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We're tool makers and tool users. Embedded developers - both those doing hardware work and those crafting firmware - use a wide range of tools, but it can be awfully hard to distinguish the good from the ugly.
Here's thoughts from a number of engineers. Feel free to submit your own reviews to jack ganssle. Philip Freidin sent a very comprehensive chart of USB instruments, which is here. As with many of their supplies I think it has a power-on button and a button which effects the connection to the loads--a very nice feature.
If any of the supplies should trip, they are all instantly disconnected. I did get a surprise one day when the supply tripped for apparently no reason. Turned out an unused supply was current limited to 0.
A little noise got in there! Chris Svec also has a GW Instek power supply: I have a GW Instek dual output power supply which is just okay - it's got a loud fan that runs all the time, and the voltage output seems to drift a bit, but that could be because I nudge the sloppy control dials unknowingly. This is a MHz USB MSO with two analog channels, eight digital channels nine if you include the external trigger which can be displayed along with the other digital channelsand 4 mega-points of memory.
In my case I opted for the bit samplers and 10 MHz signal generator options. It also has a beautiful and intuitive user interface that seems leaps beyond the others I've looked at. In particular, I find the time and voltage scales that are displayed on the edges of the graph to be very useful.
The CleverScope folks are also very good at updating the firmware and software. When I bought this unit it had no serial decoding capabilities. I can also stream captures trigger-by-trigger to disk files for later evaluation. All in all, a very nice and capable unit that I use on a daily basis. Nice feature set, but not much sample memory. I recommend taking a look at the offerings from Seeed Studios.
I have one of the original DSO Nano scopes and find it quite useful. The V2 is a wholly reworked version and includes a signal generator.
The whole thing easily fits in a pocket, which is hard to beat for on-the-go or cluttered bench jobs. It's hard to put a "time-saved" number on it as things suddenly jump out at you instantly when you can see the decoded bus in real time! I too love the Logic. It's simple and the price is right. But perhaps the best thing about it is the software is cross-platform. It took longer than I liked, since I had to run it in a VMWare virtual machine on my Mac, but eventually they released a cross-platform software package.
Finally an embedded tools vendor that understands there's other operating systems out there than Windows. On a similar vein to the LOGIC little logic analyser, I surveyed the market for small cheap units a few years back, and we decided on the LOGICPORT from Intronix It is a 34 channel logic analyser that uses time compression to store samples in its rather small buffer, so if you have a slow moving signal you can get quite long traces.
It will also go up to MHz external clocked, or MHz internally clocked. I can recommend this unit. Scott Whitney also likes the LogicPort: The info about the Saleae logic analyzer was a good tip. I also wanted to point out another option, slightly more expensive but with more channels. It uses clever data compression, essentially recording just changes on each pin, rather than the state of each pin at every clock.
You can order it with a trigger output - highly recommended if you work with mixed signals and want to see an analog waveform in relation to some digital pattern. Of course, as parts shrink, it's getting harder and harder to clip onto the signals you need, but the grabbers that you can get with this product are very high quality. This little jewel is an outstanding piece of equipment with an avid following and incredible support. The other 16 channels are brought out to headers.
Although the firmware is currently evolving, the current stable firmware is eminently usable. There are two distinct software platforms available for it: The first shipping version has FPGA code written by somebody who is not particularly experienced. It works but the performance is less than what is actually possible. The current beta firmware was written by somebody who actually designs large FPGA systems for a living.
He has apparently gotten almost all of the features of an Agilent HP a analyzer into the unit. Charles Manning likes the Rigol scope: Wilk also weighed in: In response to Charles' comment about a scope: I did almost the exact same thing investigating USB Scopes. It has more than met my needs and more than paid for itself.
A good friend recommended this scope after I was looking for the end-all, be-all device that could do as much as possible in a single package. He gave me the good advice of buying decent tools that did single things well rather than a single device that did multiple things "just OK". I could always sell these entry level instruments and upgrade.
Or, better yet, keep them as "spares" should the day come when I need something more sophisticated. My GW Instek function generator hasn't justified itself yet but I expect it will someday I got it at the tail-end of a debugging session and solved the problems before I needed it. These devices do similar things and are also assets in my debugging toolbox.
Gonzalo Sanchez likes Pico Technology 's products: It was a very nice gadget, and the software was really user friendly and feature-rich. Pico has now a very wide range of products, notably scopes up to MHz BW, 8, 12 and 16 bit resolutions, and buffer depths from kS to MS ; some of these are quite affordable.
Some of the models seem to include Arbitrary Waveform Generators, which avoid the purchase of a separate signal generator. Seems to have an SDK that facilitates to connect the scope software to other software tools such as LabView, Matlab and even Excel for those who like it.
Another nice feature is that you can download a demo version with 'built-in data' for trying it. Just for Windows users, though drivers for Linux are available in case anyone wants to develop his or her own software. Please note I have not used them in years, but at the time their scopes were among the best price-performance compromises we could find, and the software at the time was really, really very good.
We did give the Linux drivers a try at the time, and they worked for us, but we did not develop anything useful. This is one of the more important microprocessor families around today. Unlike other C classes, in this series you'll get exposed to both the C code and what the processor is really doing behind the scenes. That's critical info for any embedded developer.
Richard Tomkins likes DevDocs: DevDocs works standalone within a browser and integrates with Brackets. Another decent coding standard. I wanted to pass along information about a potentially useful podcast. Though it's not embedded or even engineering specific, I felt that the information would be valuable to many. The podcasts Manager Tools and Career Tools can be found here. EEWeb has a number of interesting places for electronics people. I find the toolbox on the upper right part of the screen especially useful.
The EEWeb German version is an electronic forum that offers electrical and electronic design articles and resources in one place, with electronics and electrical engineering design articles and resources in the area of RF design, analog design, embedded design, PCB design, test and measurement.
Chuck Petras sent some sites that are pretty interesting for those wanting to know more about electronics: Here's a site on basic car audio electronics which is very engaging. Another is geared towards the car audio enthusiast who wants to learn about and repair his equipment. Fred Hugand sent this link to a better diff tool, this one named Beyond Compare.
Jack agrees - I use Beyond Compare 3 all of the time. We use Beyond Compare here in our development and we absolutely love it! It has great diff capabilities for instance I like that they show you where your diff is on the line not just the line that is differentyou can re-sync manually your compare we had to do this for ifdef branches of the code that we compared with original no ifdef-ed codeyou can compare folders and many, many more useful features.
Michael Bulgrien likes Beyond Compare. Beyond Compare 3 Professional will be released later this year. Although BC2 has always been a favorite of mine, BC3 will add great new features including a full-screen edit mode, syntax coloring, 3-way merges, dynamic recompare, superb source control integration, and much more.
Version 3 is now available and I'm hearing from readers that they like the 3-way merge. Johann Kok likes Beyond Compare: I can just add my voice to the chorus for Beyond Compare. It boosts any programmers productivity and is simply the best. The latest version can even compare excel, word and pdf files great for comparing 2 versions of a datasheet.
We use Beyond Compare and it is a fabulous tool. It also does file syncing and I use it for moving code and other documents between networked and non-networked computers. It can even be used for backups in 'Mirror files' mode and you can set up rules too so it only handles the files and subdirectories you want it to.
I like Araxis Merge website here.