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11 Inexpensive Portable Test Tools

12/24/2013 04:35 PM EST
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David Ashton
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Re:Digilent Analog Discovery
David Ashton   12/27/2013 1:30:27 AM
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@Paul - thanks for that.  Most of what I have heard about the Analog Discovery has been good and it's great to have it (mostly) confirmed.  It's certainly good value if you can get the student price.  (Doubt you would for your commercial app but hope you get a good qty discount!)   Thanks for the feedback.

Paul Levin
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Re:Digilent Analog Discovery
Paul Levin   12/27/2013 1:19:40 AM
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I've been using the Analog Discovery for two weeks now, and had been experimenting with Digilent's Waveforms software (a free download from www.digilentinc.com) for a week or two before that. Nearly everything I've tried works the way one would expect it to work. One "gotcha" is that while the AWG can produce nearly 10 Vpp waveforms, you can't get one half of that when you use 50 ohm source impedance and drive a 50 ohm load; there is an approximately 20mA current limit on the outputs. If you stay below that current level, the spectrum analyzer indicates mid-60;s or better for THD. Another "strangie" I have yet to resolve is why a 1-second 20 Hz to 20 KHz sweep commences with a linear ramp for the first millisecond or so. I just posed this second problem to Digilent's support folks two days before Christmas, when they were already on a holiday break, but I'm sure they will have an answer for me once they get back to business next year. The support team, largely based in Romania, has been really open and responsive. My company is actually considering embedding the Analog Discovery inside of one of our systems. It is really handy that both scope channels have full differential inputs. You can make the system even more versatile by isolating the Analog Discovery's ground from your PC's ground by use of a USB isolator. (Analog Devices' CN-0160 evaluation board works really well because it allows you to supply the secondary with a hefty power supply.) Too bad the world is still waiting for a high-speed USB isolator; the Analog Discovery is seriously throttled back by the presence of a full-speed isolator. 

Jerrysc
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Pocket oscilloscope
Jerrysc   12/26/2013 10:53:15 AM
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Check out the DS203 on eBay, A pocket size 4 channel 72 MHz bandwidth digital storage oscilloscope for well under $200. 2 analog and 2 digital channels and a signal generator. Open source and upgradable with up to 4 Apps, spectrum analyzer, for example. I have been using one for the last couple of years. Works great! A wrist strap of some sort would be handy to hold it sometimes, Otherwise, no complaints.

Kinnar
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Re: Inexpensive test gear
Kinnar   12/26/2013 5:37:13 AM
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Various versions of the myRIO platform are available. The price for the student version will be $499 and includes a complete version of LabView software. This is a very good lab for many engineering subjects.

MeasurementBlues
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Mooshimeter multimeter, page 6
MeasurementBlues   12/26/2013 12:04:19 AM
I just recently heard of this product and I'm trying to get one to review.

http://mooshim-e.com/

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Inexpensive test gear
MeasurementBlues   12/25/2013 11:49:34 PM
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Susan,

I worked for Extech as a design adn applications engineer the late 80s to early 90s. The company was privately owned at the time. Now it's owned by FLIR.

Aeroengineer
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Logging Multimeter
Aeroengineer   12/25/2013 6:51:23 PM
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I had not heard of that logging multimeter till you posted this blog.  That one will be an interesting one to watch here in the future.  Also thanks for the mention of my recent blog post on the Red Pitaya.  I am excited to get some more time to play with it here in the near future.

David Ashton
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Re: Inexpensive test gear
David Ashton   12/25/2013 6:09:00 PM
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@Kinnar.... thanks for the info about NI MyRIO - looks good,Wifi and lots of IO,  but still only 500 KSPS Analog.   I couldn't find a price yet but here's a link (your post did not have one)

http://www.ni.com/pdf/manuals/376047a.pdf

Susan Rambo
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Re: Inexpensive test gear
Susan Rambo   12/25/2013 4:37:48 PM
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Happy Christmas to you, David. Thanks for mentioning the Diligent Analog Discovery. A reader on EDN was asking about it so I was wondering if it was a good one to include. Thanks again. 

Kinnar
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LTSpice is not portable software. Article with good collection of tools
Kinnar   12/25/2013 2:07:50 PM
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LTSpice is not portable software, as it requires an install on a PC or Mac. But yes it is a very good test tool from LT. 

But by the way the tools listed here are very nice collection at a stretch, among them Red Pitaya seems to be of trande setter potential being a open source. Also it is nice of Gabotronics that they have revealed the schematic diagram of the product they are yet to commercially available.

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