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.

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...

Neutral woes

More AC line troubles and dangerous peaks, this time due to the 240V neutral. Read More...

Connect signals to oscilloscopes, minimize errors

How you connect a circuit to an oscilloscope can have a significant effect on performance. 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...

16-bit AWG runs up to eight channels

The AWG5200 series from Tektronix comes in two, four, and eight channel versions. Read More...

Audio levels, dBu, dBV, and the gang: What you need to know

Audio levels and decibel standards are an endless source of confusion. Let’s clear the air. Read More...

Midrange oscilloscope provides 1 GHz bandwidth

The WaveSurfer 510 from Teledyne LeCroy also provides a league-leading 10 Gsamples/sec per channel sample rate. Read More...

VNA test cables work up to 110 GHz

Outfitted with 1.0 mm stainless-steel connectors, flexible coaxial cables from Pasternack enable measurements to 110 GHz using a VNA. Read More...

Guard techniques for high-Z test-point muxes

Large test systems can easily affect the DUT. Use the techniques described here to make your test system almost transparent. Read More...

Keysight PXI intro: FPGAs and fast displays

Keysight’s introduction of 10 PXIe instruments includes the ability to customize FPGAs and display 1,000,000 waveforms per second. Read More...

Wire strain gages take the heat

ZWH, ZWN, and ZWP series strain gages from Micro-Measurements operate at temperatures of up to 1500°F, 1600°F, and 1900°F, respectively. Read More...

802.11ax: Not just another higher data rate

IEEE 802.11ax, with its dynamic spectrum allocation and power control, will require new test methods. Read More...

Transcendental resistors simplify precision design

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

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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...

16-bit AWG runs up to eight channels

The AWG5200 series from Tektronix comes in two, four, and eight channel versions. Read More...

Midrange oscilloscope provides 1 GHz bandwidth

The WaveSurfer 510 from Teledyne LeCroy also provides a league-leading 10 Gsamples/sec per channel sample rate. Read More...

VNA test cables work up to 110 GHz

Outfitted with 1.0 mm stainless-steel connectors, flexible coaxial cables from Pasternack enable measurements to 110 GHz using a VNA. Read More...

Wire strain gages take the heat

ZWH, ZWN, and ZWP series strain gages from Micro-Measurements operate at temperatures of up to 1500°F, 1600°F, and 1900°F, respectively. Read More...

LCR meters test up to 1 MHz

B&K Precision’s Model 894 and Model 895 bench LCR meters offer test frequencies from 20 Hz to 1 MHz and 0.05% basic impedance accuracy. Read More...

Digital thermometers measure wide range

Single-input HH911T and dual-input HH912T thermometers from Omega enable temperature measurements from −250°C to +1372°C. Read More...

Scope option tackles 1000Base-T1

Option RTO-K87 for the Rohde & Schwarz RTO2000 oscilloscope enables compliance testing of automotive 1000Base-T1 Ethernet interfaces. Read More...

Astronics upgrades tactical radio tester

EVM measurement and four additional functions enhance the Astronics’ CTS-6000 test set for field testing of military tactical radios. Read More...

Simulator has multiple transducer outputs

Battery-operated, Meggitt’s Endevco Model 4830B handheld signal generator simulates the electrical output of common accelerometers. Read More...

10-bit oscilloscopes fill gap between lower and higher models

The RTB2000 series from Rohde & Schwarz covers 70 MHz to 300 MHz with a 10-in. capacitive touchscreen display. Read More...

CPRI analyzers display multiple traces

Anritsu has enhanced its CPRI RF field analyzers to address the requirements associated with testing high-speed LTE base stations. Read More...

LXI digitizers capture up to 24 channels

Entry-level digitizers in the DN6.22x series from Spectrum offer 12, 16, 20, and 24 channels, with each channel operating at 1.25 Gsamples/s. Read More...

Keysight adds 50/70/100 MHz oscilloscopes for educators, small labs

The InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series brings higher-end features within budgets of educators, small labs, and even individuals. Read More...

Protocol analyzer adds impairment test

Teledyne LeCroy’s SierraNet M328 analyzer provides error-injection and jamming for 25/50/100G Ethernet and 32/128G Fibre Channel traffic. Read More...

Analyzer observes DisplayPort HBR3 traffic

The FS4500 protocol analyzer from FuturePlus Systems monitors all the HBR3 traffic between any DisplayPort source and any DisplayPort sink. Read More...

Keysight adds 10 PXI AWG and digitizer modules

New waveform generators use FPGAs for storing waveforms. Digitizers and oscilloscopes feature bandwidths to 1 GHz. Read More...

8-in-1 scope fits in handheld package

New options for the Scope Rider digital oscilloscope from Rhode & Schwarz offer precision frequency counting and spectrum analysis. Read More...

Motion sensor offers low-power settings

Small enough for wearable devices, STMicroelectronics’ LIS2DW12 three-axis accelerometer draws only 50 nA in standby mode. Read More...

Digitizer touts fast, high-res sampling

Offering two channels, the ADQ7 digitizer from SP Devices combines 14-bit vertical resolution with a sampling rate of up to 10 Gsamples/s. Read More...

Small spectrum analyzer uses both samples and sweeps

The MS2760A from Anritsu uses a combination of traditional and real-time techniques to produce bandwidths to 110 GHz. Read More...

Sensor boosts ambient light immunity

TT Electronics’ OPB9000 reflective optical sensor performs accurate edge and presence detection under varying ambient light conditions. Read More...

BERTScope talks to DUT through protocols

The Tektronix BERTScope BSX series of bit-error-ratio testers can communicate with PCIe and USB receivers so it knows their state during a test. Read More...

Rohde & Schwarz introduces 6 GHz oscilloscope at DesignCon 2017

The RTO2064 moves the company's RTO2000 a step higher in bandwidth, into medium-speed serial applications and EMI troubleshooting. Read More...

NI VirtualBench reaches 500 MHz

The "lab in a box" also has a logic analyzer, function generator, 3-A power supply, and 5½-digit DMM that you control on any Windows PC. Read More...

Astronics grows PXIe test lineup

Astronics offers the PXIe-1802 arbitrary waveform generator and the PXIe-1803 digitizer for the aerospace, defense, and communication markets. Read More...

NI overhauls RF/microwave design environment

Enhancements found in Version 13 of National Instruments’ AWR design environment aim to improve RF and microwave engineering productivity. Read More...

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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...

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Connect signals to oscilloscopes, minimize errors

How you connect a circuit to an oscilloscope can have a significant effect on performance. Read More...

Guard techniques for high-Z test-point muxes

Large test systems can easily affect the DUT. Use the techniques described here to make your test system almost transparent. Read More...

802.11ax: Not just another higher data rate

IEEE 802.11ax, with its dynamic spectrum allocation and power control, will require new test methods. Read More...

The Littelfuse Silicon Valley Technology Center takes research and development to the next level

I had the pleasure of visiting with Clifton Tsang, Ph.D, Senior Materials Engineer at this new technology center and I saw how Littelfuse research and development capabilities will be taken to the next level. Read More...

Calibrate voltage drops and interrupts before testing

Follow these techniques for calibrating a signal generator used to create drops and dips in power-supply voltage for testing automotive (or any other) electronics. Doing so automates measurements and reduces errors. Read More...

High-speed signals jump over PCB traces

A class of interconnects bypasses the losses that occur in PCB traces, improving signal integrity. Read More...

Vector signal analysis in an oscilloscope

See how a well-appointed oscilloscope can play the role of a complete vector-modulated-signal analysis system and experimentation laboratory. Read More...

System models help correlate measurements to simulations

When measurements, especially in high-speed signal applications, don’t match measurements, you may need to include test probes and equipment in your models. Read More...

Evaluate reference clocks for serial-data jitter specifications

Measurement techniques used for jitter don't let you predict how a reference clock will operate in a real application. Read More...

Properly ground your circuits

You may think that having separate analog and digital ground planes will yield maximum performance and minimal EMI, but you'd be wrong. Read More...

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Cheap sweep

Make a really low-cost swept frequency tone generator using just some spare op-amp sections and no sole source parts. Read More...

Neutral woes

More AC line troubles and dangerous peaks, this time due to the 240V neutral. Read More...

Audio levels, dBu, dBV, and the gang: What you need to know

Audio levels and decibel standards are an endless source of confusion. Let’s clear the air. Read More...

Keysight PXI intro: FPGAs and fast displays

Keysight’s introduction of 10 PXIe instruments includes the ability to customize FPGAs and display 1,000,000 waveforms per second. Read More...

Are robots a threat to engineers?

As engineers create ever more sophisticated robots, are they in danger of being replaced themselves? Read More...

Help save a part of engineering history

The first house to have a telephone is up for sale. You can help turn it into a museum. Read More...

Silicon photonics: Will the hare finally catch the tortoise?

Silicon photonics is sort of like fusion energy, always right around the corner. But this time, it's for sure. Read More...

Measuring appliance power consumption

Most engineers like to be efficient and conserve. To that end, this engineer compared two ac power meters by testing them around the house. Read More...

Rescued analog oscilloscope works fine, still has value

When an LG OS-5020 analog oscilloscope was saved from destruction and came my way, I just had to try it out. Read More...

Heidi Barnes: DesignCon 2017 Engineer of the Year

An EE with experiences in RF, ATE, space electronics, signal integrity, power integrity, and simulation is a true DesignCon luminary worthy of this distinction. EDN spoke with Barnes about the award, her career, and where she sees in the SP/PI industry going. Read More...

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