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The four musketeers of the electronics workplace

The most important measuring devices for your workstation: Requirements for measuring technology for electronic applications vary significantly depending on the field of work. Is the focus on analogue technology or digital RF applications? How important is product development? Below we will consider the essential instruments that no electronics workplace should be without.

Oscilloscope, desktop multimeter, signal generator and source meter

There is no question that the basic equipment of a fixed measuring station should include a good multimeter and an oscilloscope. Offering greater accuracy and programmability, the best option is a desktop multimeter. A signal generator/function generator is indispensable when debugging circuits and assemblies. The source meter helps to characterise components and assemblies with the highest precision.


Desktop Multimeters

Signal Generators

Source Meters


The oscilloscope is perhaps the most important measuring instrument in an electronics laboratory. Being able to visualise currents, voltages and digital signals is an essential prerequisite for successful circuit development or debugging. However, the array of devices and technology to choose from is huge. The latest digital storage oscilloscopes suitable for basic applications are not necessarily expensive. If you are willing to forgo the highest bandwidth in favour of a very large memory, the new TBS2000 from Tektronix could be the right choice. Each channel has a record length of 20 Mpt. The greater the record length, the more effectively you can examine the signal – and the errors it contains.

At the other end of the scale, we have complex mixed-signal oscilloscopes (MSO). An MSO is always the right choice if analogue and digital signals need to be examined together. The Keysight InfiniiVision MSOX 3024T is an interesting example from this device class, offering 20 channels: 16 digital and 4 analogue. This keeps all analysis options open because the triggers can be applied to the analogue and digital channels equally.

Keysight MSOX 3024-T

Item no.: 300-10-022

Fast 20-channel oscilloscope with intuitive touchscreen user interface. The touchscreen considerably reduces the steps required to navigate the menu. 4x200 MHz, 5 GS/s.

Tektronix TBS2102

Item no.: 300-68-203

Designed to make your work easier and for outstanding waveform visualization and analysis. The TBS2000 series digital storage oscilloscope captures and displays significantly more signal to help you evaluate designs faster.

Desktop multimeter

After the oscilloscope, modern laboratory multimeters are among the most important measuring tools in electronics development. Compared to compact, hand-held devices, desktop multimeters offer extremely high levels of basic accuracy and long-term stability of measurement results. To achieve this, temperature drift must be reduced as far as possible, so high-end devices feature built-in auto-calibration. This prevents external influences (temperature, humidity) from affecting the electrical measurement result. Conventional desktop multimeters achieve a resolution in the micro-amp range. The logging function provides a variety of analysis possibilities, especially if the data can be evaluated on the PC.

Keysight 34465A

Item no.: 300-11-644

Truevolt digital multimeter with graphical interface. Extremely precise TRMS accuracy (Truevolt). AC measuring ranges of 100 uA to 10 A. Voltage of 100 mV to 1000 V.

R&S HMC8012

Item no.: 110-84-988

Laboratory multimeter and data logger with high accuracy and standard Ethernet interface. Resolution 1 µV, 100 nA, 1 mΩ, 1 pF, 1 Hz, 0.1°C

Signal generators

In analogue technology, digital technology and certainly in high-frequency technology, the signal generator plays a crucial role. Signal generators can be roughly categorised into the following groups: "Classic function generators" can generate simple periodic signals, e.g. sine, square or sawtooth. The "arbitrary generator" group also enables user-defined curves to be generated. The user defines these processes with a certain number of points that the generator then interpolates to a closed curve form.

User-defined curves of this type can be saved and re-used for reference. And the final group to mention is "RF signal generators". For Wi-Fi, radio engineering, USB and other technology, frequencies in the high megahertz range and up to 100 GHz come into play.

In industry, it is common procedure to first record signals with a storage oscilloscope so that the sequences can then be transferred to the signal generator. The signal generator then feeds the signals into a circuit design for inspection, for example. This procedure is particularly useful for troubleshooting during circuit design or for maintenance because "true" signals are reproduced in this way. The video on "How to reproduce an oscilloscope measured signal on an arbitrary waveform generator using BenchVue" will explain how easy it is to transfer the curves.

Keysight 33622A

Item no.: 110-81-017

2x 120-MHz ARB function generator with Trueform technology to meet the highest of requirements. High resolution, low jitter. LAN, IEEE-488, USB.

Tektronix AFG2021

Item no.: 300-18-271

The innovative user interface greatly reduces the time needed to create and evaluate the signals. 1 channel 20 MHz, ARB function.

Source meter

Multi-function measuring devices that comprise both a precise voltage and current source, and voltage and/or power measurement are known as "source measure units" (SMU). An SMU combines the functions of a laboratory power supply, a digital multimeter, a current source and an electronic load in a measuring device with a close synchronisation of the individual functions. SMUs can be programmed and offer a high level of precision, resolution and flexibility. This makes them ideal for use in areas such as materials research, semiconductor components (transistors, BJTs, diodes, power MOSFETs, power semiconductors, LEDs), electronic circuits and more. Application examples:

Current-voltage characterisation of double-pole components Current-voltage characterisation and linear characteristic curve of three-pole components Measurement of the specific resistance Energy efficiency
  • Passing through the source voltage and measuring current in a wide range across many decades (10–11 A to 1 A)

  • Creating several current-voltage curves for a MOSFET
  • Generating/supplying high currents and measuring voltage and current for low-impedance components
  • Easily determining input and output power for test objects

Keithley 2450 SourceMeter™

Item no.: 110-48-971

Source meter (SMU) with intuitive, user-friendly touchscreen control. Resolution 0.5 µV/0.5 pA, basic accuracy 0.012%.