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Basic Types of Test and Measure Equipment
We come across various electronic and electrical devices in our daily life. Laptops and mobile phones to huge machines used in industries are tested through several levels to ensure perfect working and assured safety. The instruments used to test various parameters defining the flawless performance of an application or gears are commonly termed as test and measurement equipment.
The test equipment creates signals and reads its response to check the performance of the device under test. The variations in this response help us to trace the faults and rectify them. Various factors like voltage, current, data transmission rates, power, etc. are tested using different such equipment.
In the earlier days, these types of equipment used analog systems. However today, the systems are much advanced and these use digital meters that are capable of even recording the slightest variations. This helps in more efficient and accurate testing with the least effort.
Test and measurement equipment can be categorized into three:
- Devices used for measuring basic system parameters like voltage, current and resistance
- Devices used for testing stimulus signals
- Devices that measure the response to these signals
Voltmeter, Ohmmeter, Ammeter, and Multimeters are the most common devices in the first category. A voltmeter measures the voltage between two points like in an electric circuit. There are both analog and digital voltmeters available in the market. While analog voltmeters have a pointer that moves through a scale, the digital voltmeters return the value of voltage in numeric form, which is more accurate and easier to read. An ohmmeter measures electrical resistance and Ammeter measures the electric current in a circuit. There are also Multimeters, which performs the functions of ohmmeter, voltmeter, and ammeter.
The devices used for testing stimulus signals include power supplies, signal generators, and pulse generators. As the names suggest, power supplies are devices that provide electric power, signal generators generate electrical signal and pulse generators generate rectangular pulses.
Devices like oscilloscope measure system response to the input signals. It measures the change of an electrical signal based on time and produces a graph. On reading the graph, one can understand properties such as frequency, amplitude, time interval, rise time and others. Modern digital instruments may calculate these properties directly and display the results in numeric form. Amphenol ICC’s DDR3 standard and SO-DIMM connectors go into the motherboard of oscilloscopes, while USB 2.0 connectors are found as panel I/O interfaces and Minitek Pwr wire-to-board power connectors connect the processor fan to the motherboard.
More advanced and sophisticated types of testing equipment are also available in the market today, like Semiconductor curve tracer that measures the characteristics of semiconductor devices and EMF Meter that measures Electric and Magnetic Fields.