New Dual-Channel Function/Arbitrary Waveform Generators

B&K Precision recently launched its new 4060 Series line of dual channel function/arbitrary waveform generators. The series includes three models that generate sine waveforms up to 80 MHz (4063), 120 MHz (4064), and 160 MHz (4065).BKprecision4060_series

Featuring an advanced pulse generator and high-performance 512k-point arbitrary waveform generator on one channel, these instruments are ideal for use in applications requiring high signal fidelity with extensive modulation and arbitrary waveform capabilities at a value price point.

Unique to the 4060 Series are its advanced pulse generation capabilities. The instruments can generate pulses with low jitter less than 100 ps and output 12-ns width pulses at frequencies as low as 0.1 Hz–a feature not typically found in DDS generators. Rise and fall times are also adjustable within a large range (e.g. users can output pulses with 6 ns rise times combined with 6 s fall times).

All models provide two independent output channels with a large 4.3” color LCD, rotary control knob, numeric keypad, and intuitive function keys to make waveform adjustments quick and easy. Other standard features include a built-in counter, Sync output, trigger I/O terminal, and external 10-MHz reference clock input and output for synchronization of the instrument to another generator.

The 4060 Series offers linear and logarithmic sweep function and a wide variety of modulation schemes for modulated signal applications: amplitude and frequency modulation (AM/FM), double sideband amplitude modulation (DSB-AM), amplitude and frequency shift keying (ASK/FSK), phase modulation (PM), and pulse width modulation (PWM).

Equipped with a high performance 14-bit, 500 Msps, 512k-point arbitrary waveform generator, the 4060 Series provides users 36 built-in arbitrary waveforms and the ability to create and load up to 32 custom arbitrary waveforms using the included waveform editing software via standard USB interface on the rear. A front panel USB host port is available for users to conveniently save waveforms and setups on a USB flash drive or to connect the optional USB-to-GPIB adapter for GPIB connectivity.

Available immediately, B&K Precision’s 4060 Series products are backed by a standard three-year warranty at the following list prices:

4063 — 80 MHz — $1,350
4064 — 120 MHz — $1,670
4065 — 160 MHz — $1,990

For additional technical specifications, accessories, photos, and support documents, visit B&K Precision’s website.

[Source: B&K Precision Corp.]

Troubleshoot Electronics Problems with Logging (EE Tip #141)

Electrical engineers often develop “headless” electronic systems—that is, systems without user interfaces. And many of those systems are embedded within product and are generally out of reach when problems occur. Bob Japenga is an engineer with some advice about logging and how it can help you troubleshoot problems as they occur.

Many of our designs are buried in some product or located in remote areas. No one is there when the device hiccoughs. Well defined logging can help make your system more robust because there are going to be problems and you might as well find out as much as you can about the problems when they happen. Here are some general guidelines that we apply here:

• Use an existing logging facility if you can. It should have all of the features discussed here.

• Unless you truly have unlimited disk space, provide a self-pruning cap on all logs. Linux syslog feature has this built in.

• Attempt to provide the most amount of information in the least amount of space. One way we do this is by limiting the number of times the same error can be logged. I cannot tell you how many times I look at a log file and find the same error logged over and over again. Knowing your memory limitation and the frequency of the error, after a set number of identical logs, start logging only one in every 100, or only allow so many per hour, and include the total count. Some failures are best kept in error counters. For example, communications errors in a noisy environment should be periodically logged with a counter; you don’t usually need to know every occurrence.

• Create multiple logs concerning multiple areas. For example, network errors and communications errors are better kept in their own log apart from processing errors. This will help a single error from flooding all logs with its own problem.

• Timestamp all logs—ideally with date and time—but I understand that all of our systems don’t have date and time. As a minimum, it could be in milliseconds since power-up.

• Establish levels of logging. Some logging is only applicable during debugging. Build that into your logging.

• Avoid side effects. I hate it when the designer tells me that if he turns logging on, the system will come to its knees. That’s just a bad logging design.

• Make the logs easy to automatically parse.—Bob Japenga, CC25, 2013

Engineer’s Transformable Workspace

No two workspaces or circuit cellars are alike. And that’s what makes studying these submissions so fascinating. Each space reflects the worker’s interests, needs, and personality.

Succasunna, NJ-based Mike Sydor’s penchant for “hacking” isn’t relegated solely to electronics. His entire workspace is actually a hack designed for both hardware and software projects. It’s an excellent example of what you can do with a little creativity and planning!

When the front is open, Mike can tackle hardware projects (Source: Mike Sydor)

We love the “transformer” theme that runs through the entire space. Simply put, the compact space is easily rearranged to serve Mike’s various needs:

  • When the front is closed, Mike can work on the “soft arts” of coding, diagramming, and design planning.
  • When the front is open, Mike has easy access to essential tools such as an oscilloscope, isolation transformer, and solder station.
  • A KVM switch enables Mike move back and forth between Linux and Windows

    Mike simply closes the front when he shifts from hardware mode to software mode (Source: Mike Sydor)

Another interesting point to note is that Mike can detach the shelf/drawer so the workspace can fit through a door if necessary. Great idea! Now he can take the workspace with him if he ever moves.

Submitted by Mike Sydor:

Here is my workspace for your consideration.  It is basically a custom, drop-front workspace on wheels so that I can move it easily to reconfigure the equipment or otherwise get to all the gear.  It has two configurations.  The ‘software’ setting (front closed) where I can focus on the code, design docs, etc.  The shelf can also hold a midi keyboard for music ‘hacking.’  There is a drawer in that shelf for miscellaneous items.  With the front open, you have a nice workspace for assembly and debugging, you can still access the drawer, and you can access all of the gear.  Everything is self-contained – only a single power and network cable are ‘on the floor.’  The shelf/drawer assembly detaches for moving day – otherwise it is too wide to fit through a standard door opening.  I also only use three wheels.  This makes a tripod, which is stable on any surface.  I live in an older home – no level floors! – so mobility does not compromise stability and I don’t have to shim one side or the other to keep it from wobbling.   The mass of all the gear keeps the bench stable.  The monitors are mounted on a custom stand so that they can be positioned, via swing arms and are otherwise stable when you need to move the bench around.  I use a KVM switch with multiple computers (windows, Linux) and have a set of cables so that I can plug in a project computer and use the same monitors and keyboard.  All the computers are on the same switch for optimal Ethernet performance.  I build kits, prototype circuits for sensor conditioning and muck around with micro-controllers, as well as fix/hack your various consumer electronics.  Cheers, Mike Sydor.

All the good stuff in one place! Power, a solder station, a scope, and more! (Source: Mike Sydor)

Do you want to share images of your workspace, hackspace, or “circuit cellar”? Send us your images and info about your space.

EIM Bootcamp: Circuit Cellar Today & Tomorrow


Elektor bootcamp discussion

Want a behind-the-scenes look at the Elektor and Circuit Cellar teams?  You can link to a short, free report on my recent visit to our company headquarters in Limbricht, Netherlands, where EIM staffers from around the globe met up for a corporate “bootcamp.” The purpose of the meeting was to assess the company’s current offerings (magazines, books, kits, etc.), discuss the needs of members, and plan for the future.