Monday 26 December 2016

Santa Stopped Here

Unwilling to go to the trouble of watching out, not crying, not pouting and - worst of all - being nice rather than naughty, the kids round here resorted to posting stop signs, exhorting Santa to call at their gaffs yesterday.

Not wanting to be outdone by the little darlings, I joined in...

and - glad tidings of great joy - it worked!

I've never really had anything to complain about before, but Santa really excelled himself this year (aided and abetted by the XYL), providing the Rigol DS1054Z I've been sniffing around for a while...

Here are some proud boasts of a kid with a new toy first impressions, formed after opening the box and looking at some of the functions offered by this inexpensive instrument.

There's a great colour display and four input channels. There's the temptations of some software hacks to increase the available bandwidth above the cited 50MHz. There's also the promise of digital connectivity, which means an end to all those ugly oscilloscope screen photographs, which have blighted the pages of  'Shack Nasties' over the years.

Getting some screen images onto the computer was the first thing I tried - which involved downloading the two lumps of freeware which Rigol provide to accompany my new toy: UltraSigma and UltraScope.

With these pieces of code in place on the shack PC, I could hook up immediately to the new 'scope and see the screen. I achieved this first through the ethernet connection (just because I could) and then went back to the planned option of USB...

All of this was anticipated - I expected to be able to 'echo' the screen and its controls on the PC. What I didn't expect was that the PC display could provide different information to that presented on the (already more than adequate) seven inch screen of my new 'scope.

I can - for example - set up some measurements on the PC (making it do service as a multimeter and counter/timer)...

Here you can see that the sinewave I'm shoving into the 'scope to give you something to look at has frequency of 4.386 kHz and you can check its RMS value. You can do all sorts of other stuff as well - but we're only just getting started here!

Given the frequency content, it might be interesting to open an FFT window on the PC (you can do this on the 'scope too - but the bigger PC screen makes the additional graphical information easier to consume, whilst keeping up the conventional time-domain display on the instrument)...

Here (above) is the expected peak in the magnitude spectrum at the correct frequency. The FFT was being computed at something like 1 MHz sample rate, but I've changed the display to make things easier to see (which explains why the frequency resolution isn't so great). Here's the same signal, sampled at a lower rate (i.e. with the horizontal timebase slower), making the frequency resolution higher...

I've had this new toy for thirty six hours and I've been playing with it for a few minutes. It seems to me to be bursting with possibilities and it is absolutely amazing value for money. Plus, the XYL (who acted as Santa's little helper in this transaction) tells me that the UK agent was really helpful and good to do business with.

Here's one little boy who's been very lucky.

I hope you've been lucky too and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas,

...-.- de m0xpd

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