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Spectrum launches all-in-one generator & digitizer, HybridNetBox

April 9 2021: The hybridNETBOX from Spectrum Instrumentation,  is an innovative instrumentation platform that combines a multi-channel arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) and a digitizer in a single portable unit.

With their unique capability for simultaneous signal generation and acquisition, these powerful tools are perfect for applications involving stimulus-response or closed-loop type testing. In total, 14 different hybrid NETBOX-models are available now, with 2+2, 4+4 or 8+8 matched channels and a choice of speeds from 40 MS/s up to to 1.25 GS/s.

The ability to create and acquire electronic signals at the same time enables the hybridNETBOX to play a key role in automated closed-loop or stimulus-response type testing. For example, they can reproduce and capture “echo” signals such as those found in Radar, Sonar, Lidar or Ultrasound. With their multi-channel capability, they can test these systems even when arrays of transmitters and receivers are used. The hybridNETBOX is also suited to ATE applications where components and subassemblies need to be tested in a fast automated manner. They can quickly ascertain the functionality and tolerance of DUTs and UUTs (devices or units under test) by exercising them with numerous, easily adjusted, complex signals. This powerful testing process can be deployed in a host of applications like Bus testing, MIMO communications, circuit verification, mechatronics and robotics.

Each hybridNETBOX has its’ own AWG and digitizer section. The AWG channels can generate almost any waveshape thanks to their use of the latest, high resolution, 16-bit digital to analog converters (DAC). Models are available with output rates of 40, 80, 125, 625 MS/s or 1.25 GS/s and signal bandwidths up to 400 MHz (600 MHz as an option). Depending on the speed grade and number of channels some units can output signals with amplitudes as large as ±6 V into a 50 Ohm load or ± 12V into high impedance (1 MOhm).

For signal acquisition, the digitizer channels feature similarly outstanding performances. Users can select from models that provide 16-bit resolution and sampling rates of 40, 80, 125, 180 or 250 MS/s or 14-bit resolution and sampling rates of 400 or 500 MS/s. Each channel is fully programmable with six adjustable input ranges, from ±200 mV to ±10 V full scale, signal offset and selectable input impedance of 50 Ohm or 1 MOhm.  Both the AWG and digitizer channels showcase a flexible clocking system that allows the selection of almost any output or sampling rate setting, enabling users to generate or acquire signals at exactly the speed they require.   

Each hybridNETBOX includes Spectrum’s own control software -- SBench 6 -- for signal generation, acquisition, display, signal processing, storage and reporting. SBench 6 allows waveforms to be created using standard functions and mathematical equations. Data can be acquired with the digitizer part and then be transferred to the AWG for replay. Data sharing with other programs or devices, such as oscilloscopes, is possible using built-in, import/export functions for transferring data in Binary, ASCII or Wave formats. Fully programmable, the hybridNETBOX comes with drivers for Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as programming examples for C++, LabVIEW, MATLAB, Visual Basic .NET, Python and other popular languages.

To help with waveform generation and acquisition, the units have large on-board memories and include a number of operating modes. For instance, it is possible to output signals using Single-Shot, Loop, FIFO Streaming, Gated Replay and Sequence Replay modes. This flexibility permits the user to generate almost any signal, or combination of signals, and develop test routines that can go from simple to complex. Similarly, signals can be acquired using Single-Shot, FIFO Streaming, Multiple Recording, Gated Sampling, and ABA (sample rate switching) modes. These can be combined with a variety of flexible trigger modes (Channel, External, Software, Window, Re-Arm, Logic or Delay) to make sure that important events are never missed.

In addition to the digitizer and AWG channels, the front-panel of each hybridNETBOX includes multiple digital I/O connectors. These make it easy to integrate units into a test system. For example, synchronous marker outputs are available that can be used on the AWG channels to allow precise control of other devices or instruments. Similarly, it is possible to synchronize the unit with other equipment by applying an external clock and triggers.

( This is based on manufacturer's  inputs and is not a review of the product)