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Bringing Portability and Power to the Automotive Industry with the 2 Series MSO

Editors note: This 3-part series of posts discusses the role of oscilloscopes in the automotive industry. Here’s the lineup:
Part 1: Bringing Portability and Power to the Automotive Industry with the 2 Series MSO
Part 2: Automotive Customers Find Improved Access and Collaboration in 2 Series MSO Remote Capabilities
Part 3: Debugging Automotive Serial Buses with the 2 Series Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

The modern automotive industry moves quickly, and automotive engineers and technicians need the right tools at their fingertips to identify issues quickly and easily. There are many diagnostic tools that analyze the performance of different vehicle systems on any given day, but these instruments almost always include an automotive oscilloscope, which displays different voltages and helps automotive technicians troubleshoot various electrical components under the hood.

Oscilloscopes were first used in the automotive industry in the 1970s for ignition system analysis. Since then, the oscilloscope has grown to become an important tool in any workshop, one that is used today to troubleshoot sensors and alternators, perform pressure tests and much more. Today’s demand for increasingly advanced vehicles means that the complexity of vehicle systems will only grow, making high-end, purpose-built oscilloscopes even more essential.

Seeing the growing need for a more advanced tool across many industries, Tektronix recently unveiled the 2 Series Mixed Signal Oscilloscope (MSO), its most compact and portable oscilloscope to date. The 2 Series MSO combines bench-level performance in a portable scope to help unlock new user experiences and make field debug accessible, precise and repeatable.

This blog, the first of three focused on 2 Series MSO features for automotive customers, will look at the portability of the new 2 Series MSO and the many ways the scope’s improved manageability will improve the testing experience for automotive customers.

Taking Oscilloscopes on the Road

While oscilloscopes have been a daily necessity for many automotive experts, that doesn’t mean that the process of using them has always been easy. Oscilloscopes are powerful test and measurement instruments that have traditionally been meant for use mainly from a stationary engineering bench. This can make performing some diagnostic tests very difficult—or even impossible—because achieving the necessary readings often requires that the car is being driven in the field, with the oscilloscope attached. Take the following example from a major original equipment manufacturer (OEM) based in Europe:

The Problem: Company engineers working on the electrification of vehicles were analyzing test vehicles using a traditional bench oscilloscope. The scope was serving their needs while working in the lab but was larger and heavier than was safe to keep in the field. They also needed to be able to actively use the oscilloscope while the car was driving, and the low-power inverter in the test vehicles barely had enough capacity to keep the device working, which made it quite difficult to achieve the necessary readings. 

Testing a race car with battery enabled oscilloscope

The Solution: Tektronix lent this OEM the 2 Series MSO under NDA, and the company’s engineers put it to use in the field right away. The difference in size, weight and ease of use was obvious, with engineers now able to safely place the oscilloscope right next to them in the front seat. Engineers loved that it could be battery-operated for up to eight hours, making it possible to keep the oscilloscope powered while simultaneously logging vital test data.

The portability of the 2 Series MSO is just one in a long list of key features that will have a positive impact on the automotive industry and beyond. Next up in our series, we will focus on the remote control features of the new oscilloscope and how TekScope and TekDrive software can take customers into elevated areas of collaboration and productivity.

Visit our product page to get more details on the new 2 Series MSO and learn about how a more compact and portable oscilloscope might benefit your business.