts and reverse engineering PCBs

This well thought out tool for “listening to” low resistances really speeds troubleshooting & tracing. Read More...

Versatile noise generator tests signal recovery gear

Accurate noise generator allows mixing-in of a clean test signal. Read More...

LTC Design Note: Measure RH with instrumentation-grade system monitor

An accurate, modern system monitor chip senses humidity the old-fashioned way. Read More...

Simple capacitance meter bins parts

This simple, elegant circuit lets you quickly sort through capacitors. Read More...

Detect wire breaks with unusual CMOS gate circuit

TDR in the shop? Try this circuit to detect a wire break. Read More...

Measure inductance & capacitance over a wide range

Measure inductors and capacitors over a very wide range of values with this simple circuit. Read More...

Best Design Ideas of 2013Q3

We present the best Design Ideas of the last quarter! Read More...

Precision capacitance meter

There's an art to capacitance measurement. What do you think of this rendition? Read More...

Novel Q-meter

This highly unusual "cross-quad" circuit topology finds application measuring Q. Read More...

Voltage-to-period converter improves speed, cost, and linearity of A-D conversion

Turning a VFC on its head improves many parameters. Read More...

Complete, low-cost, software programmable ohmmeter measures micro-ohms

An ac voltage is generated by switching current into the unknown resistance. The resulting ac voltage is then amplified and filtered to produce an output voltage proportional to the resistance being measured. Read More...

Convert your smartphone into a pedometer and tracking device

A bit of Python code along with the power of GPS and your smartphone lets you track and record your outdoor excursion activities. Read More...

Photo meter assesses ambient light

When most PN-junction diodes are reverse biased, they will produce a small photovoltaic output as the light level is increased. Read More...

Circuit automatically switches off DMM

Add automatic-shutoff to your DMM, save batteries, and eliminate wear and tear on the function switch. Read More...

Create secondary colors from multicolored LEDs

One disadvantage of generating a yellow color by mixing two primary-color light sources is that the LED must use twice the current because both the red and the green LEDs must be on. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Meters measure milliohm resistance

BK Precision’s 2840 series of DC resistance meters offers greater accuracy and resolution than typical multimeters. Read More...

Remote module leverages Thunderbolt 3

National Instruments now offers the PXIe-8301 remote control module, which enables laptop control of PXI Express systems using Thunderbolt 3. Read More...

Measure 16 temperatures, controlled online

The WebDAQ 316 from Measurement Computing lets you measure 16 thermocouple channels and includes a built-in web server. Read More...

Bench VNA goes small & light

The ZNLE vector network analyzer from Rohde & Schwarz takes up less bench space than other bench VNAs. You want smaller? Then you need a handheld unit. Read More...

AC sources boast low THD

Two programmable single-phase AC power sources from B&K Precision, the Model 9832 and Model 9833 deliver 2000 VA and 3000 VA, respectively. Read More...

GigE cameras deliver up to 5 Mpixels

FLIR Systems’ Blackfly S GigE POE machine-vision cameras offer CMOS image sensors with resolutions of 1.3 Mpixels, 3.2 Mpixels, and 5 Mpixels. Read More...

Modbus decoder troubleshoots PLCs

Pico Technology has added Modbus ASCII and RTU decoding and analysis capabilities to its PicoScope USB-based PC oscilloscope. Read More...

Acquisition system fits tight budgets

The Model DI-2008 from Dataq is a USB-connected voltage and thermocouple data acquisition system that costs just $62 per analog channel. Read More...

Meter safely tests telecom wiring

Megger’s MIT410TC-3 tests the insulation of twisted copper cable pairs, helping to identify problems that arise from exposed wire. Read More...

Picotest announces power integrity workshops in 6 cities

Learn how to design and test power delivery networks and improve system performance. Read More...

Run data-acquisition boards from Python under Linux

Run data-acquisition boards from Microstar Labs through a Python API under Linux at no extra cost. Read More...

DC loads handle up to 350 W

DL3000 DC electronic loads from Rigol draw maximum power up to 350 W, 150 V, and 60 A to provide a baseline for testing mainstream designs. Read More...

Triaxial accelerometers are case isolated

PCB’s 354A04 and 354A05 triaxial ICP accelerometers are case isolated to ensure measurement accuracy on structures with poor grounding. Read More...

DACs work with optical modules

A pair of DACs from Analog Devices, the 12-bit AD5767 and 16-bit AD5766 reduce the footprint of wired telecommunication systems. Read More...

Bench supplies sense loads, log data

Keysight's E36300 Series of power supplies feature output lists and a datalogger for controlling outputs and storing power measurements. Read More...

PXIe generator is scalable to 44 GHz

With frequency coverage up to 44 GHz and modulation bandwidth up to 1 GHz, Keysight’s M9383A generates complex 5G waveforms. Read More...

Analog or digital: Choose your oscilloscope inputs

The MSO5 series mixed-signal oscilloscopes from Tektronix provide 4, 6, or 8 flexible 12-bit analog inputs, but you can choose between analog logic inputs. Read More...

VNAs tackle high data-rate designs

A universal fixture option for Anritsu VectorStar VNAs enhances model accuracy through improved test fixture de-embedding. Read More...

I/Q mixers simplify wideband designs

Passive in-phase quadrature RF mixers, the HMC819x series from Analog Devices, cover a frequency range of 2.5 GH to 42 GHz. Read More...

Is iPad scope worth professional pricetag?

A nice looking scope module with some very major omissions. Read More...

IR thermometer works unattended

With its auto-capture function, the Fluke 64 MAX IR thermometer records up to 99 data points unattended to capture elusive temperature events. Read More...

Generator creates DVB-S2/S2X signals

Option SMW-K116 for the Rohde & Schwarz SMW200A vector signal generator allows it to perform DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X satellite transmission tests. Read More...

RF synthesizer helps reduce system size

Packing an integrated VCO core with four separate VCOs, the ADF5356 wideband synthesizer from Analog Devices operates to 13.6 GHz. Read More...

Tektronix enters VNA market with low-cost USB models

The Tektronix TTR500 series features two models with bandwidth to 3 GHz and 6 GHz. Read More...

MEMS ICs monitor industrial equipment

MEMS accelerometers, the ADXL1001 and ADXL1002 from Analog Devices, allow early detection of common causes of machine failure. Read More...

Foil shunt resistors contain integrated RTD

The RTD temperature sensor lets you monitor the device's temperature for thermal management in power circuits. Read More...

DC supplies help lower cost/watt

Delivering up to 320 W, the 9103 and 9104 multiple-range DC power supplies from B&K Precision can replace several fixed-output power supplies. Read More...

Power analyzer captures fast transients

A three-phase power quality analyzer, the MPQ1000 from Megger measures power, energy, RMS, sags, swells, and transients down to 1 µs. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Teardown: The Tektronix P6042 current probe is a classic

The Tektronix P6042 current probe, introduced in 1969, allows you to understand and troubleshoot reactive circuits like switching power supplies, where the voltage and current waveforms are not in phase or proportional. Read More...

What's inside a smart meter? iFixit tears it down

When iFixit's Kyle Wiens had the opportunity to tear down an Elster smart meter, he jumped at it—not to come up with a repair manual but to evaluate the health and safety issues that seem to surround the utilities’ installation of smart meters. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Build your own oscilloscope probes for power measurements (part 2)

In this concluding part, learn how to design and construct an n:1 voltage probe and two high-frequency current probes. Read More...

Build your own oscilloscope probes for power measurements (part 1)

When bandwidth and cost are limiting your measurements, consider building your own probes. In Part 1 of 2, learn what it takes to build a 1:1 and n:1 voltage probe. Read More...

NASA’s launch complex 39B: Paving our path to Mars

Get an exclusive look at NASA's Launch Complex 39B, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Read More...

DIY DCV Calibrator & reference has under 70µV error

Learn precision techniques while building your own lab reference. Read More...

Machine learning improves production test

See how machine learning was applied to speed production test and increase yield. Read More...

An IBIS-AMI Simulator for the rest of us

IBIS-AMI doesn’t have to be the domain of the wizards any longer. Get this free software and start experimenting and designing! Read More...

Too many clip leads? Make your own organizer

Sometimes, all you need is a little engineering and some household materials to solve a problem. Best of all, no software needed. Read More...

Fake ICs: Another weapon in their detection

A technology developed by engineers at BAE Systems promises to reduce the time and cost of identifying fake ICs before they reach their intended product assembly. Read More...

Designing fast, isolated microamp current sources: Part 1

Need to test photodiode receivers or provide isolated megahertz current signals? Here’s an in-depth design guide. Read More...

The confidence interval: How it relates to serial data links

The next time a young engineer says "I'm 99% sure of the result," ask if he or she has numbers to back up the claim. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

EMC Band plays first outdoor gig

Besides playing the usual songs from the 70s, the EMC Society Band added Bach and a Mandarin Chinese song, all outdoors along the Potomac River. Read More...

IoT: The Interference of Things

A technical session at the 2017 IEEE EMC+SIPI Symposium made it clear that EMI engineers will be constantly fixing interference problems as billions of wireless devices come online. Read More...

Can we accept autonomous vehicles with autonomous bugs?

Are the many bugs in today’s high-tech cars an indication of what may impede the widespread introduction of self-driving cars? Read More...

Dead meters expose battery terminal design issues

When $1000 worth of meters die, an engineer must investigate and critique the design. Read More...

LTE deployment continues: All the world is not 5G

Although 5G is coming, it's a few years away from even early real deployments. In the meantime, the wireless industry is still moving ahead with upgrading to LTE. Read More...

How to pre-test your product's antenna

For some reason, commercial antenna products are not always tested or verified; sometimes you're just going to have to go DIY. Here's how. Read More...

Too many clip leads? Make your own organizer

Sometimes, all you need is a little engineering and some household materials to solve a problem. Best of all, no software needed. Read More...

Accurately measure ceramic capacitors by extending VNA range

Using two methods outlined in this article, you can use a VNA to get measurements with a dynamic range of 164 dB. That's what's need to measure the ceramic capacitors needed in a PDN. Read More...

Clocking high-throughput satellites

Engineers are mesmerised by the latest FPGAs and ADC/DACs, however, these need to be powered and clocked properly to deliver their specified performance. Read More...

Storing data: A moving target

As the pace of technical obsolescence increases, you may find yourself upgrading software, file formats, and storage media more frequently. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

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