I'm a little late getting this to you because of the holidays, so here's what you'll find in EDN's Test & Measurement Design Center December 2013 offerings.
Oscilloscopes can do more than just measure voltage versus time. With built-in math, oscilloscopes can take signals from sensors and display what they represent in engineering units such as temperature, pressure, or acceleration. Arthur Pini show you how in Read sensors with an oscilloscope.
Every instrument has some kind of user interface, and as we get used to touch-screens and icons rather than using drop-down menus, test instrument designers are incorporating them into instruments. In In Design cycles put pressure on measurement speed, Jon Tucker covers results of a survey on instrument interfaces, which includes:
Users want a simplified interface: "Can’t you reduce the number of buttons and menu structures on the front panel?" "I can use a DMM without a manual. I can use a power supply without a manual. Why can’t I use an SMU without a manual?"
When designing a part such as an ADC (analog-to-digital converter) into a circuit, you often refer to the part's data sheet. But, have you ever run into a situation where the information you need isn’t in the data sheet? Of course you have. For example, you may have needed a minimum or maximum specification, and the data sheet gives a typical performance value or plot. Maithil Pachchigar and Richard Liggiero did something about it. They described how they used a "Signature Analysis" toolset to extract data from a high-performance ADC to learn about the device's transfer function. The authors explain the process in Get ADC data beyond the datasheet.
NFL playoffs are upon is, and, as with all American football, we rely on old technology to measure the forward progress of the football. When that progress is close to a first down, we measure the 10 yards with chains. In his Measure of Things blog, Ransom Stephens says it's time for a more accurate system. We should put sensors inside footballs and track their motion. Perhaps the time has come and Sports should adopt real technology
Every analog component in a system introduces noise, and often, you have to measure the noise figure in your components. Pete Hanish of Texas Instruments writes, "Unfortunately, noise figure can be a difficult measurement to accurately make on modern components. Contributed noise levels often are so low that they approach the thermal noise." A synthesizer used in the noise measurement of an RF receiver creates its own noise. Hanish explains the issues and a method of measurement in Phase noise and the Y-factor noise figure
. One reader disagrees with Hanish. See his reply.
EDN's December postings included several blogs. Kenney Wyatt's The EMC Blog featured Detecting ESD Events where he highlights several instruments for detecting ESD and even provides a schematic if you want to build your own ESD detector.
Even I wrote a blog in December, this one about EDN blogger Chris Grachanen. Chris has been active the areas of measurement quality, metrology, and training for many years. We was even honored as Test Engineer of the Year by Test & Measurement World some 10 years ago. In 2013, Chris was named a fellow of the American Society of Quality. See my interview in Chris Grachanen: A rock star in quality.
—Martin Rowe, Senior Technical Editor