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Review: LeCroy Waverunner 104Mxi Digital Scope

LeCroy's WaveRunner 104Mxi is a 4-channel digital oscilloscope which operates under Windows XP. You can configure and run the scope using either a USB mouse or via the touch screen. In fact, most of the time you can completely ignore the front panel controls and just use the mouse.

By Leo Simpson

I will be honest. When I first turned on the LeCroy WaveRunner 104Mxi I did not realise it had a Windows XP interface. LeCroy do not make a big fuss about it in their literature; in fact they hardly mention it at all.

So when I had to do a quick waveform measurement recently and I knew I had to take a look at the LeCroy I just grabbed it and set it up on my desk, ready to do the measurement. I switched it on, hooked up a couple of probes and hit the Autoset button. This gave me a waveform on the screen, as you would expect, but when I came to do the measurements I was bushed – OK, where are the measurement controls?

I will admit that just like everyone else, I had not looked at any instruction manual – who does that? (In fact, I did not find the instruction manual until some days later – in the back pocket of the scope). But then in a moment of enlightenment, I touched the screen and found that I could do everything that way. There are the usual drop-down Windows menus along the top of screen – it all works. It’s not the first Windows oscilloscope I have come across but I seem to remember that the others I have come across are not as intuitive as the LeCroy.

Click for larger image
These four scope grabs from the LeCroy 104Mxi portray a range of video waveforms from the Pocket A/V Generator presented in the June 2006 issue. All but one show the scope traces reversed out of white background. This saves toner when printing the scope grabs and makes it easier to read the on-screen measurements.

By the way, LeCroy probably don’t want you to put your greasy paws on the touch screen so they have provided a little slide-out wand which you can use instead. After using that for a couple of minutes, I thought that a USB mouse would be a better way and sure enough, when I dived back into the packaging, the local distributors, Vicom, had provided one. Plugging that into the front panel immediately lets you do everything via the mouse.

The layout of the scope’s front panel looks fairly conventional until you start looking for a particular feature such as how to set up triggering. This throws you into a display whereby you select parameters via the wand or mouse. But back to the scope itself. The screen itself is a 10.4-inch (26.4cm) SVGA LCD with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. This improves considerably if you connect an external monitor which can give a stated maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels (4:3 aspect ratio). When connected to a widescreen LCD monitor, we were able to set it to 1920 x 1200 pixels. We will come back to the operation of the external monitor later.

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