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Tek's new 4-channel portable scopes take to lab or field

Posted: 20 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fluke? scopemeter 120? scopemeter 190b/c series? Tektronix? tps2000 series?

Mention industrial-oriented oscilloscopes and I immediately think of Fluke's ScopeMeter 120 or ScopeMeter 190B/C series battery-powered products. The ScopeMeter 120s are multi-function dual-input handhelds, with built-in multimeters and long-term (deep memory) recording. Fluke offers versions with bandwidths out to 200MHz.

Fluke's 190B/C series scopes are more akin to Tektronix's new TPS2000 Series Digital Storage Oscilloscopes (DSOs). Fluke's top of the pack 199C, for example, offers a bandwidth of 200MHz and a realtime sampling rate spec of 2.5Gsps.

The new TPS2000s now match, and in some cases, eclipse Fluke's portables. Indeed, Tek's scopes are arguably industry-first instruments able to make power-specific measurements on four isolated channels simultaneously.

The new scopes also give users the usual oscilloscope front panel, but with totally independent knobs and buttons for each channel. Unlike Fluke's ergonomically designed handheld scopes, Tek's look more like conventional bench instrumentsbut thinner, and much smaller than most.

The TPS2000s also offer Autoset menus for waveform selection. Those, plus the easy-to-get-used-to backlit knobs, ensure fast isolation of events of interest, and the ability to leverage a host of triggering options, including triggers to lock unto signals in mixed-signal environments.

Customers can also use these boxes to perform device characterization using automatic measurement. Automatic waveform measurements include those for a signal's period, frequency, +/-width, rise- and fall-times, max/min, peak-to-peak, and mean values, to name a few.

Frequency-domain analysis

A standard feature on all of Tek's TPS2000 scopes (and only included on Fluke's 190C model) is the ability to do an FFT (fast Fourier transform) on waveforms, so that users can look at signals in the frequency domain. That can help reveal signal interference, crosstalk and the effects of vibration.

Finally, while Fluke's 190B/C scopes give you a 4h NiMH battery pack, the TPS2000s support eight hours of continuous run time. However, users can readily hot-swap Tek's environmentally friendly Li-ion battery packs for even more field deployment away from the AC mains, if need be.

PC flexibility

Tek's new auto-ranging scopes also come in a range of models that might more nearly fit user budget and application requirements than those of its competitors. They are also PC-compatible (as are Fluke's). As such, they're equipped with both RS-232 serial and Centronics-type parallel ports. The latter lets one of these scopes talk to just about any type of printer, including Bubble Jet, DPU-411, DPU-412, DPU-3445, Thinkjet, Deskjet, LaserJet, Epson Dot (9- or 24-pin), Epson C60, and Epson C80 models.

These scopes also include built-in flash-based "drives" for data and waveform storage. Using the CF (CompactFlash) format plug-ins, customers can store two 2,500-point reference waveforms, or 96 or more reference waveforms/8MB. Users can also store 4,000 or more front panel setups/8MB. Similarly, 128 or more screen images (depending on file format), or combos of set-ups and images can be saved.

Finally, because of their PC compatibility, the TPS2000 scopes support a variety of common PC graphics file formats, including TIFF, PCX (PC PaintBrush), BMP (Microsoft Windows), EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) and RLE types.

Spiffy LCDs

Like Fluke's color-LCD wares, Tek's battery-powered scopes tout high sampling rates and spiffy 1/4-VGA color displays. The TPS2012, for example, is a dual-channel 100MHz scope with a 1Gsps rate (it sells for less than $3,000), but the TPS2024 version, which is a 4-channel 200MHz instrument, features a fast 2Gsps sampling rate and a wide 200MHz bandwidth spec (it costs about $3,800). Its timebase spans can be set as fast as 2.5ns/division (and as slow as 50s/division).

In between, Tek is offering its TPS2014, which is also a 4-channel scope. However, it's a 100MHz box with a 1Gsps sampling rate. It's priced at less than about $3,400.

Simultaneously acquisition

Regardless of which instrument users might choose, Tek equips these scopes with what it calls Digital Real-Time Sampling Technology (DRT). Thanks to DRT, consumers can simultaneously acquire signals on as many as four channels, while enjoying up to the 2Gsps realtime sample rate.

That will let users characterize signals with single-shot risetimes of 2ns. With that, they can use one of these scopes to capture single-shots, intermittents, transients and glitches. Using Peak Detect, users can capture high frequency and random glitches as narrow as 12ns in duration, at all time/division settings down to 5?s.

Three-phase power

Tek's 4-channel versions can be used to test three-phase power systems, which is no mean feat. On multi-phase power lines, users can make floating measurements to determine the effects of neutral current for differential voltages, for example, and do that in power circuits with different low levels or ground references.

The scopes will handle up to 30VRMS floating on four channels simultaneously (customers need to use Tek's standard P2220 passive probe to do that), but users can also make measurements up to 600VRMS (CAT II), or 300VRMS (CAT III) floating, when coupled with an optional P5120 passive high-voltage probe.

The company's optional TPS2PBND power bundle, selling for $1,190, includes the P5120 high-voltage probe and the TPS2PWR1 power measurement and analysis software that's hosted on the scope.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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