Friday, October 18, 2019

Facing Fake ICs Head-on

Counterfeit integrated circuits are a huge headache for purchasers and distributors alike. Electronics Sourcing Magazine shows a solution capable of checking component validity in seconds (pp:14-16)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sensor Technology’s #HeliNav #LoadMaster wireless #helicopter #load measurement system

Discover how Oxford UK-based @HeliLift is using @sensortech Sensor Technology’s  #HeliNav #LoadMaster wireless #helicopter #load measurement system to pluck trees from forests where there is no access by tractor or environmentally sensitive. #environment

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Pico Brings Low Cost, Real World VNA Measurements to the Classroom

everythingRF reports (

Pico Technology has released a new PicoVNA Interface Wizard that adds significant functionality and value to the company’s low-cost, high-performance vector network analyzer (VNA). The Wizard links the highly affordable vector network analyzer to the NI AWR Design Environment. It supports the entire design cycle with import of real-world components, system or subsystem measurements from the PicoVNA in a single-click transfer.

Key features of the PicoVNA Interface Wizard Include:

  • Controlling and viewing of PicoVNA output from inside your design environment
  • One-click measurement transfer to electronic design automation (EDA) software
  • Fast, convenient comparison of ideal, modeled and measured component through to subsystem data between test and simulation environments
  • Extension of measured data (300 kHz to 6 GHz) for passive component simulation at DC
  • Active device measurements and plotting of maximum stable and available gain, K‑factor and B1

A Powerful Education and Training Alliance

Unfortunately, for educational purposes, the high costs of microwave network measurements has compromised the experience in the classroom. However, the more affordable PicoVNA 106, 6 GHz, full-function, professional-grade vector network analyzer with support for exporting EDA-ready measurement data could change this.

Add to that mix the newly available Pico Technology Network Metrology Test Kit - A low-cost-per-student item. The kit includes active and passive circuit elements and all the low-cost calibration standards and test leads that are needed to use the PicoVNA 106 in the classroom for microwave network measurements. This printed-circuit board (PCB)-hosted kit was designed using NI AWR software, specifically the Microwave Office circuit simulator. Device under test (DUT) elements can be modified by students and the kit is supplied with the associated EDA project design file for immediate engagement with any of the available circuit elements at any point in the design cycle.

Either coupled to EDA software such as NI AWR software or used standalone with the PicoVNA 106, this teaching accessory supports teaching objectives around reflection and transmission measurements, S-parameters and standard linear network measurement quantities. These can be presented and interpreted as log, linear, phase, real, imaginary, polar and Smith charts, with derived quantities such as group delay and time-domain transmission and reflection.

Additionally, by including an active broadband amplifier element, nonlinear compression measurements such as P1dB and AM to PM phase due to amplitude modulation can be explored using the PicoVNA 106 built-in measurement utilities.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Visit from Fotric Staff 10/7/2019

It was good to have a visit from Fotric's Shanghai Director of International Sales Sining (Celine) Niu discussing their exciting new thermal cameras!  They have some fatuer-leading products in the works!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

How on earth do you measure light flicker?

GL SPECTIS 1.0 Touch + Flicker Meter Metrics is an upgraded version of the very successful handheld Spectis 1.0 Touch Spectral Light Meter. This device can now measure the increasingly important parameter of light flicker in addition to the extensive range of standard photometric and colorimetric values already available. The Spectis 1.0 Touch Flicker Spectrometer is now equipped with additional electronics and a fast photodiode to measure flicker frequency, flicker index, and flicker ratio. Designed and developed in consultation with industry leaders and standards committees, this device provides all the measurement quantities required to accurately measure and understand flicker.

Friday, August 16, 2019

SXRTO Oscilloscopes Explained

Pico Technology has launched its latest 5 GHz SXRTO Sampler Extended Real Time Oscilloscope, but what is SXRTO. Learn more about the benefits and cost savings compared to Real Time Oscilloscopes, RTO below.

The real-time oscilloscope
Real-time oscilloscopes (RTOs) are designed with a high enough sampling rate to capture a transient, non-repetitive signal with the instrument’s specified analogue bandwidth. According to Nyquist’s sampling theorem, for accurate capture and display of the signal the scope’s sampling rate must be at least twice the signal bandwidth. Typical high-bandwidth RTOs exceed this sampling rate by perhaps a factor of two, achieving up to four samples per cycle, or three samples in a minimum-width impulse.

Equivalent-time sampling
For signals close to or above the RTO’s Nyquist limit, many RTOs can switch to a mode called equivalent-time sampling (ETS). In this mode the scope collects as many samples as it can for each of many trigger events, each trigger contributing more and more samples and detail in a reconstructed waveform. Critical to alignment of these samples is a separate and precise measurement of time between each trigger and the next occurring sample clock.
After a large number of trigger events the scope has enough samples to display the waveform with the desired time resolution. This is called the effective sampling resolution (the inverse of the effective sampling rate), which is many times higher than is possible in real-time (non-ETS) mode.
As this technique relies on a random relationship between trigger events and the sampling clock, it is more correctly called random equivalent-time sampling (or sometimes random interleaved sampling, RIS). It can only be used for repetitive signals – those that vary little from one trigger event to the next.

The sampler-extended real-time oscilloscope (SXRTO)
The PicoScope 9404 SXRTO has a maximum effective sampling rate in ETS of 1 TS/s. This corresponds to a timing resolution of 1ps, 2000 times higher than its actual maximum sampling rate.
The PicoScope 9404-05 SXRTO has an analogue bandwidth of 5 GHz. This means that it requires a sampling rate of at least 10 GS/s, but for an accurate reconstruction of wave shape, we need far higher than this. The PicoScope 9404 gives us 200 sample points in a single cycle at 5 GHz and 140 points in a minimum-width impulse.

So is the SXRTO a sampling scope?
No. The name sampling scope, by convention, refers to a different kind of instrument. A sampling scope uses a programmable delay generator to take samples at regular intervals after each trigger event. The technique is called sequential equivalent-time sampling and is the principle behind the PicoScope 9300 Series sampling scopes. These scopes can achieve very high effective sampling rates but have two main drawbacks: they cannot capture data before the trigger event, and they require a separate trigger signal – either from an external source or from a built-in clock-recovery module.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Latest Newsletter Is Out: "Focus on RT SpecAns"

Spectrum analyzers measure the magnitude of an input signal over a specified frequency range, displaying signal frequency, power, distortion, harmonics, etc. - parameters that are not easily available with time domain waveforms. Standard spectrum analyzers sweep a limited frequency band receiver over the range of the instrument, but this means that intermittent or frequency-hopping signals will be missed or incorrectly reported. Real-time analyzers don't have that limitation since they use overlapping FFTs to view the whole spectrum range at the same time. Real-time techniques simplify spectrum monitoring to quickly capture, identify, and analyze complex RF environments containing frequency hopping signals, channel conflicts and spectrum interference.