Archive for Equipment Review

Tektronix MDO4104C-6 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope (MDO4000C) Review, Teardown and Experiments

In this episode Shahriar performs a full review on the Tektronix MDO4000C series mixed domain oscilloscope, particularly model MDO4104C-6. The MDO4000C combines up to six instruments including a function generator and a built-in spectrum analyzer. Unlike any other instrument, it can synchronize RF, analog and digital channels. These correlated measurements provide insight into difficult to find problems particularly intermittent events.

This review begins with a comparison between the MDO4000B and MDO4000C instruments. The full review of the MDO4000B can be viewed here. All experiments demonstrated in the MDO4000B review are also relevant to the MDO4000C instrument.

The teardown of the instrument reveals a multi-board construction where the ADCs, FPGAs, application processor and memory are on the main system board. A complete analysis of the entire system is presented including the operation of the RF module.

In order to demonstrate the instrument’s capabilities, an encrypted frequency hopping transmitter system is analyzed. The system exhibits various problems such as high BER, low SFDR, poor phase-noise and EVM. The MDO4000C is used to perform advanced measurements across analog, digital and RF domain to track and resolve these problem. The complete block diagram of the experiment can be found here.

Keysight N7020A 2.0GHz Power Rail Probe Review, Teardown and Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the Keysight N7020A 2.0GHz Power Rail Probe. This power rail probe boasts the following features:

  • Low noise: 1:1 attenuation ratio probe adds only 10% to the baseline noise of the oscilloscope it is attached to.
  • Large offset range: Has a large +/-24 V offset range, enabling users to set their oscilloscope at maximum sensitivity and have the signal centered on the screen.
  • Low DC loading: 50 kΩ DC input impedance will not significantly load DC power rails.
  • Large active signal range: Has a +/-850 mV active signal range in addition to its large offset range so users can measure large transitions of their power rails.
  • High bandwidth: 2-GHz bandwidth makes it very useful for finding high-speed transients that can have detrimental effects on clocks and digital data.

After a brief presentation about the benefits of the N7020A, the probe and probe accessories are examined. The probe’s capability to provide up to +/-24V of offset is demonstrated and the input impedance at DC is measured. The probe is then used in conjunction with a Xilinx FPGA board to characterize a broadband power supply noise issue.

Tektronix TSG4106A RF Signal / Vector Generator Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar presents a detailed review of the new Tektronix TSG4106A RF Signal / Vector Generator. The key features are:

  • True DC to 2 GHz, 4 GHz or 6 GHz to support both analog and vector/digital signal generation.
  • Typical ≤±0.30 dB amplitude accuracy (0 dBm CW signal at 22 ºC) from 10 MHz to 6 GHz.
  • I/Q modulation inputs (400 MHz RF bandwidth).
  • ASK, FSK, MSK, PSK, QAM, VSB, and custom I/Q.

A complete teardown of the unit is presented along with an explanation of various functions, components and sub-systems. The basic unit performance is verified using a Keysight EXA Signal Analyzer. The TSG4106A is then used to along with an Analog Devices I/Q de-modulator whose output is examined for performance verification.

FLIR MR160 Thermal Imaging & Moisture Meter Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar takes a close look at the FLIR MR160 Thermal Imaging and Moisture Meter. Featuring Infrared Guided Measurement (IGM) technology powered by a FLIR Lepton® thermal imaging sensor, MR160 helps you quickly see temperature patterns that point to potential hidden moisture so you know right where to place the meter probe to capture accurate readings.

After an overview of the camera functions a full teardown of the instrument is presented. The FLIR MR160 is based on a single PIC32 processor with built-in capacitance measurement capability. The MR160 is then used to detect a moisture spot on a floor tiling. The presence of moisture is then verified with both the pin-less and pin-based moisture measurement capability of the MR160. Finally, the MR160 is also used to measure temperature variation across a bank of resistors.

Keysight EXA Signal Analyzer / Spectrum Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the Keysight EXA Signal Analyzer / Spectrum Analyzer (N9010A). The X-Series Signal Analyzers and Spectrum Analyzers from Keysight are compared against each other. The EXA is a general purpose spectrum analyzer with extensive applications.

The full instrument block diagram is presented with focus on various signal paths and frequency planning. Several of internal modules (RF Front-End, Digital Baseband Processor and LO Synthesizer) are also presented and compared with the block diagram. In order to examine the instrument’s capabilities in a real-world situation, a complete superheterodyne wireless transceiver with a sliding-IF receiver is designed and examined. Each component in the system (LNA, mixer, PLL, etc.) is individually characterized by using the EXA Signal Analyzer. The complete system measurements are also presented.

Various chapters in the video can be found at the following time marks:

  • Introduction (0:08)
  • X-Series model comparison (0:50)
  • EXA block diagrams and principle of operation (4:27)
  • Various board teardown and examination (20:39)
  • Instrument front/back panel overview (37:05)
  • Wireless experiment setup description (43:22)
  • Doubler characterization with EXG as the tracking generator (45:31)
  • LNA and mixer gain and NF by using Noise Figure personality (57:31)
  • Signal-Hound VSG25A I/Q modulator characterization, OBW, ACPR, TOI (1:08:57)
  • PLL characterization with Phase Noise personality (1:19:49)
  • Full transmitter measurement with Keysight VSA (1:26:08)
  • Full wireless link characterization with Keysight VSA (1:30:28)
  • Concluding remarks (1:37:21)

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