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Oscilloscope Interfaces: Somebody Listened to Me

3/12/2014 09:25 AM EDT
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The-Debug-Store
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Oscium Instruments are revolutionary
The-Debug-Store   3/12/2014 10:57:28 AM
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Its nice to see that Agilent has finally caught up with Oscium.

In addition to Scopes, Oscium produces Logic Analysers and Power/Spectrum analysers.  They are more convenient to use than a large bench scope as they utilise the User Interface of your iPad, iPod or iPhone.

In Europe, Oscium instruments are stocked by The Debug Store based in the UK.

 

 

Sanjib.A
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Re: Oscium Instruments are revolutionary
Sanjib.A   3/12/2014 1:50:04 PM
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Nice feature!

Are you aware of any low cost oscilloscope & logic analyzer solution available for smaller development use (home use)which would work along with any Windows phone?

Measurement.Blues
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Re: Oscium Instruments are revolutionary
Measurement.Blues   3/12/2014 4:36:16 PM
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@Sanjib, I don't know of anything for a Windows phone, but you'd think writing the software would be easier for a company with other Windows-based products.

JanineLove
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I Hear You
JanineLove   3/12/2014 11:04:30 AM
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I've been saying the same thing to T&M companies over the last few years. If students in chem lab can run their instruments with an iPad.... Anyway, one of the most memorable implemetations I saw of a touchscreen interface was last year on Keithley's SMU.

Measurement.Blues
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Re: I Hear You
Measurement.Blues   3/12/2014 11:42:52 AM
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Here's a link to a more extensive review from OFC.

Agilent debuts high-end oscilloscopes at OFC

Navelpluis
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But the icons….
Navelpluis   3/13/2014 4:02:22 AM
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It is only that Apple changed their icons lately in a very horrible design. Yikes! (Crying out loud:) " I want my icons back "....

Back on topic: This is a very good idea, but not more than a logical development step. The interface has been done, it is there, the iPad. I always wondered why people would pay for a windoze computer in a box, while the rest in the same box is from the '70s (well often, but not always as with modern oscilloscopes) But hey, lots of us have to agree that our old HP stuff from the '70s and '80s still is doing a good job for us. The IEEE interface is a bit cumbersome, but playing with IEEE to USB dongles takes the old gear to a higher plan.

Personally -as an engineer- I think that the measurement equipment manufacturers are going to get a hard time: Less and less companies dare to do hardware design. It is all box-2-box design (unfortunately) and thus software developement. This is good and bad for our industry, but I think bad for the measurement equipment manufacturers.

Buying generators, network analyzers and spectrum analyzers I always had a reference: How many MHz for a buck on the 2nd hand market. Nowadays I do not dare to do this anymore: A friend of mine bought an Anritsu 3GHz analyzer for EUR 1100 (= $1400) while my reference 10 years ago was EUR 1000 for each GHz. Wow!

MeasurementBlues
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Re: But the icons….
MeasurementBlues   3/13/2014 11:38:18 AM
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"The IEEE interface is a bit cumbersome, but playing with IEEE to USB dongles takes the old gear to a higher plan."

I'd like talk to you about the future of GPIB for an upcoming article. I predicted GPIBs slow demise 20 years ago. Maybe it's finally time...or not.

Navelpluis
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Re: But the icons….
Navelpluis   3/14/2014 4:44:31 AM
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Hi MeasurementBlues,

My engineering guts feeling tell me that the only thing to replace IEEE interface is a proper 10baseT or 100baseT interface. It is sooo easy to connect those, transformer coupled, wonderful interfaced devices. But hey, then it depends on the software running on your newly bought equipment if (and how) usable it can be for you. Also, it depends on the application on your PC or MAC.

Lots of devices have USB interface. In field use USB absolutely is not stable enough to do long term measurement jobs, not to speak about stand-alone applications. So for quick and dirty measurements it is nice to have USB at hand for screen dumps, etc, but nothing else (in my opinion)

In my younger years I have written assembly language. Over the years I grew towards an analog/RF engineer. Realizing the amounts of firmware in measurement devices I see that it often became too complicated to use. As an example: I love the old LeCroy home brew OS. Compare it to the newer ones with Windoze... Horrific. But on the other hand I realize that a windoze PC in a box is handy to share spread sheets etc. But for IEEE lots of free software is around to be able to get measurements into your PC or -preferable for me- my MAC.

Also. you already know about my "give it away" statement. The *reason* for software deveiopment written against a piece of measurement hardware (spectrum analyzer, RF generator electronics, etc) is to *expand* and *ease* the possibilities of the equipment. So I never have understood why equipment companies ask money for this and that and all the rest per each bit they have programmed. It is already there, finished, tested and programmed. I am happy to interface to the IEEE interface, as long as I can generate that specific modulation form, or analyze I2C, so why not give these options away....  ;-)

MeasurementBlues
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Re: But the icons….
MeasurementBlues   3/14/2014 1:06:14 PM
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I just had a live demo of the new R&S RTE oscilloscope. I'll post a link here when it's posted.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: But the icons….
MeasurementBlues   3/16/2014 1:33:50 AM
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What do you base your conclusion on here?

"In field use USB absolutely is not stable enough to do long term measurement jobs"

Navelpluis
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Re: But the icons….
Navelpluis   3/16/2014 8:24:54 AM
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MeasurementBlues,

USB is too many layers, too much of which is unknown to the user. Too many brands do not comply to the agreements, often it is implemented very badly and last but not least: My own experience.

Do yourself a favour and try the following. Get an USB analyzer. Get 2 computers and a bunch of USB devices. 1 computer is a Windoze PC and the other Linux or MAC. Now try out the different devices, and show the screen what it all does. it is HORRIFIC. What a piece of crap most devices are. Even HIT-devices are not always implemented properly, what a shame. Even a hobbyist does it better. Trying things out on linux or MAC show you a ilttle less traffic, but even then I would not dare to use it long-term stand-alone.

 

MeasurementBlues
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Re: But the icons….
MeasurementBlues   3/17/2014 11:06:27 AM
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@Navelpluis, is it the computers or the devices or both? What kind of devices are you talking about? Do you find these issues with test equipment or just with consumer-grade products?

bcd_testech
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end of an era (fat fingers)
bcd_testech   3/13/2014 9:08:40 PM
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I'm one of the fuddy duddies that Agilent has apparently been dragging their feet for (or listening to). Smudged screens and imprecise back-and-forth attempts to get a touch-screen interface to guess what I want - yuck! Give me a dedicated knob with detents and I'll get there in 25% of the time with 10% of the swear words.

Still, I welcome the presence of a touch screen interface (even though one of my pet peeves is co-workers who cannot point out something in a waveform without leaving fingerprints) as long as the knobs are available. If (I guess I should say "when") I have to pay extra for a knob-interface box, I'll scrape up the $$ somehow.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
MeasurementBlues   3/17/2014 11:08:53 AM
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@bcd_testech, get used to touch screens. Knobs will be gone in 10 years. Knobs are are fuddie duddies. they're not cool and the next generation will only do what is cool.

"Give me a dedicated knob with detents and I'll get there in 25% of the time with 10% of the swear words."

TonyTib
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
TonyTib   3/17/2014 12:27:55 PM
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And then get ready to change again, because in 10 years, touchscreens won't be cool.  for exmaple, gesture sensor is already here.  Why deal with touch when you can wave?

MeasurementBlues
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
MeasurementBlues   3/17/2014 2:11:38 PM
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@TonyTib, remember that altough engineers develop these new technologies,thay are often lagging in adopting them. Gestures will take 20-30 years to get to test equipment. By then our phones won't need gestures, swipes, or even voice comments. We will need only think about what we want it to do. Test equipment? maybe in 50 years.

Measurement.Blues
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
Measurement.Blues   3/18/2014 1:57:03 PM
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Larry Desjardin predicts the end of the instrument interface in Does test equipment really need knobs and displays? He approaches it from the box versus modular instrument perspective.

TonyTib
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
TonyTib   3/18/2014 2:32:35 PM
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That article brings up another pet peeve of mine:

Why do all these "UI Experts" just copy the look of the physical instrument?

For another example, look at Redfish Instruments: why in the ******** world do they have to just imitate the look of a physcial DMM, and not do a totally different UI that really takes advantage of a multi-touch screen?  (BTW, I do think the iDVM lte is a neat concept, although of no use to me personally).


Besides, what's wrong with both (remote/web/tablet and physical)?  Why slavishly follow the current fad?  Pinch and Zoom might be great, but so are physical buttons (there's a reason I do most of my content creation on a mechanical keyboard, not a tablet's on-screen keyboard).

And, no, I don't think portable test equipment will ever loose the buttons - at least not until we have something that works reliably in the cold, with big gloves.

Measurement.Blues
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
Measurement.Blues   3/19/2014 5:20:10 PM
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"why in the ******** world do they have to just imitate the look of a physcial DMM, and not do a totally different UI that really takes advantage of a multi-touch screen?"

Because people already know how to use the physical instrument. No learning curve.

I've used the Redfish and yes, it does leave you thinking that they could have done better.

TonyTib
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Re: end of an era (fat fingers)
TonyTib   3/19/2014 5:40:29 PM
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>> Because people already know how to use the physical instrument. No learning curve.

But I though all tablet software is intuitive :)

Seriously, it should be possible to make DMM & Oscope tablet interfaces pretty intuitive while still taking advantages of tablet's advantages (otherwise, what's the point?).  Does the Oscium mimic a traditional scope?  Does PicoScope's PC software mimic a scope?

JRAS
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Touch screen scopes.......blah
JRAS   3/14/2014 2:54:07 PM
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I also am one of those old fuddy duddys who like KNOBS on my scope.  Sorry.  Touch screen control are very imprecise.  The click of a knob that is always in the same location, with a minimum of menues is my kind of scope.

RWatkins
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Re: Touch screen scopes.......blah
RWatkins   3/14/2014 3:58:56 PM
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Sorry, but my first oscilloscope was (still have it, worked last time plugged in) a Heathkit 104.  THOSE analog oscilloscopes the knobs could be used for fine adjust.  Digital oscilloscopes, unless told otherwise ("vernier mode"), generally step in increments when one adjusts parameters.  Typically these increments are 1,2,5,10,etc.  Also, I normally like my zero point at some "rounded" vertical location (at least on a minor, dot, location on the vertical axis, with preference for major, line, locations).  As such, and as a long-tme digital scope user (early '90s), I am VERY ready for a touch screen tablet/phone type interface on a digital oscilloscope.  The problem with most digital scopes is that there are a lot of knobs for a 4-channel scope with cursors, trigger, and horizontal controls.  Alternately, one spends an inordinate amount of time going through button menus and submenus to share the controls provided.  I quit counting how many times I have been frustrated by changing from the Agilent to the Tektronix to the Fluke, etc. interface and operated the WRONG controls reflexively.  One BIG request to all of your oscilloscope interface designers out there:  Please get together and make at least most of your human-machine-interface consistent.

Measurement.Blues
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Re: Touch screen scopes.......blah
Measurement.Blues   3/14/2014 5:45:11 PM
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Rohde & Schwarz uses a single knob for four channels. Cleans up the rgith side of the box. See

Live Demo: Rohde & Schwarz RTE Oscilloscope

 

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Touch screen scopes.......blah
MeasurementBlues   3/16/2014 1:31:42 AM
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@JRAS, touch screen controls are only imprecise until you get used to them. The change in the usual 1/2/5 increments, just like a knob.

"Touch screen control are very imprecise."

Bill_Jaffa
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Knobs no more
Bill_Jaffa   3/18/2014 7:11:19 AM
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I too used to like knobs--you could glance at the scope panel and see what your settings were, very handy while trying to figue out where you where and what you were seeing. But now, all scopes annotate the settings directly onto the screen, and you can also store/recall/outout the data and the settings pretty easily.

SO the need to be able to glance at the front panel is lessened--in fact, you get all the information in one place--the screen--instead of having to look all over the unit's panel. Plus, the trend to soft knobs and buttons means lookin at the panel doesn't tell you what you wanted to see about the actual settings anyway. So the touch screen makes even more sense now.

rokursic
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Red Pitaya - an other alternative
rokursic   3/19/2014 5:14:25 PM
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Have a look at Red Pitaya.

Red Pitaya's Kickstarter campaign reads: "Technologies yesterday available only to research labs and industry turn your iPhone, tablet or PC into an amazing instrument." The main advantage is that this network attached device is not limited to any specific platform or operating system. 

Also, RS Components / Allied Electornics  just signed exclusive global deal with Red Pitaya to distribute this revolutionary new open-source test and measurement instrument.

Any thoughts on this solution?

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