Monday, October 15, 2007

Vendor books about testing - Keithley

A couple of weeks ago I talked about testing handbooks recently published by Agilent and Keithley. The following is a brief summary of the Keithley book, "Understanding New Developments in Data Acquistion, Measurement, and Control." (

First Thoughts
This book is called a "first edition," although portions felt like they were written some time ago and pasted into this new book. Also, I couldn't find a PDF copy of this available online, which is very retro. Finally, there is no summary at the beginning of book. There isn't even a page listing when & where it was published. Clearly the book did NOT come from the marketing department.

The book has 9 sections and three appendices. Only the ninth section is listed as "examples," but sections 6,7, and 8 are all about different applications as well: temperature, strain, and current measurements.

Sections 1 & 2 discuss hardware concerns when building or upgrading a test station. They include mentions of Keithley hardware, but they also cover processors, bus architectures, and networking.

Section 3 discussed software. There was some marketing influence here - several pages were devoted to talking about the Keihtley script programming tool - but they also devoted time covering open source issues, which I think is commendable. They also talked about IVI software. They are a sponsor member, but so are Agilent, NI, Tektronix, and Rohde & Schwarz.

More Hardware
In sections 4 & 5 they examined electronic components (from resistors to op-amps) and how they might relate to test engineering concerns. Very basic, EE stuff, but good to go over as a refresher. Section 6 covered DAQ in some detail, including ground loops (which have bitten me on at least one occasion). As previously mentioned, the remaining sections go over some details in measuring temperature (which I've had to do), strain (which I don't do), and a few other applications.

This book felt like more of an introductory survey than anything else. It didn't delve deeply into any single topic, yet it presented an overview of a variety of topics and mentioned things that warrant further research. They also had a large variety of application examples. I liked it. It was fairly straightforward, with a minimum of marketing fluff, and was aimed at test engineers.

My next post on this topic will be about the Agilent book.

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