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Tektronix Ups Responsiveness in New Mid-Range, Mixed-Signal Oscilloscope

December 06, 2023 by Duane Benson

Tektronix's new 4 Series B mixed-signal oscilloscope fits the same measurement zone as the prior model but is more responsive because of a faster processor and custom ASIC.

Tektronix recently announced the 4 Series B mixed-signal oscilloscope (MSO), offering a mid-range option in its MSO product line. It operates with a bandwidth of 200 MHz to 1.5 GHz, depending on the purchased configuration, and samples at 6.25 GS/s with 12-bit vertical resolution—16-bit in high-res mode. It can store up to 62.5 million data points.

The scope (datasheet linked) comes equipped with either four or six analog channels and can operate at full speed with all six being used simultaneously. Each input channel can be used as an analog input or split into eight digital inputs when used with a model TLP058 probe. All six can be used either way for up to 48 digital inputs.

 

Tektronix 4 Series B mixed-signal oscilloscope

Tektronix 4 Series B mixed-signal oscilloscope. 

 

At 16 lbs (7.3 kg) and 11.3 in x 15.9 in x 6.1 in (287 mm x 405 mm x 155 mm), this unit is designed for bench use rather than portability. However, it has a sturdy handle for easy mobility when necessary.

 

Display and User Interface

The MSO's built-in 13.3-inch display delivers a full 2K HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). The user interface is a combination of pushbuttons, knobs, and a capacitive touch screen that responds to gestures similar to those used on smartphones. 

 

Highly-responsive touchscreen controls

Highly-responsive touchscreen controls. 
 

The scope can also operate and display results wirelessly to a remote PC via a web-based interface. 

 

Performance Enhancements

Tektronix included a faster front-end CPU and a custom ASIC to improve performance over the prior version of this product. This enables simultaneous use of all six channels without the system slowing down. Tektronix reports a 2x improvement in user interface response, faster data analysis, and faster data transfer. 

The company also improved serial decode on more than 25 packages for various buses, such as inter-chip, automotive, power, aerospace buses, and more. The MSO has broad built-in protocol support covering the most well-used formats in this speed class. It supports 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, CAN, CAN FD, LIN, FlexRay, I2C, SPI, MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, UART, SPMI, SVID, USB 2.0 LS, FS, HS, and more.

 

Remote Operations With PC-Based Software

Users can operate the scope through a web-based interface on a remote PC and access TekDrive, a shared workspace for storing analysis files and other data. 

Tektronix's TekScope software can operate the oscilloscope remotely and perform observation and analysis from a PC or laptop. Multiple scopes can be synchronized in real-time with the software, and multiple users can collaborate on the analysis. Data can be stored in standard file formats, and files from other scope brands can be added to the analysis.

 

The Perks of Full-Performance Inputs

One of the challenges engineers face is the wide range of specialized design fields. A general-purpose scope can do many speculated things, but none of them well. Conversely, test equipment optimized for a specific industry may fall short for other applications. Tektronix opted to design a general-purpose oscilloscope that also delivers application-specific functionality.

 

Analyzing a switch mode power supply with mixed analog and digital signal inputs
Analyzing a switch mode power supply with mixed analog and digital signal inputs.
 

The company's foresight in flexible design is apparent in the new MSO's six configurable analog/digital inputs. The jump from four inputs to six may seem like just a numbers game, but it is far more than that. For example, the six inputs provide a much better picture when analyzing three-phase power systems, such as the increasingly common three-phase brushless DC motor.

Design validation and calibration in such systems require measuring each motor phase's power and the three Hall sensors at the same time. With fewer than six channels, operators won’t be able to get a full simultaneous picture.

For mixed operations, the 4 Series B will deliver four analog inputs, as is commonly used, along with up to 16 digital inputs. The mix-and-match analog and digital signal inputs allow for easier setup and changeover during analysis sessions.

 

Flexibility and Usability

The 4 Series B MSO is not the fastest sampling scope on the block, but it shows that even mid-range products can be innovative and high-performing. It is packed with useability and performance-enhancing features that engineers operating in the 200 MHz to 1.5GHz range may appreciate.

 


 

All images used courtesy of Tektronix.