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EE Times Article


Copy of article published on line on the EE Times Web Page relating to the USBEE Product Line.

Low cost USB pod turns PC into scope, logic analyzer and more


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The Manufacturer Says ... eeProductCenter's Alex Mendelsohn Says ...

An Affordable PC-based Tester for Electronic Designs

TEMECULA, CA—CWAV, a Southern California based electronics company, announces the addition of the USBee AX Test Pod (AX) to its winning USBee product family. "The AX is an affordable PC-based pod that functions as a programmable oscilloscope, logic analyzer and digital signal generator all in one compact and easy to use unit," stated Tim Harvey, Principal of CWAV. "This product offers engineers, students and home hobbyists an affordable and portable way to test and debug their electronic products and designs."

The AX is used for testing and controlling electronic circuit designs. It verifies analog voltage levels and digital logic, generating a visual representation of the signals. For elaborate testing, the AX's buffer capacity is able to hold substantial information. The AX relies on the USB 2.0 bus to turn an existing personal computer into a high powered oscilloscope, logic analyzer and digital signal generator.

CWAV designed the AX system with personal computer resources in mind. Able to stream data to and from a personal computer, the USBee AX Test Pod performs all triggering and data storing. "This is essential and makes this product affordable," adds Harvey. "The sample storage capacity of this product is beyond traditional dedicated oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and signal generators." The AX utilizes personal computer memory as the sample buffer, allowing selectable sample depths from one million to many hundreds of millions of samples per trace.

Offered at three price points, the AX comes in Standard, Plus and Pro packages. The AX-Standard comes with oscilloscope and logic analyzer modules and is priced at $445.00 USD. The AX-Plus builds on the Standar's strengths and adds a signal generator and USB, 12C, SPI and Async decoder modules and is available for $745.00 USD. The AX-Pro contains all pieces included in the Plus package with the addition of a data logger, frequency counter, remote controller, PWM controller, frequency generator, pulse counter and the USBee AX ToolBuilder source code library. The source code library allows programming in Visual Basic of Visual C. This AX-Pro is priced at $1045.00 USD.

Software for the AX is provided at https://www.usbee.com and runs in demonstration mode without attachment to the AX.


Back in 2003 I covered one of CWAV's first products, the USBee ZX Digital Test Pod. Using high-speed USB (Universal Serial Bus), the pod provided an assortment of digital test and control functions on a PC.

It could work as a logic analyzer, signal generator, datalogger, pulse and frequency counter, serial controller, a PWM (pulse-width modulation) controller, and more.

CWAV supported the ZX with its USBee ZX Toolbuilder software that let you create custom test tools using VisualBASIC or C . CWAV supplies source code in its top of the line model.

Like the USBee ZX Digital Test Pod, the new USBee AX Test Pod leverages the speed of USB 2.0 to stream data to and from your PC. This endows the PC with all necessary triggering functions, as well as permitting data storage. The pod also derives its operating power from the bus, so no external supplies or bricks are required.

To run the newest pod, your Pentium PC needs to be equipped with Windows XP or Windows 2000, and have a USB 2.0-enabled port. You'll also need at least 32-Mbytes of RAM and 125-Mbytes of free disk space. Internet access is required so that you can get software updates.

A Variety Of Test Gear

Like the USBee ZX Digital Test Pod, the USBee AX Test Pod can also function as a wide variety of test equipment. You can use it as an I2C decoder just as easily as a digital voltmeter, or a signal generator. Depending on model, and price, it offers quite a versatile mix of functions, as the table here shows.

USBEE AX Feature Matrix

As an oscilloscope, the USBee AX Test Pod offers two 3-MHz analog bandwidth high-Z input channels that can run at a maximum analog sample rate of 12-Msamples/s, yielding 256 steps of analog resolution. Inputs can span ±10-V in amplitude. Like a conventional scope, the system's volts/division settings span 100-mV to 5-V in six steps. Likewise, the time/division sweep settings span 100-ns to 2-s in 23 steps.

The scope mode's triggering include settings that you'd expect on a benchtop scope. Included are Auto, Normal, and Single trigger modes, for example, and you can establish the tirgger position on a waveform.

As a logic analyzer, the USBee AX Test Pod gives you eight digital channels, and operates at a maximum sample rate of 24-Msamples/s, with either internal or external clocking and four trigger levels.

Trigger qualifiers can be set on a rising or falling edge, or on a high or low logic level. The system accommodates sample rates from 1-Msample/s to 24-Msamples/s.

Mixed-Signal Analysis

Significantly, the pod can also work as a mixed-signal scope, combining the attributes of analog oscilloscope functions and logic analysis.

USBEE Software Screen Shot

What's more, CWAV claims its approach pushes sample storage way beyond that of dedicated oscilloscopes and logic analyzers. In use, the USBee AX Test Pod uses the PC's memory as a sample buffer, supporting selectable sample depths from one to many hundreds of millions of samples. That complements the pod's ability to both capture and generate samples up to a maximum rate of 24 Msamples/s (depending on PC configuration).

The USBee AX also uses a unique auto-calibration feature. It automatically reduces the sample rate to ensure accurate and reliable timing, even on PCs with slower microprocessor and USB speeds.

Finally, CWAV supports its products with a raft of free software and source code listing downloads, manuals, and AVI tutorials on its Web site. However, the USBee AX is not yet covered at this time, but that's expected to change shortly.

For more details contact Interworld toll free at 877-902-2979

CWAV, 951-693-3065






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