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Behind the Scenes: Tek Engineers Describe the Making of the 6 Series B Oscilloscope

The brand new 6 Series B MSO oscilloscope is out, setting new standards for performance, noise and accuracy in the test and measurement industry. Launched in extraordinary times, the 6 Series B MSO has been a labor of love for many of our engineers, who found new ways to collaborate and innovate solutions under the impact of a quarantine.

As engineers themselves, Tektronix developers are constantly aware of our customers uniquely high standards for quality. "We work to help other engineers in their work," says senior hardware engineer Devin Bingham. "I know that our scopes are going to be tested and scrutinized, and that really motivates me to do a good job, to get it done right."

 

Mechanical design engineer Jessica Dunn says that exacting expectation from customers motivates similar standards when developing such a new oscilloscope. “Quality, accuracy, and precision are paramount to the design of our products,” Dunn says. “Attention to detail is vital.”

The engineering team says they are most proud of the low noise performance of the new 6 Series B. “The low noise is a function of the very low noise preamp (Tek061) which has industry-leading noise performance at high gain settings, and interleaving the channel up to 50GS/s which reduces the digitizer noise floor—thus significantly improving noise at lower gain settings,” says principal hardware engineer Bart Hickman. “A carefully architected system of hardware and software DSP filters allows us to get the best noise performance at different bandwidth and sample-rate settings.”

Product manager Mark Briscoe says the new scope is setting new standards in the industry. “The original 6 Series was already world-class in terms of noise. Now the 6 Series B is industry-leading across the board,” he says.

Another key improvement in the 6 Series B turned out to be one of the biggest challenges in the design phase. “The most significant obstacle in this product was not just the increased bandwidth but actually the increased channel count. It required quite a lot of collaboration between the hardware and software teams to really maximize the potential of the scope,” says Devin Bingham, hardware engineering manager. With 5 GHz bandwidth available on up to 8 channels at once, engineers will be able to analyze more signals at once and decrease test time for their designs.

To make all of these technological advances would have been an engineering feat in any year, but the Tektronix team did it amid a global pandemic, under quarantine and in compliance with social distance requirements. “Developing the product from home during quarantine was rather challenging for me,” Devin says. “I’m a hardware designer so a lot of the time I need to have my hands on the products and various synthesizers and other stimulus sources. I spent a lot of time hauling gear and scopes from my house to the lab and back again.”

Evan a Tektronix engineer who developed the new 6 Series B Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 

To software design engineer Evan Belt, working under these conditions was unlike anything he’s ever done and created ways to solve challenges the team had never faced. “Working from a nearly empty office felt very strange to me. But we did find that if we had one person in the office then they can enable an entire team to work remotely,” Evan says.

In the end, the team did what engineers do best—they found creative solutions for every obstacle and delivered a final product they were deeply proud of.

“To all the engineers who use the 6B scopes: thank you,” says Evan. “We worked very hard to bring you something that we’re proud of, and we hope that you are just as excited to use these scopes as we were to make them.”

Check out the 6 Series B MSO product page to learn more about the features and improvements that make it one of our new favorite members of the Tek scope family.

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