Multiple Instrument Synchronization & Mixed Signal Capability

Practically all automated test and the majority of benchtop applications utilize a variety of test instruments including digitizers, digital waveform analyzers and generators, signal generators, and switches. Let’s take a closer look at multiple instrument synchronization.

The characteristic timing and synchronization capacity of PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation (PXI) modular instruments enables you to synchronize all kinds of instruments without resorting to external cabling; for example, you can integrate both a digitizer and waveform generator to perform parameter sweeps — this is especially beneficial for characterizing the frequency and phase response of the device under test. Because the entire sweep can be automated, you can avert manually setting the parameters of the oscilloscope and waveform generator, and you can avoid analyzing the measurements offline. You can drastically improve speed and efficiency with a modular approach to PXI, allowing you to focus on results instead of the tedious steps you would otherwise need to get those results.

Let’s move on to mixed signal capability. T-Clock technology enables you to create systems with as many as one hundred thirty-six synchronized channels in one PXI chassis or as many as five thousand channels with multiple chassis, and it also lets you synchronize different types of testing instruments; for instance, a digitizer or oscilloscope can be synchronized — using T-clock technology — to digital waveform analyzers and generators as well as signal generators in order to build complete mixed signal systems.

Instead of settling for a mixed-signal digital storage oscilloscope, which will have limited digital functionality compared to a modular system, you can instead opt for a modular PXI digitizer with digital waveform analyzers and generators and arbitrary waveform generators in order to design an integrated mixed-signal application that benefits from including both a logic analyzer and an oscilloscope.

As an aside, a stand-alone oscilloscope and a modular digitizer each have particular applications for which they are better suited. You will need to consider application, cost, performance, and expandability before you can decide on the test instrument which best suits your unique needs.
Nick Jakubowski


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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