Two markets are driving growth these days in benchtop scopes. One is research and design. With engineering hiring on the upswing, employers need to equip these new workers and replace obsolete test gear. The other is education, where engineering schools continue to upgrade their curriculums in hopes of turning out well-rounded and employable graduates. To do so, these schools need up-to-date lab equipment that doesn’t consume a lot of space. These trends mean opportunities for the scope makers in the medium-performance range.
With the mainstream bandwidth pushing into the 1-GHz range, Agilent is staking a claim to this market with its InfiniiVision 3000 X-Series scopes. These scopes were introduced last year with the distinction of packing the power of four instruments in one box (Fig. 1). The instruments offer the functionality of an oscilloscope, logic analyzer, protocol analyzer, and function generator (which was subsequently upgraded to an arbitrary function generator). A banner spec of note was a waveform update rate of 1 million waveforms/s.
Now, Agilent has augmented the 3000 X-Series lineup with four 1-GHz models (two- and four-channel versions) that start at under $10,000. Bandwidths range from 100 MHz to 1 GHz. The scopes no longer emulate only four instruments either. Thanks to the addition of digital voltmeter (DVM) functionality, they are now five-in-one instrument packages.
With the $75 DSOXDVM option, the essential functions of a DVM are available on the 3000 X-Series scopes’ interface. The option provides users with a three-digit readout of ac-dc VRMS or dc voltage (Fig. 2). These values are shown on a large seven-segment display that’s always on. The DVM functionality is independent of the scope itself, which is to say that while the DVM uses scope resources, it functions independently from the triggering system.
A look into the DVM’s architecture reveals a common scope input, which feeds two functional blocks. One is the counter circuits and triggering resources, which the DVM leverages for frequency calculations. For voltage measurements, the scope input feeds an analog-to-digital converter, which in turn feeds both scope operations and a DVM buffer. After some additional calculations, the value is sent to the display.
The scopes come with a new free version of Agilent’s Waveform Builder software, which performs flexible PC-based creation and edits arbitrary waveforms. With the software, users can import and edit scope traces. It comes with a library of basic signals that can be combined to create more complex signals. Point-by-point editing allows the addition of glitches or dropouts to signals. Math functions enable the shaping of signals for specific applications.
Paired with these scopes, Agilent’s N2795A active probe system features a brick-wall frequency response instead of the traditional Gaussian response. These probes offer capacitive loading that is one-quarter that of a passive probe and bandwidth out to 1 GHz. A button on the probe head can be programmed to control features such as a headlight, auto scaling, or capturing screenshots. The 1-GHz N2795A costs $1000. A 2-GHz version (N2796A) goes for $2000.
Pricing starts at $9950 for the DSOX3102A, a 1-GHz model with two analog channels, and ranges up to $15,500 for the MSOX3104A, a four-channel version that adds 16 digital channels. Additionally, upgrade kits are available to bring 500-MHz models up to the 1-GHz bandwidth.