Tablet Oscilloscope Claims 100 MHz, But Is It?

[LearnElectronics] grabbed a FNIRSI tablet oscilloscope from a vendor from China. The device has a seven-inch touchscreen and claims to be a two-channel 100 MHz scope. But is it? Watch the video below and you’ll see.

Spoiler alert: [LearnElectronics] was skeptical of the 100 MHz claim and it looks like it is more like a 30 MHz analog bandwidth. Despite that, it does seem like a pretty capable 30 MHz scope in a very handy form factor and a very cheap price: as little as $120 or so, depending on where you shop.

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Software Defined Radio Academy Goes Virtual

They say every cloud has a silver lining. It’s hard to find a positive among all the bad news about the current global pandemic, but it has pushed more conferences and events to allow online participation either live or after the fact. A case in point: The Software Defined Radio Academy’s annual event is all on a YouTube channel so you can attend virtually.

Not all the videos are there yet, but the keynote along with some very technical talks about techniques ranging from FPGAs to spectrum monitoring and spectral correlation density — you can see that video, below. We presume you’ll eventually be able to watch all the presentations listed in the program.

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Breadboard Breaks The Speed Barrier

It is common wisdom that solderless breadboards are only good for low frequencies. But how fast can they really go? There’s been a contest going on to see who can make the fastest breadboard-mounted oscillator and [Joe Smith] has been trying to keep his leading position. He’s already managed 6 GHz and now he’s shooting for 20 GHz, as you can see in the video below.

One of the biggest challenges at these frequencies is just measuring your output. You may have a scope, but how does it do at 20 GHz? So half of the story is how [Joe] managed to monitor his output.

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Your Own Open Source ASIC: SkyWater-PDK Plans First 130 Nm Wafer In 2020

You might have caught Maya Posch’s article about the first open-source ASIC tools from Google and SkyWater Technology. It envisions increased access to make custom chips — Application Specific Integrated Circuits — designed using open-source tools, and made real through existing chip fabrication facilities. My first thought? How much does it cost to tape out? That is, how do I take the design on my screen and get actual parts in my hands? I asked Google’s Tim Ansel to explain some more about the project’s goals and how I was going to get my parts.

The goals are pretty straightforward. Tim and his collaborators would like to see hardware open up in the same way software has. The model where teams of people build on each other’s work either in direct collaboration or indirectly has led to many very powerful pieces of software. Tim’s had some success getting people interested in FPGA development and helped produce open tools for doing so. Custom ASICs are the next logical step.

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Implementing The Exponential Function

Ask ordinary software developers how to code an exponential function (that is, ex) and most will tell you to simply write an expression in their favorite high level language. But a significant slice of Hackaday readers will program tiny machines down to the bare metal or need more speed or precision than available with a customary implementation. [Pseduorandom] knows quite a few ways to do the calculation, and while it isn’t light reading for the math-phobic, it is an interesting tour.

The paper covers a variety of ways to calculate the function ranging from various Taylor series approximations, Lagrange interpolation, and Chebyshev interpolation. The paper is somewhat abstract, but there are Python and C++ examples to help make it concrete.

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Linux-Fu: Parallel Universe

At some point, you simply run out of processing power. Admittedly, that point keeps getting further and further away, but you can still get there. If you run out of CPU time, the answer might be to add more CPUs. However, sometimes there are other bottlenecks like memory or disk space. However, it is also likely that you have access to multiple computers. Who doesn’t have a few Raspberry Pis sitting around their network? Or maybe a server in the basement? Or even some remote servers “in the cloud.” GNU Parallel is a tool that lets you spread work across multiple tasks either locally to remote machines. In some ways, it is simple, since it looks sort of like xargs but with parallel execution. On the other hand, it has myriad options and configurations that can make it a little daunting to use. Continue reading “Linux-Fu: Parallel Universe”

Hantek 3-in-1 Instrument Reviewed

What kid doesn’t want a Swiss Army knife? Maybe that was the idea behind Hantek’s 3-in-1 instrument that [Rui Santos] reviewed in a recent blog post. You can also watch the video version, below. The instrument is a combination oscilloscope, multimeter, and signal generator. The device is pretty inexpensive and comes in 40 MHz and 70 MHz versions. You can also get versions that drop the function generator if you want to save a little bit more.

The multimeter does 4000 counts and has the usual scales along with capacitance measurements. Rechargeable batteries make it portable, and the signal generator is capable up to 25 MHz. The scope is dual channel, but the sampling drops in half (125 megasamples per second) when using both channels.

The 2.8 inch color screen isn’t as big as your bench scope, but it’s good for a portable device. The review also mentions that there are few buttons so many operations require a lot of menu navigation, but — again — that’s a function of being small. Overall, [Rui] seemed to like the meter well enough. We’ve spent more on a good digital meter, so if this can do that function plus also give you a reasonable scope and signal generator, it seems like a fair deal.

This reminded us of a very polished version of the EM125 we took a look at a few years ago, although that didn’t have a color screen, a second channel, or a signal generator. Of course, signal generators are cheap enough if you want to keep it separate.

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