Test & Measurement

Arbitrary function generator boasts 9-inch touchscreen

23rd October 2018
Mick Elliott

It has been completely redesigned, it has a new user interface and what is claimed to be the industry’s largest touchscreen which means, says Tektronix, that the AFG31000 has redefined the arbitrary/function generator. It will aid engineers and researchers who need to generate increasingly complex test cases for debugging, troubleshooting, characterising and validating devices under test.

Despite their importance in electronics test and wide adoption, AFGs have lagged behind other test instrumentation in terms of usability, says Tektronix, making do with small displays and other shortcomings that make them hard to learn and operate.

Moreover, traditional AFGs lack the deep memory and programming capability needed to compose a series of test cases with complex timing – critical for optimum test efficiency.

“A major point of emphasis for us is to put tools in the hands of our customers that make their lives easier so they in turn can bring innovative new products to market faster and more efficiently. With an interface defined last decade, AFGs have actually started to become an obstacle to productivity,” said Lori Kieklak, Vice President and General Manager, Keithley Product Line at Tektronix. “To turn that around, we looked at the AFG with fresh eyes and are already hearing from customers about how much easier and faster they can create the test stimulus they need using the AFG31000 series.”

The AFG31000 series features a 9-inch capacitive touchscreen, the largest available on an AFG, that allows users to see all related settings and parameters on a single screen within a shallow menu tree.

Similar to the modern touch-enabled smart devices, users can tap or swipe to easily select, browse, locate and change settings. The intuitive user interface saves users time in both learning and operating the instrument for major gains in productivity and efficiency.

Traditional AFGs assume they are driving a 50Ω impedance. However, most devices under test (DUTs) do not have a 50Ω impedance. This mismatch results in an inconsistency between the waveform as set on the AFG and the signal at the DUT.

The new patented InstaView feature on the AFG31000 series addresses this problem by monitoring and displaying the waveform at the DUT without the need for additional cables or instruments. The waveform shown on the display instantly responds to changes in frequency, amplitude, waveform shape as well as the DUT’s impedance, saving time and boosting confidence.

In addition to traditional AFG operation modes, the AFG31000 series offers an Advanced or waveform sequencer mode.

In the Advanced mode, the instrument’s up-to 128Mpts of waveform memory can be segmented into up to 256 entries, and users can drag and drop long waveforms, or multiple waveforms in the sequencer and define how they are output.

Compared to arbitrary waveform generators, the AFG31000 series reduces instrument costs by as much as 90%, giving users who need long, non-repeating waveforms, or multiple waveforms with complex timing an affordable alternative.

Taking advantage of the large capacitive touchscreen, the ArbBuilder tool built into the AFG enables users to create and edit arbitrary waveforms directly on the instrument without needing to create the waveforms on a PC and transferring them to the instrument.

ArbBuilder improves test efficiency especially for arbitrary waveforms that need to change frequently.


For users who wants to replicate waveforms captured by an oscilloscope, they can save waveforms as .csv files and use ArbBuilder to load them directly into the AFG31000.

Current AFG users, who are well aware of the limitations of AFGs, see the new sequencing and ArbBuilder features of the AFG31000 series as a significant boost to productivity and efficiency.

AFG31000 series instruments are available in 1- or 2-channel configurations and deliver 14-bit vertical resolution along with 250MSa/s, 1GSa/s or 2GSa/s sample rate performance. Additionally, in traditional AFG mode, users can change frequency without worrying about waveform length and sample rate. Output amplitude range is 1mVP-P to 10VP-P into 50Ω loads.

The AFG31000 series arbitrary/function generator models with 25, 50 or 100MHz bandwidth are available now globally.

Models with 150 or 250MHz bandwidth are scheduled for release in November. Prices start at £1,650.

The AFG31000 series will make its debut at electronica in Munich (November 13-16).

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