Author Archives: Pam Naumann

Used-Line Statistics: Most Requested Equipment in November 2014

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  • E5071C ENA ⇒ Agilent (Keysight) ⇒ Network Analyzer
  • CMA3000 ⇒ Anritsu ⇒ All-In-One Field Tester
  • E4440A ⇒ Agilent (Keysight) ⇒ Spectrum Analyzer
  • N9010A EXA ⇒ Agilent (Keysight) ⇒ Signal Analyzer
  • 805C ⇒ Agilent HP ⇒ Slotted Line
  • TDS1012B ⇒ Tektronix ⇒ Digital Storage Oscilloscope
  • 85052B ⇒ Agilent (Keysight) ⇒ Standard Mechanical Calibration Kit
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Used-Line Newsletter, December 1, 2014

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Now why should our blog readers miss out on our monthly newsletters? Well, the answer is that you don’t have to any longer because we’re now going to bloggify them into a new blog category, called – you guessed it – Newsletters. Used-Line blog

So, here it is: The Dec 1, 2014 edition of the Used-Line e-newsletter.

Online Information from Used-Line Dealers

At the start of the year, we shared some content that was brought to us by our users, viewers, and dealers. The response to this newsletter encouraged us to bring our readers Part 2.
And here it is!

RF Imaging & Communication

Our Test & Measurement Bank Account

In their own words: RF IMAGING & COMMUNICATION is an enterprise in Las Vegas, Nevada, specializing in the buying and selling of used electronic test and measurement equipment and communications radio service monitors. We offer a wide variety of pre-owned test equipment, and we also rent and lease equipment at a very competitive rate. We will open for you a test equipment bank account: Trade-in your used equipment towards new or used equipment with no cash involved and trade-in your surplus equipment for credit towards future purchases. Save 30-70% on used electronic test equipment. Major brands include IFR, MOTOROLA, CUSHMAN, STABILOCK, WAVETEK, H.P. and TEKTRONIX.

Equipnet

Blog Posts with eBooks and Videos

I love posts with numerical titles like, “Ten Signs That Show You Need to Call a
Technician“, or “Five Test & Measurement Instruments You Can Build out of Common
Household Objects.”
Well, here’s one that I would never have been able to come up with on my own. Directly
from the EquipNet Blog: Seven Plant Closing Mistakes And How to Avoid Them.” This is a serious topic and one that surely needs addressing. Equipnet has run with this difficult issue and authored an e-Book with tips, advice, and practical suggestions on plant closures and restructuring.

MATsolutions

Blog

Continuing on our theme of numerical blog titles, MATsolutions gets right under
the skin of component materials with its blog on “6 Dielectric Measurement Techniques“. I like the way the blog ends with “Possibly related posts”. This could (possibly) be an indication that accuracy is an important attribute of this company’s mission.
The MATsolutions blog pages are not skimpy – offering an eclectic selection of posts on test equipment, measurement techniques, periodic sales, and calibration.

Signal Test Inc

Show & Tell – Demo Videos + New Test Equipment Reviews Blog

If you’re looking for no-frills blog posts on the latest test equipment, you’ll find them here. Don’t shy away from the blog’s plain design. The posts are short and sweet, and if you need more info, you can easily link from the post to the specific equipment listings on the Signal Test website.
Be sure to read the review of the SKG test tweezers – and then compare with the Agilent (Keysight) 16334A.
And there’s more! If you’d like to find out how some of your tools work, check out the Signal Test video page. You may find a demo of your recently purchased TDR, power supply, or impedance analyzer.

Marshall Scientific

A Video Featuring the New Brunswick Innova 2180 Orbital Shaker

This video is just one of the many that Marshall Scientific has uploaded onto their YouTube channel. Each short clip (many are less than a minute long) shows a demonstration of the featured lab equipment in action – complete with sound effects!
View the Marshall Scientific video channel
Play the Innova 2180 clip

Used-Line Dealer Corner

Most Requested Equipment in November

  • E5071C ENA: Agilent (Keysight) Network Analyzer
  • CMA3000:Anritsu All-In-One Field Tester
  • E4440A PSA: Agilent (Keysight) Spectrum Analyzer
  • N9010A EXA:Agilent (Keysight) Signal Analyzer
  • 805C: Agilent HP Slotted Line
  • TDS1012B: Tektronix Digital Storage Oscilloscope
  • 85052B: Agilent (Keysight) Standard Mechanical Calibration Kit

 

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Semiconductors For ADAS

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Please excuse my ignorance.

When I came across the acronym, ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, what popped into my mind was some sort of software or hardware driver – for helping a piece of equipment work inside an application.
However, the indicated ADAS driver in fact sits behind the wheel of a vehicle, typically, a car.
The scope of ADAS is infinite: From an audio beep that prevents you from knocking down your neighbor’s fence while reversing – to automated driverless systems.
The engineering possibilities are limitless as well: cameras, controls, software & hardware drivers, sensors, meters, and more. The designs are not confined to safe driving –  entertainment systems and improvements in driver “usability” are driving development in parallel with vehicle safety features.
The idea behind automatic driving is not new. Assisted driving mechanisms in today’s vehicles are no longer considered “extras”.

Schematic of in-vehicle system Intelligent Cru...

Schematic of in-vehicle system Intelligent Cruise Control. Red car automatically’ follows blue car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without differentiating between well-known consumer “beeps & whistles” that constitute vehicle extras, and advanced vehicle automation safety design, let’s take a look at some of the driver applications in which semiconductors are embedded.

Semiconductors for Driving

Devices Applications
 Sensors, Comparitors
  • Object detection
  • Proximity detection
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Local and remote temperature sensing
  • Analog Front End (AFEs)
  • Current sensing
  • Over/under-voltage detection
  • Camera sensors
  • Parking help
  • Sleepiness sensing
  • Traffic signal sensing
  • Speed limit signs detecting
 Audio Processors
  • Collision-warning beeps
  • Vehicle audio entertainment systems
  • Analog Front End (AFEs)
  • Audio amplifiers
 Motors
  • Vehicle motors
  • Power steering
  • Brake systems
  • Engine pumps
Visual Processors
  • Speed limit sign detection
  • Night vision
  • Blind spot detection
  • Vehicle entertainment systems
  • Sensor output signals
  • Traffic signal sensing
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Cameras for all-around-the-car viewing
  • “Heads-up” information
  • Back seat entertainment systems
Microcontrollers
  • Camera sensors
  • Proximity detection
  • Blind spot detection
  • Parking help
  • Cruise control adjustments
  • Warning systems
  • Vehicle entertainment systems
  • Error output signals
Power Regulators
  • Over-temperature detection
  • Low or high voltage regulating
  • Redundant systems
LEDs & LCDs
  • Panel displays
  • Sensor output information

But don’t relax too much next time you’re out driving –  when you fall asleep at the wheel, you can’t get away with blaming that zener diode again!

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Handheld Spectrum Analyzer Competes with Benchtops

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Frequency coverage from the Anritsu MS2720T gets as good as 9 kHz to 43 GHz in model MS2720T-0743, the high end of this series of spectrum analyzers, which starts at its lower end (in terms of frequency) with a model that boasts a continuous frequency range of 9 kHz to 9 GHz. Not too shabby. Launched in December, 2012, this almost two-years-on-the-market handheld could well compete with today’s benchtop analyzers (without external mixers) in the frequency specification department.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the other specs associated with this instrument:

  • Resolution Bandwidth from 1 Hz to 10 MHz
  • Sweep mode speeds: Allow a resolution bandwidth of 30 kHz to 10 MHz with almost no impact on sweep speed
  • Dynamic range is >106 dB in 1 Hz bandwidth at 2.4 GHz
  • DANL is -160 dBm in 1 Hz bandwidth at 1 GHz (preamp on)
  • Phase noise is -104 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset at 1 GHz
  • Option of tracking generators from 100 kHz to 20 GHz (full-band)

Read more in the Used-Line T&M Specs pages as well as in the Related Articles below. Do check out the many capabilities available as options for the MS2720T. Not only all the signal analysis packages that a wireless engineer may need for the various data rates of carriers, but a vast selection of analyzers, such as power meter, channel scanner, GPS Receiver, and Interference Analyzer are available as options.

Used Anritsu MS2720T | used-line.comThe Spectrum Master™ MS2720T series provides field technicians and engineers with performance that rivals a benchtop spectrum analyzer. The MS2720T features a touchscreen, full-band tracking generators to 20 GHz, and best-in-class performance for dynamic range, DANL, phase noise, and sweep speed, providing unprecedented levels of spectrum monitoring, hidden signal detection, RF/microwave measurements, and testing of microwave backhauls and cellular signals.

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Anritsu suggests that this spectrum analyzer, at 8 pounds “fully loaded” is light enough to take up a tower. Well, you’re not going to get me up any tower, thank you very much, with or without a handheld spectrum analyzer.

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: P.Naumann)

I do have quite a bit of trouble picturing an RF engineer making his way up the CN Tower, for example, with a benchtop instrument, so there must be some brave engineers who scale the heights – with their handhelds!

If it was I who had the responsibility of handling this instrument, I would be very much inclined to avail myself of the Anritsu Remote Access Tool, which lets the user sit in the comfort of his lab or office while controlling the spectrum analyzer over a LAN connection, and analyze data with the Anritsu Master Software Tools – in-between his sips of coffee.

But then some folks are made for reaching for the sky, and others are not.

Anritsu webpage for Spectrum Master MS2720T

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Chickens and the Unbroken Chain of Calibration

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A recent discussion in the LinkedIn group, Metrology & Test Measurement, on the “unbroken chain of calibration” has driven me to hone in on my personal understanding of measurement uncertainty. I am ashamed to say that I know virtually nothing (0 ±0.0031415929) about calibration despite having worked as an electronics technician in the ’90’s. My excuse is that ISO 9xxx only hit the repair floor in the ’90’s. (Well, that’s why it was called ISO 9000.)  But the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), which predates the National Institute of Standards and Technology (N.I.S.T.) by 87 years, has been around since 1901.

logo of National Institute of Standards and Te...

Logo of National Institute of Standards and Technology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the NBS was predated by the International Bureau of Weight and Measures (BIPM in French). In any case, I’m not quite sure how to connect ISO 9xxx with calibration. It must come into it somewhere. All I remember was what kind of shoes to wear and grounding rules. I guess you could say that my uncertainty around these topics is not measurable or traceable!

How do we arrive at an unbroken chain when it comes to metrology? Let’s go to the start of the chain. We will use N.I.S.T. for discussion purposes but really it applies to any of the international organizations that set standards for metrology.

  1. We start with a reference point. This is a universally known measurement value of a particular measurable event. For example, the melting point of ice. (N.I.S.T uses a thermometer as an example on their website.)
  2. This reference is used as a standard by N.I.S.T. I assume that means that a correctly calibrated thermometer will measure – well, I’m not sure exactly what it will measure. It is close to 0 degrees Centigrade. There are various factors that can determine the temperature, such as atmospheric pressure and the purity of the actual water that the ice is composed of. The point is – a standard is set that will be used to begin the chain. This standard is the reference that all other measurements down the chain are going to be traced back to.
  3. Going down the chain, we compare the measurements of the next instrument to be checked against the N.I.S.T. measurement , then document the differences in the results. Depending on the conditions of the measurement, we can make the necessary adjustments needed to arrive at the most accurate measurement but can never be absolutely certain of a true value. Like much of life, we do our best. The “best” is a range of values that approximates the value of the N.I.S.T standard. This range of values is the range of uncertainty. You know that somewhere in this range, lies the true value and if you calibrate an instrument to show results within this range, you should be able to certify your instrument as calibrated according to the standard. If along the way, you lose the reference, your instrument cannot be considered to be calibrated according to the N.I.S.T. standard.

I know! This is a rather crude, simplistic explanation of the process. I “did my best”!

I got further confused after my visit to the supermarket today. They had fresh whole chickens on sale with a limit of 6 Kg per customer. For the customer’s convenience, a scale was placed near the chickens, allowing the customer to verify the total weight of his selection. The trick was to see whether you could get four chickens for 6 Kg, despite the average weight of 1.55 Kg per chicken. You do the math now. It seemed a shame to buy only three chickens and thus not take full advantage of this special sale. Four chickens were over 6 Kg and three were under by quite a bit.

Chicken

Photo credit: P. Naumann

Well, I came pretty close. I managed to find two smaller looking birds and my total weight on the scale (when last was it calibrated, I wonder?) was 6.14 Kg. I went over to the poultry supervisor and told him that I was a little over the maximum weight allowed, and with a smile on his face, he said, “That’s fine.”

<!–Here’s the moral of my little story–>: The more accurate our measurements are, the more honest we can be in our relationships with customers, clients, and other businesses. However, sometimes in life a little uncertainty goes a long way when it comes to give-and-take with others. <!–End of moralizing–>

Of interest:

 

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Two More Used-Line Usability Gems + One Tip

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Do you remember my recent post (December, 2013), Used-Line Usability Gems? Where I ‘fessed up that I work for Used-Line.com? And I did say that we have more gems, right? Well, here are three more that our smart web people have developed..

    • Search suggestions include Manufacturers’ names. Let’s say you’re searching for a Leeds and Northrup 4210, 1 ohm resistance standard. You enter the model number, 4210, in the Find Category or Model# box on the top right side of any page on the Used-Line website. The results show that there is a significant number of model 4210’s on Used-LIne. You probably don’t need the Fluke DC 4210 power supply. The Boonton 4210 watt-meter may be useful, but that’s not really what you’re looking for. But wait, there it is! 4210 – Leeds & Northrup is one of the search suggestions that came up.
      MFR shown in search results

      MFR shown in Used-Line search results

      With the inclusion of the manufacturer’s name in your search results, you can quickly find exactly what you were searching for.

    • Ordering directly from the dealer: Some of our dealers have taken advantage of our new Directly From Dealer button. When a buyer opens an ad listed by a dealer using this functionality, he is given the option to purchase directly from the dealer without filling out any forms on Used-Line – thus reducing the number of steps required to complete his transaction. The buyer simply clicks on a thumbnail image that takes him to the specific listing on the dealer’s website. (Click the image below to view this actual ad on Used-LIne.)
Order directly from dealer.

Ordering a product directly from a dealer.

    • Moving up the ranks in Used-Line search results: And here is our tip for the week. It is a tip for promoting your ads on Used-Line. I’m sure you’ve noticed the featured ads with photos, in a row of four mini-banners at the top of a category’s listings page. Featured Items is a special upgrade that you can purchase from Used-Line. (See the page on becoming a member.) What you may not realize about Featured Items is that the mini-banner at the top of the page is not the only benefit you get from this upgrade. You also get to send your ad uprank (I made that word up) in the list of search results (possibly to the top!) when users search for the item you wish to sell. For details on how this works, view the Used-Line video on Featured Items.

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How to Increase Your Rank in Used-Line Searches

Look out for more usability gems in future blog posts!

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Three Ways to View Power Analyzers on Used-Line.com

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Do you know that there are at least three ways (maybe there are more) to view Power Analyzers on Used-LIne.com? Of course, the same applies to many of the other categories on Used-LIne. But today we are going to focus on just one instrument category – power analyzers – for illustrative purposes.

These three paths all serve different purposes. Used-Line has so much to offers its visitors!

1. View Power Analyzer Listings

Let’s talk about listings first because this is why a potential buyer of a power analyzer will visit Used-Line.com.

How do you find power analyzer listings on Used-LIne?
Well, I could send you the Used-Line Help manual. No. Let’s be honest. Which of our users really need help finding equipment listings on our website?

You probably fit into one of the following four user profiles:

  1. You are a frequent visitor to Used-Line and have been for years, and could probably give a class on how to navigate our website.
  2. You’ve been keeping up with our blog (you have, haven’t you?), and have learned all the tips and tricks for browsing equipment on Used-LIne.
  3. This is your first visit to the Used-Line website. You are in the market for a power analyzer and your favorite search engine brought you here.
  4. You have no interest in power analyzers or in test equipment in general. You simply enjoy reading this blog!

Profile 1: You know what you’re doing.
Profile 2: You’ve learned what to do.
Profile 3: Used-Line developers have made searching on Used-LIne such a cinch, there is no need for instruction.
Profile 4: Keep on reading!

So, no instructions needed – only a link: Used-Line Power Analyzer Ads.

Now that you’ve seen the listings, how about some descriptions of the various power analyzers that are listed?

Which takes us to Used-Line’s specifications pages for test and measurement equipment.

2. View Power Analyzer Specifications

If you followed the link to the power analyzer listings on Used-Line, you will have noted that there are 871 listings (as of today’s date)! Of course, you may have already decided which model you want, or you are a dealer looking for a specific manufacturer’s analyzer for one of your customers. But, what if you’d like to know a little more about a particular model? Or you want to check specs and features of a number of models before making your purchasing decision? What kind of power analyzer operation modes are essential to your work environment? Is harmonics measurement a must-have feature?

In other words, you would like to learn more about what types of analyzers are available and drill down into some specific characteristics about the various models in the market.

Here’s what you can do:

    1. Visit Used-Line’s T&M Specifications pages.
    2. Choose Power Analyzers.
    3. Browse the analyzers if you wish, then select one that you are interested in, for example, the discontinued Fluke 435. And here it is.
      Used Fluke 435 | used-line.comFind your used Fluke 435 Power Analyzer at used-line.com, the Online Marketplace for used Test and Measurement equipment.

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And here’s the best part! After studying the specs and features of the Fluke 435, you may decide this is just what you have been looking for. Scroll up the very page you landed on to view the Fluke 435 features description and you will find all the current Fluke 435 listings on Used-Line.

3. View the Power Analyzer Glossary

Yes, Used-Line actually provides a glossary of terms. Most, but not all the terms, are key specifications organized by instrument. Figuring that most of our users are familiar with the specs of the instruments they are interested in, we’ve hidden the glossary in the small fine print that can be found at the bottom of each page. Go ahead and see if you can find it. You just never know when you may need to look up a spec description while browsing our listings. Let our glossary get you started on your search for specification definitions. In case you don’t have a magnifying glass on hand, here’s the link. Of course, you want the Power Analyzer glossary, so that in case you were losing sleep wondering what Total Interharmonic Distortion really is, click below to find your answer.

Power Analyzer Glossary Terms | used-line.comA power analyzer, also known as an energy analyzer, is an electronic device that measures single-phase or three-phase electrical energy as it flows through a circuit or is distributed through electronic or motorized equipment. Electrical measurements commonly taken with a power analyzer include volts, amps, watts, frequency, reactive power hours, maximum power, phase angles and harmonic distortion.

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And you thought that Used-Line is just a market place for pre-owned hi-tech and scientific equipment?! Of course, it’s that! And much, much more.

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Used-Line Usability Gems

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I work for Used-Line.com. You didn’t know that, right?

So, despite the fact that I am a Used-Line employee, until recently, I had not kept up 100% with ALL the exciting developments going on – particularly on the Used-Line website. I’m not talking about massive, life-changing changes, but rather, the small little niceties that I’ve come across lately, or which have been pointed out to me by co-workers.

And here they are.

  • A new search box. In an earlier blog, we discussed searching for equipment on Used-LIne, and how you can easily drill down to the specific model or category you need. Now our developers have added an additional search box to the home page, conveniently located beneath the BUY link. A small addition, but high up on the scale of good usability, in my opinion.
  • A social media bar.  Take a look at what is new on Used-Line’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and blog pages with direct links on the social media bar at the bottom of any page on the Used-Line website. Or share an ad on one of your own social media pages, using the share button on the bar. How about sharing your company’s ads? Then when you’re done, simply click the down arrow on the right side of the bar to close the bar.
  • A recently enhanced Dealer Directory.The upgrades to the Dealer Directory let you configure your search for a dealer in such a way that you can fulfill all your specific requirements. For example, if you require a dealer in a particular location, whose offerings include timers and counters from a specific manufacturer, and you would like to lease the equipment, you can restrict your dealer search to those specific boundaries; thus drilling down quickly to your best chance at finding the equipment you need.There’s much much more to write about the Dealer Directory but not in this space. Mmm… maybe the Dealer Directory warrants its own blog post !
  • Search box
  • Dealer Directory filter
  • Dealer Directory Brands filter
  • Dealer Directory Rentals filter

We’ve got lots more gems. More next time!

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The Transparent Future of OLED Development

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The future is now when it comes to the development of applications for the integration of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) into our everyday lives. Bringing us closer to the maturity of OLED development, lighting systems giant, OSRAM, has taken the term that best suits the application potential of this technology—”transparent”—and run with it.

English: Osram factory, Drammen, Norway

Osram factory, Drammen, Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Announcing the development of the “Rollercoaster” luminaire in December, 2012, with production slated for 2014, OSRAM has started to overcome some of the issues that have been challenging engineers involved in the development of transparent organic light technologies.
I’m not sure if I would choose to hang the Rollercoaster luminaire in my living-room, but the scope for the design of applications using the technology that has evolved into the creation of this glass structure is tremendous. The glass panels are luminous and can potentially light up a wide area of a hotel lobby. Or, try to visualize a room divider created out of opaque lighting. Or the reflective roof of a car or bus-stop. Then, turn out the lights. The luminaire switches to natural lighting and completely changes your view of the world.
OSRAM discusses how the company is overcoming the challenges in the development of transparent OLEDs in their December, 2012 press release, which can be read on the OSRAM website.

This content of this blog post was originally published in a Used-Line newsletter in February, 2013.

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Used-Line Tip: Searching for a Specific Model

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Do you ever find that because some equipment model numbers are so ubiquitous, when you search for them on your favorite search-engine or on Used-Line, they will return way too many results, most of them will not be connected to what you had in mind, and the model you were trying to find will only show up on page 7 of the results?

Of course, if you search for model Z3RA29-56L3 (not a real model number as far as I know), you are very likely to find what you are searching for on page 1 of 1. However if you search for model 123  (this is a real model number) on Used-Line, 300+ results could be returned, with a very low relevancy in terms of your personal search. The reason: Many manufacturers name their equipment models using numbers that include 123 in this exact sequence. Examples: 123, 12338, 1232A, 1230T, 123R, SPS-1230, 102-123, and so on.

As you must realize, searching for a model number made up of numbers exclusively – no letters – makes matters worse. The descriptions and synopses that accompany your results may contain your model number in a price tag or even in a specification. Take a look at this Used-Line listing for a Tektronix 492 spectrum analyzer, which showed up in the results of my search for a 123 Fluke ScopeMeter.

Search result based on specs in listing description.

Search result based on specs in listing description.

Do you see why my search pulled in this listing? The amplitude range is –123 dBm to +40 dBm.

So, what to do about this?

Well, you can code some new search algorithms and send them along with your resume to the recruiting department of your favorite search-engine.

Or, you can fiddle with various settings in your search engine to train it to guess what you are looking for. And, of course, in some search engines, you can use an advanced search function to search for an exact term. But this all takes a few steps.

So, take a look at what our developers at Used-Line have done to make searching a cinch.

Used-Line has reduced the number of steps typically required to narrow down a search –  to a single click. Here is how it works. We will use model 123 as an example.

Used-Line drop-down list for model #123 search

Drop-down list for model #123 search

  1. In the menu bar near the top of any page on Used-Line, start typing 123 in the text box that is prefilled with the words, Find Category or Model#.
  2. Wait for a second or less to view a drop-down list of all the models on Used-Line that contain the number 123, such as SEM123D, 1123A, 212359, and 011-0123-00.
  3. Select model number 123 from the list.

What we have actually done here is to select a specific model. When we previously searched for a 123 and simply waited for the results to come in, the system returned the 300+ models on Used-Line that contain the number, 123. Now, after picking the specific model number, 123, from a selection of suggested model numbers, the system returned 20 models – all exactly what we were searching for. Not only has our search been narrowed down – it has zoomed right into what we were looking for.

No more clicking back and forth between pages and pages of irrelevant search results.

Now you give it a try!

 

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