Friday, June 14, 2013

Analog Discovery by Digilent Review and Teardown



 


From the Digilent website: " The Digilent Analog Discovery™ design kit, developed in conjunction with Analog Devices Inc., is the first in a new line of all-in-one analog design kits that will enable engineering students to quickly and easily experiment with advanced technologies and build and test real-world, functional analog design circuits anytime, anywhere - right on their PCs. For the price of a textbook, students can purchase a low-cost analog hardware development platform and components, with access to downloadable teaching materials, reference designs and lab projects to design and implement analog circuits as a supplement to their core engineering curriculum."



The Analog Discovery uses Digilent's Waveforms software which is free, but only works with the Analog Discovery and the Electronics Explorer Board.

The Analog Discovery has a dual channel Oscilloscope and 2 arbitrary waveform generator outputs. Also included are a 16 Channel Logic Analyzer, Digital Pattern output, Static I/O and a fixed 5 volt +/- power supply.

It is relatively easy to use and the user interface is nicely laid out.







I haven't experimented much with the logic analyzer or digital pattern generator, but I have used the arbitrary waveform generator and oscilloscope frequently. 

Oscilloscope and waveform generator screenshots:

Probing a Piezoelectric transducer 



1 Hz sine wave

An add-on you can purchase is the BNC adapter:






This makes it possible to use BNC oscilloscope probes and use BNC probes for the waveform generator as well.







Teardown Photos:









 Backside: 4 rubber feet and 4 screws




On the bottom side of the board we see all the by-pass capacitors and resistors used for the FPGA and A/D and D/A converters on the top side of the board.
Top side highlights:

AD9648 dual, 14-bit, 105 MSPS, 1.8 V dual analog-to-digital converter

AD9717 dual, 14-bit, 125 MSPS, low power digital-to-analog converter

This gives the Analog discovery a 100 MSPS, 5 MHz bandwidth, up to 16k samples/channel for the analog inputs and outputs.

Xilinx FPGA (Processing)

FTDI Chip (USB)




Conclusion:



Overall I think the Analog Discovery is a decently priced for all the functions it offers and it is a very portable device, that you can just throw into your computer bag and take it out and probe stuff on your laptop on the go. I recommend getting the BNC adapter since it allows the use of normal oscilloscope probes. The software is user friendly and gets the job done. I would recommend this to beginners since it offers a whole array of instruments and functions that are useful in getting started in electronics. For experts and hobbyists it is a pretty good device that is portable and easy to use in the field when you don't have all your equipment in your lab. 

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