Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Would an Engineer Work in Sales?

Recently I had a chance to revisit my path from the design bench to the world of sales. Our sales organization was in the process of adding some field applications engineers (FAE), and I found myself advising prospects about how life would be different if they were to become FAEs. While I am currently a regional sales manager, my first job off the bench was as an applications engineer for Tektronix. Since this is a choice many design engineers may consider at some point, I thought it would be good blog fodder. Before you trade in your soldering iron for a minivan (mine on the left, Tektronix FAE Alan Wolke’s on the right), it’s important to consider all aspects of the FAE role.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Putting the Logic in Logic Analyzers

Crossed posted at: Bandwidth Banter Blog

Tektronix recently introduced the TLA6400, a performance leap in the world of value-priced monolithic bench-top logic analyzers.  Performance like this used to require more expensive card-modular systems, more suitable to ASIC designers than FPGA programmers or general purpose users.  However, with faster parallel bus signals (such as new high-speed COTS ADC’s and DDR memory), many designers find themselves needing performance logic analyzer specifications at budget-friendly prices. While a high-end performance logic analyzer can cost over $100k, the TLA6400 starts at around $13k.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Solid-State Drives Offer Easy Speed Boost for Scopes

This is my first cross-posted blog post.  I recently started blogging at Tektronix Bandwidth Banter, so I will cross post my writings here.  Link to Bandwidth Banter Post (same as below).

The DPO5000 oscilloscope gives easy access to the hard drive bay.
Tektronix recently added solid state hard drive option to several of its higher performance oscilloscopes known as Option SSD. Why would you want a solid state hard drive, and what value would it add to your lab?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Analyzing SpaceWire Bus - Creating the Clock with Oscilloscope XOR

SpaceWire is one of the most exciting new technologies in the space electronics industry.  Previous designs used MIL-STD-1553, but are limited in speed to 1MB/s. SpaceWire (IEEE 1355.2) uses low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) to push speeds from 2MB/s to 400MB/s.  For those who are in the commercial world, it may not sound incredibly fast, but it represents a huge improvement in the harsh environment of a spacecraft.  Today you can buy SpaceWire bus analyzers to see the detailed protocol, but as designs move from faster, many designers are discovering the need to look at the actual bits for signal integrity work.  Fielded designs are still using speeds below 100MB/s, but in the future it will likely be pushed to its limit.  In this first blog post, I will discuss how to generate the clock using the MATH system on your oscilloscope.  In future posts, I will discuss simple bit level decode and more advanced jitter and timing measurements.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's Wrong with my Function Generator? (hint: nothing)

You sit at your bench and in front of you is a a function generator and a basic oscilloscope.  You connect the function generator to the oscilloscope with a BNC cable and proceed to create a simple signal to measure.  Surprise, the amplitude measured on the oscilloscope does not match what you set on the function generator.  The sine wave may read 1V peak-to-peak (Vpp) on the function generator, and yet on the oscilloscope, it says 20Vpp or 2Vpp.  Now is when you ask,

"What is wrong with my function generator?"