Author Topic: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?  (Read 825 times)

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Offline Keysight DanielBogdanoff

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What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« on: October 18, 2019, 07:05:49 am »
I've been working with some new-hires at Keysight and have been kicking around an idea about how to think about & classify test gear. I'm trying to break my theory, and was hoping you could help!

What's some of the strangest test gear you've come across? Super niche, out there, unusual?
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2019, 02:58:49 pm »
I've been working with some new-hires at Keysight and have been kicking around an idea about how to think about & classify test gear. I'm trying to break my theory, and was hoping you could help!

What's some of the strangest test gear you've come across? Super niche, out there, unusual?

I'll bite.   Over the years, we have had to design a fair amount of one off, custom test equipment.   I imagine this is still fairly common but maybe not. 

Were you working for Keysight when it was HP during the Carly Fiorina era?   I have some friends who were and heard some interesting discussions about her views on T&M.   
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 
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Offline nctnico

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2019, 03:22:42 pm »
I once built an ankle rotation meter.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2019, 03:30:02 pm »
Were you working for Keysight when it was HP during the Carly Fiorina era?

I was, and her performance when she came to the site was instrumental in making me decide to leave. As was her incomprehensible "Rules of the Garage", her version of a dog marking its territory.

Back then the internal usenet groups ensured extremely quick and accurate "horizontal communications"[1] across the globe. I remember hearing this long before it appeared in print:



[1] entirely in keeping with the HP Way
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2019, 04:39:54 pm »
What's some of the strangest test gear you've come across? Super niche, out there, unusual?

Devices which test the durability and lifetime of building materials, by alternately sucking and blowing large panels simulating wind loading.

Devices which use lasers to test the surface textures of roads, as a van drives along the road.

Devices which apply a vacuum to a altimeter, to verify the altimeter's calibration.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 
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Offline Berni

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2019, 05:05:12 pm »
One particular one that comes to mind is a "engine cranking simulator" i have built some time ago.

Its basically a 20V 5A power supply with 2 quadrant sink/source capability that can be adjusted by a DAC with the bandwidth in the KHz range. It reads a CSV file from a SD card and on a button press replays it on the output. It was used to simulate a 12V DC supply during various engine cranking conditions to make sure the DUT can continue operating normally during that time.

I don't think i have seen any piece of test equipment that does the same thing. I think my Agilent 66332A (Dynamic DC Source) could be made to do it via GPIB since it can do 2 quadrant and adjust its output very rapidly, but the functionality is not available from the front panel UI (Nor does it have any form of removable storage like flash or floppy).
 
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Online Tomorokoshi

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2019, 05:57:23 pm »
Would an HP 5000A Logic Analyzer count?
 
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Offline babysitter

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019, 06:39:51 pm »
I guess one made by me and a co-worker should be in this list: A device that connects+disconnects a hydraulic connector basically by a quarter-turn (done by a pneumatic cylinder with pleuel and some gear), followed by a air leak test. Somewhere the "n cylcles lifetime" numbers must come from somewhere.
I'm not a feature, I'm a bug! ARC DG3HDA
 
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Offline Keysight DanielBogdanoff

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2019, 09:56:37 pm »
I'll bite.   Over the years, we have had to design a fair amount of one off, custom test equipment.   I imagine this is still fairly common but maybe not. 

Were you working for Keysight when it was HP during the Carly Fiorina era?   I have some friends who were and heard some interesting discussions about her views on T&M.

We definitely still do one-offs, but I suspect not as frequently as we used to.

I was not around for the Carly days, but I've heard... things...

 
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Offline nctnico

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2019, 10:37:31 pm »
I guess one made by me and a co-worker should be in this list: A device that connects+disconnects a hydraulic connector basically by a quarter-turn (done by a pneumatic cylinder with pleuel and some gear), followed by a air leak test. Somewhere the "n cylcles lifetime" numbers must come from somewhere.
These kind of cycle test machine are quite common. I've seen something similar for testing the durability of electric outlets at a large manufacturer. They also have machines to check the force needed to throw a switch (and how this evolves over time) but I have not seen these myself.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 10:40:11 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2019, 11:08:29 pm »
Were you working for Keysight when it was HP during the Carly Fiorina era?

I was, and her performance when she came to the site was instrumental in making me decide to leave. As was her incomprehensible "Rules of the Garage", her version of a dog marking its territory.

Back then the internal usenet groups ensured extremely quick and accurate "horizontal communications"[1] across the globe. I remember hearing this long before it appeared in print:

[1] entirely in keeping with the HP Way

Could you please provide the the books' title or ISBN number?   It looks like an interesting read. 
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Online DaJMasta

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 01:22:44 am »
Something I was looking at a week or two ago without really realizing they existed beforehand, but more of an accessory: a resistivity measurement chamber.

Take a high voltage source and an electrometer, then a pair of measured, characterized plates in a chamber and you can characterize the resistance of material samples, even gasses and liquids in some chambers.  If you're looking at very high resistances, the box also needs to be totally RF shielded and could need to be temperature controlled, depending on the material.



Probably very normal hardware for specific testing... but pretty exotic for a lot of electronics types - more bordering on chemistry, physics, or material science than just electronics.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 08:20:10 am »
Were you working for Keysight when it was HP during the Carly Fiorina era?

I was, and her performance when she came to the site was instrumental in making me decide to leave. As was her incomprehensible "Rules of the Garage", her version of a dog marking its territory.

Back then the internal usenet groups ensured extremely quick and accurate "horizontal communications"[1] across the globe. I remember hearing this long before it appeared in print:

[1] entirely in keeping with the HP Way

Could you please provide the the books' title or ISBN number?   It looks like an interesting read.

Sorry, no. I don't have the book and can't remember how those scans made it to me.

ISTR the source was fairly obvious but it wasn't something I would want to buy/read. It wasn't Dave's book.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline capt bullshot

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 11:20:59 am »
One particular one that comes to mind is a "engine cranking simulator" i have built some time ago.
...

Something like these: https://www.toellner.de/power-supplies?pf=284&pi=286
Safety devices hinder evolution
 

Offline capt bullshot

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 11:28:33 am »
Some ten years ago, I developed an instrument called "Netzimpedanzanalysator" - Power line impedance analyzer. Its purpose was to measure the (complex) impedance of your common 50/60Hz household and industrial mains line over a frequency range from 3Hz to 20kHz. Worked by pulsing a resistive load with a pseudo random sequence to the line, and measuring voltage and current. Some FFT analysis, math and accumulation of results provided the user with the results. Quite rare, only maybe 10 or 20 units were built and sold.
Safety devices hinder evolution
 

Offline Berni

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 12:20:07 pm »
One particular one that comes to mind is a "engine cranking simulator" i have built some time ago.
...

Something like these: https://www.toellner.de/power-supplies?pf=284&pi=286

Ah yes that's exactly the piece of test gear for this kind of fast transient supply ripple generation. Nice to see it has some memory to hold on to seqences

Tho building one was pretty easy since i just used one of those huge opamps with many amps of output current to simply amplify up a DAC voltage to the final output power. Since only 1 was built there probably was not much money saved when the man hours to design and build it are counted in. But hey it was a fun little project.
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 01:18:45 pm »
It may not be what the OP was looking for but as a bit of an electronics buff and hobbyist, I enjoy designing,  building and testing some of my own test equipment.  These are all unique bits that will never see use outside my lab.

There have been several over the years but I suspect the ones that most people have seen are my transient generators that I used to benchmark handheld DMMs, my wideband high voltage probes and my motorcycle engine simulator.     Many years ago, I had designed a board to allow me to test various ideas I had on designing my own processors.  The board is nightmare, constructed with wire wrap using a few FPGAs. 


I also have made attempts to modify some of my name brand equipment, making them very unique.   I have a very old Tektronix P6042 current probe that I saved from the dumpster and rebuilt with the help of Bob Pease as we discussed vintage transistors.    It had a bandwidth of DC to 50MHz and I managed to tease it out to 100MHz with a few changes.   

Not all of my TE mods are this complex.  One of the more simple mods but possibly having the most far reached impact was adding a shield to a major brand DMM.    I've been told that something like the one I show is now in production. 
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 01:21:54 pm by joeqsmith »
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 
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Offline joeqsmith

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 05:57:31 pm »
Could you please provide the the books' title or ISBN number?   It looks like an interesting read.

Sorry, no. I don't have the book and can't remember how those scans made it to me.

ISTR the source was fairly obvious but it wasn't something I would want to buy/read. It wasn't Dave's book.

Thanks.  I'll try and hunt it down.

Google comes through:


Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company
Michael S. Malone
ISBN: 978-1-59184-152-4

How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline ralphrmartin

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #18 on: Yesterday at 08:30:48 pm »
How about bat detectors, which pick up their ultrasonic calls to identify the species? Some work by just downconverting to an audible signal and leave the id job to the user, but others use various machine learning / signal analysis techniques to get an id.
 

Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #19 on: Yesterday at 08:40:35 pm »
When I was a kid I thought this was a joke.



When I grew up, I learned it was real.

 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: What's some weird/odd/unusual test gear you've seen?
« Reply #20 on: Yesterday at 09:41:29 pm »
I came a cross a system with a high power (2 kW AFAIK) pulsed RF generator (up to some 10 MHz) combined with a simple receiver to detect some weak echos.  It was used to excite and measure ultrasonic resonances (some 100 kHz 2 MHz) in small samples to calculate (separate PC) elastic constants.  Kind of scary getting that much power over normal BNC.
The unit may be derived from a simple NMR unit, though I would expect better quality for NMR systems.

At the university they had an odd strain measuring unit: kind of a high resolution laser based bar code scanner to measure a similar stripe pattern with high resolution (e.g. ┬Ám range).

 


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