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.

The latest trends in test and measurement

Buying an instrument used to be straightforward, in as much you specified what you wanted and then found equipment to meet that specification. Obviously, this defines the limitations of what that instrument can be used for, but T&M companies over more recent years have introduced ways to make their instruments both more affordable and more flexible.

Software tools set to play a more critical role in system design

More projects with greater complexity mean embedded design teams need to be more efficient and this is influencing their choice of technology. Evidence is provided by mobile phones: 10 years ago, devices featured a wireless module and one processor, today, smartphones have various interfaces and a number of processors in order to execute a multitude of applications. Cars are even more complex, with as many as 100 processors per vehicle, and a similar trend is followed in industrial applications, where electronic systems and machines feature a wealth of control and monitoring systems.

North American Eagle bids to become the fastest land vehicle

For a brief period in 1964, when the rules governing land speed records were transitioning from wheel powered to jet propelled vehicles, the official land speed record was held by Donald Campbell in his Bluebird – and this was set in Australia. That apart, the record has been set for the past 80 years in America, principally at the Bonneville Salt Flats or, more recently, at the Black Rock Desert.

Nanotechnology prepares to hit the mainstream

Dr Sian Fogden was a researcher at Imperial College, studying nanotubes for her PhD, when Linde Electronics became interested in her work. Now Linde Nanomaterials, part of Linde Electronics, is pursuing this line of work in California with Dr Fogden at the helm. The resulting product, a nanotube ink, was launched at NT13 – the international nanotube conference held in Helsinki in the closing days of June 2013.

Understanding oscilloscope waveform thickness attributes

Oscilloscope waveforms show real world electronic signals. How well the scope displays those waveforms determines its performance. Assuming two scopes have adequate base specifications – like bandwidth, sample rate and frequency response – does the better scope show thin or fat waveforms? Like most engineering questions, the answer is 'it depends'.

Industry trends conspire to make power analysis an important consideration for designers

As a rule, test and measurement companies need to be at the forefront of technology – their products need to be at least as capable as the equipment which they are being used to design. However, until recently, it seems that the traditional heavy hitters in T&M were happy to leave power analysis to the specialists in the field – notably Yokogawa, which claims to represent more than half of the market.

New system offers solution to No Fault Found

The problem rejoices under the catch-all of NFF – No Fault Found – and covers intermittent faults that cannot be traced when the serious business of looking for them starts. Other names for the problem include 'Cannot Duplicate' or 'Cannot Reproduce Fault' or even 'No Trouble Found'. Whatever the name, it is a problem that affects operation and maintenance in every type of electronics equipment, and it also has an impact on design engineers.

Automating oscilloscopes: how to save time and make better measurements

Oscilloscope measurement automation has become imperative for timely and accurate debug and validation. In many cases, the number and complexity of tests demanded by a technology standard or application prohibit any attempt at manual measurements. For example, the DisplayPort compliance tests require 312 different test conditions at eight waveform locations – 2496 unique measurements! An automated oscilloscope can complete these measurements in a few hours, where manual measurement will require multiple man days.

Test equipment helps embedded system designers debug their rf connectivity

It wasn't too long ago that wireless communication was only available using devices designed solely for that purpose; walkie-talkies and the like. But over the last few years, wireless communication has found its way into all manner of products. Today, providing the ability for a product to communicate via Wi-Fi, gsm or other rf technologies is almost expected. What might once have been pretty much a digital design is now more complex – and the tools needed to design and test these products have had to adapt to new demands.

Smart metering needs smarter test

In the next few years, homes and business across the UK will receive a Smart Meter: a device that will provide detailed information on how energy is being used, helping to reduce consumption, bills and their carbon footprint. The rollout of smart meters is also a major step towards realising the Smart Grid and utility companies are racing to update systems and infrastructure to deliver this massive change to electricity, water and gas metering and billing.

A holistic approach: Equipment rental brings flexibility to design engineers

While a lot of companies invest in equipment which meets their day to day test and measurement needs, every now and then they need something more sophisticated and more expensive. In austere financial times, management has to keep expenditure under control without compromising on product quality, so the balance is shifting in how companies acquire equipment. Equipment rental companies, such as Microlease and Livingston, offer full solutions that reflect a holistic approach to this dilemma.

Testing efficiently an increasing challenge for design engineers

When thinking about product testing, most people focus on the area of most interest to them. A software engineer might want to test firmware before a new release, whilst a compliance engineer might want to examine the regulatory hurdles to a product release in a target country. It could be argued that it is important to have an overall picture of the entire gamut of test areas as they become more interdependent.

Modular instrumentation set to meet new test challenges

The world of test and measurement is changing; slowly for some, but at a rapid clip for other users. This change is seeing users moving away from traditional instrumentation in favour of modular devices. It is, in the opinion of some companies, the end of the so called 'rack and stack' era – and it's all being driven by the benefits derived from Moore's Law.

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