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Review: Agilent 54622D Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

It's a high-performance analog scope and 16-channel logic analyser all rolled into one. And it's amazingly easy to drive.

By Leo Simpson

Click for larger image
This is the top model in the Agilent 54600 series. It has two analog input channels and 16 digital input channels so it can perform as a combination analog scope and logic analyser.

In November 1999, the instrumentation side of Hewlett-Packard was spun off into a new company called Agilent Technologies Inc and this company has finally released its new series of digital scopes. There are five models in the series, two 60MHz models and three 100MHz units: the 54621A 2-channel 60MHz; the 54621D 18-channel 60MHz mixed signal scope; the 54622A 2-channel 100MHz; the 54624A 4-channel 100MHz; and the mixed-signal 54622D which has two analog channels and 16 digital channels.

Over a period of several weeks we had the chance to try out the 2-channel and 4-channel 100MHz models and the 54622D mixed signal oscilloscopes. Apart from the more comprehensive triggering facilities and 16-channel input capability of the 54622D, all the scopes have the same operating features so virtually everything in this review will apply to all models in the series.

First up, we will state that the basic "spec" for the 54600 series seems pretty standard – 100MHz or 60MHz bandwidth and 200 megasamples/second (for analog channels). However, this tells only a small part of the story because this series of scopes does not have the sampling rate tied to the timebase speed, giving low sample rates at low timebase speeds. Instead, the 54600 series run at a high sampling speed all the time and in fact, it runs at the maximum 200MSa/sec speed for all timebase speeds above 1ms/div. This is a huge step up in performance compared to most digital scopes.

And it has a large memory, with 2MB of RAM per channel or 4MB in single channel mode. These two factors make it a potent scope indeed. We’ll come back to the performance aspects later. For the moment, let’s look at the basic operating features.

Compared with other brands of digital scopes with CRT screens, the Agilent 54600 series is quite compact, measuring 352mm wide (including handle), 172mm high (including feet but not accessory bag) and 317mm deep. It is quite light at 6.3kg.

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