Tektronix announces mixed domain oscilloscope

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - August 31, 2011

Tektronix has introduced what it said is the world’s first mixed domain oscilloscope with the functionality of an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer in a single instrument.

Tektronix has introduced what it said is the world’s first mixed domain oscilloscope (MDO) with the functionality of an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer in a single instrument. The MDO4000 Mixed domain oscilloscope series gives the ability to capture time-correlated analog, digital and RF signals for a complete system view, helping quickly solve complicated design issues.  

More than 60 percent of oscilloscope users also use a spectrum analyzer to troubleshoot embedded system designs with integrated wireless functionalit to work in both the time and frequency domain. The MDO4000 series is the first oscilloscope ever to integrate the functionality of a spectrum analyzer to provide a unique toolset which will save days or even weeks of debug time.

“We believe that the MDO4000 Series is the most revolutionary product to hit the oscilloscope market in the last 20 years, for the first time breaking down the barrier between time and frequency domains. It fundamentally changes what’s involved in debugging designs with RF where there is a need to correlate events in the frequency domain with the time domain phenomena that caused them. Just as the mixed signal oscilloscope (MSO) is the standard for embedded design test, we expect the MDO will become the new standard for designs that increasingly include RF capabilities," said Roy Siegel, general manager, Oscilloscopes at Tektronix.

“The complexity of debugging issues in modern wireless systems, combined with the lack of equipment designed for the task has forced us to spend many hours focusing on the test setup rather than the design issue itself,” said Ward Ramsdell, Electrical Engineer and Owner of Prototype Engineering.


Mixed Domain Oscilloscope Advantages

With the MDO4000, engineers can replace both a scope and spectrum analyzer with a single instrument. This enables them to continue using their tool of choice, the oscilloscope, to look at the frequency domain rather than having to find and relearn a spectrum analyzer.   

And the MDO4000 goes well beyond typical spectrum analyzer functionality by allowing users to capture time-correlated analog, digital and RF signals across 4 analog, 16 digital and 1 RF channel.  The RF input frequency range extends up to 6 GHz and provides a capture bandwidth of ≥ 1 GHz at all center frequencies, 100 times wider than typical spectrum analyzers.  Users can even see up to 4 decoded serial and/or parallel buses at one time on the same display.  

In another industry first, the MDO4000 allows designers to see the RF spectrum of a signal at any point in time within a long acquisition to see how the spectrum changes over time or with device state.  By simply moving the unique and patent pending Spectrum Time throughout the time domain acquisition, designers can see the RF spectrum for any point in their acquisition while simultaneously seeing their analog, digital and/or decoded buses at the same point in time.

Similarly, RF time domain traces are used to show how the amplitude, frequency or phase of the RF input signal changes relative to time. This makes it easy to characterize frequency hop transitions, settling times, and RF event timing relative to other system components and activities. The RF time domain traces are shown in the same window as the analog, digital and serial/parallel bus decoded waveforms, providing instant insight into device operation.

In addition to the standard RF power level trigger, an optional module (MDO4TRIG) allows additional trigger types to use the RF power level as a source, enabling customers to further isolate an RF event of interest.  


Application examples for the MDO series include:
System-level debug of wireless-enabled designs

1.  Debugging integration of common wireless modules below 6 GHz (WLAN, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.)

2.  Debugging common ‘home grown’ amplitude, frequency, or phase modulated wireless communications

3. Wideband analysis of dual band transceivers.  For example, capturing both Zigbee at 900 MHz and Bluetooth at 2.4 GHz in a single acquisition.

Timing analysis for mixed domain designs

1.  Observing spectrum changes over time during turn on of VCO/PLLs

2.  Easily measure time to stability when turning on or off RF signals

3. Easily determine latencies from control logic signals or serial bus commands to resultant RF changes

Tracking down sources of noise or interference

1.    Analyzing root cause of radiated or coupled emissions

2.    Measuring switch-mode power supply effects on the rest of the system

3.    Correlation with time domain signals enables root cause analysis of spurious noise sources



The MDO4000 Series oscilloscopes will be available globally beginning now with pricing starts at Rs 1,230,000.

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