Application Notes

Getting Started

Using Wavemaker: A Quickstart Guide

The Wavemaker software tool by John Foster allows one to convert the image of some waveform into the arbitrary waveform file format for a Syscomp signal generator. This application note provides a quick start guide to using wavemaker.

Downloading and Executing Packaged Programs and Tcl/Tk Source Code

This paper describes how to download and run both compiled executables and source code for the Open Instrumentation Project and Syscomp USB Instruments. Instructions for compiling or “wrapping’ the source code are also included.

Hello Button: An Introduction to Tcl/Tk

This paper describes how to download and run both compiled executables and source code for the Open Instrumentation Project and Syscomp USB Instruments. Instructions for compiling or “wrapping’ the source code are also included.

Applications & Educational Papers

LED Flasher

In this paper, we describe low cost weekend project involving the construction of an LED flasher module for a bicycle.

Demonstrating Acoustic Resonance

In this paper, we describe low cost apparatus for demonstrating acoustic resonance in an open or closed tube. The equipment uses the Syscomp CircuitGear to generate and display the acoustic signals.

Measuring Crystal and Narrow-band Repsonses

This article demonstrates how to use the CircuitGear to measure the amplitude and phase response of a crystal or narrow-band filter. The vector network analysis functionality of the CircuitGear is used to plot the response over a narrow range of frequencies for both two terminal devices, such as crystals, and four terminal devices such as a transformer with a tuned secondary.

Measuring AC Current and Power Factor

This article covers measuring power factor and AC current with the CircuitGear. Measuring the power factor of non-sinusoidal currents is also covered.

Measuring Power Supply Sequencing Using CircuitGear

This article discussing using the single-shot triggering feature of the CircuitGear to examine the sequence of a bridge driver in a power supply circuit.

Measuring Temperature of Power Supply Heatsinks

This article discussing using the temperature measurement features of the DVM-101 to evaluate the effectiveness of a TO-92 temperature sensor in a power supply heatsink application.

Measuring Impedance and Frequency Response of Guitar Pickups

The CircuitGear oscilloscope/signal-generator has a number of capabilities that make it useful for measuring impedance and frequency response. In this note we show how those features are used to measure the impedance and frequency response of guitar pickups.

CircuitGear Measurements on a Tube Radio

New technology and old technology come together, when the Syscomp CGR-101 CircuitGear is used to check out the health and operation of a classic 5-tube AM rable radio from the 1950’s. This paper shows how to work safely on tube-type equipment, including isolating from the AC line and dealing with high voltages. The paper shows how the modern techniques of spectrum analysis and vector network analysis yield useful insights into radio operation.

Interference, Causes and Cures

In this sample chapter from Analog Circuit Design, the various causes and cures for intereference are discussed. Includes real-world case studies, practical measurement techniques, theory, and exercises.

A GPS Data Display

There are many applications where one wishes to acquire geographic position data from a GPS receiver. In this particular instance, Peter needed to acquire a series of street light level readings and tag each one with its location. This paper describes a stand-alone program written in Tcl/Tk which communicates to a GPS receiver through a USB-serial port and displays the GPS data.

Click here for the GPS Tcl/Tk source code.

Measuring Camera Shutter Speed

The digital camera is a useful instrument for the measurement of light pollution. It can be used to simultaneously create a photographic record of a scene and perform the function of a light meter. If the camera is properly calibrated, the numerical value of a pixel in the image can be related to luminance (brightness) in the image. Then a digital camera becomes a low-costmeasuring instrument, replacing specialized instruments of much higher cost.

A Laplace Transform Cookbook

The Laplace transform is a very useful tool in electronic circuit analysis. With an emphasis on practical applications, the Laplace Cookbook shows how to use the Laplace transform to determine the sine-wave frequency response and transient pulse response of an electrical network. The paper includes measurement results that confirm the mathematics, using the Syscomp WGM-101 waveform generator, DSO-101 oscilloscope and Bode Plot software.

Project-Based Learning: Outcomes, Descriptors and Design

This paper contains three sections on project-based learning. First, we provide a rationale and a high-level view of projects and their organization. Second, we present some examples from Ryerson University and show how these project descriptors apply. Finally, we describe the Open Instrumentation Project, a new system of electronic instrumentation that support independent and project-based learning.

Pulse Oximeter Project Exercise

This paper outlines a senior level Electrical Engineering project where the student can measure blood oxygen level and heart rate using some simple circuitry and Syscomp USB lab instruments. In this paper, we identify key design decisions and intermediate steps towards a final design.

Introduction to Digital Spectrum Analysis

Syscomp oscilloscope software can be programmed to perform spectrum analysis on a signal. This tutorial paper on digital methods of spectrum analysis explains the theory behind that analysis.

Design & Measurement Techniques

Waveform Averaging

This article discusses waveform averaging in oscilloscope software for improving signal-to-noise ratio.

Oscilloscope Probes: Theory and Practice

This article covers oscilloscope probe construction, loading effects, and compensation. It also discusses proper measurement techniques for high voltages and grounding techniques.

Connecting to the Oscilloscope and Waveform Generator: BNC Adaptors and Cables

This paper examines the different types of BNC connectors and adapters available for testing electronics with Syscomp USB instruments.

Audio Measurements with a Network Analyzer

A look at the practical applications of the Syscomp Network Analyzer software in the realm of audio electronics.

Low-Cost Curve Tracer Uses PC-Based Scope

Curve tracers are available from various manufacturers as an integrated instrument which includes power supplies, switches, and an XY display. This paper describes how to create a curve tracer using the XY plotting facility of Syscomp USB instruments and some simple external circuitry.

High Speed Time Domain Measurements: Practical Tips for Improvement

John Ardizzoni 
Analog Dialog, Vol. 41, March 2007, pp. 1-6 
This paper is a very thorough explanation of oscilloscope probe theory and operation, including calibration techniques. It also demonstrates how to use scope probes in high speed measurements.

High Speed Amplifier Techniques

Jim Williams 
Linear Technology Application Note 47, August 1991, pp. 1-132 
This paper is a must-read for anyone interested in high-speed analog circuit design. It is divided into two sections. The first section gives an overview of the practical aspects of high-speed circuit design. The second section is a tutorial on measurement technique – using oscilloscope probes – in high-speed circuitry.


Windows 7 Installation & Troubleshooting Notes

Notes on installing Syscomp device under Windows 7.

USB COM Port Debug Techniques for Windows XP

This paper presents some advanced level techniques for debugging USB COM port problems.

Installing the DSO-101 Oscilloscope in Ubuntu Linux

The application note describes how to install the DSO-101 oscilloscope software on a Ubuntu Linux system. This procedure was tested on an Edubuntu system, Hardy Heron, April 2008. Similar instructions apply to installation of other Syscomp USB instruments.

Test Equipment and Instrumentation

Avoiding Battery Brownout

These days, many amateur astronomers use a GOTO telescope mount – a mount that uses GPS to determine the location, and a computer to aim the telescope. The telescope mount is usually powered by a lead-acid battery. This application note was originally written for these astronomers, but it will be of interest to anyone using a lead-acid battery 
The application note shows methods of charging and discharging the battery that prolongs its life. We also show how to measure battery capacity using the Syscomp DVM-101 recording multimeter. And we include design and construction information for an expanded scale voltmeter that can be used as a a ‘gas gauge’ for a lead acid battery.

Buffer Amplifier Design

In this note we describe methods of increasing the output current of a signal generator. These notes apply specifically to the Syscomp CGR-101 CircuitGear (figure 1) andWGM-201 Advanced Waveform Generator, but will be useful with any signal generator.

Oscilloscope Development, 1943-1957

A review of early oscilloscope technology, with instrument photographs and schematic diagrams.

How to Buy and Oscilloscope

For anyone doing electronics – as a job, studies, or a hobby – the oscilloscope in an indispensable tool. You’ll spend a lot of time with your scope, so it’s important to get something that does what you need. In this paper, we discuss oscilloscope features and specifications, things that are useful to know before buying and oscilloscope.

Testing Our Voltmeters: The Syscomp REF-101 Voltage Reference

This paper describes testing a number of voltmeters for accuracy using the REF-101 voltage reference.

Customer Applications & Circuits

Putting the Mac In-Touch with the Physical World

In an article published in AUSOM, Miles dicusses his experience with the DSO-101 running on a Mac. 
Copyright AUSOM Inc. 
Article originally published in AUSOM News, April 2010. Reproduced with permission. For further details about AUSOM Inc. visit

Current and Power Waveform Measurement Technique

Ron Pugh (8 pages, updated 3/09) 
Oscilloscope inputs generally accept voltage signals with respect to a common ground. In many power control applications, it’s useful to measure circuit current and/or differential voltage across some component. This application note shows the circuits and construction of a current sensor and a differential voltage amplifier for such applications.

Device Specific

DSO101: Using the High Resolution Mode of the DSO-101 Oscilloscope to Display Video Waveforms

This application note describes how to use the high resolution capture feature of the DSO-101 to capture and display NTSC video waveforms.

DSO-101: Single-Shot Capture Using the Oscilloscope: Measurements on a Relay

This paper highlights the usefulness of the single-shot trigger functions of the DSO-101 oscilloscope. Step-by-step instructions are included explaining how to set up the scope to capture the unique characteristics of relays switching.

Meta-Instruments and the Open Instrumentation Project

This paper includes a description of the USB interface used in the WGM-101 and the DSO-101 instruments with and overview of the ‘meta-instrument’ concept. The network analyzer program illustrates the concept of meta-instrumentation.

A Software-Based Network Analyzer

The purpose of a network analyzer is to demonstrate the amplitude and phase response or transfer function of an electrical network. For example, a network analyzer is useful in measuring the amplitude response of an audio tone control. It is possible to make this type of measurement by hand, using the WGM-101 waveform generator and the DSO-101 oscilloscope. The software described in this paper does the job automatically, and plots the amplitude and phase response against frequency. 
This paper describes the theory behind the network analyzer. A similar version of the paper appears in the September 2006 issue of Circuit Cellar Magazine.

WGM-101: Creating a Waveform for the WGM-101 Waveform Generator

This application note describes how to use various software tools to create arbitrary waveforms such as an ElectroCardiogram (ECG).

Hands-On Exercises

Introduction to the Oscilloscope

In these exercises we introduce the use of the electronic oscilloscope. The oscilloscope is an electronic eyeballthat can display electronic signals, that is, it can show the way a time-varying voltage changes over time.

Signal Generator Basics

In these exercises we introduce the use of the electronic signal generator. The signal generator is a kind of power supply that can produce a time-varying voltage. One can adjust the maximum amplitude of this voltage, the frequency and the shape of the waveform – that is, the way the voltage changes with time.

Scope Probes: Compensation and Loading

For much work with the oscilloscope, one can make a direct, wired connection into the BNC connectors – using an alligator-clip to BNC test lead, or a Binding-Post BNC adaptor. However, when you are observing high frequencies or your signal has abrupt transitions – like a square wave – then you should use the oscilloscope probe.

Capacitor: Time Domain

In this exercise we examine the electrical properties of the capacitor. The capacitor is a device for storage of electronic charge (electrons). A battery is used for long-term storage of electronic charge. A capacitor is usually used for short-term storage. Furthermore, storing charge in a battery is inherently much less efficient than storing charge in a capacitor. Most of the charge into a capacitor is available on discharge, even at a very high discharge rate.

Microphone and Oscilloscope

A microphone can be used with an oscilloscope to see the waveforms of various sounds. The oscilloscope may be used to view the shape of the waveform, the spectrum or the frequency response of a loudspeaker or microphone. The speaker and microphone can be used to explore acoustic resonance in an air column. 
In this lab exercise, we show the connections for two types of microphones, and an amplifier for these microphones.

Spectrum Analyzer Basics

In a previous exercise, we studied the operation of the oscilloscope (scope). The scope shows a plot of waveform voltage vs time. 
In this exercise we introduce the use of the electronic spectrum analyser. The spectrum analyser is a softwarebased feature of the oscilloscope that displays the characteristics of a signal in the frequency domain, that is, a plot of amplitude vs frequency.

Introduction to Electronics
A presentation that Syscomp did for a group at the University of Toronto. Students are assumed to have *no* background in electronics. The objectives are to provide an introduction to circuit building and electronic measuring instruments with immediate results (an illuminated LED!), working up to a light-controlled warbler sound generator.