Behind every design is a power supply that needs measurements. You probably start bringing up a new circuit by measuring the power-supply voltages and checking the current with a multimeter before you start looking at voltage and current with high-frequency signal running around.
There's a good chance that you have an Agilent or HP 34401A multimeter on your bench. Earlier this year, Agilent announced its replacement, the 34461A.
Agilent calls the 34461A a drop-in replacement for the 34401A. In bench applications, that's probably true, unless you use the RS-232 port. The 34461A doesn't have one, so you'll need a converter or use the LAN or USB ports. A GPIB port is available as an option for use in automated test stations that you might use to characterize boards and systems.
The 34461A multimeter, Agilent's replacement for the classic 34401A.
For bench applications, the 34461A's graphical display lets you plot data and display ancillary measurement such as high/low values. It also measures temperature through a thermistor or RTD, eliminating the need to convert resistance measurements to temperature on a computer.
"What? You mean my multimeter is being discontinued?" That's what I thought when I read the press release, so I asked product manager Tami Pippert. Here's what she said:
We are not announcing 34401A discontinuance at this time, but we do plan to do so in the future -- no date has been set at this time. When we do announce 34401A discontinuance, we will provide advance notice to allow our customers time to make final purchases. We are broadly communicating the 34461A as the 34401A replacement for those customers who want to start evaluation processes as early as possible.
The 34401A has been in production for over 20 years, and was originally an HP product. How many Agilent products in production today were originally HP? Besides the 34401A, the only other product I can think of is the 3458A System DMM. That's the reference standard at many calibration labs.
An early HP 34401A.
Do you have a 34401A? How has it worked for you? Will you consider replacing it with a 34461A, or, after the 34401A is out of production, will you look for them on the used market?