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Technology Showcase: Test Equipment

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

The AV toolbox grows to include a variety of useful gadgets.

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Paladin Tools markets a very handy piece of gear in the PC Cable-Check Pro. The unit has a handle formed on the case. It also includes just about every type of connector commonly used by AV, IT, and broadcast techs. It maps the pin-out, and using LED lights, it checks for shorts and crossed or broken leads in more than 20 types of patch cables — including LAN, telephone, serial, coax, USB, D-sub 9, 15-pin and 25-pin, mini-USB, S-Video, and 4-pin and 6-pin FireWire. It also includes PS/2 keyboard cables and parallel printer connectors. The PC Cable-Check Pro also has manual and autocheck modes along with auto-off after 30 seconds of inactivity to preserve the life of the internal 9V battery. The unit's design allows it to be wedged into tight spaces and carried without snagging protrusions.

The Protek B850 wide-range audio generator is used by sound installers and maintenance technicians to check and adjust sound-system components. Sine- and square-wave output signals can be used from 10Hz to 1MHz in five ranges. The square wave signal is variable from 10Hz to 100kHz in frequency with amplitude variable in steps at 0dB, 20dB, and 40dB attenuation with fine adjustment knob through an output impedance of 600V. The instrument has an external sync input with 10K Ω and a maximum input level of 10V RMS. The unit has a frequency accuracy from 10Hz to 1MHz of ±5 percent and from 100Hz to 100kHz of ±3 percent. The B850 has a very simple user interface with large dials and easy-to-read scales. It also comes with test leads, a manual, and a line cord.

The Audio Analyzer R&S UPV from Rohde & Schwarz can perform detailed analysis on analog and digital audio signals with dual-channel signal processing and generation. The instrument can generate single and dual-channel sine waves, intermodulation signals, burst signals, noise, and DC voltage. It can be used to measure levels, SINAD or THD+N, DC voltage, frequency, and phase, along with waveform functions and FFT analysis. The unit also has an integrated control PC that uses an embedded Windows XP operating system that includes a hard drive, a CD/DVD combo drive, a LAN interface, four USB ports, and connectors for a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and printer. One preset keystroke can be used to switch between five different screen settings, and the size and position of the panels on the display screen can be changed at any time.

The HP403CSH VideoPro SDI/HDSDI multimedia video generator from Sencore outputs video test patterns for calibration, testing, and maintenance of a variety of displays — including projectors. And for displays with integrated tuners, the device also provides an RF output on NTSC TV channels 2, 3, 4, and 6 and on ATSC channels 2-4, 7-10, and 30-32. DVI and HDMI signals can be used along with analog component, composite, and S-Video. Computer monitors with resolutions from 640×350 all the way up to 1920×1024 can also be tested, and up to 100 video formats can be stored on the unit. SMPTE 292M SDI and SMPTE 259M HDSDI video is available in multiple sync formats and resolutions. Audio outputs of 1kHz and 2kHz are available on the left and right channels, respectively, through a 3.5mm mini stereo phone jack. SMPTE bar, staircase, h-stair, overscan, color bars, crosshatch, multiburst, linearity, and a range of other display patterns are available. The unit runs on an AC power adapter or for up to 8 hours on internal AA NiMh batteries.

Tektronix, long a leader in the test-instrument realm, offers some very versatile, top-end tools in the DPO/DSA70000 series of digital phosphor oscilloscopes and digital serial analyzers. This includes the DSA 72004 with dedicated configuration for high-speed serial design and compliance testing. The unit has a 12.1in. XGA touchscreen display; DDR memory bus analysis; event search and mark; pinpoint triggering with more than 1,400 combinations; enhanced bandwidth to the probe tip, which is extended to support multiple bandwidth steps for advanced signal integrity; and the Windows XP OpenChoice software, which provides built-in networking and extended analysis. The DSA 72004 can do debugging and compliance testing of serial data streams; investigate transient phenomena; and perform signal integrity, jitter and timing analysis, and spectral analysis. With the DSA72004, the technician can measure how signal power is distributed with frequency using power-spectral-density plots up to 20GHz. It can also perform a world of other very precise measurements. An integrated report generator allows image plotting and documentation of all configuration parameters.

The Touchstone-3G palm-sized digital video and audio test-signal generator from Wohler Technologies is amazingly small for all that it does. The unit has a 3Gbps SDI video output in formats from 480i to 1080p/60 and 37 test signals including up to 16 channels of audio test tones that are all adjustable from 10Hz to 20kHz. Standard-definition signals include error detection and handling. Signals may be defined with up to 20 characters of user-defined text and a user-configured default setup can be stored in non-volatile flash memory. The Touchstone-3G runs on either three AA batteries or the included AC adapter.


Agilent Technologies

Applied Instruments

B&K Precision Corporation



Elenco Electronics

Extech Instruments

Extron Electronics

Fluke Networks

Galaxy Audio


Kaltman Creations

Optical Wavelength Laboratories

Paladin Tools

Protek Test and Measurement

Rohde & Schwarz


Tektronix Communications

Wohler Technologies

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