NorthTree Associates Introduces OWON XDS Series Multi-Function Oscilloscopes

Front

The XDS series of oscilloscopes is the latest product release from OWON. With 12‐bit resolution, the XDS series offers the best solution for those who need to measure small signals or be able to read details from a large signal. Highly suitable for Medical, Automotive, Power Supply, and more.

In addition to having a 12‐bit resolution, the OWON XDS series of oscilloscopes are equipped with advanced technology and functions such as advanced trigger and decoding functions, Wi‐Fi and App support along with a capacitance touch screen.

OWON XDS series oscilloscopes come with the OWON 3rd generation technology platform ‐ Xvisual, which advances the performance of the XDS series oscilloscopes over other oscilloscopes available. The new Xvisual platform consists of 3 parts: Low Base Noise, 40M Record Length, 75,000 wfms/s Refresh Rate. One of the main benefits of Xvisual is ease at which the measurement of small signals can be read, and the ability to fully restore the true status of signals.

The XDS series oscilloscope software, provides advanced trigger and protocol decoding functions to help engineers analyze bus protocols and quick positioning. The embedded Wi‐Fi module ensures computers and cell phones can share the display screen to view and control the oscilloscope. Users can also check and save waveform data via App. By saving data via the App, data can be shared between other users.

The optional capacitance touch screen has been designed to look and act similar to a Smartphone – thus being intuitive and easy to start using right out of the box.

Additionally, the OWON XDS is complete mobile test station. It has incorporated the ultra‐thin design of the OWON SDS series oscilloscope, and has a battery option for portable use in the field. Besides the oscilloscope function, the OWON XDS also has function modules such as: a 25 MHz/50MHz single/dual channel(s) arbitrary waveform generator, a digital multimeter and a high precision data logger.

Established in 2004, NorthTree Associates (Cologne, MN) is a North American distributor for OWON oscilloscopes, waveform generators, and programmable power supplies. NorthTree Associates provides unique Electronic Test & Measurement tools for design engineers, test engineers and production engineers.

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Micsig MS510S 2 Channel Handheld Oscilloscope Review

510s

The Micsig MS510S 2 Channel Handheld Multifunctional Oscilloscope is portable unit has two fully isolated 100MHz scope inputs, a built-in isolated multimeter, 14.5cm (5.7”) color touch-screen, up to 190k waveform updates per second, 240k points memory and a battery life of up to 7 hours. It’s supplied with a pair of isolated probes for measuring up to 600V (Cat II).

As portable scopes go, this handheld oscilloscope offering from Micsig has a lot of good features and reasonably priced. One of the reasons this review was written was that we recognized how useful it is to have a scope with two fully isolated channels; this makes it much easier to make measurements at two different points in a circuit which may not necessarily have the same ground reference.

However, you do have to be a bit careful using an isolated scope because you can possibly have a high voltage not only between the input signal and ground but between those grounds and from each ground to earth. So the probes and inputs need to be well-insulated to prevent accidental shocks.

The Micsig MS510S unit does not disappoint as it is supplied with two insulated probes that shroud the BNC connector shields, earth clips and test probes (to the extent possible). These are 500MHz, 10:1 types rated for 300V CAT III and 600V CAT II.

First impressions of the overall user interface are good. The screen has good contrast and color and is easy to read indoors; it has an outdoor color scheme which helps for reading in sunlight. However the lack of an anti-reflective coating on the display means it would work a lot better with a hood or under shade. The unit boots up fast – in just a couple of seconds – and responds to button presses pretty quickly. So it doesn’t feel sluggish to use.

While the touch-screen can be used to perform many functions such as moving along the timebase, moving traces up and down, zooming into portions of the waveform and selecting measurements to display, virtually all functions can also be performed using the front panel buttons and side jog wheel. The operation of this unit is quite different to most benchtop scopes but users will quickly figure out the controls and get used to them. Like most digital scopes, it has soft buttons (F1-F4) which drive the on-screen menus.

The control layout below these buttons is pretty simple and the function of most buttons is self-evident. This oscilloscope is 165mm wide, 255mm tall, 62mm deep (not including side carry strap) and weighs 1.7kg. It has a tilting stand at the back to prop it up on a flat surface. Supplied accessories include the two probes, a set of multimeter leads, mains charger, user manual and PC software on CD and warranty card.

Oscilloscope Functions

Each channel of the Micsig MS510S oscilloscope has a selectable sensitivity of 5mV-50V/division so with the supplied 10:1 probes, that gives a range of 50mV-500V per division. The sampling rate is 1GS/s with one channel active and 500MS/s with two. As stated earlier, storage is 240Kpoints total so with both channels active it can store 120K samples. Channel bandwidth can be restricted to 20MHz if required and each channel can be AC or DC coupled.

This oscilloscope uses a 9-bit ADC which is slightly better than bargain basement oscilloscopes (including desktop models) which typically use an 8-bit ADC. As such, when the bandwidth is set to 20MHz, the traces are quite clean, however there is still a fair bit of noise evident with 100MHz bandwidth (this setting affects both channels simultaneously). You can of course enable averaging to reduce noise with repetitive signals; this is also enabled for both channels at once. By default, the oscilloscope has trace persistence, which can be handy in some circumstances as it allows you to see the ‘spread’ of the signal, i.e. – to get an idea of jitter in a digital signal or amplitude stability in an analog signal.

But sometimes you want to turn it off to get a ‘cleaner’ looking trace – unfortunately, we can’t figure out how to do that with this unit. The minimum persistence setting is 100ms. This isn’t a huge problem but it does seem to be an oversight in the software. (As of this posting, Micsig is working on a solution for this issue).

You can display up to four measurements in oscilloscope mode, selected from a large list and these appear at the top of the screen, overlapping the graticule. They’re updated a couple of times a second. The unit also has basic X/Y cursors that can be enabled and moved around in the usual way. Typical trigger options are available, including Edge, Pulse, Logic (ie, high/high, high/low, etc), Video (including high definition) and Serial Bus. The hold-off time is adjustable as is the trigger coupling (AC/DC).

Serial Bus Decoding

While this is not a mixed signal oscilloscope, it does have an option to decode various serial buses and trigger on the contents of the packets. This includes serial, LIN, CAN, SPI and I2C although given the fact that there are only two channels, it’s more suitable for I2C than say SPI.

Multimeter Functions

The built-in multimeter of the Micsig MS510S is easy to use because of the large touch-screen. It’s easy to switch modes by pressing on their icons and the numeric display is large. One aspect we particularly like is that it auto-ranges almost instantly, which overcomes one of the biggest arguments against auto-ranging meters (which, let’s face it, are pretty much standard now).

However, there is one major drawback apart from the modest 4-digit resolution and that is that you need an external accessory to do current measurements – either a shunt or a hall-effect sensor (clamp meter). These are available as accessories; however Micsig does not currently list them or have a price. So that probably means you need a multimeter on hand, in addition to the Micsig MS510S. But that’s not to say the multimeter functions are useless – far from it.

It offers DC and AC voltage in ranges such as 500mV, 5V, 50V along with a maximum of 1000V DC and 750V AC (20kHz bandwidth). The multimeter inputs are fully isolated from the scope inputs. It also does statistics (minimum/average/maximum) and has a bar graph in addition to the numerical read-out.

Other modes include resistance (0-50MΩ), continuity (50Ω threshold), diode test (up to 3.5V), capacitance 100pF-50ΩF), temperature and humidity (requiring an external sensor accessory) and pressure (also requiring an external sensor accessory).

One nice feature of the Micsig MS510S oscilloscope is that the multimeter inputs can also double as calibration outputs for the probes. Small adaptors are supplied to make the connections.

Data Logging

The Micsig MS510S also has a “Recorder” mode where it can log readings from either the meter or oscilloscope input(s). When logging from the meter, you can choose from DC volts, AC volts or DC+AC volts. You can also log DC amps, AC amps, temperature, humidity and pressure but all these extra modes require the appropriate accessory.

The readings are displayed in an automatically-scaled horizontally scrolling chart format and the data can then be saved to a USB flash drive (in an “.MMR” file format) or in a screen grab of the chart. It can be set to either stop storing data when full, or set to a circular buffer mode where it overwrites the earliest data with later data once storage space is exhausted.

For data logging from the oscilloscope input(s), it can either log a low-frequency view of the two input channels or alternatively, it can log one or two of the scope measurements. In the latter case, you need to first enable the measurements you require on the appropriate channels, then about five hours to reach full charge.

Conclusion

As portable oscilloscopes go, the Micsig MS510S is a pretty attractive proposition. Even for bench-top use, the dual isolated channels and ability to easily move it around are quite useful features. While we would like to see a couple of software tweaks and an anti-glare coating on the screen, it’s a very flexible instrument with good overall performance and a responsive user interface.

While the Micsig MS510S is not light, it can be operated hand-held and with the protective rubber surround, appears to be robust enough for field use.

For applications where performance is not so critical, the Micsig MS-310IT oscilloscope is a more economical option. The main difference is the waveform update rate – the Micsig MS510S has 190K samples/second and the Micsig MS310IT only has 50Ksamples/second. Micsig also has the MS-200T series oscilloscopes are even more economical, but as with the MS310IT oscilloscope, this series does not feature isolated inputs.

Established in 2004, NorthTree Associates (Cologne, MN) is a North American distributor that provides unique Electronic Test & Measurement tools for design engineers, test engineers and production engineers.

Choosing the Right Data Logger for Fast Data Collection and Retrieval in Remote Applications

dataTaker Data LoggerRemote monitoring applications in fields such as oil and natural gas extraction, environmental monitoring, and fleet management often require close attention to detail. Users need to accurately record and track several variables including temperature, flow, strain, stress, vibration, and more.  Therefore, when purchasing a new data logging solution, it’s crucial to understand the exact capabilities and specifications of the device you need. However, the sheer variety of data loggers and data logging systems can often make it difficult to choose the best model for your application. With this in mind, here are 10 things which customers purchasing for remote applications need to know to choose the right data logger for their project.

  • What do you want to accomplish? Consider whether you need a quick fix for a specific problem or a long-term solution providing a general need with room for expansion. Details such as knowing how many and what types of inputs are required are important, along with how often readings need to be taken (determining the logger’s sampling rate) since there’s such a wide range of options available.
  • Also what else needs to be taken into account is whether the data logger must be equipped with external sensors or built-in sensors, or if programmed alarms are needed. Will the logger need to perform real-time calculations on the measured data? This could be avoided by installing an RTU (Remote Telemetry Unit). Will the device need output signals? Having a clear initial idea of what requirements are needed and what features might become necessary in future are key factors in making the most suitable choice.
  • The type of sensors being recorded is also critical in the decision process. Ideally, the data logger will have the versatility to accommodate the wide range of sensors you may need to connect it to. For instance, if the application calls for using thermocouples, the logger must support TC inputs. Likewise, if the application must accommodate several different inputs (including current-loops, voltages, pulses, etc.) then it will require a more flexible, powerful data logger. Will a large number of inputs be needed to adequately monitor your conditions? Are expectations are to only measure and log analog signals, or will digital signals also be recorded?
  • How about ruggedized a device which can survive hazardous working conditions including dust, dirt, and accident. Depending on the application, the data logger may need to be safely encloses in a sturdy industrial or portable enclosure. Also, how often will the data logger need to be transported? Will the device need to be moved between jobs, which could jostle an unprotected unit and reduce its longevity? Will it be installed in a vehicle? These questions will help protect the data logger.
  • Also determine how the logger will be powered. Will a battery-operated device for extended operation needed? Again, this depends on the logger’s location, whether it’s going to be installed inside a vehicle or in a more stationary location.
  • Ensure that the data logger has a visible LCD display which will clearly show measurements in its given environment, whether in dim lighting, underground, or outdoors. This will especially help when presenting the data to clients, instructing personnel in its use, or when showing your project to others.
  • No matter the budget, look for cost-effective options which give extensive features for an economical price. If future expansion is anticipated for the project, search for data loggers with a modular design so other capabilities can be added when needed.
  • Most data loggers can record at a rate up to about 1Hz (once per second), although many faster recording frequencies are available. It’s important to determine the right recording rates for the application. When recording from a K-Type thermocouple, for example, the sensor/sample may take several seconds to change temperature, making a high-sample device give redundant data. Depending on the application, it may only be necessary to capture a few minutes’ worth of data or the need may be to store entire months of readings. This can be easily determined the amount of data storage required by multiplying the number of channels by the sample rate and recording duration, given in this quick formula:

Total Number of Points = Number of Channels x Sample Rate x Recording Duration.

Since model specifications vary, there may be a limit based on the total amount of internal memory, or the data logger may offer the option of using external memory such as a USB memory stick to expand the available memory. Options like these can significantly cut down costs.

9. Many data loggers are designed for a fixed installation, but other devices are intended for portable applications, such as those commonly required for environmental monitoring. How remote is the application where the data is being collected? Is the logging environment located underground? For many industrial applications, a USB memory stick serves as the fastest way to get the data, especially when the data is in an unalterable format intended for clients to view. This method also provides a quick onsite set up allowing a user to gather all the data using USB. Communication with the data logger for setup, monitoring, and downloading data can be done in many different ways, including those which continuously send the data directly to the software interface.

10. When it comes to software, look for a user-friendly interface that enables a fast configuration. Preferably the software will be included free with the data logger. Software should be accessible by both novice and veteran users.

Above all, go with the capabilities which prove the most practical for your application and analysis. If you’re looking for data trends, use the statistical capabilities offered by certain data loggers to summarize the data over an interval. If you’re looking for anomalies, use the triggering features in many data loggers to simply capture a window around the event. All of these features and more are available to ensure that the data logger chosen handles every aspect of your application.

Established in 2004, NorthTree Associates (Waconia, MN) is a North American distributor that specializes in providing design engineers, test engineers, and production engineers the best electronic test & measurement tools available.

(Revised article re-posted with permission from our valued partner CAS Dataloggers – originally published May 14, 2012)

 

WELCOME TO THE NORTHTREE ASSOCIATES ELECTRONIC TEST EQUIPMENT BLOG!

NorthTree Associates specializes in representing companies that manufacture avionics and protocol bus test tools along with board level development tools.

We focus on providing design engineers, test engineers and network professionals the best protocol and bus analysis testing products and board-level development tools available.

Our Value Proposition:

  • Our mission is to make our customer’s test procedures and processes work efficiently and effectively as possible for every application.
  • Our goal is to allow our customers to focus on their testing and development efforts by eliminating their involvement in managing and working with the wrong development tools and products.
  • The result is highly satisfied customers who realize cost savings for their businesses.

Our valued partners:

  • MAX Technologies – MAX Technologies Avionics Test and Measurement Equipment.
  • dataTaker – dataTaker Intelligent Data Loggers
  • Oscium – Oscium iOS Test Equipment.
  • Pico Technology – Pico Technology PicoScope USB Oscilloscopes.
  • Pico Technology– Pico Technology PicoLog Data Loggers.
  • Saleae– Saleae Logic Analyzers.
  • VAUNIX – USB RF and Microwave Test Devices

NorthTree Associates maintains an online store to help you view, compare and order your test equipment http://www.shop.northtreeassociates.com