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  • EEVblog #587 – Tektronix MDO3000 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope Teardown

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 EEVblog 33 comments


    What’s inside Tektronix’s new MDO3000 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope?
    Dave does a teardown and looks at the circuitry and how they can get such a cheap 3GHz RF spectrum analyser to work.
    MDO4000 Teardown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9_JxRiuS5A
    Datasheets:
    HMC624 Digital RF Attenuator
    HMC311 InGaP HBT GAIN BLOCK
    HMC429 VCO
    Lattice LFE3 FPGA
    77725 LDO
    i.MX6 ARM Applications Processor
    PECL Buffer
    ADF4360 VCO
    1Gb DDR2 SDRAM
    Secrets Behind the MDO Spectrum Analyser
    Forum HERE

    High resolution teardown photos are here:

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    • Marcin

      good oscilloscope
      bad price …. too…. high
      When they adjust the prices of Chinese producers ?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        It’s the same price as the equivalent Agilent 3000X model

    • Jon

      At around 4:30 dave says that the line starts at about $3300. Yes the MDO3012 2 channel, 100MHz is $3350USD, $3670 AUD. But the 4 channel, 1GHz MDO3104 is $13,900 USD, $15,239 AUD! Dave has moved to the statosphere (in this case maybe even the exosphere) of test equipment leaving most of his viewers behind…

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        How is reviewing this any different to the equivalent price and performance Agilent 3000X model?

        • Jon

          Dave, I can’t answer that question as I didn’t view the Agilent 3000X episode nor did I check the price. I was just disappointed because I got really interested as I watched the entire video. Then I looked up the price and discovered how very impossible ownership would be. Maybe an upfront disclosure would have changed how I related to the presentation and this particular model. You did make a point of giving the entry unit price but no hint that this particular test instrument was over 4 times more expensive… sorry.

          • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

            a) This was not a review, it was a teardown
            b) Everyone should know that a 1GHz scope is going to be MUCH more expensive than a base model 100MHz unit.

            I fail to understand why people are complaining here. The teardown would have been practically identical if it was the 100MHz unit or the 1GHz unit, what’s the problem?

    • Marcin

      Rigol DS4024 = 3200 $
      4ch
      200MHz
      4 Gs
      140M memory !
      and
      easier and cheaper to enable additional features

      Let Tektronix :) kiss where the sun does not reach :)

    • JFA in Montreal

      Well, if I had been Dave, I wouldn’t have refused the package either, if it contained a 14-grands toy… :-)
      It was the least he could do to do a review, and the review in itself was interesting (watched it from beggining to end).

      However, this is marketing, and pricing is also set by marketing.

      It was funny how Dave said “well, that’s lame… well, not that much, but ehhhh, not ideal”.

      Dave DID change his behavior, or let’s say he nuanced it…

      It is obviously too expensive for the bang, with ridiculous pricing made for Big Corporate Rackets. One reason why the equipment is so expensive is precisely because corporations are willing to pay high prices. Why? Because by keeping the prices high, it makes small entrepreneurship much more difficult, and thus limit their competition. This is also why you’ll never see a large corporation rant against the personal income tax rate. High executives being paid often in options, not subject to the same taxing rules, make their money anyway.

      Canada is remarkable in that respect, because our tax rate is super high, our pay scale is quite low, and cost of living high. When you seek work, you always get asked “informally” oh, are you married? Own a house? They want to know because they want to know if they can hold you by the financial balls (disgruntling your spouse, mortgage payments, etc). Best way to NOT get a job at those places is to tell them during the interview that you are independently wealthy, and that you want to get busy because you are dying from boredom at home. :-)

      Or ask them to get two days a week off to run a business of yours that pays as much as their monthly salary. :-) If I had asked for two days a month because I was doing volunteer work, they would have been happy to grant them to me.

      Back to instrument pricing, sure Tektronix put a lot of engineering in there, but considering the effort required to develop the full-fledged capabilities, who profits from them having a progressive price? Come to think of it, if they gave away their software capabilities at a much lower price (say, full fledged capabilities at 5 grands), they would sell a truckload. BUT… Large corporation put it in their informal negociations to keep prices high, and they get volume discounts.

      One Kimble laboratory glassware rep explained that to me. I did not dream it up myself. He said that they got huge pressure from most pharmas (they are mega-buyers) so that garage-operations do not emerge to compete with them.

      Why is it that there aer so many pharmas in Montréal? Precisely for that. No-one can ever hope to save the money required to do a garage start-up with our wages scale, tax rate and cost of equipment.

      So, please Dave, do not get swallowed into that game.

      Just create more neat stuff, and thousand of people will buy your gizmos, and buy affordable equipment via your referral codes.

      These corporate administrators are nitwits who still believe in the notion of the economic (finite) pie. It is a fallacy, kept alive by people who have no creativity but want to reap the benefits of yours.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        How did I change my behavior?
        How is reviewing this scope any different to the equivalent Agilent 3000X I reviewed 3 years ago?
        WHy is everyone complaining about the price of the Tek?, it’s basically the SAME PRICE as the equivalent Agilent 3000X model.

    • http://www.eevblog.com/2014/02/24/element-14-holding-orders-based-on-us-government-watch-list/ Luger45

      Why didn’t you keep the MDO4000? Never saw it again in yout lab.
      A SA without a Tracking Gen is useless.
      These multi purpose devices are like “all fit car mats”, they don’t really fit exactely in your special car.
      A Scope is a Scope. A Spectrum Analyzer is a Spectrum Analyzer.
      Same is valid for a Logic Analyzer.
      We already had that with the music centers in the late 80′s.
      It’s always a compromise, which lacks some usefull features, when you need them.

      For me a “no go”.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        The MDO4000 was just a loaner. You’ll have to ask them why they didn’t let me keep it, no idea.

    • JFA in Montreal

      Another comment

      The fact that Big Corp Inc is sending you their stuff mean that they suspect you might have a following from the big corpo workforce.

      They are playing you, co-opting your efforts for big returns to them against peanuts to you. You’ve been a sucker. I’ve been too in my days, and still fall for it from time to time.
      We (been there, done that, got a whole friggin wardrobe of t-shirts…) scientists and technies are rather naive when it comes to money and marketing.

      Not convinced? Think again !

      First, they send you their priced-outside-of-the-grassroot-self-starter-market wares for you to pimp out to people who will usually buy them with AFTERTAX money. You get excited, seeing only the 14 grands retail price you’d have to pay (maybe with aftertax money) if you were to buy a single unit.

      Objectively, your review is better than anything before-tax money can buy, and they’ve got lots of before-tax money for that kind of shit. And you give it to them for almost free. The trick they pulled is same as little coloured glass beads to aboriginals, from European traders.

      Why?
      Reason 1) Your blog has way more remanence in the infosphere and promosphere than any full page magazine article, thanks to eternal storage from Youtube/Google and search engine from many providers.
      because
      1.a) it gets archived functionally permanently, and because
      1.b) it is fully searcheable and retrievable, and thus,
      1.c) providing the companies with very long term extremely valuable marketing coverage for free.

      Attending a trade show easily costs them a hundred grands.

      Let’s do a back of the enveloppe calculation here. [enveloppe appears magically]

      - large fancy booth with 8 reps,
      - each talking for 2 minutes to visitors,
      - 30 seconds break,
      - from 9am to 9pm
      - for five days, non-stop (no bathroom, cigarette or lunch breaks):
      - = 8*3600s/h / 150s/client*12h/day*5days = 11520 prospects trolled,
      - for only 120 seconds each potential client.

      Now, the million bucks question: how many viewers did you get for that one? :-)
      *You* captivated your viewers for up to ONE HOUR FOURTEEN MINUTES !
      How MUCH marketing dollars would they have to spend to match that?
      [end back of the enveloppe computation]

      Sure, they take the risk of you telling your audience that their stuff is crap, but
      “hey-”, they must reason, “would a guy like you spit on a 14 grands (bogus retail) gift?”
      “Most likely not !” is a fairly safe bet.

      The cost to them is infinitely lower than a fractional page in a magazine
      and
      their pricing is made to keep guys like the guys like you and I remain “after-tax poor”, slaving in the corpo world for them.

      Not convinced? Ask yourself “would I have bought one for myself, brand new for my amateur after-tax money financed lab?”
      I have a hunch Sagan and your sweet other needs of bread and butter and the occasional roast beef will always take precedence over your lab toys budget.

      So a smart-ass marketing guy sent you nice 1Ghz 4ch glass beads and he knew they would look irresistible to you.

      Dear Dave, while you spent your life thinking about how to make the world better by creating new and better things, the marketing guys, unable to create anything, apostoles of the finite economic pie, spent their lives figuring out how to milk the next sucker out of one more drop of blood. Djeesus I hate marketing guys.

      In all objectivity, they sent you a gift of approx 1000-1500$ their real cost, for something that, accounting for the remanence, search engine hit likeliness, etc, is worth probably many time more than the roughly 100,000$ in operations’ cash it would cost them to attend one single trade show.

      How much do full page ads run in major electronic and industrial magazines?

      So next time, charge them BIG BUCKS, AND a device for free , with no promise whatsoever of a good review. Honesty is your best tool. By big bucks, I think you might charge two to four times the rate for a full page colour ad in one very proeminent trade magazine. I’d say nothing under 50 grands, take it or leave it.

      And my bet is, you will get your price. As for the stuff they send you, never look at their overly boosted retail price, but look at their distributed costs (over the whole line). In all likeliness, it’s not even 20 grands, because I strongly doubt they use the lower priced models as loss leaders for brand prestige.

      There’s nothing wrong being with making money, especially when it comes out of nowhere, pure creativity like you do.

      If ever you drift toward corpo stuff, and if your grass root audience finds no commonality with your work then, it will stop following you. But overall, what you brought to your audience in your first several hundred videos was a free gift to them, enhancing their lives. You don’t owe your audience anything, they get value from you. You are the giver.

      JFA in Montreal.

      P.S. the big bee in my bonnet is that the corpo world makes the rules alongside the entity that created the corpo system: the legal system and the government, forming a cartel, which gets usually rigged against the individual, for the profit of the cartel’s members. One way they operate is by creating barriers to new entrants.

      • SilverSolder

        LOL, the spirit of Fravia lives on in Montreal, I see!

        I think Tektronix giving a scope to Dave works for everyone: Dave gets a nice scope, the viewers get the usual entertaining review, and Tektronix gets their stuff in front of more people.

        I’d expect that big name equipment gets expensive because unlike hobbyists, a corporate customer needs a fully supported, professional level product?

        A hobbyist can make do with 20 year old used equipment. (I do, at least!) – That’s why Dave’s videos showing the capabilities of modern sophisticated equipment that I cannot justify, is a very interesting and worthwhile use of an hour.

        Keep it up Dave -

      • Jope

        You are pretty obsessed by money, aren’t you?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        What is your problem?
        You don’t think I know exactly what these companies are doing? and why they send me stuff?
        You don’t think I know that them sending stuff to popular blogs gets then orders of magnitude more marketing value that traditional advertising?
        I’ve talked about this on countless Amp Hour episodes.
        At the end of the day, I like test gear, I like reviewing and tearing down test gear, and my audience likes watching it, so I’m happy for them to send me stuff to play with.
        You think I’d look MORE HONEST to TAKE MONEY for a review? I think you are seriously wrong.
        Yes, I could probably make a butt load of money doing paid reviews, and yes I think they will likely pay big money, but I deliberately chose not to and I automatically turn down all offers for paid reviews.
        I never look at how much a product is worth before I accept their invitation to review it. In fact I had no idea they were going to send me the 1GHz unit, I was surprised by that.

        • tchicago

          Yeah, this is a good free content from Dave. Has both educational and entertainment value. I’d never be able to own this one for that particular reason – it is expensive. And guess what, since I can’t own it, I can’t peek inside this class of devices to learn how it is built and what makes it work. Dave closes this gap and also contributes his personal experience to explain as many things as possible. I believe that having this kind of content is much more valuable than not having it.

          And the reason why they sent 1GHz model — haha, come on, we all know all devices of same model cost the same amount of money to manufacture, in most cases it is only the software that limits its capabilities on the lower price range. So sending a software-limited version for review is counterproductive as it will result in having a more limited product review.

          • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

            Not in this case, the 1GHz front end board physically costs more to produce than the 100-500MHz board.

      • Kirill

        I don’t think this is the case. For a hobby-level stuff and initial product developement you can get lots of obsolete but fully functional test gear. Of course it will not be so convinient and efficient as with modern stuff but your time is pretty much free at this stage so no problem, just explore and have fun.

        If you think you product is almost ready for a real startup you will need a proper funding anyway. If you get the funding, buying all the stuff will not be a problem. The testgear prices are miserable considering all the other necessary expences. Entering a big game always require big money no mater how much your equipment costs so if you don’t get the funding there will be no product anyway.

        That’s exectly why the stuff is so expensive. If you really need the stuff, you can afford it even at the price this high. If you can’t afford it, the truth is you don’t need it so much. There is no conspiracy in the situation, just pure market.

        As for Dave it’s hard for me to be objective here. I just hate peaople telling other people what to do so I think the best thing is just to stop ranting. Let Dave do what he thinks he should do and if you don’t like it you can always just go somewhere else.

        • Jon

          “As for Dave it’s hard for me to be objective here. I just hate peaople[sic] telling other people what to do so I think the best thing is just to stop ranting. Let Dave do what he thinks he should do and if you don’t like it you can always just go somewhere else.”

          Do you see the inconsistencies here?

    • JFA in Montreal

      Darn typos. First AFTERTAX should have been BEFORE TAX. Never mind… :-)

    • Marcin

      Companies such as Tektronix, Agilet etc … are maintained by government contracts, such as: military, research institutes, large companies. And the prices are adapted to their capabilities.
      Normal electronic hobbyist, not being able to buy such an oscilloscope, or would require a large financial sacrifice.

      Of course, the movie and the construction of an oscilloscope can be seen.
      But the price is not completely proportional to the features.
      Fortunately, there are companies like Rigol they sell at acceptable prices similar or even better equipment, and offer companies is growing.

      IR Camera Flir E8? E4 costs “1/5″ Prices E8 and offers the same :)
      Of course plus vitaminium :)

    • tchicago

      That circular shape could be just a logo of some internal team which developed the board. And the vias are just for grounding to prevent it from being a large floating surface with unknown properties.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Yes, I have confirmation that’s exactly what it is.

    • Robert123897158

      I wanted to drop in and say great work on the video editing, all of the overlays and screen shots you added to the video were awesome, well done!

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Thanks. I went to a bit of extra trouble this time to see if people would like it.

    • Marcin

      Dave
      The problem is that everyone wants to have the oscilloscope (1GHz, 5GS, Spectrum Analyzer … etc …..)
      But such a set of very few people can afford.
      Of course, I have no pretensions here or comments to your person.

      But I’m surprised the company Tektronix.
      Institution, government, military, advertising does not need to get them so just lay off the 15-20 k $ with no problem.
      For fans of electronic devices should be cheaper acceptable for them.
      And production of the oscilloscope is not more expensive than the new 50-inch 3D LCD TV.

      The problem is, of course, to the production of number of pieces.

      But if the company Rigol can produce cheap (sometimes in the same factory as Tektronix, Agilent, etc.) whether Tektronix can not sell more and cheaper?
      Maybe the Department of Defense restrictions?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        It doesn’t matter who you buy from, a 1GHz oscilloscope does not come cheap. Why are people complaining about this, really?

        • Worf

          I guess they’re jealous – I mean, who gets $13K+ worth of stuff for free?

          A lot of it is “whine whine whine he got free stuff I want!”. I know, because I’m jealous too. But also realizing why you got it, and well, jealousy is an emotion that’s quite destructive. (Note to other members: If you’re complaining of low wages in Canada, move south to the US. They pay more south of the 49th, and taxes are way lower. I know because I’m in Canada. But the advantages of living in Canada outweigh pure salary concerns.)

          And yeah, while it’s expensive, it’s not THAT expensive that it’s completely unaffordable – $13K is a ton of money. But if you’re good about saving money, you can easily save that up over say, 5 years or so (that’s under $3k a year, or under $300 a month, under $10 a day). Heck, a good Kickstarter could easily raise that much money and get you the equipment you need as long as you price it right and mention that’s what you’re doing (I’ve seen and backed a few where the money went to buy a new rack of servers). Oh yeah, you’re also not buying a scope every year – so you can amortize the cost of that scope over 5+ years and oh look, after that, you can afford a new scope, if you desire, or keep using the old one!

          The starting price for a practical one is $4K (100MHz, 4channel) because you can’t upgrade from 2 channel to 4. And it’s 30MHz more bandwidth than the Agilent 3000 series at 70MHz for the same price, roughly. And these days, they’re all upgradable, so you buy what you need and upgrade when you have cash. This is way better than before where you had to buy what you thought you needed out of the gate – if you think you’ll need 1GHz, you had to pay for 1GHz. Now, if you never need 1GHz, you won’t waste money on that feature.

          Dave, keep doing what you’re doing. Because not all of us doing this as a hobby – sometimes it’s nice to actually see what gear a company should get. Happy hardware engineers, and all that.

          And we’re at that point – we’re looking at this scope – and trying to see what we can afford to buy.

    • a20gate

      Hi Dave,
      I recently discovered your great videos via the Amp Hour podcast. Could you do some tutorial on oscilloscope usage for beginners? And I don’t know if you’ve explained this in one of your previous episodes, but I never really got the concept of “impedance” (especially in the context of measuring equipment) and it would be very cool if you could shed some light on this matter. Btw: Have you ever done a video tour through all your cool equipment at your lab? Would be quite nice, too.
      Many greatings and keep up the good work!

    • HB

      Nice video as always, Looking forward to the scope/spectrum analyzer review. Would be nice to see how it compares a Rigol 6000 or Agilent 3000 and an analyzer with similar specs. Interesting to follow in the coming years if scopes in this price range will become real mixed domain devices.

    • Kutlu

      Hi Guys,

      Anybody knows the IC with the 09E marking? It seems like an RF switch, but what brand?

    • Relaxe

      Hey Dave,

      Don’t let the “this is too expensive” whiners get to you.

      Of course it is expensive, but this is normal for 1 GHz scopes and spectrum analysers.

      We recently purchased an Agilent MDO-X 3024 at my workplace, and your videos were the most comprehensive reviews we could find on the latest scope offering.

      Of course, I LOVE the low-cost reviews, from Rigols to cheap “do-not-buy” DSO-Nano.

      Some people just need to view the SPI waveform on their Arduino projects, some needs to see the high frequency transients on a USB 3 bus, and yet some need to correlate noise on power switching mosfets and RF spectrum to diagnose EMC issues.

      I higly encorage people to go on the Agilent website and “shop” for the high-end stuff. Now, imagine you have an application where you desesperately NEED that kind of performance. As a community, we can only thank Dave and the other professional and passionate youtube-casters who perform such great reviews.

      Heck, it cost more than a car, yet there is a gazillion reviews of the latest Hyundai, and next to none for the electronic test equipments!

      Thanks Dave! I am looking forward for the complete review… And yes, I might need one soon.

    • Mike

      Hi Dave,

      just wanted to thank you for your videos. Please disregard those freebee lovers who just whine about everything. Your reviews are real help, they helped me to decide between Tek 3000 and Agilent 3000 a couple of years back and I got exactly what I was looking for. Nothing is ideal of course, the Agilent’s 4mV analog sensitivity bothers me the most now. That’s why I’m looking forward to the Tek MDO3000 review, especially to see if the 1mV sensitivity is as goog as Tek claims.

      For those whiners, I’m a hobbyist and I needed a good scope so I found a paid project (unrelated to my work), got the money and bought it. I suggest you do the same. Pricewise, if the market capacity of measuring equipment was like cellphone’s, they would all be for $199. It will never happen.