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Digital Phosphor for Mainstream Electronics

Introducing the TDS3000 Family of DPO Oscilloscopes

The digital phosphor oscilloscope (DPO), introduced earlier this year in Tektronix' flagship line of TDS500D and TDS700D oscilloscopes, is enjoying excellent market acceptance. And it is easy to see why. The DPO's ability to display, store and analyze complex signals in real time, combined with its rich feature set, high-speed acquisition, and advanced triggering and analysis capabilities, clearly makes it the instrument of choice for today's demanding cutting-edge applications.

Now Tektronix brings this powerful DPO technology to mainstream electronics with its TDS3000--the DPO for everyone. This remarkable architecture is captured in an instrument equipped to meet the broad-based needs of today's design engineers and manufacturing and service professionals working in communications, computer/peripherals and industrial electronics. The TDS3000 is the first family of DPOs for mainstream electronics, setting new standards for flexibility and ease of use, and delivering unparalleled price/performance.

New Demands Create New Needs in Electronics

Just like their high-end counterparts, mainstream designers and service professionals are being profoundly affected by the widespread adoption of faster processors and the rise of Internet-driven applications. But these engineers and technicians--faced with the competitive reality of today's electronics market--must balance performance with cost, portability and ease-of-use considerations when choosing an oscilloscope.

Performance is becoming a dominant concern. New bus and networking architectures, along with new compression schemes, are being developed to accommodate the accelerated flow of data. Unfortunately, existing oscilloscope solutions--the analog real-time (ART) and digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs)--can no longer keep pace with these faster, complex signals.

For example, designers and technicians creating or troubleshooting video equipment need to clearly capture and see all the information contained in the composite video signal. Since aliasing is always a major concern when acquiring a video waveform with a DSO, these professionals still rely heavily on the ART to see all the details in real time. Of course, in turning to an ART they sacrifice the ability to store and analyze the waveform, an unavoidable drawback until now. Moreover, even the best ARTs are limited by the writing speed of the CRT and their simple triggering. But as video becomes more pervasive, moving onto the desktop and into consumer telecommunication, the need to easily capture and analyze video signals will become a major priority.

Even in mainstream digital design, where the DSO has long been the oscilloscope of choice, faster clock rates and complex compression schemes for efficient data transmission are straining the limits of the DSO. In applications with 8-bit embedded controllers--ranging from microwaves and irrigation systems to safety-critical automotive devices--signal rates are climbing past 100 MHz, with noise, glitches and jitter riding on top of these fast digital signals. To track down these subtle anomalies, each of which can compromise a product's performance, designers and technicians need an ART-like display to see infrequent events. But they also want to trigger on logic events and store and analyze the waveforms--capabilities an ART simply cannot provide.

Post-processing modes, such as persistence in DSOs, attempt to create the information-rich display these people need. But this approach requires acquisition over a long period of time, eliminating any kind of instantaneous feedback. And the more channels used, the slower the process. Plus, post-processing modes in DSOs miss important aperiodic events and dynamic signal behavior - often the very root of the behavior the design engineer or technician is hoping to uncover and examine.

The Digital Phosphor Oscilloscope Meets the Needs

Aware that emerging needs are pushing existing test and measurement approaches to their limit, Tektronix developed the DPO, which displays, stores and analyzes complex signals in real time. After introducing this new approach in its high-performance line of oscilloscopes, Tektronix is now offering a second family of DPOs, giving design engineers and technicians all the performance they need in a compact, affordable instrument.

Better than analog and better than digital, the DPO is specifically designed to easily negotiate the challenges created by faster waveforms and complex signals. It displays all the nuanced details of complex waveforms, including "frequency of occurrence" information (Figure 1). It even delivers the real-time response like its ART counterpart. All of this qualitative performance is then joined in the DPO with waveform storage, in-depth analysis and comprehensive automatic measurements. The complete display can be saved, analyzed and measured. Similar to DSOs, the DPO bandwidth is not limited by the CRT technology and supports sophisticated triggering.


Blending the qualitative and quantitative performance of an ART and DSO is a remarkable enough achievement. But the DPO goes even further by providing three dimensions of signal information: amplitude, time and the distribution of amplitude over time. The benefit of this new third dimension is the interpretation of the signal dynamics, including instantaneous changes in the signal and the frequency of occurrence. While ARTs can similarly display these three dimensions, they cannot store or analyze them.

Along with three dimensions of waveform data, the DPO delivers an unprecedented level of information. To ensure all the details are seen, the DPO provides much more signal data than a DSO. In addition to being protected from digital aliasing, design engineers and technicians no longer need worry about missing infrequent signal events. Any and all complex signal behavior, such as video signals or high-speed anomalies on digital waveforms, are accurately shown. Now it's possible to capture elusive behavior that an ART and DSO simply overlook. What's more, the DPO is able to deliver this quantum leap in performance in real time, creating a live display of actual signal behavior.

Addressing the Needs of Mainstream Electronics

Although bringing DPO architecture to the value-priced platform was a priority, Tektronix strove as well with the TDS3000 to meet all the needs of mainstream engineers and technicians. As a result, the TDS3000 also establishes a new set of performance standards for affordable digital oscilloscopes.

Exceptional Performance: This family delivers bandwidth and acquisition capabilities usually associated with high-performance instruments. Depending on the model, these oscilloscopes offer a full 100 MHz to 500 MHz single-shot bandwidth simultaneously across two or four channels. This gives the TDS3000 the lowest-priced banner specs on the market, helping electronics professionals everywhere to see, store and analyze complex, higher-speed signals.

Portability: Battery-operated and weighing under seven pounds, these scopes are small and lightweight, making them the perfect measurement tool on site or out in the field.

Easy Customization with Application Modules: To customize the oscilloscope to their needs and extend the instrument's capabilities, users can easily install optional application modules. Up to four modules can be used simultaneously by simply placing them into any one of the four slots in the upper right-hand corner of the front panel. The oscilloscope will automatically recognize the module and update the TDS3000 with its capabilities. Three modules--fast Fourier transform (FFT), extended video and advanced trigger--are currently available, with more to follow.

The advanced trigger module adds logic and pulse triggering capabilities to the oscilloscope. The logic triggers include pattern and state while the pulse triggers provide pulse width, runt pulse and slew rate. Using these advanced triggers, typically only offered in high-performance oscilloscopes, engineers and technicians can now quickly zero in on the signal behavior of interest when characterizing or troubleshooting an application.

The extended video module is especially useful for professionals servicing or maintaining video systems. Without the module, the TDS3000 DPO can trigger on standard video waveform types such as 525/NTCS, 625/PAL and SECAM. But with the optional module, the video capabilities are extended to include triggering on specific lines and fields, and operating at custom scan rates--capabilities these engineers and technicians need. It also provides video autoset, which automatically adjusts the settings to display a video waveform, thereby enabling the user to change the graticule to either IRE or mV formats to simplify the measurement and analysis of video waveforms.

The FFT module adds measurement capabilities to the TDS3000 oscilloscope. Being able to quickly look at a signal's frequency components and spectrum shape is a powerful analysis tool when testing the impulse response of filters and systems, or when measuring harmonic content and distortion. This module can also be used for analyzing harmonics in 50 Hz and 60 Hz power lines, analyzing vibration, or for identifying and locating noise and interference sources. Four FFT windows--rectangular, Hamming, Hanning and Blackman-Harris--enable the user to match the optimum window to the signal being analyzed.

Unprecedented Ease of Use: All this advanced performance in the TDS3000 is combined with an unparalleled ease of use. To simplify oscilloscope operation, the QuickMenu user mode brings common functions to the highest menu level, giving users the ability to perform many tasks without using the regular menu system. As a result, all major controls are only a single button-push away for immediate access. Because video measurements can be especially challenging, a convenient video QuickMenu is included with the extended video module. The TDS3000 also comes equipped with a color display to simplify the viewing of multiple waveforms. The waveforms, readouts and buttons are color-matched to help increase productivity and reduce operating errors

WaveStarTM software is also available for this family of oscilloscopes, supporting computer network connectivity. This Windows-based application software allows engineers and technicians to connect, capture and incorporate important waveform information into field reports or archive files without requiring any programming. This greatly streamlines the growing need to document design and troubleshooting information. Moreover, the waveforms can be analyzed using third-party, PC-based applications. The user can even control their oscilloscopes from their PC with the WaveStar software.

Finally, the TDS3000 supports a full range of probing solutions, making this family of oscilloscopes one of the most versatile test and measurement tools on the market. Differential probes can be used with the TDS3000 when probing digital designs or transducers. The electronics professional can use current probes or high-voltage probes for examining power supplies, motor controllers and power electronics. Active probes are ideal for acquiring high-frequency signals or when probing sensitive circuits. If the probes have the TekProbe II interface, the TDS3000 will automatically set the channel sensitivity, coupling and termination resistance to match the probe requirements.

Breaking the Price/Performance Barrier: The TDS3000's price is the final area where this family of oscilloscopes sets a new standard. One would expect a DPO with advanced performance and flexibility to cost markedly more than other oscilloscopes. But that is simply not the case. In fact, the TDS3000 is appreciably lower in price than other oscilloscopes offering much less.

A New Era of Oscilloscopes for New Design Challenges

By extending the DPO paradigm to mainstream electronics, Tektronix is solidifying this new direction in oscilloscope architecture, providing the performance needed for emerging challenges in electronics design. The TDS3000's real-time, intensity-graded display--coupled with its exceptional performance, ease of use and affordability--ensure that these oscilloscopes will quickly become the tool of choice for engineers and technicians across the electronics industry.