Innovation often happens when it is least expected. In the case of Tektronix’s 2 Series Mixed Signal Oscilloscope (MSO), the company uncovered a number of unexpected customer wants and needs during the development process—with some of the most valuable insights resulting from pandemic-related hurdles, which is something no one expected.
“With a development process that is customer obsessed, the sudden switch to remote work was challenging, particularly in the prototyping process when a customer’s ability to see and touch prototypes is essential to getting actionable feedback,” explains Chuan-Shin Tan, Regional Marketing Manager, Taiwan & ASEAN, at Tektronix. “So, we got creative and met with engineers outside–in parking lots, at racetracks, in warehouses, or anywhere they could meet safely.”
According to Tan, the product design feedback gathered under these less-than-ideal conditions allowed the customers and the Tektronix team to mimic real world scenarios.
“One challenge that engineers chronically face is the need to test and measure both in the lab and in the field,” says Tan. “This often requires using at least two different oscilloscopes with two sets of capabilities that may not integrate with one another.”
To address this, Tan says their team met engineers in the field, empathized with their pain point, and incorporated benchtop features into the light, portable 2 Series MSO, designing the oscilloscope so engineers could test and measure whatever they want from wherever they want without sacrificing functionality.
Reimagining test and measurement
Tan says the 2 Series MSO reimagines what is possible in test and measurement.
“The new 2 Series MSO moves seamlessly from the bench to the field and back, enabling workflows previously unimagined on an oscilloscope,” he says. “It is the first portable oscilloscope to offer benchtop performance and the award-winning Tektronix user interface. Weighing less than two kilograms and measuring 40mm thin, the 2 Series MSO can fit into a small backpack, delivering unmatched performance and portability.”
In developing the 2 Series MSO over the past three years, Tektronix partnered with more than 100 customers at 40 organizations across various industries. This enabled the company to unlock key insights and identify the big problems that users face.
“Engineers wanted to be able to test and measure whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, without the need to choose between performance and portability,” says Tan.
With the 2 Series MSO, engineers can achieve things not possible on previous oscilloscopes. The easy-to-use 10.1in touchscreen display makes working-on-the-go easier and faster. The built-in capabilities of the optional Arbitrary Function Generator (AFG), pattern generator, digital channels, voltmeter, and frequency counter mean users have versatility built into one instrument—increasing what they can do while reducing the number of instruments to carry or purchase. With up to eight hours of battery power, engineers will also discover a new level of freedom on the job.
These features are among the key qualities that made the 2 Series MSO a recipient of the Best Test & Measurement of the Year award at EE Awards Asia 2022.
Now in its second year, EE Awards Asia celebrates the innovation, creativity, and contributions of Asia’s engineering community that have made a difference in the way we work, live, and communicate over the past year.
“We are extremely humbled and honored to receive this award, which gives us stronger motivation and conviction to continue to work on usable test and measurement tools for the engineering community,” says Tan. “I would also like to convey my thanks to the whole team who worked tirelessly over the pandemic and the customers who worked with us on the development of 2 Series MSO.”
The 2 Series MSO joins the strong line-up of other Tektronix oscilloscopes with the award-winning user experience also found on the 3, 4, 5, and 6 Series oscilloscopes. This makes it easier for engineers to work effortlessly across these Tektronix products, while the easy-to-use experience means engineers can do more in less time.
According to Tan, they are observing two key evolutions: one in the power electronics segment and the other in the adoption of next generation communications technologies.
“Power and green energy evolution are in full swing in multiple industries and market segments. Advances in wide bandgap semiconductor technology like silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) are enabling the development of a clean, renewable, and reliable energy ecosystem while creating new challenges for engineers,” he says.
Tan adds that minimizing switch losses continues to be a major challenge for power-device engineers.
“These designs must be rigorously measured to ensure compliance. One key measurement technique is called the double pulse test (DPT), which is the standard method for measuring the switching parameters of MOSFETs or IGBT power devices,” says Tan. “Advances in our suite of test and measurement tools such as arbitrary function generators (AFGs), oscilloscopes, source-measure-unit (SMU) instruments, and parametric analyzers are helping power design engineers obtain more robust results more quickly. These updated equipment helps them meet daily challenges.”
In the communications segment, the PCI-SIG has continued to execute on the aggressive goal to double data rates with each successive generation of the PCIe standard since the first generation was released in 2003. While these radical data rate increases have positively affected the high-speed I/O (HSIO) device industry—primarily in PC components, data centers, and most recently, automobiles—the time it takes to evaluate new PCIe device designs is becoming more of a bottleneck for development.
Test tools such as bit error rate testers (BERTs) and oscilloscopes continue to evolve to meet the performance requirements of each new generation, but reductions in testing times have not been at the forefront of improvements in these performance tools.
Earlier in February, Tektronix delivered the industry-first PCI-Express 6.0 Test Solution. This was enhanced in September with the powerful Rx solution, providing the fastest calibration for engineers to complete their validation faster than ever before.
“Following our technology leadership, in October this year, Tektronix introduced the industry’s first dedicated Transmit/Receive (Tx/Rx) lane margining tool. The Tektronix TMT4 allows you to easily assess the link health of your PCIe generation 3 and 4 designs in minutes, not days,” says Tan. “Acting as an active link partner with the device under test (DUT), the instrument can control presets via protocol and quickly display eye diagrams with their associated link training parameters, providing insights into potential design flaws on a lane-by-lane or preset-by-preset basis.”
Tektronix continues to work with engineers around the globe every day in making advances in the next generation of power electronics and communications engineering.
“This is what we have been doing, for over 75 years, to break through the walls of complexity and accelerate global innovation,” concludes Tan.
Stephen Las Marias is the editor of EETimes Asia. He can be reached at [email protected].