Tektronix is changing the face of the midrange oscilloscope with the new 5 Series MSO introduced today. What’s most noticeable is what’s staring you in the face when you see the instrument for the first time: a 15.6-inch capacitive-touch high-definition (1920 x 1080) display.You’ll also quickly notice up to eight input connectors, which Tektronix calls FlexChannels, or the industry’s first reconfigurable oscilloscope inputs. By default, each input is a TekVPI+ connector that accepts all TekVPI analog probes. However, connecting a new TLP058 logic probe converts an input to eight digital channels, allowing for as many as 64 digital channels total. Digital signals are sampled, triggered, and stored the same as analog signals, simplifying comparisons among inputs.
In a recent demonstration of the new scope, Gary Waldo, a product planner at Tektronix, said that with increasing system complexity, engineers are contending with multiple processors, controllers, FPGAs, independent clocks, serial buses, sensor inputs, and power rails and power-conversion circuits. Consequently, he said, “Four analog channels simply aren’t enough for many designs.” Further, he said, the pursuit of lower SNR drives the need for greater vertical resolution.
A deep analysis of engineers’ needs drove the development of the new 5 Series platform, he said, which includes a new ASIC combining ADC, demux, trigger, and digital acquisition components in a single device, enabling more channels and tight integration between analog and digital channels. The platform also included a new low-noise front-end amplifier (offering about 4.5-dB lower noise than previous versions), new hardware and software architectures, and a new industrial design and user interface.
Waldo said that many common applications—such as three-phase power electronics and automotive ECU design—require more than four analog channels. Consequently, most engineers have struggled to get multiple scopes to work together to solve tough design problems. However, triggering issues, synchronization challenges, correlation problems, and documentation frustrations can prevent them from being successful. The new FlexChannel technology, he said, “…enables unprecedented flexibility and adaptability to the debug task at hand.
Waldo also said the new scope’s 12-bit ADC offers 16 times the resolution of conventional 8-bit ADCs. The new scope also offers a new “high res” mode that provides 16 bits of vertical resolution using a DSP filter applied at each sample rate.
With the new display comes an advanced user interface that lets users access controls directly through objects on the display rather than having to navigate through menus to get to more menus. The result is faster and more intuitive operation along with more space for viewing waveforms and correlating signals. Users can also drive the oscilloscope using a mouse and conventional front-panel controls.
Along with the display and user interface, the 5 Series MSO features a modern industrial design. It is less than eight inches deep and improves the user experience with a rugged handle, a streamlined and intuitive front panel with LED light rings indicating selected waveform and trigger sources, and adjustable feet that enable additional viewing angles.
Every oscilloscope on the market today is either a dedicated scope or based on a Windows PC platform that allows users to run other programs on the scope, Waldo said. Each approach has pluses and minuses and many labs have both styles, which leads to problems when users need to switch among test platforms.
The new 5 Series MSO solves this problem, Waldo said. He called the new scope the industry’s first that can run as either a dedicated scope or in an open Windows configuration. The user can switch between the two simply by adding or removing a solid-state drive that has the Windows license/OS installed on it. When the SSD is installed, the instrument boots Windows. When it’s removed, the instrument boots as a dedicated scope.
All 5 Series MSOs can be purchased or field-upgraded as needs change with an arbitrary/function generator (AFG), digital probes, extended record length up to 125 Mpoints, additional protocol support, and bandwidth up to 1 GHz. An upgrade to 2 GHz is available through Tektronix Service Centers. The scopes are all backed by a three-year warranty.
“The world of embedded electronics is expanding rapidly, driven by an insatiable demand for more electronics content in military, automotive, consumer, and industrial products and systems, as well as, leading-edge power technologies,” said Chris Witt, vice president and general manager, Time Domain Business Unit at Tektronix, in a press release. “Enabling our customers to keep pace required a completely new oscilloscope platform. The 5 Series MSO is the culmination of the largest single platform development effort in Tektronix’ history and delivers significant new innovations that will benefit our customers daily.”
The 5 Series MSO is priced from $12,600.