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Unique form-factor Windows-based digital scopes debut

Posted: 13 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alex Mendelsohn? oscilloscope? LeCroy? digital oscilloscope? oscilloscope?

WaveRunner Xis

Oscilloscope maker LeCroy Corp. now offers a line of Windows-based digital oscilloscopes that are claimed to eliminate tradeoffs between performance, display size and bench footprint. Dubbed WaveRunner Xis, these scopes are priced comparably to the company's forerunner WaveRunner 6000A series, even with the WaveRunner Xi's higher performance, bigger displays, and more compact size. They fill the so-called "viewer" scope niche in the 400MHz to 600MHz domain.

As CRTs were replaced by thin LCDs, oscilloscope form-factors didn't change appreciablymost newer oscilloscopes maintained L x W x D proportions that were remarkably similar to older designs. Then, about two years ago, LeCroy created a big display/small footprint form-factor for its WaveSurfer line of oscilloscopes.

Moving the form-factor
Now, LeCroy brings this form-factor to its higher performance WaveRunner Xi Series digital oscilloscopes.

Like the WaveSurfers, these scopes use 10.4-inch displays, yet have only 6-inch of depth. LeCroy claims the 10.4-inch display is 1.5x to 2.5x larger than competitive displays (that are 8.4-inch or 6.4-inch in size). The company says the footprint is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of other units in its class.

Sample rates to 10GS/s
The WaveRunner oscilloscopes offer sample rates up to 10GS/s (interleaved) on a 600MHz unit, with a standard 2-Mpoint/channel memory (memory can be optionally expanded up to 24-Mpoints/channel interleaved). High sample rates (with at least 10X over-sampling) give you signal fidelity to see fast edges or high-frequency signals. It also ensures accurate timing measurements when using all channels.

LeCroy says these sample rates exceed those of most competitive scopes rated at 1GHz or 1.5GHz bandwidth (and also have a correspondingly higher price). The company therefore claims its Xi Series is the highest performance oscilloscope line in this bandwidth class.

Mixed-signal work
LeCroy also offers a $4,000 mixed-signal MS-32 option that lets you add 32 digital channels, each with 1-Mppint/channel (32-Mpoints total) to a 4-channel WaveRunner Xi. That expands 4-channel scope capability to 4+32, for mixed-signal and embedded controller design and debugging.

The WaveRunner Xi Series oscilloscopes are available in 400MHz bandwidth and 600MHz bandwidth units. A 400MHz scope comes with four channels only, while the 600MHz unit is available with two or four channels. All models sample at 5GS/s on all channels simultaneously. The 600MHz model interleaves to 10GS/s.

All models provide 2-Mpoints/channel of memory (4-Mpoints/channel interleaved). That equates to 400?s of capture time (at full sample rate). Up to 12-Mpoints/channel (24-Mpoints/channel interleaved) of memory is optionally available.

Analysis capability
The WaveRunner Xi Series also provides a toolset for post-processing and debug. You get to choose from many built-in standard measurement parameters and functions. You can also install optional software packages to enhance these scopes even more. Under Windows, you can also use packages such as Excel, MATLAB, Mathcad and VBScript with these scopes.

In use, histograms can be used to understand worst-case timing performance. A Track function can be used to pinpoint unwanted signal variations. Two measurement values can also be multiplied.

Application-specific capabilities can also be added with specialized packages for mixed-signal or power device work, or for CAN (controller area network) bus testing, for example. The Can package provides capture of a long CAN acquisition, and lets you extract decimal data from a specific CAN message. You can also re-scale to user units, and graph CAN data as if it was a probed signal.

Fast viewing acquisition mode

You also get LeCroy's WaveStream Fast Viewing Mode. It provides brightness-graded intensity with a decay time similar to the action of phosphor on an analog screen. Thus, the intensity of a signal over a period of time can be seen. Combined with the WaveRunner's long memory/capture time, this mode provides a combination of short- record viewing or long capture time analysis.

Unlike fast acquisition/display modes, which limit sample rates to 1.25GS/s, the WaveStream Fast Viewing Mode operates at up to 10GS/s with an update rate up to 8,000-waveforms/s. That can help capture higher frequency abnormal events.

Local language user interface
The WaveRunner Xi scopes are available with a user interface in nine different languages; LeCroy says competing oscilloscopes only support two languages, at most. What's more, the user-interface language can be changed at any time while the scope is on by selecting a language from a menu; no re-boot is required.

Local language front-panel physical overlays are available as accessories. These overlays can be installed over the English front panel without requiring removal of knobs, or removal of the standard English-language front panel.

Two dedicated cursor knobs also support cursor adjustments and measurements. Zooming is done by using a touchscreen to draw a box around an area to be zoomed, or by pushing a front-panel button. The user interface puts basic tools for viewing signals at your fingertips while maintaining one-touch to two-touch access to commonly used signal troubleshooting features.

Triggering capabilities
The WaveRunner Xi Series also offers enhanced triggering. So-called SMART Trigger bandwidth is increased by a factor of two over predecessors (to the full oscilloscope bandwidth for all SMART triggers). Capability for AC, HFrej (high frequency reject) and LFrej coupling has been added. In addition, runt, slew rate, and video triggers are now standard. All of the capabilities included in previous versions of WaveRunners are also included in the WaveRunner Xi series.

Windows hooks
All of the Xi scopes run Windows XP as an OS. With a 10/100Base-T Ethernet port that's standard on all models, you can connect these oscilloscopes to a network, and use standard Windows tools. You can press a button on the oscilloscope's front panel to e-mail an image to a specified address, print to any network printer, or store images to a file server. Saving large amounts of data to a USB memory stick is accomplished across a front-mounted USB port.

A passive probe
All WaveRunner Xi Series oscilloscopes are provided with a 500MHz bandwidth PP008 probe/channel. When connected to a WaveRunner, the PP008 exhibits 9.5pF of capacitance at its 2.5mm tip. The PP008 also delivers a flat response, and is compatible with over 30 accessories (15 are standard). A variety of optional current probes and single-ended or differential active probes are also available.

A WaveRunner 64Xi, which is a 600MHz 4-channel scope, is priced at about $10,000 to $11,500. A WaveRunner 62Xi 600MHz 2-channel scope goes for about $7,500 to $9,000. A WaveRunner 44Xi 400MHz unit is priced at about $8,500 to $9,500.

As mentioned, there are memory options and accessories that affect pricing. A WRXi-VL 12-Mpoint/channel memory for a 4-channel Xi costs about $10,000,,while a WRXi-VL2 12-Mpoint/channel option for a dual-channel Xi costs half that.

A WRXi-L 8-Mpoint/channel memory option for the 4-channel Xi is priced at about $7,500; a WRXi-L2 8-Mpoint/channel memory option for a dual channel Xi is priced at about $3800; and a WRXi-M 4-Mpoint/channel optional memory for a 4-channel Xi is priced at $5,000.

LeCroy also offers its WRXi-AORM (Advanced Optical Recording Measurement) software for about $4,000. A WRXi-SDM (Serial Data Mask) package is priced at about $5,000. Lastly, a WRXi-EMC EMC pulse parameter option costs about $1,200.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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