Higher efficiency rates and customisation options driving signal generators market

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Tektronix MDO3000 SeriesHigher efficiency rates and customisation options have made function and signal generators a more productive test and measurement category. We bring to you a compilation of the latest in the market, to help you make a purchase decision

By Gunjan Piplani

With changing needs, the research and development has become a crucial part of every industry to consistently develop technology, thus calling for much efficient, developed and customised test and measurement equipments. Function and signal generator is one such category which is seeing constant technological advancements to keep pace with its application industries including telecom, automotive, aerospace and defence, medical and the electronics manufacturing.

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Interestingly, the market for signal generators is growing rapidly as suggested by a report published by the Pune-based consulting firm, MarketsandMarkets. The report says that the global market for signal generators is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.4 per cent from 2013 to 2018, and reach a turnover of US$ 822.22 million in 2018.

What’s new in the market

“The latest signal generators are all compact, incorporating direct digital synthesis (DDS) technology and featuring USB connectivity to easily fit in with today’s integrated test systems,” shares S A Gadkari, general manager – test and measurement instruments division, Aplab Limited.

Customisation: Generators now can be customised based on the needs of the user, thus giving better results. Anritsu’s recently launched product, MG3740A, can be customised to match different applications. In addition, installing the BER*9 measurement and AWGN*10 generation options tailor the configuration to any application.

Compact and powered with DDS techniques: The latest signal and function generators are becoming more compact as the industries they operate in require smaller and more effective testing devices. According to Naresh Narasimhan, country marketing manager, Tektronix India, “The fast growth of the market in the electronics industry is leading to the development of small-sized electronic devices, for which miniaturised T&M equipment are required. Especially, the T&M equipment used for consumer electronics and other minute components.”

Moreover, the latest in generators is DDS technique which is a digitised version of analog waveform. This technique helps generate waveforms digitally, thus ensuring better frequency agility, improved phase noise, and precise control of the output phase across frequency switching transitions.

Support for various communications technologies: Function and signal generators are taking a technological leap to be compatible with the latest developments. “High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) terminals incorporate Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology to increase communication speeds. The new LTE Advanced standard aims to achieve speeds of 1GHz in the future, and carrier aggregation functions are being developed as a key technology for this.” informs Madhukar Tripathi, senior manager, marketing and channel sales, Anritsu India Pvt Ltd.

Better connectivity using USB: The generators now come with USB interfaces, which make them compatible with the various products to be tested, especially in the telecom sector. They also help in the seamless transfer of data. This feature is available in all the products mentioned in this article.

Making a purchase decision

With a wide variety of generators offering similar specifications, it becomes difficult for a buyer to pick the right one. Naresh Narasimhan says, “While buying a signal generator, customers should consider the parameters that are required. There are a variety of channels available, and the purchaser should decide how many are needed. Bandwidth needs should also be identified. Triggering capabilities, memory, display capabilities and sample rates also need to be considered when buying a signal generator.”

According to Madhukar Tripathi, “Selecting a signal generator depends entirely on both the current and future application requirements. A good RF performance, SSB phase noise, ACLR, switching, level accuracy, additional features, output power, user interface and ease of operation are some points to consider while making a choice.”

Safety is an important element of quality, one that customers expect.

S A Gadkari shares that CE-marked products are preferable. Additionally, one should look for EMI EMC compliance.

Other operational precautions include timely checks in order to ensure the instrument performs well, consistently and for a longer period.

With awareness about the latest trends and products, and suggestions for purchase decision from industry experts, you are now set to select a function or signal generator that suits your needs.

Boxes

Top 5 End user Sectors

  • Telecom

  • Aerospace and defence

  • Automotive

  • Electronics manufacturing

  • Medical

Box 2

What is a function or signal generator

A function or signal generator is a test and measurement instrument, which is crucial in test set-ups to develop various electronic products and to troubleshoot. It is used to generate different types of electrical waveforms including sine, square, triangular and saw-tooth shapes

Box 3

Aplabs MSG3M (Multi-Waveform Signal Generator)

  • Wide frequency range: 0.01MHz to 3MHz in 8 decade ranges

  • Sine, triangle, square, ramp, pulse, TTL (Sync) & DC outputs

  • Low distortion high resolution on low frequency

  • Output attenuation up to 80dB

  • Variable DC offset control

Anritsu MG3740A

  • Frequency range: 100 kHz to 2.7/4/6 GHz (1st RF Option); 100 kHz to 2.7/4/6 GHz (2nd RF Option)

  • SSB phase noise:<-140 dBc/Hz (nom.) (100 MHz, 20 kHz offset, CW); <-131 dBc/Hz (typ.) (1 GHz, 20 kHz offset, CW)

  • High power output:+23 dBm (CW, 400 MHz to 3 GHz) (Option)

  • Switching speed:<600 µs (frequency/amplitude, List/Sweep mode)

MetroQ – Owon AG 1022F

  • Advanced DDS technology, 25MHz frequency output

  • 125MSa/s sample rate, and 32 bits frequency resolution

  • 5 basic waveforms, and 26 built-in arbitrary waveforms

  • Newly supported SCPI and frequency counter function

  • Communication interface: USB host, USB device, RS232

Aplabs AWG20 (Arbitrary Waveform Generator)

  • 1µHz to 20MHz

  • 100MS/s sampling rate

  • Waveform length 4096 points

  • DDS technology to deliver extremely low phase noise signalSynchronous output with rise / fall time less than 20ns TTL compatible

  • Harmonic distortion <0.5 per cent

  • Sawtooth symmetry 0 – 100 per cent

Tektronix MDO3000

  • 13 predefined waveform types

  • 50 MHz waveform generation

  • 128 k arbitrary generator record length

  • 250 MS/s arbitrary generator sample rate

  • Capture signals on analog or digital inputs, transfer to the arbitrary edit memory, and replicate out from the AFG

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