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Gough Lui's Blog

34 posts
Regular readers of my RoadTests will understand that I very much dislike posting partial or incomplete reviews, as my view about a product could change during a more considered evaluation, but also as it might "tire" out some readers who visit expecting an update but never find one, or otherwise may have visited expecting a full review only to get a partly-finished review. I know it's really a matter of style and preference - some people like to rally up interest about a product and get the view ...
The interesting part of reviewing an instrument is to actually test the instrument against the datasheet to understand how this one particular unit performs and determine how well it holds to the claimed specifications. As I now have a sizeable collection of test equipment, I felt it was only responsible to put it through a gauntlet of tests.   Voltage Reading Accuracy One of the two primary measurement parameters is voltage, which is a parameter that can be more easily verified than some o ...
Aside from the computer-connected interfaces, the BA6010 is also capable of remote-control operation without involving a computer. This is achieved through the handler interface, which is intended to connect to an automated cell handling equipment, providing and receiving logic signals to control its operation.   Handler Interface Documentation Of all of the BA6010’s features, the handler interface proved to be the least well documented aspect. The only information is provided within ...
While the BA6010 can be used interactively with its large LCD and front panel buttons for spot measurements, the unit seems more suited to remote operation as part of a larger automated testing system especially with its higher reading rate modes. In this section, I focus on the provided documentation, interfaces provided by the BA6010 and using the BA6010 with a PC to run a number of experiments.   Documentation and Support B&K Precision have provided a programming manual for the BA601 ...
As a piece of bench-top test equipment, there’s a good chance that you might be using it “face-to-face”. I try to find out how easy is the BA6010 to use in this interactive scenario, what is it capable of and what are its limitations.   Documentation In order to get the most out of your test equipment, I’m an advocate for reading the manual from cover to cover. Having done this for the B&K Precision BA6010, my impression of the supplied documentation is that it i ...
After a bit of a struggle through Australian Customs (for no known good reason) resulting in a delay of a week, the box has finally arrived, so let’s take a look at what it looks like and what’s inside.   Unboxing The unit comes packed in a recognisably blue-and-white box, branded proudly with the B&K Instruments logo. On the side, the product name, barcode, serial and voltage setting are clearly shown. This is potentially important as the fuse and holder orientation needs ...
We begin our review of the B&K Precision BA6010 Battery Analyser with a Market Survey, but it’s probably worth going over some of the basics about battery analysis.   Quick Introduction to Battery Analysis If you look around for information about battery testing, there is a lot of often confusing and contradictory statements around. There have been a lot of debates about different test methods providing different test results and whether certain methods of testing are equivalent, ...
In order to test the RTM3004, it was important to have something that generated signals that could be used to challenge the unit. I view testing the unit to be an important part of properly reviewing a product and using the inbuilt demo features or generators is often not sufficient to uncover deficiencies. As a result, I pulled together some of the scraps I had at home and all of the skills I had to generate some signals.   This part details some of the special-purpose programs and design ...
While the previous sections all looked at using the oscilloscope interactively, many users expect to use test equipment via remote control or as part of an integrated testing solution. Fortunately, the Rohde & Schwarz RTM3004 offers a USB device port and an Ethernet port for PC or LAN connectivity.   Setup Setup of the RTM3004’s connectivity is done through the on-screen menu. The unit is capable of either USB connectivity or LAN connectivity, but not both at the same time. If USB ...
The RTM3004 can be more than just an oscilloscope. With the addition of the RTM-B6 Waveform Generator and 4-bit Pattern Generator option, it’s possible to generate regular functions, modulated functions, bit patterns and arbitrary waveforms for testing devices from the oscilloscope itself.   Pattern Generator The RTM3004’s 4-bit pattern generator is output from four lugs on the front panel. This is not the most convenient form of connectivity if you’re looking to drive an ...
With modern electronics operating at ever-lower voltages and power efficiency being a prime concern amongst portable electronics, analysis of switching power converters is a common application for high-end oscilloscopes. While the RTM3004 can be used ordinarily to analyse such signals, this is made much easier with the RTM-K31 Power Analysis option which provides applications pre-configured for measurement tasks such as evaluating power quality, harmonics, inrush current, power consumption, slew ...
Another difference between an ordinary oscilloscope and a mixed domain oscilloscope comes down to the presence of digital input channels. In the case of the RTM3004, the RTM-B1 Mixed Signal option provides 16 digital channels to turn the RTM3004 into a mixed domain oscilloscope.   The Hardware The digital logic channels are connected to the right-hand side of the oscilloscope through two coax-ribbons which connect to two identical pods hosting eight channels each. As for which pod is design ...
Serial interfaces of a number of types are in common use in embedded systems and having the ability to analyse and troubleshoot these communications in the digital domain is one part of a mixed-domain solution. The RTM3004 has the following protocol decode options for triggering and decoding available as options at the time of writing: RTM-K1 for I2C and SPI RTM-K2 for UART/RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 RTM-K3 for CAN and LIN RTM-K5 for Audio (I2S, JK, RJ and TDM) RTM-K6 for MIL-STD-1553 RTM-K7 for ...
While on-paper specifications are easy to compare, they only tell part of the story. While a device might be excellent on-paper, it could be difficult to use or have a number of important limitations. In this section, I look at the usability aspects of the RTM3004 – just how enjoyable is it to use on a daily basis? Are there any annoyances which get in the way of getting things done?   Documentation As with all complex test equipment, I always recommend prospective users read the manu ...
Thanks to element14 and Rohde & Schwarz, I’ll be one of the three lucky people from the community to receive a fully-specced-out RTM3004. It was just as exciting as you can imagine, as it’s not every day you get a package like this. As a result, I even made preparations to welcome the package to my room.   So, for those who missed out and those that are genuinely curious as to what is included in the box, I’ll cover the unboxing in detail. I hope you all enjoy the pho ...