Author Topic: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown  (Read 11475 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« on: May 06, 2016, 01:16:35 am »
Inside the National Instruments NI VB-8034 Virtual Bench. A 350MHz 4 channel mixed signal oscilloscope, arbitrary waveform generator, power supply, and I/O module that can connect to the PC, tablet or phone via USB, WiFi, or Ethernet.
http://www.ni.com/virtualbench/

Datasheets:
Xilinx Kintex 7 http://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/data_sheets/ds180_7Series_Overview.pdf
ADC08D1520 ADC http://www.ti.com/product/ADC08D1520
CRF Reed Relay: https://standexelectronics.com/wp-content/uploads/datasheet_reed_relay_CRF.pdf
High Speed OpAmp: http://www.ti.com/product/THS3091

 

Online xrunner

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 01:21:44 am »
I used LabVIEW and National Instruments data acquisition cards for the PC in my career. All of their products were top notch and very good support. This instrument is no exception.
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Offline rx8pilot

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 02:09:12 am »
This one is a substantial improvement over the original 100Mhz 2ch version.

...EDIT.....

Wow - some serious FPGA horsepower. Wonder if they are planning updates with more features.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 03:07:59 am by rx8pilot »
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Offline retrolefty

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 03:35:06 am »
Seems a niche product for a niche market (formal education).  I would think for the money a hobbyist (or professional for that matter) would get better value for the $6k by buying individual test functions tailored to your interests and needs.   
 

Offline Someone

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2016, 05:11:53 am »
The wildly over specified parts could just be the team reusing "stock" parts from their other products which are already negotiated and in their supply channel. Its a shame they don't expose the extra memory.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2016, 06:43:51 am »
What is the purpose of the cut-outs in the RF input connectors area?
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Offline rf-design

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2016, 07:10:13 am »
FYI what is possible inside the NI Scope frontend ASIC

US Patent Application 20150137840 A1

see attachment
 
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Offline station240

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2016, 10:37:06 am »
Neat bit of kit, I find it interesting the case has much the same footprint/style as some cheap HP desktops.

Despite what some have said, the cost looks reasonable considering all the different instruments in one unit.
I really doubt you could buy a DSO, waveform generator, PSU, and the IO stuff as separate devices for the same cash.
Certainly wouldn't get the advantage of a single PC/tablet control panel.

I could see this being useful for space constrained QA benches.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 11:25:26 am by station240 »
 

Offline timgiles

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2016, 10:46:13 am »
I was hoping Dave would play around with it a bit. Anyone know, can you use all the devices at the same time? I assume so - but I wonder if there are any limitations. Also, in terms of the software, where is that at the moment. Would be super to see a real engineer give it some real world tasks to work on. For me it is a space issue. I cant see me getting a dedicated space for my electronics (beyond our dining room table) for many years. I think after I pay off the latest telescope related loan, the 4 channel version might need to find its way to Sweden.

Also agree, the 4 channel top of the line version seems much more useful and worth the money than the 2 channel. Hopefully the firmwares can open up the systems a bit in the next year or two. Now if this came with open source firmware - imagine how much better the cost/performance could become.
 

Offline stmdude

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2016, 11:18:16 am »
Some of that extra DDR3 memory has to go to the Zynq. Whatever OS is running on the ARM cores would require a bit of RAM.

Now, why it's all over by the Kintex, that's a good question. Maybe the Kintex is arbitrating access to the DDR3, so it can be used by other things as well?
 

Offline Someone

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2016, 12:11:43 pm »
Some of that extra DDR3 memory has to go to the Zynq. Whatever OS is running on the ARM cores would require a bit of RAM.

Now, why it's all over by the Kintex, that's a good question. Maybe the Kintex is arbitrating access to the DDR3, so it can be used by other things as well?
That Zynq part has its own DDR near it.
 

Offline Neganur

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2016, 12:51:48 pm »
Retail price in Finland is 7365€ incl. 24% VAT and I think that's really ridiculous. If I'm not mistaken, you still can't even switch off the power supplies individually - it's either all off or all on?

I'd grab a Keysight scope with MSO and arb gen, then one of those MyDAQ USB NI boxes for high bit sampling and digital I/O instead. I really like NI gear, especially the smaller compact RIO modules. But man you pay through the nose.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2016, 04:46:57 pm »
So... it's sort of like a great big Saleae?  :popcorn:

« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 08:00:29 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline Neilm

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2016, 07:25:27 pm »
First thing I noticed was the fuses - they have vias under the fuse body which will reduce the clearance. The datasheet doesn't say, so I am guessing that there is no CAT rating on them. I would have thought they would be 300V CATII at the least. The datasheet just says 300V - no hint if that is AC or DC.
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Offline jitter

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2016, 07:40:22 pm »
I was hoping Dave would play around with it a bit.

Be patient, at the end of the vid Dave points to where a link is (or rather: will be) of him playing around with it. So that video will come.

Looks like a nice instrument that could possibly be more than just an educational thing!

Also looks nicely designed and made, but my eye was caught by a little rework. But what looks like a solder bridge is probably just the reflection of the filiming lights in the flux residue.
Edit: now that I looked again, the ceramic right below the reworked pins looks to have a dry joint.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 07:48:53 pm by jitter »
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2016, 09:47:09 pm »
The soldering on the other parts doesn't look right either.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline apis

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2016, 12:07:47 am »
It looks nice but what kind of school would pay 6000 USD * 20 for a classroom of these considering what other gear you could get for the same amount of money? Also, the problem with all-in-one units is that if one part fails (the psu?) or needs upgrading you have to get a whole new unit. If you buy individual instruments and the DMM blows up you just buy a new DMM, no big deal.
 

Offline Neganur

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2016, 12:37:24 am »
Universities typically get 40-60% discount depending on the deal and amount, so you can't really compare that.

I remember a shelf in my old uni that was filled with those ELVIS things. Back then I had no idea that they're like 2.7-3.4k€ (before VAT) each and they're just rotting away since nobody knew how to use them. We also rolled our eyes at their spec sheet but I guess they're an old product.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 12:41:13 am by Neganur »
 

Offline Tek_TDS220

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2016, 03:17:29 am »
It's tough to judge about the cost and the hardware without seeing it in action.  I'm looking forward to the next video.

Regarding the cost, keep in mind that lab space is scarce in a lot of colleges. There is a constant, low-level war between professors regarding space.  An all-in-one instrument makes sense, and this one is built to take a beating from students.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2016, 04:08:57 am »
FYI what is possible inside the NI Scope frontend ASIC
US Patent Application 20150137840 A1

Nice find!
 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2016, 10:40:03 am »
At that price is really should be robust. A critical point might be the digital I/Os and 50 Ohms termination of the scope to withstand the 25 V or better 50 V (neg and positive supply) from the internal supply.
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2016, 11:32:10 am »
Just one remark: at around 19:00, the CC384 is, in fact, a bus switch/translator (part marking lookup)
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Offline smashIt

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2016, 10:21:13 pm »
Did I see this correct with the linear regulators:
They solder the smd regulator on the board (with some heavy via stitching around it) and then solder the heatsink next to it on the  board?
crazy...
 

Offline mcs_5

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2016, 10:28:09 pm »
33078 = MC33078 dual op-amp.
 

Offline jitter

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Re: EEVblog #875 - NI VirtualBench Teardown
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2016, 06:23:35 am »
Did I see this correct with the linear regulators:
They solder the smd regulator on the board (with some heavy via stitching around it) and then solder the heatsink next to it on the  board?
crazy...

Next to it, or over it. They're likely both placed by a pick and place machine and then reflow soldered in one go.

   
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 06:26:22 am by jitter »
 


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