High-performance logic analyzer from Digilent offers built-in pattern generator

March 7, 2017 OpenSystems Media

Makers, hobbyists, and design engineers: there’s a new product in town to debug, visualize, and simulate digital signals for embedded projects and high-speed digital circuits—the Digital Discovery from Digilent. As the latest addition to the company’s line of instrumentation tools, Digital Discovery is a combined 100-MHz, 800-Msample/s, 24-channel logic analyzer, and 50-MHz, 100-Msample/s, 16-channel pattern generator instrument for embedded debugging. The small form factor facilitates easy storage, while maintaining high performance specifications.

The USB-powered tool offers a suite of virtual instruments including a 24-channel logic analyzer with a protocol analyzer, 16 channels of static I/O, and a programmable power supply, making it suitable for design engineers on the move. Users can link multiple instruments through two I/O digital trigger signals.

With an adjustable sample rate, users have the flexibility to acquire signals at different rates. This includes:

  • 800 Msamples/s input sample rate when using a maximum of eight inputs and the optional high-speed adapter;
  • 400 Msamples/s when using a maximum of 16 inputs and the optional high-speed adapter;
  • 200 Msamples/s when using a maximum of 32 inputs.

The 100 MHz bandwidth allows for a detailed display of high frequencies. The logic analyzer supports LVCMOS voltage levels from 1.2 to 3.3 V, and is compatible with 5 V. A built-in protocol analyzer decodes common communication protocols including SPI, I²C, and UART. In addition, the logic analyzer offers CAN, I2S, and parallel protocol support.

The pattern generator generates a variety of buses and signals including algorithmic- or buffer-based pattern with frequencies of up to 50 MHz. Users can apply ROM logic to define their own Boolean functions to test state machines. The signal strength and slew rate can be adjusted automatically or manually.

The programmable power supplies can power digital circuits or embedded systems up to 3.3 V and 100 mA. The static I/O pins are used for either sensing or generating change-of-state instances. They offer virtual I/O, including buttons, switches, LEDs, and displays.

The on-board 2 Gbytes of DDR3 memory provides a total 2-Gbit memory depth for the logic analyzer, and there is a 32-ksamples/channel output buffer for all I/O pins. Coupled with the optional high-speed adapter and impedance-matched probes, users should have no trouble testing their high-speed digital circuits.

The Digital Discovery comes with free application software called Waveforms 2015, which is designed with the user in mind as it provides a customizable user interface. With one quick download and installation, it detects and customizes its tools and user interface to the connected instrumentation device. With Mac, Linux, and, Windows compatibility, WaveForms 2015 and Digital Discovery can turn any computer into a versatile portable benchtop. The WaveForms software development kit (SDK) lets users create custom applications. The user manual, examples in Python and C++, and library header file are available online.

To get started, users simply plug in the USB cable, load WaveForms 2015, and start taking measurements. Tutorials, videos, and training documents help beginners get up to speed and advanced users explore the high-end tools and features.

Kaitlyn Franz is a product manager for Digilent, focusing on Instrumentation. Her goal is to evangelize portable or pocket-sized instrument as an accessible tool for every engineer and maker. You can check out the apps notes and training materials she created.

Kaitlyn Franz, Product Manager, Digilent
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