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Knobs and Buttons Are Toast, Long Live the Pinch

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David Ashton
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Re: Sundry Sunday morning musings
David Ashton   10/20/2014 12:29:28 AM
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@betajet, elizabeth,

Some nice ideas there, voice recognition and foot controls.  Both would have to be decently implemented - the perils of voice control have recently been amusingly discussed in these columns, and foot controls -  someone like me with two left feet could only do limited work with them.  But to trigger a capture they'd be great. Maybe scope manufacturers should put a socket (3.5 or 2.5 mm stereo type?) next to the run/stop button for this purpose?

elizabethsimon
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Re: Sundry Sunday morning musings
elizabethsimon   10/19/2014 11:19:57 PM
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@betajet

It only works if you have test point holes or other vias.  Then the probe tip stays in position as long as you apply enough normal force.  I can usually do three probes at once, with one hand, provided that the holes are near each other.

I once had to attach small coils of wirewrap wire to IC pins to keep the probes from sliding so that I could hold the three probes in place while keeping the other hand poised over the run/stop button (after hitting the enter key on the PC). we had some holders for scope probes but they didn't allow me to probe as many points in one area.

A foot operated control (or two) would have been nice.

 

betajet
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Re: Sundry Sunday morning musings
betajet   10/19/2014 3:08:18 PM
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zeeglen asked: And what is your secret to how to hold three probes with only two hands?

It only works if you have test point holes or other vias.  Then the probe tip stays in position as long as you apply enough normal force.  I can usually do three probes at once, with one hand, provided that the holes are near each other.

In most cases, I'm debugging FPGA internal signals that I've brought out to test points.

Speech recognition for 'scope commands could help, except that it might misinterpret words not intended for its tender microphones :-)

zeeglen
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Re: Sundry Sunday morning musings
zeeglen   10/19/2014 11:40:47 AM
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@betajet having to push the "single sweep" on a stand-alone 'scope followed by a PC mouse click, all while holding three probes in place on a printed-circuit board is a pain.

In addition to touch-screen, what we really need is a foot-console with several pedals to operate scope functions while holding probes.  And what is your secret to how to hold three probes with only two hands?

betajet
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Sundry Sunday morning musings
betajet   10/19/2014 10:22:30 AM
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I'm not nostalgic about silly-scope knobs, probably because every 'scope I've used had a completely different set of knobs and buttons.  We used to joke that a great way to test a hardware engineer candidate is to put that person in front of a Tektronix 'scope and see how long it took to figure out how to turn it on :-)

What I'm looking forward to is a really good 'scope interface displayed as a window on my GNU/Linux PC so I don't have to switch between the PC and a stand-alone 'scope.  In most cases, I'm using the PC to start a hardware test and having to push the "single sweep" on a stand-alone 'scope followed by a PC mouse click, all while holding three probes in place on a printed-circuit board is a pain.  If I could do it all on the PC it would help a lot.  It would also make it a lot more convenient to print 'scope traces, which currently requires me to transfer graphics files to a 3.5" floppy disk and find a PC that can read them :-)

That said, the 'scope signal acquisition hardware has to be good enough.  My usual stand-alone scope has four channels with 2.5 GSa/sec, with active probes optional.  I don't know what you can get these days, but it seems that all the best 'scope signal capabilities comes in stand-alone 'scopes -- that's just so 20th Century :-)

zeeglen
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Fingerprints and Unwanted Response
zeeglen   10/19/2014 9:21:59 AM
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We had a HP16500 logic/analog system back in the late 80's - touch-screen colour CRT and a single spinner knob.

Its annoyances were fingerprints all over the screen, and when discussing a display with a colleague, pointing to a waveform feature with a finger would cause unwanted things to happen.

Today's anti-glare screens are not as bad for fingerprints, but I do hope future touchscreens will include a 'touch disable/enable' button.

Sanjib.A
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Buttons/knobs vs touch
Sanjib.A   10/19/2014 2:08:35 AM
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"oscilloscope companies tried using screen interfaces and were told that engineers want their knobs and buttons, especially on oscilloscopes."

I agree to this partly. There are a couple of oscilloscope in the lab of my organization, which has touch screen + buttons. I prefer to use the touch screen while setting up the channels/trigger menus. But when it comes to moving the waveforms up/down (adding offset) etc. I prefer to use the knobs. Once I got used to the touch screen I spend some ramp-up time on a scope which has only buttons.

Looking at the future engineers or the current generation of college students are more familiar to touch screen because of the smart phone/tab revolution. When these students will become engineers, they would prefer touch screen over buttons for sure. 

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