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TBS1000 Series Debuts – The Professional Digital Scopes Everyone can Afford

Today, Tektronix launched the TBS1000 Series of digital oscilloscopes aimed at start-up businesses, schools, and serious hobbyists. 

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TBS1152 Two-channel Digital Storage Oscilloscope, 150 MHz, 1 GS/s

The time appears to be right. I’ve talked recently to a lot of experienced embedded designers who are taking the entrepreneurial track and working for “Self, Inc.”  Last week I visited an engineering school working hard to keep up with increasing numbers and rapidly advancing technology. On the hobbyist front, cheap, simple development platforms are driving a resurgence in home electronics projects. A couple of months ago I helped my daughter and her friend build a fashionable (if impractical) Arduino-powered shoe for their school science fair (below). In these endeavors, engineers, students and hobbyists often get by with older used equipment, or cheap scopes made from off-the-shelf components.

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Prototype shoe with highly-programmable flashers

For some it’s a matter of pride to be able to design modern embedded systems with 1970’s instruments. Part of the fun is in keeping that beloved Tektronix 2465 analog scope up and running. I’m not advocating that you throw away any close friends, but let’s face it – there’s a place on your bench for a professional-grade digital scope.

The TBS1000 Series is for those want a digital scope with good performance, but just don’t have much money to spend. However, just because you have a small budget, doesn’t mean you should have to suffer with mediocre sampling and measurements. This new series delivers great sampling, analog, and measurement performance, starting at a US suggested list price of $520.

The TBS1000 is based on the same technology as the very popular TDS2000 Series. Five models are available with bandwidths from 25 MHz to 150 MHz and use the same digital real-time sampling technology which is implemented in Tektronix proprietary ASICs. Using this technique, TBS1000 Series scopes oversample at more than 6.7 samples per cycle at maximum bandwidth. You can get a feel for the sampling performance from the screen below, which shows a narrow pulse captured on a 100 MHz TBS1102 which has 10X oversampling at its fastest horizontal scales.

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Digital real-time sampling gives 1 GS/s sampling at 5 ns/div on a TBS1102

Guaranteed three percent DC gain accuracy provides the foundation for reliable measurements. Every instrument is calibrated using standards traceable to national standards before it leaves the factory, and a certificate of calibration comes with each one. A user-executable, software calibration procedure helps insure that the instruments perform optimally after they leave the factory. The 16 automatic waveform measurements use the same algorithms as higher-end Tektronix scopes to provide proven measurement results. The figure below shows a few example measurements.

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Automatic peak-to-peak voltage, RMS voltage, and phase measurements

For many projects, say Arduino-powered shoes, you could get by with old or amateur- grade instruments, but with the launch of TBS1000 Series that’s starting to make less and less sense from a practical and budget perspective. Is there room for one on your bench? And be sure to tell us about what you’re planning to help build for your child’s science fair or your next amazing embedded device.