Interesting Analog Design Kits

I have read more than year ago (2012) interesting articles about Digilent‘s Analog Discovery Kit. I even quickly tried the WaveForms Software the cames with it (freely available and testable without hardware). It looked interesting, but I decided that maybe I don’t at the moment need this and skipped it (I did not even write on the blog). Later I met a collegue that had such kit, and after hearing many good thing about it I think that it might be worth to mention that product on this blog.

Analog circuit design kit jointly by ADI and Digilent article tells that Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) and the leading design tool/board vendor Digilent have unveiled two all-in-one analog design kits for electronics engineering students to practice and learn analog circuit design. This low-cost analog hardware development platform and components is offered at price range of a typical student textbook ($99/$199/$279 USD). It comes with downloadable teaching materials, online course material, online support, textbook, reference designs (circuit diagrams) and lab projects.

I can agree with the claim that active learning – learning by doing – helps engineering students understand the process of breaking down larger problems into smaller, more easily solved parts without losing the overall understanding of the complete system. The old teaching system is expensive: A lab bench costs $5,000-$10,000 to replace; to establish a classroom is at least $100,000 and another $100,000 to man the labs.  Doing experiments outside the classroom is a way to get people engaged in the process earlier. This is great step beyond experimenting with sound card oscilloscope, smartphone signal analyzer and tablet signal generator. This is market where there are also several other products (for example PCSGU250 Velleman USB-PC Scope + Generator). Here is Analog Discovery Introduction video:

Analog Discovery 2 channel scope, waveform generator, logic analyzer article tells that Digilent’s Analog design kit is a 100 MSPS 2 channel scope, a 2 channel 100MSPS waveform generator, and a 16 channel logic analyzer built into one. The design kit is built using analog semiconductor chips from ADI including: Two 50 MSPS / 5 MHz 14 bit differential oscilloscopes (1 MΩ, 24 pF) ±25V max, Two 50 MSPS / 5 MHz 14 bit waveform generators (single-ended, arbitrary waves up to +-5V at 22 ohm impedance), Two fixed power supplies (+5V 50mA, -5V 50mA), 16-channel logic analyzer/pattern generator (3.3V CMOS 100Ms/s). The device is USB powered and portable sized. The provided controlling software is available for Windows (XP and newer) that can do in addition to basic oscilloscope and signal generation also Network analyzer (Bode, Nyquist, Nichols transfer diagrams of a circuit 1Hz to 10MHz),  Spectrum Analyzer (power spectrum, spectral measurements, noise floor, SFDR, SNR, THD, etc.) and Digital Bus Analyzers (SPI, I2C, UART, Parallel). It should also be supported by MATLAB / MATLAB student edition. There also SDK available for Linux (Debian). If you are interested, Analog Discovery Kit is available from Farnell and some other suitable sources.

Another interesting somewhat similar device is Red Pitaya. Red Pitaya is designed to Red Pitaya turns your smartphone, tablet or PC into many instruments like Generator, Spectrum analyzer, PID controller, Oscilloscope, Frequency response monitor etc. This looks like another student’s dream. It is more expensive ($470) but has also somewhat better specifications to compensate the price. This open-source device was funded through Kickstarter.

For a quick overview of the board, users will find two analog inputs and two analog output (125 megasamples per second with a 14-bit resolution). In addition, the board is coming equipped with a dual core ARM Cortex processor plus a Xilinx Zynq FPGA. As a result, 16 GPIO pins can be used with the FPGA and four pairs of differential pins for serial data transfer and synchronization. It includes Ethernet, USB, SATA, and JTAG connections. There is open-source repository where code and tools can easily be accessed for further development or use. Programmers can develop code in HDL, C/C++, scripting languages such as Perl or Python, MATLAB, or HTML Web applications. If you want to get the device you need to go to RS Components Ltd.


  1. Johng627 says:

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  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Using The Red Pitaya As An SDR

    The Red Pitaya is a credit-card sized board that runs Linux, has Ethernet, and a good bit of RAM. This sounds a lot like a Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black, but the similarities end there. The Red Pitaya also has two RF inputs, two RF outputs, and a load of digital IOs, all connected to an Xilinx SoC that includes an FPGA. [Pavel] realized the Pitaya had all the components of a software-defined radio, and built an implementation to prove it.

    The input for the SDR taps directly into one of the high impedance inputs with a simple loop antenna made out of telephone cable. The actual software-defined part of this radio borrows heavily from an Xilinx application note, while everything is controlled by either SDR# or HDSDR.

    Shame it doesn’t have a Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black price tag

    Red Pitaya Notes: SDR receiver

    Red Pitaya has all the components of a Software Defined Radio (SDR).

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    USB scope to change the PC to measuring devices

    Digilent Analog Discovery has developed under the name of the USB-connected mini-size oscilloscope. The device turns any PC PDA effective in measuring and test equipment.

    Via USB data of the PC, which can operate as oscilloscope, spectrum analyzers, signal, and for many other voltmeter measuring device. Digilent Analog Discovery of the device fits in your pocket.

    Digilent free PC Windows software Waveforms configures the measuring device to various instruments. Version for Macintosh and Linux machines is being developed.


  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VirtualBench Tear Down

    What do you get when you cross a mixed-signal oscilloscope, a function generator, a multimeter, a power supply, and some programmable digital I/O in a box? Sounds like the set up to a very geeky joke, but it is actually National Instrument’s VirtualBench product.

    The $2000 price tag is a hard sell for most hackers.

    Still, if you are cash-rich and space-poor or you are outfitting a lab where having everything together (and supported) by a single company might have value, it looks like VirtualBench does do a lot of things well. Even if you don’t want to buy the device, it is still interesting to have a peek inside to see what makes it tick.

    National Instruments VirtualBench Review, Teardown & Experiments

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analog System Lab Kit PRO

    The Analog System Lab Kit PRO (ASLK PRO) provides students exposure to the fascinating world of analog and mixed-signal processing. The kit comes with 14 step-by-step experiments and the course can be adapted for an undergraduate or postgraduate curriculum. As part of the lab course, students will build analog systems using analog ICs and study their macro models, characteristics and limitations.

    TI University Program will donate up to 10 ASLK PRO boards per university.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Review: Digilent Analog Discovery 2

    Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. This thing isn’t cheap ($279, list price). You have to look at it from the standpoint of value. You are getting a lot of instruments in one and — unlike some others — you can use them (mostly) at the same time.

    The reason this surprised me is the scope is pretty capable (see below) which means you really want a good set of probes on it. They do sell a $20 board that has BNC connectors on it

    The Specs

    The scope can do 100 megasamples per second and uses a 14-bit A/D. If you have the BNC connectors, you can get 30MHz. The inputs are actually differential (although the device isn’t ground isolated). The waveform generator can go to 12MHz.

  7. Plumber says:

    Great post! you have created an awesome post. It contains very interesting information. Keep doing the great work up.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Digilent Design Contest 13th Edition

    The Digilent Design Contest is an international student hardware design competition open to all students who are passionate about electronics, digital design and electrical engineering in general. The competition gives students the opportunity to showcase and improve their technical and creative skills and face new challenges in developing projects using the latest technologies.

    Digilent Design Contest Europe Region has reached its 13th Edition, with a rich history behind, many interesting and cool projects along the years, many smart and competitive participants, as well as appreciated advisers and targets students from all over Europe. It is held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in May 2017.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mouser – Pocket-sized logic analyzer and pattern generator in a single instrument (Digilent 410-338)

    Mouser is now stocking the Digital Discovery module from Digilent. This pocket-sized, high-performance device combines a logic analyzer and built-in pattern generator in a single instrument. The Digital Discovery provides designers a suite of advanced features to debug, visualize and simulate digital signals for a broad array of embedded projects. The small form factor of this module facilitates easy storage, and its robust exterior design helps it to withstand a variety of environments.

    The device evaluates the Xilinx XC6SLX25-2 FPGA. In addition to the 16-channel pattern generator and 32-channel digital logic analyzer, the module includes a protocol analyzer for reading and writing SPI, UART and I2C and virtual I/O for debugging projects.

    The module offers the flexibility to customize design specifications to a specific project, enabling designers to choose 200MS/s with up to 32 inputs or — using the high speed adapter — 400MS/s with up to 16 inputs, or 800MS/s with up to eight inputs.


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