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Previous Front Pages

Category Focus

Instruments and
Test & Measurement

Traditional Instruments link
PXI, cPCI, VXI, LXI link
Smart Instruments link
Spectral Instruments link
Software link
Virtual Instruments link
GPIB interfacing link



Appliance Testers

DMM & Switches

Welcome to our Home Page

Before we look at our Monthly Category discussion, we would like to introduce Centec, a German company that may very well have products that will be useful to many NZ companies. Centec fits into both the product and advanced industrial solutions categories.

More next month on Centec

Also an apology for missing out some DAQ software companies last month. These other companies are on the bottom of the Logo Matrix above, namely Azeotech and DasyLab.

This month our Product Category focus is:-

Test Instruments
Software Configurable Instruments
Virtual Instruments from DAQ
DAQ in Test Systems
Test Software

We have also added
Non Programmable
Panel + Bench + Handheld Instruments

A total of 29 companies with a huge range of products.

Traditional Instruments

We don't have (Keysight) Agilent or Tek, but we do have Rigol, GW Instek, Atten, Array, Kinetic Systems and several more.

Almost all of these companies produce GPIB, Ethernet or USB Traditional Bench or Rack Instruments with Instrument drivers software.


Back in the late 80s and early 90s these newer technologies arose as a way to build chassis with many "Instruments on a Card" in a 19" racks.

The idea was that to have a bunch of Traditional instruments in a Test system was highly redundant, as they all had their own cases and chasiss, power supplies, very expensive user front panels with a load of mechanical or electrical controls and a display.

If all of this redundant stuff was removed, and only the instrument electronics was kept and mounted in a single PCB on a standard bus like PXI, huge savings in space, electricity, costs could be made and compact very specific test systems down into a multi slot 19' chassis.

"Instruments on a Card" in PXI format was Test Industry's answert.

The chassis would house multiple PXI Instruments on a Card and be linked to a Test Computer which would offer the user interface and the display to all the individual PXI Instrumentsd. By adding a screen or several screens on the PC, a composite compact Test instrument could be built, called a Test Set.

Well it sort of worked, but costs didn't come down but size of kit did and speed of tests went up, usually. So big gains for some types of tests.

So choosing between Traditional and Instruments on a cards is now an essential part of the design and specing stages for any Test.

Virtual Instruments with DAQ

This the lowest leave of Test Instrument and in many cases will suffice. Basically a DAQ product is used to collect analog or digital data and all the Instrument like features required are mimiced in software. It works well if it meets requirement and is very low cost.

Note NI and MCC both have software to turn low cost DAQ into Strip charts, Scopes, Function Generators etc with various levels of ability.

Smart Instruments

I would have expected heaps of these by now, that is using Smart Phones and Tablets to build instruments from.

Oscium were first with Spectral 2.4GHZ Instruments. A small plug in instrument front end is conected to the smart phone's USB port.

MCC and Eagle both have Bluetooth DAQ. NI is flirting with WiFi DAQ, but not instruments yet.

The difficulty it seems is in the software rather than the devices. Building virtual test instruments in a Smart Phone or a Tablet requires a lot of expertise.

Spectral Instruments

We have included Sheldon once again. Read their specs for DAQ and DSP. You can build very high end MHZ spectral instruments on PCi, PCIe or on the end of an Ethernet cable.

Software for Test

LabVIEW & Measurement Studio from NI.
Also, C, C++, C# tools

Most would use LabVIEW or Measurement Studio as a start point as they come with a huge array of instrument drivers for traditional and PXI/VXI instruments + DAQ

Non Programmable Instruments

It is very nice when you turn on a Test rig to see what the AC power level is and the DC rails being used are there, with out havingto start the computer and load software just to get some simple readings on the state of the rig.

Also, sometimes you may have to add a function to the test after it is built and adding a low cost bench, panel meter or instrument may do the trick, quickly without the need to program

Handheld Instruments

A good quality DMM or handheld scope, even sometimes calibrators are very useful to add into a Test system. It makes for quick verifications and trouble shooting around the rig when setting up and if there are issues.

USB DAQ for Test

In NZ we have noticed a trend that started back in about 2000, when many of our customer's Test Sites started migrating from PXI and GPIB Test Rigs and going to USB DAQ for Functional Test. This trend has accelerated over the years. It started with the large manufacturing companies first, as they reduced the cost of test. (Also read the next section on other ways for lowering test costs).

Recently a very good article was put up a site in Linkedin. Have a read. it discusses USB DAQ for Test now and into the future. link

NB. That if you are doing full spec RF testing especially then PXI or GPIB Test Instruments are required.

Embedded for Test

There is a growing group of Test engineers who are building Test systems using embedded technology, like Rabbit boards with ADC, DAC, DIO, Timers and Encoder and PWM ability all on one board. These can be Ethenetted, Wified to a PC for Control, DB and Report work.

The only downside is the software which is home spun using C usually. However if you are good at this and make reusable code, over the years it gets easier to build test rigs at a very low cost.

Opinion: If I was a Manager of a company's Test systems, I would be concerned to allow this practice to develop as it is very Test Engineer centric and if they leave or the team disbands, then the future can be very costly to recover.

Last points on Test

If you are including Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee in your devices, it is a very very good idea to by modules that are certified rather than spin your own with parts then go to the expense of certification.

MasTec has a broad range of Certified Wirless modules for embedding. This will solve many present and future issues.

Also do have a look at this link

LabVIEW Hints

LabVIEW Quick Drop ( have a go )

Here is the link, it may amaze you.

Also more on Quick Drop

Our Lead Instrument Company - GW Instek Interest

Superb Instruments - Rigol Interest

China's leading Instrument maker - Atten Interest

PXI Controllers, Chasiss adn Instruments - Adlink Interest

6.5 digit DMM, Power Supplies, FGs - Array Interest

DSP & DSP + DAQ Combos & FPGA + GPU Interest

Broad range of Low Cost Instruments - Applent Interest

AC and DC PSUs, DC Loads - Maynuo Interest

Filters - Frequency Devices Interest

Bench & Handheld Instrument - Omega Interest

Panel Meters - Jewell Interest

iOS Instruments - Oscium Interest

OEM GPIB Instrument PCBs - ICS Interest


New Instrument Company Interest

New Superb Rugged Tablet range - Aaeon Interest

At Last - DAQami version 1 release - MCC View


New PCI High Speed DAQ board -ICPDAS View

Instrumentation and Power Specials - Sale

Contact a MasTec Engineer

LabVIEW Development & Code Upgrading- Link

Contact a
MasTec Engineer

LabVIEW Training Courses - Link

Contact a MasTec Engineer


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GW Instek since 1975       #1 in Taiwan
GW's Brand and Focus
GW T&M Products      over 300 models
GW and LabVIEW
Rigol introduction
Rigol Spectrum Analysers
Rigol Scopes
Rigol Waveform Generators
Rigol DMM
Rigol DAQ     DC Power       RF Generators

Adlink PXI & PXIe
Adlink PXI controllers
Adlink PXI Chassis
Adlink PXI modukles
Adlink PXI Hybrid Slot conversion
Adlink PXIe explained     8GB/sec BW

Array today
Array Instruments
Array DMM & Switches
Array Power Supplies   Triple   Low Noise
Array DC Loads    High Voltage& Current
Array Universal6 GHZ Counter   Arb Gen 50MHZ

About Sheldon
Sheldon DSP & DAQ (up to 250MHZ)
Sheldon LabVIEW and VB tools & CC Studio
Sheldon FPGA Huge
Sheldon FPGA and GPU new
Sheldon Custom ODM OEM

About Maynuo
Maynuo DC Power supplies    High Power
Maynuo DC Loads   LED    High Power
Maynuo AC Loads
Maynuo 4 Quadrant multifunction Power Supply
Maynuo Test Systems purpose built

About Frequency Devices
Freq Dev PXI/cPCI Filters
Freq Dev Bench Filters

Jewell Test Instruments
Jewell Digital Panel Meters
Jewell Analog Panel Meters

ICS GPIB Devices for Test
ICS GPIB Software and more
ICS all products

Twintex Company
Twintex Products
Twintex New Releases
Twintex Accessories for Test
Twintex Low Cost Meters +
Twintex AC Power Supplies 3 Phase   1 Phase

NI's New Software Configurable Instruments
Digi interesting M2M and Cloud news
Vartech Selead 24" Computer and LCD
Maestro Wireless Concurrent GNSS Module
Maestro 3G Router ++++
AAeon Compact Embedded Atom™ Controller
Do you need an OEM Cable Supply?

110 VAC Power Specials - Sale

Contact a MasTec Engineer

Consulting & Product Design - Link

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MasTec Engineer

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