Our Logic Analyzers allow faster debugging for electronics professionals & serious hobbyists!

Mixed signal oscilloscopes or MSO’s, scopes that integrate a Logic Analyzer,  have been around around for ages. They are undoubtedly super useful pieces of equipment for any electronics engineer (or even hobbyists!). However, recently some firms started releasing Logic analyzers that support analog capturing. In this article, I’ll be explaining why we don’t think it’s a good idea.

Disclaimer: Before I continue, let me stress on the fact that I believe the companies releasing such devices are very respectful and respected competitors, i am just informing our position on the subject, to whom it may concern!

So, to put things simply, we think that a logic analyzer whose probes can be used to capture both analog and digital signals would end up being a toy, an expensive one, but not a reliable measurement device. Here’s why:

Sampling rate is not bandwidth

Look carefully at the analog sampling rate of that analog-capable logic analyzer. Chances are it will be below 100 MSPS (million samples per second). This may be due to hardware or economic limitations. What ever the reason is, 100 MSPS is not even close to what you’re used to have on a classic low cost Scope.

With a sampling rate of 100 MSPS, you can only start to clearly see analog signals having a frequency of 5 MHz (like a square wave clock signal). With a sampling rate of 10 MHz, don’t expect to reliably capture any analog signals having a frequency higher than 500 KHz. This, is in many cases, makes such a device, well… useless.

What that means is that you would get a half-baked scope-like features that can’t compete with the lowest cost Rigol scope on today’s market! We don’t want to offer you that! not even for free!

Logic Analyzer probes are not oscilloscope probes

If you are info electronics in a way or another, you would probably recognize in a glance what’s in the picture below. Good old oscilloscope probes! (and the tektronix scope laying on my desk, by the way!).

27516067_s

Oscilloscope probes may have evolved a lot during past decades, but some of it’s mains characteristics remain:

  • They are shielded
  • They have very low inductance
  • They are compensated for their stray capacitance
  • They have attenuators that further decrease their loading on the circuit.

I could write a lot about each and every one of those features, but the bottom line is: those probes will capture very low voltage signals with high degree of fidelity, without impacting the operation of the measured circuit.

Again, what that means, is that logic analyzer probes cannot be used to measure analog signals. Those probes are quite susceptible to transient noise.

A Scope, a Data Logger or a Logic Analyzer

You can’t have those three features in one low cost device. Even if you would find such a device, would you really want it? Those three kinds of devices exist independently for a reason. If there is no reason to have those devices combined “all-in-one”, then you’ll be better off using each device independently.

  • An oscilloscope’s design is optimized to collect a small amount of data but at a very high refresh rate
  • A Logic analyzer is optimized to capture a important amount of data while performing real time or near real time processing and decoding of the data.
  • A Data logger is designed to capture huge amount of brute data without any real time analysis or processing. Data may be analysed after being collected.

As you can see each device is optimized in such a way to give you maximum usability for specific applications, and that’s why we are careful when combining multiple functions in one device.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Dear hobbyists, fellow electronics engineers and all users of our Logic Analyzers,

First let me wish you all the best for 2015!

I am happy to announce that we have some new protocols decoders in our growing repository!

Among these, there is the – long awaited – USB decoder:

usb decoder screen shot

It can decode both low speed and full speed USB protocols. As you can see in the image above, it’ll present the decoded data in a nice “packet view” window.

Similarly, the JTAG decoder will also present decoded data using the packet view:

jtag decoder screenshot

The JTAG decoder can be configured to suit your needs using the configuration windows :

jtag configuration

Most importantly, the “data organisation” parameter will allow you to group the data into 8, 16 or 32 bit words. This can be very useful when – for example – you’re using a JTAG probe that reads or write MCU firmware in words of 32 bits (which is very often the case).

Finally, a Single Edge Nibble Transmission (SENT) decoder according to SAE2716 Jan 2010 was written by Volker Oth [forum username: 0xdeadbeef] and we thank him for his contribution!

SEND protocol decoder screenshot

The protocol decoder is very professionally written, does CRC verification and supports the packet view to provide a nice colorful view of the data packets.

 

 

 

Working with the famous nRF24l01 2.4GHz transceiver? Debugging will be much easier with a logic analyzer and our newly added dedicated nRF24L01 protocol interpreter.

The nRF24L01 decoders directly shows meaningful command names on the logic signals:

nrf_signals

Want to get a nice, colored, datasheet-like and intuitive representation of the data being transferred? the Packet View will give you just that:

nrf_packet

Hopefully, from now on, this decoder will help you whenever you’re working with Nordic Semiconductor transceivers!

Recently we have added to our growing list of decoders the following two items:

  • MIDI protocol decoder
  • I2C Temperature and humidity sensors decoder

Hopefully, this will boost your productivity if you happen to use those in your projects.

The Midi decoder can interpret almost all commands that we’re aware of, and will even interpret the names of the manufacturers, like in the example below:

midi decoder

The decoder have been designed with a MIDI specialist so it’s presented in the best possible way.

The I2C Temperature and humidity sensors have been developed since we worked with this kind of sensors for internal projects. We though a decoder could be useful so we did it! As you can see on the image below, the decoder will interpret the bitmap of the internal register of the I2C sensor.

i2c_temp_rh_sensor

That temperature and relative humidity sensor decoder should work with the following parts: SHT20, SHT21, SHT25, STS21, HTU21A, HTU20D, HTU21D, HTU_3800, Si7006_A10, Si7020_A10, Si7021_A10, Si7013_A10.

If you need any other deocoder added to our list of protocol decoders, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Scanastudio V2.304 have been out for a couple of days now, and I didn’t get the time to properly highlight its top features, like the “Bus View”

As the name implies, Bus View allows you to look at parallel data lines captured with your logic analyzer as a “bus”.

busview3 more

Well, the title says it all. We’ve just released a native version of ScanaStudio for Mac OS X.  As of version 2.303.000 of ScanaStudio, we will be providing full support and updates for the 3 major platforms: Linux, Mac and Windows. Now you can use any of our logic analyzers on your preferred OS. No need for virtual machines or parallel desktops…

You can download the latest release of ScanaStudio on this page: http://www.ikalogic.com/ikalogic-products/scanastudio-2/. Just pick your OS, and you’re ready to go.

Yesterday at work i did a really cool thing with the new Hex View feature of ScanaStudio, and I though i would share that with our readers! I used ScanaStudio to write a CMOS camera initialization function in minutes instead of hours! more