Integrating traditional and modular test instruments: controllers and software

Test and Measurement World just published an article of mine titled “Integrating traditional and modular instruments”. Here I look at the controller, interface and software issues involved when combining traditional LXI instruments with modular VXI, PXI or AXIe instruments. It’s not as difficult as it seems, as the industry is converging on two physical interfaces: LAN and PCIe (PCI Express).  In this article I explain the differences between message-based and register-based instruments, and how the SCPI, VISA and IVI standards are layered and play together. My goal is to remove the mystery around these topics. You can read the article here.

By Larry DJ

Option Value and Test Strategy

Why do stock options have value even when they have no present financial gain? Why is it better to wait until you drive before deciding the exact route? And most importantly, what does this all have to do with test systems, test strategy, or PXI hybrid slots?

Read my latest Outside the Box blog here before your options run out.

By Larry DJ

The Coming Data Converter Revolution

The world of data converters is changing.  They are not only getting better- there are powerful market forces that are causing their advancements to accelerate.  This has powerful implications to the world of test and measurement as the barriers to entry collapse.  “Outside the Box” is on the case!  Two new data converters from Texas Instruments are spotlighted.  Moore’s Law, PXI and AXIe are all players.

The revolution will not be televised- so you will have to read about it here.


By Larry DJ

Good Vibrations: Not just a Beach Boys song

In my March 12 blog of Outside the Box, I summarize ADLINK’s latest PXI introduction of dynamic signal analyzer tools for noise, vibration and harshness.  I also describe how fiber cables are being used to make distributed temperature measurements.  Finally, I describe why ADLINK’s new 9-slot PXI chassis being all hybrid compatible is such a big deal, and give you a sneak preview of an exciting new chassis they will soon be introducing.

To catch these good vibrations, click here.

By Larry DJ

PCI Express – Espresso for test systems

In my February 19 blog of Outside the Box, I describe why I believe PCI Express is like your test system downing a dozen espresso shots, and SCPI is like drinking decaf.  What enables speed in a functional test system is truly one of the most mis-understood aspects of communication busses and protocols. It is more wrapped up in the latencies of register-based and message-based communications than absolute bus speed of PCIe or LAN.

So, if your test system needs a pick-me-up, brew some high octane java, and read more about it here.


By Larry DJ

Mobile World Congress 2012 Report

I attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in late February 2012.  I wrote daily reports for Test and Measurement World, and blogged about it in Outside the Box.  The daily reports summarized all aspects of the conference, not just modular instruments. The final summary reported on the implications for test, and non-traditional test in particular.  Here, in a single summary, are the links and preview text to each report.  The full length versions are best read while eating tapas and drinking Sangria to get the total experience!

Mobile World Congress Preview

It will be impossible to cover all what’s going on at MWC, or even all of the test content.  My goal is to extract major trends, the test challenges, and what test vendors are doing to meet those challenges. My schedule is crazily packed, so the daily articles will be condensed versions of these themes. So what are the new trends? Finding out is one of the reasons I’m going there. But here are some of the hot technologies already apparent:  LTE (Long Term Evolution), LTE-Advanced, MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out), 802.11ac, and femtocells, to name a few.  I’ll also be touring the GSMA Connected House to get a view of the future, and talking with semiconductor companies who are on the leading edge.

Mobile World Congress Day 1

The first day of the 2012 Mobile World Congress found Agilent Technologies, Rohde & Schwarz, National Instruments, and Anritsu all exhibiting their latest products for wireless test.  Technologies included MIMO, LTE, 802.11ac, 802.11ad, WiGig, and MHL. Special interview with Dr. James Truchard, CEO of National Instruments.

Mobile World Congress Day 2

The second day of the 2012 Mobile World Congress found Ixia, Spirent Communications, EXFO, and Aeroflex exhibiting their latest products for wireless test. JDSU introduced a revolutionary new probe technology for network monitoring.  Technologies included small cells, femtocells, LTE, WiFi, 802.11ac, DDOS, TD-SCDMA, LTE-Advanced, and PacketPortal.

Mobile World Congress Day 3

The third day of the 2012 Mobile World Congress found Tektronix Communications showcasing LTE-monitoring solutions, while the WiGig Alliance and Altair spoke about their test needs.  Technologies included K2Air, CPRI, LTE, DPC, Wi-Fi, and WiGig Alliance.  Special interview with Intel’s Ali Sadri and Altair’s Shane Lo.  Modules were shown by Qualcomm and Wilocity.

Mobile World Congress Day 4

The final day of the 2012 Mobile World Congress found new semiconductors from Texas Instruments, creative testing techniques from Azimuth Systems, and an innovative new cell phone and heart monitor from EPhone International.  App Planet featured Neustar, Edmondo, and Actuator Solutions. Technologies included data converters, ADCs, DACs, Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, MIMO, and ECG.

Mobile World Congress Summary

Let me sum up my impressions. The largest technology drivers of test needs are: MIMO, LTE, LTE-Advanced, 802.11ac, and WiGig. This blog “Outside the Box” is focused on non-traditional test techniques, the most prevalent being modular instrumentation. Here are the summaries of what I saw…

By Larry DJ

This blog is moving to Outside the Box!

Hello readers!  I am moving my weekly commentary to “Outside the Box”.  Click here to see the latest posts.  It is being hosted by Test and Measurement World, a leading publication in the world of test.  

“Outside the Box” will add frequent commentary about the modular instrument industry, embedded test, and other topics outside the domain of traditional box instrumentation.  Read what this new blog is all about here.  I’m very excited and honored to be blogging at such a prestigious magazine. 

After some deliberation, I have decided to continue this site, Modular Matters.  There are advantages for doing so.  I will post the links to any new Outside the Box blog posting here.  I will also post links to any articles I’ve authored.  For example, I recently reported daily from Mobile World Congress, and the articles include more detail than any single blog can.  Therefore, if you follow Modular Matters, you will get instant notification of any new blog postings or articles. Also, the search function in the upper right portion of the Modular Matters home page allows searching for keywords across all of Modular Matters.  I may also report on news or industry dynamics that doesn’t align with the Outside the Box objectives.  The bottom line is that following Modular Matters may very useful for those following the happenings of the test and measurement industry.

To get the latest articles and analysis, tap the + Follow icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen (though the position may vary depending on your browser), and enter your email address.  You will be notified automatically of any new posts. You may also follow me on Twitter at @modularconx

Thank you!  And make sure you check in weekly at Test and Measurement World and Modular Connections to check what is the latest news in modular instruments.

By Larry DJ