This is a set of tests carried out on the Tektronix MDO Demo Board 1 with the 3 Series MDO concentrating on the serial decoding functions within the oscilloscope. The demonstration board has 5 serial signal examples.


  • UART / RS232
  • CAN Bus (CAN_H and CAN_L)
  • FlexRay
  • I2C (I2C_CLK and I2C_Data)
  • LIN Bus
  • MIL-STD-1553
  • SPI Bus (SPI_CLK, SPI_SS-1 and SPI_MOSI-1)


The 3 Series MDO does not have demonstration setups for all of these functions, so some of them you will have to put up with my attempts to capture the signals. All of the demonstration setups use the analogue channels to capture the signals.


RS232 Bus Decoding


This signal has a 9600 baud rate and the data format is one start bit, eight data bits and no parity. A setup exists for this signal within the demonstration functions.


RS232 Demo Function Setup


The setup works well and captures the data based upon a data trigger looking for the 'T' character.


{gallery} RS232 Signal Capture Setup

Channel 1 Vertical Settings

Vertical Settings for Channel 1

RS232 Bus Setings

Bus Settings for RS232 decoding

RS232 Timebase settings

Timebase settings

Data Acquisition settings

Data acquisition settings

RS232 Trigger settings

Trigger settings

Tektronix have embedded the message "Tektronix Enabling Innovation" within the data of the RS232 signal. This message cab be found utilising the search function of the oscilloscope. The search function contains a button to copy over the settings from the trigger menu.
Trigger setup copied to search function


This allows the message to be found and manipulating the timebase position or searching on different characters allows the message to be read. Activating the results table displays the message, or it can be read within the decoding on the screen capture.


{gallery} RS232 Message

Tektronix RS232 message

'Tektronix' word captured

Tektronix RS232 message

'Enabling' word captured

Tektronix RS232 message

'Innovation' word captured

RS232 signal capture

'Tektronix' word captured on screen decoding

With the results table displayed, the contents can be saved to a CSV file for further data manipulation and analysis. As with screensave functions, the menu offers a default filename and automatically finds the USB drive.


Data table export Data table file save


Data table CSV

The CSV file exported basically follows the structure of the data table from the oscilloscope. The video below goes through manually setting up the 3 Series MDO to capture and decode the RS232 signal and then use the search function to find each word.



Alternative to using the search function on this occasion is to enable packet view on the bus settings window.


Enabling Packet View


The data packets are then displayed on the oscilloscope revealing the full message.


RS232 Data Packet View



CAN Bus Decoding


This is another serial signal that has a setup built into the demonstration function.


CAN Bus Demo Setup


Whilst the demo board has CAN_H and CAN_L signals only the CAN_H has a demonstration setup.


{gallery} CAN_H Signal Capture Setup

Vertical channel settings

Vertical channel settings

Vertical channel settings

Bus settings for CAN_H decoding

Time bus settings for CAN

Timebase settings for CAN

Trigger settings for CAN

Trigger settings for CAN

CAN Capture Failure

Initial failure to decode CAN signal

As can be seen from the last screenshot in the gallery above, the demo settings for the bus failed to decode the CAN signal. It took me a little while to figure out what was wrong with this. I tried several of the trigger options available and did manage to trigger on the 'Bit Stuffing Error' to some extent.

CAN Trigger optionsCAN trigger on Error


I am not quite sure why I thought of it, but I decided to carry out some measurements on the CAN bus signal and that eventually led me to discovering the triggering issue.


CAN Signal measurement


The measurement that came of interest to me was the voltage high measurement that ranged between 2.86 V above and 2.94 V in the second capture below.


CAM Bus Voltage


Looking at the CAN Bus settings, the threshold value for the signal was found to be set to 3.00 V, just slightly above the actual voltage being measured. Lowering this threshold voltage allowed the oscilloscope to trigger on the demo settings and decode the signal. I do not know enough about CAN to understand if it is the demonstration signal that is slightly out or the setup settings for the threshold are in the wrong.


{gallery} CAN Bus Threshold

CAN Bus threshold setting

Original threshold setting for CAN

Corrected threshold setting

Threshold setting reduced

CAN bus decode

CAN bus triggered and signals decoding

CAN Bus decode

CAN bus signal event search

CAN bus results table

CAN bus result table from search function

FlexRay Bus Decoding


I have never heard of a FlexRay bus, it appears to be a more modern alternative to a CAN bus. Nonetheless, there is a decode option within the 3 Series MDO for this signal and the demo board has a signal available. There is no demonstration setup for this signal, so I decided to go my own way and utilise the digital signal inputs for this test.


FlexRay Demo Board Connections


FlexRay on Wikipedia


FlexRay on National Instruments


{gallery} FlexRay Bus Signal Capture Setup

Digital input settings

Digital input settings

Bus decoding settings

Bus decoding settings for FlexRay

Timebase settings

Timebase settings

Trigger settings for FlexRay

Trigger settings

Decoded FlexRay Signal

FlexRay signal decoded

Zoomed in to capture one frame of the FlexRay signal;


FlexRay single frame


LIN Bus decoding


This is another bus that is available on the demo board and can be decoded by the 3 Series MDO, but does not have a demonstration setup available for, so is again subject to my rumblings on the controls of the scope.


{gallery} LIN Bus Signal Capture Setup

Vertical channel settings

Vertical channel settings for LIN bus

LIN bus settings

LIN Bus settings

Timebase settings

Timebase settings for LIN Bus

Trigger settingsfor LIN bus

Trigger settings for LIN Bus

Search settings for LIN Bus

Search Settings for LIN Bus

I had no idea what to search for on the LIN Bus capture, so the findings are a little weak.

LIN Bus decode


MIL-STD-1553 Bus Decoding


This time we are back to a demonstration setup for this particular standard, so the results should be more reliable. Unlike a lot of the signals that are found on test loops situated around the edge of the demo board, this signal is on one of the internal headers and I need the micro-hooks on the probes to make the connections, to avoid shorting anything out.


MIL-1553 Setup


MIL-1553 Connections


{gallery} MIL-ST-1553 Bus Signal Capture Setup

Vertical channel settings

Vertical Channel Settings

MIL-STD-1553 Bus Settings

Bus Settings for MIL-ST-1553

Timebase Settings

Timebase settings

Trigger settings for MIL-1553

Trigger settings

Data Acquisition settings

Data acquisition settings

The demonstration setup meant that there were no problems capturing and decoding the signal.


MIL-15553 Signal Capture


As with the other signals a look at the results table provides more data for analysis and potential to export to a 'CSV' file.


MIL-1553 Results Table


SPI Bus Decoding


Back to a signal that has no demonstration setup in the oscilloscope. There are three signals for the SPI Bus requiring three analogue channels to be put into use.


SPI Bus Connections


{gallery} SPI Bus Signal Capture Setup

Vertical channel settings

Vertical channel settings for SPI

Bus Settings for SPI

Bus settings for SPI

Timebase settings for SPI

Timebase settings for SPI

Trigger settings for SPI

Trigger settings for SPI

Data Acquisition settings for SPI

Data acquisition settings for SPI

SPI is a bus that I have heard of before, but have no real experience with so all I could manage to capture was a bunch of 'FF's or '00's.


{gallery} SPI Signal capture

SPI Capture

SPI Pulse Trace Capture

SPI Capture

SPI '00' event capture 1

SPI Capture

SPI '00' event capture 2

SPI capture

SPI 'FF' event capture 1

SPI Capture

SPI 'FF' event capture 2

SPI Capture

SPI 'FF' event capture 3

USB Bus decoding


There are three USB signals available on the demo board, low, full and high speed signals. Only the FS signal has a demonstration setup on the oscilloscope and although trying, it was the only one I was able to capture. Only the 1 GHz bandwidth version of the 3 Series MDO has the ability to capture the high speed USB signal.


USB Setup menu


{gallery} USB Bus Signal Capture Setup

Channel 1 vertical settings

Channel 1 vertical settings

Channel 2 vertical settings fC

Channel 2 vertical settings

USB Bus settings

Bus settings for Full Speed USB

Time base settings

Time base settings for Full Speed USB

Trigger settings

Trigger settings for Full Speed USB

Data Acquisition settings for USB

Data acquisition settings for Full Speed USB

Event Search Settings for USB

Event Search Settings for Full Speed USB

The signal is triggered on an 'Out' token event, however, it doesn't look like I have actually captured and displayed the token on the screenshot, unless it is displayed as the 'O' block preceding the '4'.

USB Signal capture and decode


Opening the results table and expanding the view shows the capture of the 'Out' token.


USB results table




Hopefully this has shown enough information on the serial bus capturing capabilities of the 3 Series MDO. I have a serious lack of knowledge on the majority of these bus signals, so I apologise for any errors or omissions on my behalf. At the moment I haven't got round to capturing the MIPI D-PHY signal, so that is the only one missing from the board.


Yet again the demo board from Tektronix has shown how useful it is to demonstrate the functionality of the oscilloscope and learn about its controls.


Please feel free to ask, if you want to see anything more specific.