4 Tips To Using A Logic Analyzer

A Logic Analyzer refers to an instrument that captures and then displays multiple signals emanating from a digital circuit. This instrument converts the captured data into assembly language, state machine traces, protocol decodes, or timing diagrams. It is worth noting that Logic Analyzers have triggering capabilities. These advanced capabilities are useful to users if they want to see the timing relationships that exist between multiple signals in a digitized system.

Converting data from signals in a digital circuit or observing their relationship is a highly complex undertaking. It requires the careful use of Logic Analyzers. That is especially true when it comes to the physical probe connection between the analyzer and the target system.

Here are 4 tips to using a Logic Analyzer.

1. Choose Probing Connections

Selecting an appropriate probing connection is necessary as soon as set your mind upon using a Logic Analyzer. Remember, two categories of probing connections exist. The first one is the ‘designed-in’ connection while the second one is the ‘after-the-fact’ connection. The probing test points are within the design when it comes to a designed-in connection. In this case, the Logic Analyzer probe should mate to the contacts on the pads. These pads are present on the PC boards. An appropriate interconnect is necessary for this process to happen.

In contrast, the test points are absent from the design when it comes to ‘after-the-fact’ connections. In this case, use an individual probe tip to make the connection. It should have various accessories including solder and grabber.

2. Deal with Grounding Issues

Grounding affects the accuracy of your Logic Analyzer. That happens because the ground signal for a probe provides a reference point for the analyzer. For example, grounding a device supplies a return path for an electrical signal. This path has the lowest level of impedance allowing the analyzer to take note of the signal’s original amplitude.

It is worth noting that the use of insufficient grounds may lead to probing problems. The logical response to this problem is increasing the number of grounds that are in use. Sometimes, people use more than one signal per ground. Doing so interferes with the analyzer’s ability to capture data. Using one ground per signal would help you avoid this situation.

3. Minimize Probe Loading

Logical synthesizers receive degraded signals at times. One of the reasons for receiving these kinds of signals is probe loading. It occurs when a probe alters the performance of a digital system drastically. Doing so makes it harder for you to validate the digital system. The impact of this difficulty is two-fold.

One is that it leads to a degradation of the signal quality on the PC board. That may lead to system failures as well. The second impact is that it leads to a degradation of the signal quality of the observable wavelength that enters the Logic Analyzer. Therefore, minimizing probe loading would lead to an improvement in the quality of these signals.

4. Boost Signal Quality

The quality of the signals received by the Logic Analyzer determines the usefulness of this instrument. In other words, if the analyzer receives degraded signals, then its triggering and analysis tools are unusable. Problematic signals can arise from the probe tip so you have to pay attention to the signal quality in this area. Remember, poor signals can lead to false negatives. These false negatives are frustrating for most validation teams because they lead to non-existent problems.

Paying attention to the probe tip is not enough. Examining the problem location is also necessary. Purchasing a high-quality Logic Analyzer USB would help as well.

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