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Five Reasons to Upgrade Your Keysight Smart Bench Essentials Workbench With a DAQ

2021-07-21  |  8 min read 

General-purpose test workbenches typically surround their device under test (DUT) with power supplies, function generators, oscilloscopes, multimeters, and more. For an RF DUT, you may need to add RF signal generators and analyzers or network analyzers. For high-speed digital transmission DUTs, you may add high-speed digitizers or oscilloscopes. Your test workbench can easily pile up with instruments and complex cabling to perform your tests.

engineer-testing-PCB-assembly
Figure 1. An engineer testing his PCB assembly on a test workbench

What Is a DAQ System?

A data acquisition (DAQ) system is an extremely versatile piece of equipment to complement your test workbench. It measures real-world physical conditions such as temperature, pressure, vibrations, audio, strains, and loads and converts them into electrical signals using various transducers. The signal conditioning circuitry manipulates the raw electrical signal before digitizing it for real-time display, storage, or post-analysis.

core-functions-of-a-DAQ
Figure 2. The core functions of a DAQ system

The core functions of a DAQ system are highly versatile. DAQ systems typically have open slots for the following plug-in module types:

  • Multiplex switching module so you can measure multiple inputs within a single DAQ system. This module is especially useful when you need to perform multiple input data logging over a time period.
  • Matrix switching module that has four rows by eight columns (4 X 8) of switch matrices; some DAQs can concatenate the rows or the columns. You can then make matrices such as 8 X 8, 4 X 16, and so on. The number of matrices are limited by the number of module slots of the DAQ mainframe.
matrix-switching-module
 Figure 3. A matrix switching module connected to the DAQ mainframe
  • Multifunction controller is a special module that turns the DAQ into a controller that has digital input and output lines that can communicate with your DUT or control external actuators.
  • RF multiplex switching module transforms your DAQ to perform multiplex switching for high-frequency signals up to 26.5 GHz, depending on modules.

Five Reasons to Upgrade Your Workbench With a DAQ

  • Optimize your test assets by using the multiplex switching module. You do not need to have multiple test instruments of the same kind because you can channel multiple input channels into one measurement channel or one measuring instrument.
  • Organize and simplify your test setup by using the matrix switching module as a single set of instruments on your workbench to test multiple DUTs to help you keep your wiring organized. You can then use the DAQ mainframe to control the switching to activate which DUT for testing.
  • Control your test environment by using the multifunction controller module. This device enables you to communicate with the DUT to perform certain functions so you can characterize it. For example, you can send a trigger signal to a DUT to go into an active mode so you can measure its power consumption. You can then also communicate with the DUT to go into hibernation mode to characterize its power consumption. In some test cases, you can use your DAQ to control solenoid actuators to manipulate test conditions such as DUT repositioning, temperature change, introduce physical loading, and more to provide more extensive tests.
Active-passive-power-consumption-characteristics
Figure 4. Use a DAQ to change a DUT’s from active to passive mode for power consumption characterization
  • Automate your test sequences using the DAQ to control all the connections between your test instruments and DUTs. You can use your favorite programming language together with SCPI commands to automate your test sequences. Keysight PathWave BenchVue software enables you to automate your test sequences quickly without the hassle of writing all the lengthy programs. Figure 5 shows multiple instrument panels on the screen and the PathWave BenchVue Test Flow workspace on the right side of the screen.
automated-test-sequencing-pathwave-benchvue-test-flow
Figure 5. Automate test sequences with PathWave BenchVue software

Keysight PathWave BenchVue software eliminates many of the challenges around bench testing. By making it simple to connect, control instruments, and automate test sequences, you can quickly move past the test development phase and access results faster than ever before with just a few clicks.
Dedicated instrument apps enable you to quickly configure the most commonly used measurements and setups for each instrument family. You can rapidly build custom test sequences with the integrated Test Flow app to automate and visualize test results without the need for instrument programming. PathWave BenchVue supports hundreds of Keysight instrument types and models, all from one easy-to-use application.

  • Manage and remote control your workbench by using Keysight’s PathWave Lab Operations for Remote Learning software. This software solution will help you seamlessly and securely connect to your lab workbench through the cloud to control your instruments in real-time, make measurements, and perform test analyses with your peers. Adding a DAQ to control all the connections between your test instruments and DUTs enables you to perform more extensive test coverage remotely from across the room or even across the world. The matrix switching module will be very suitable for the multi-instrument and multi-DUT connections.

If you use Keysight’s DAQ970A or DAQ973A mainframe solution, please look for the DAQM904A four by eight two-wire matrix module to concatenate multiple matrix modules together to get a bigger dimension of the matrix. Figure 6 shows you the DAQ mainframe and typical switching modules.

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Figure 6. The DAQ970A mainframe with the DAQM904A matrix switching and DAQM901A multiplexer switching modules

If you use the larger capacity 34980A DAQ mainframe, you can use order the 34931A dual 4 X 8 armature matrix module, 34932A dual 4 X 16 armature matrix module, 34933A dual / quad 4 X 8 reed matrix module, or the 34934A quad 4 X 32 reed matrix module.

Summary

The DAQ system test equipment is very versatile to complement all your Smart Bench Essentials test instruments. It makes real-world physical measurements such as temperature, pressure, vibration, audio, and more. It is also a very useful switch matrix or multiplexer system.

The following are the top five reasons to add a DAQ to your test workbench to help you:

  • Optimize your test assets.
  • Organize and simplify your test setup.
  • Control your test environment.
  • Automate your test sequences.
  • Manage your test workbench using remote control capabilities.

To learn more about Keysight solutions, please visit:
DAQ systems
PathWave BenchVue software
PathWave Lab Operations for Remote Learning