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  • EEVblog #199 – Tektronix Mixed Domain Oscilloscope MDO4000 Review

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 EEVblog 44 comments


    In another world exclusive, Dave reviews Tektronix’s new Mixed Domain Oscilloscope, the MDO4000 series that is released TODAY.
    Does it live up to the hype of changing the oscilloscope landscape and creating a new oscilloscope category?
    Also, it is a review of the MSO4000 series Mixed Signal Oscilloscope. How does that compare to the Agilent X Series?
    See PART 2 for the teardown!

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    44 responses to “EEVblog #199 – Tektronix Mixed Domain Oscilloscope MDO4000 Review” RSS icon

    • I’m willing to bet that the threaded holes are for a VESA mount (think TVs and monitors).

      • Yep, turns out that’s exactly what it’s for.

      • Fantastic demonstration!

        Few points to update.

        0 Now start at $12,200.00
        0 You can store Software keys onto the scope and throw them away if you’d like, or you can share software on other scopes.
        0 Software keys are specific to industry, most customrs use 1-3 only.

        Very Fair… I like your style…
        gggtoolman, Sales Engineer / ProTEQ

    • whats an spo sound meter?

    • lol so many acronyms <3

    • Those threaded mounting holes look like a vesa mount like you find on the back of monitors for a wall mount or a pipe mount.

    • Yeah I’m sure all us hobbyists will be rushing out to drop $25K on one of these.

    • What’s this? Oscilloscope the movie? lol

    • I want that soooooo bad. Could you imagine how useful that could be while designing modulators and demodulators! AMAZING! RF in, analog intermediate products, digital out… Perfect.

    • Awesome video, as always! But Dave, you haven’t really dropped the scope, have you? Please tell me you dropped it onto a soft cushion and edited some nasty sound into the video.

    • The idea is good and I wonder why nobody else did it until now. For people who need it, it’s reall a great toy.

      But … for that much money on a new Scope the screen update rate is poor, I think.
      How to use the menu … hm.
      How to move things on screen … are you serious???

    • Oh, it;s ugly. Like any other tek device. :P

      • Yeah, it’s not very pretty is it.
        The new Agilent X series looks pretty funky. Kind of reminds me of the difference between the “Mac guy” and the fat overweight “PC guy” in those TV ads!

        • What OS does this piece of engineering uses? Windows? Linux?

          Is it real time?

          The interface reminds me of X application under GNU/Linux :P.

          • Kart (not that Karl, the other Karl)

            If it would be Linux it would be ugly but fast. That interface is ugly and slow.

            Either it is some Tek inhouse stuff, in which they sank so much money in over the years that they are now in a corner where they don’t easily can get out, and were a Danaher manager didn’t grant them the time and resources to get out, or it is based on some of rather ancient, commercial, proprietary RTOS, in which they sank so much money …

            I bet every Tek engineer working on developing this knows the boot time is shit. I bet some have really good ideas how that could be fixed, and I bet there is a bunch of MBAs who told the even fewer engineers who dared to open their mouth about it to shut up or else …

            I am not so sure about Tek engineers being aware of the ugliness of the interface. If there is one thing common among electrical engineers than that they simply have no taste and no feel for style. The Tek EEs developing the interface might well like it in some pervert lapse of taste.

          • Tek said it is an embedded Linux.

          • VxWorks. like many of the DPO series.

    • Funny how the Flexray license is the most expensive considering the standard is dead.

    • 1:31 minutes bootup !! Jihha, that the new coffee break feature in the firmware :)

      Abought the USB power. I know is flault. It’s not a really fault. I use a controller from another series of the semi supplyer, its only a configuration bit.

      The phenomenon has to do with the power sensing (low / highpower device)on the usb controller. When you plug in a USB with powerpins connected only, the the USB controller doesen’t recordnize if it is a hight or low power USB device and switch it of to reset the device, because ther are no data pins which can tell the controller “Hello i’m a hight or low power device”.
      Plug in the black connector and i think the Demoboard will be run correctly.

      If not, what a expensive piece of crap. :P

    • Hi Dave

      I miss my MSO4104, ive upgraded it to the MSO5204 but its not a patch on it really

      As for the keys to unlock more functionality – there should be four spaces, the other two are the other way around behind the front two – well on the MSO4000 they were – can you see em?

      Billy

    • I will also say the 5000 series drops the keys, and uses SW licenses like the Aglient

    • The lockups are worse when you have measurments enabled, and the updates too – your test may have been a little quicker finding the glitches if you turned off all the measurements

    • The low update rate, especially at high record lengths, may have a simple explanation. The sampling speed is 5 Gs/s. the absolute maximum update rate (theoretical) calculates to 5000000000/20000000=125 waveforms per second. With the internal turn around times this must be at least a factor of 2 slower(2 cycles: 1 capture, 1 readout)The processing overhead adds as well, so 20 updates per second can be explained.I wonder how the update rate of the RF Spectrum analyzer is. Any number? I like the scope!

    • Dave-

      Great work on the blog, been watching for a few months. Lately I’ve been a big fan of the amp hour too. It really makes my long commute to work a lot more enjoyable. Much better than all the normal talk radio garabge they have on the local stations.

      I did want to say one thing about the video. In regards to the cost of the RS232 module for the tek, I think comparing it to the Agilent 3000 is a little unfair. This new Tek MDO is more on par with Agilent’s MSO7000, and in that case, Agilent charges $1500.00 for the Rs232 license.

      That said, I love Agilent and can’t wait for their X version of the 7000. I might just have to get a 3000 to tide me over. I have a Tek right now and can’t wait to get rid of it. I unfortunately bought it right before the new Agilents came out.

    • I think at 42:00 you can actually have set it to have more than 5 automated markers.

    • Hey dave,

      What camera did you use to shoot this? Still the old sanyo?

    • 1. The MDO4000 takes 4 application modules, not just 2. There are two more slots behind the front ones.
      2. You plug in a module, use the Utility menu to unload the licence into the oscilloscope and then stow them away. This means you can have more than 4 applications, up to the 12 that are available. The installation manual, that you discarded, tells you this.
      3. The demo board has two plugs – you need to plug them both in to power the board. The demo board manual tells you this.
      4. You can have up to 11 markers.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for the review, very interesting and a good overview. A few modern DSOs use non-square divisions and 1,2,4 sequences, it’s only different for a few hours. The menu system on the Tek looks messy though. The RF part is only cheap and won’t replace a proper lab specan at all. It’s nicely made, but the noise floor is far too high to be a real specan. There is only a chip based VCO, no sign of a YIG oscillator anywhere. In practical terms, I reckon separate boxes are better, if one breaks, you can still get some work done. It’s an interesting experiment as an instrument, we’ll see if the other big manufacturers bother responding. Loved the drop test, I bet the guys at Tek cringed. I’m still laughing…
      Cheers, Colin

    • a touchscreen would make the UI more logical

    • Re the USB…

      It looks like this Tektronix scope only provides 100mA out the USB ports instead of 500mA.

      100mA is a valid current output for a USB port (500mA is referred as “high power” ports).

      That’s why the demo board couldn’t be powered off the scope’s USB port.

      Additionally, it’s why most of the thumbdrives don’t work with the USB ports – surprisingly, they often require 200+ mA to work. Some of the ones that would work would be externally powered hard disks (no power from USB port) and possibly plugging a powered USB hub into the port and using that.

      Or, a specially hacked USB extension cord with a power injector.

      (I’ve done enough USB work to be familiar with it – 100mA ports are part of the USB spec, and are what a port has to provide minimum. However, if a port and device can negotiate a higher power setting, then the device can use it. If not, it’s obligated to use 100mA or stay unconfigured. Most devices assume 500mA and thus… break).

    • what even the point of such reviews, I mean not many hobbyist will drop 20-30K on tool

      • More than half of my audience are engineering professionals, not hobbyists.
        And in any case, it’s interesting to see these tools even if you can’t afford them.

        • even professionals usually dont get such equipment for personal use. You had great susses with Rigol review which show what people looking for, why not continue revering solutions that people can actually benefit from. For example there isn’t many affordable spectrum analyzers, month ago I got Signal Hound and very happy with it why not create review on affordable RF equipment which is rare

    • The user interface lag seems to be carried over from the DPO and MSO oscilloscope series. The worst (not shown in your video) is when you have all channels on, a couple of measurements on, and math on, and you try to move the cursors left or right. The oscilloscope samples the “a” and “b” multipurpose rotary encoder knobs so slowly that the cursors sometimes move in the *opposite* direction from what they’re supposed to.

      The lag in moving the waveform position vertically (especially with a lot of functions on), and the marker lag when scrolling the waveform inspector is also present on the DPO and MSO series. So is the general lag in update rate when you have math/measurements/a lot of functions enabled. The other user-interface quirks you mentioned can be annoying, but you do get used to them after a while. Push buttons on the knobs would be nice though.

      In our school lab, about 3/4 of the usb sticks people use work, which is a lot better than the 1/3 success rate you had (although really the success rate should be closer to 100%). A lot of the times the usb stick will still work even though the first time it gives an error.

      I agree with Karl’s assessment above that Tektronix has probably sunk a lot of resources into developing the current main processor/user interface system, and doesn’t want to change it even thought there are a lot of problems that still aren’t fixed.

      • Yep, it seems as though Tek ultimately backed the wrong horse in the architecture department and have milked it for far too long, and it’s come back to bight them now Agilent suddenly leaped forward.
        There are faint rumors they are working on something new, but we’ll have to wait to see how long it takes them to get a new solution to market.

    • Hi Dave,

      I’m not a USB expert, but I noticed that the two USB sticks that you appeared to have problems with were wider than the holes in the faceplate for the USB ports. The USB stick that did work was slightly narrower than the width of the holes in the faceplate for the USB ports. It was hard to see for sure if this is the problem in your video, but many times I’ve had situations where the USB stick or other USB device is wider than the hole in the face plate for the port, which prevents the USB device from being pushed completely into the port. In these situations, I plug a USB extension cable into the port which is narrower than the hole in the face plate, and then plug the USB stick or other device into the extension cord.

      Thanks for the videos, they kick butt!
      Bobby G.

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