Signal generators and sweep oscillators can have the accuracy and stability of a synthesizer

In this Issue:

Go into any circuit design lab and on just about every bench you'll find an oscilloscope, its glowing blue or green eye displaying one or a group of waveforms that the owner of the bench considers important Designers spend hours staring at these fluorescent eyes, fine tuning their circuits until those waveforms look exactly the way they should. The oscilloscope's ability to display repetitive waveforms makes it a ubiquitous and essential instrument not only in the R&D lab, but also in the service engineer's tool kit and in production test areas, where it's been something of an anomaly. Often the oscilloscope is the only instrument in an automated production test system that has to be set up manually and can't talk to the computer. Now that can change. Our cover subject this month is an oscilloscope measurement system that can set itself up automatically or at the direction of a computer. The 1980A'B (it comes in a low, wide B model and a taller A model) can talk to the computer over the HP Interface Bus, HP's version of an industry standard communication method for programmable instruments. This programmable scope can capture and display a signal without any knob-twisting by the operator—that's called Autoscope With its digital waveform storage option, it can take, store, and display samples of a waveform, transmit those samples to a computer, and get samples back for display along with messages for the operator. Another option, a plot/sequence memory, lets the operator initiate a predefined sequence of measurements by pushing a single button on a probe.

You'll find the story of the 1980A B design on pages 3 to 26. Our cover photo shows a 1980B talking to an HP 9826A Computer in a lab bench test setup at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation in Mountain View, California. Our thanks to Fairchild for their cooperation.

In the world of microwave frequency sources, the big three are signal generators, sweep oscillators, and synthesizers. Synthesizers offer the ultimate in frequency accuracy and stability and are generally more expensive than the others. The article on page 30 describes a new instrument, Model 5344S Source Synchronizer, that gives sweepers and signal generators the accuracy of a synthesizer, turns signal generators into sweepers, at least for narrowband sweeps, and greatly improves the accuracy of a sweep oscillator's wide sweeps by means of a procedure called "lock and roll." For much less than the cost of a synthesizer, the owner of a sweeper or signal generator can have synthesizer accuracy, some new capabilities, and a general-purpose microwave counter (part of the 5344S) It's like getting the best of two worlds for the cost of one and a half,

Many HP products contain proprietary HP integrated circuits as well as commercially available ICs. A variety of processes are used to produce these HP ICs. The article on page 27 describes one such process, a new high-performance bipolar process being developed by HP's Integrated Circuits Division in Santa Clara. California. Other processes will be described in upcoming issues.

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