Test & Measurement

Test and measurement equipment underpins the product design process, enabling engineers to verify their design is working in the way they want. If not, these essential devices help them to find out where the problems lie.

In this section, New Electronics keeps design engineers up to date with the Test and Measurement market, bringing a range of information about the products and their application.

Real world sensors and Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… the Star Wars universe introduced millions of science fiction fans to an epic saga that had many anxiously anticipating the release of the next instalment late last year. Being an engineer, I can’t help but think back to the original movies and the ideas created within them that are now a reality today. Lightsabers, unfortunately, we can still only imagine, but just focusing on “droids”, it’s remarkable where we are today.

Why treat EMC and environmental compliance separately?

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and environmental tests are often treated separately, so it is not unusual for products to be sent for assessment at different times; EMC testing is usually done first, with environmental testing following on much later. As a consequence, the effect of environmental degradation on EMC performance tends not to be routinely addressed and, very often, such testing is carried out in benign conditions that fail to represent real-world use.

Key attributes to consider when choosing high bandwidth probes

High speed digital applications are pushing probing solutions to the limit. As system bandwidth increases, the edge speed of the signal gets faster, the size of the chipsets and components becomes smaller and PCB layout becomes more complex. These trends challenge probing solutions and the higher the performance, the more care is needed in selecting probes.

A more strategic approach to purchasing or renting test equipment

The market for technology is changing fast with digital processor speeds and data rates continually increasing, new frequencies opening up fresh options for developers, while across the wireless space new standards and regulations are continually being introduced; continuous improvements in analogue performance also have to be taken into account. "R&D teams, by their very nature, will be working at or beyond the leading edge in one or more of these domains," suggests George Acris, Head of Business Development (Europe) at Microlease, a company that specialises in the rental market for test equipment. "Test is key to their work and providing them with the right, up to date, equipment is a great challenge."

How plateauing clock speeds and increased data rates are changing test and measurement

A large misconception is that test data is purely pass/fail, but in reality this could not be further from the truth. The approach of traditional, fixed-functionality instruments is to send only the results back to the host PC of a test system. This results in much of the signal processing being hidden from the user within the box of the instrumentation. The speed of this signal processing is determined by the speed of the processor on board the instrument.

Verification of RF performance using simple tools and test setups

Buzzwords like Industry 4.0, the IoT, Mobile Computing, and Cloud Computing can be found in many headlines in magazines. The common theme throughout is the development and rapid expansion of modern communication technologies rooted in RF communication. Wireless connectivity is everywhere you look: in the warehouse, the office, the car, at home, at sporting events, and in medical technology.

How can test and measurement companies address the needs of the life sciences sector?

With rapidly ageing populations, the rise of lifestyle diseases and advances in medical technology, the life sciences sector is experiencing what is being described by many as a period of significant transformation. Changes are affecting the clinical, regulatory and business environments, which means that pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies have to adapt the way in which they conduct their research.

The test requirements for assessing VoLTE call quality

The wireless industry is making significant investments to implement Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in 4G LTE networks. Alongside the need to at least match the audio quality of 2G or 3G legacy networks, it is important to ensure that a VoLTE call consumes a comparable amount of power.

Smart traffic systems help ease congestion

It is unlikely to be of much comfort when you're next in a traffic jam to know there is a plethora of traffic monitoring and management technologies out there trying to detect the build up of traffic and help you on your way.

After 50 years of instrumentation development, is it time for a rethink?

As consumer electronics devices get smarter, their applications are migrating from the personal to the work environment. Using laptops – the same laptop – at home and in the place of work (and all points in between) is a fact of life. But are smart phones and tablets taking this to a level that could change the way in which engineers interact with their working world? Not only will people expect to control their heating, TVs and entertainment, cooking et al with their consumer devices, they will also expect to do this at work as well.

How do T&M companies validate the performance of their products?

Boundaries are there to be pushed. Designers, particularly in the communications sector, are pushing those boundaries aggressively by creating products that carry more data, run faster and use less power. Designing your product is one thing; testing it is another, so engineers turn to similarly leading edge products from test and measurement specialists. But how does a T&M company that has, for example, a 70GHz oscilloscope test that product? Who tests the tester?

Camera pill technology set to ease cancer diagnosis

Colonoscopies can be an uncomfortable procedure for patients who may already be worried about what the results may find. The process involves probing the large intestine with a tiny fibre optic camera, known as an endoscope, embedded in a 4ft long, flexible tube.

Embedding a single test solution

"There is this 'intersection' of software and hardware that needs to be controlled, essentially through a single interface. Not only an interface in terms of accessing the system, but also an interface for accessing things that a hardware engineer would want to know about, as well as access for software engineers as they do their development job." So says Larry Osborn, ASSET's product manager for Sourcepoint.

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