I focus on low-noise, low-EMI designs for mobile, medical wearables and IoT applications, and bench measurement methods and instruments to debug and optimize these designs.
My hobby lab uses 10+ year old surplus instruments, a few new instruments from Asia. They includes scopes, multimeters, digital thermometers, LCR bridges, luxmeters and laser power meters. New ICs allowed these instruments to offer decent metrological features at budget. The technology pushes the envelope to GHz radio frequencies, giga-sampling rates and more precise and sensitive multimeters. The 0.5mm pitch parts are difficult to use. I am building a direct laser photoresist exposure printer for prototypes before fabbing boards. I bet that each participant will tell same story.
Of all instruments, I would single out DSOs. First HP54100 back in 1985(?), 1Gsa/s opened new era. Ability to analyze and process long captures on a PC opened a new age, when scope capabilities extends to vector measurements, low noise and below-noise signal detection, correlation noise reduction and spectral measurements without spectrum analyzers.
Since Keysight asked about how their instruments benefits my lab, I decided to focus on non-traditional uses and measurements with scopes and AWGs. Probably very few test jobs cannot be done with these instruments.
My devices must operate very power efficiently, and include sensitive analog electronics. And, they use wireless RF connectivity like WiFi, and Bluetooth.
These technologies do not live together well. High-performance SMPS together with sensitive analog blocks, bring noise, distortion, data communication errors.
I am discussing magnetic field mapping to trace current flows in the board and fix undesired current loops. The detected signals are very weak, and correlated detection by processing captured data on PC is uniquely possible with deep memory DSOs, and go below resolution of the ADC and provide results with 12-14 bit resolution!
SmartBench fits for radio frequency work in WiFi and Bluetooth frequency bands. Simple additions make GHz band sweep generators and vector signal analyzers. Vector impedance measurements with homodyne detection on a PC allow me to measure parameters of passives and filter components without other instruments.
Smaller and more versatile lab helps complete the designs faster and with better quality.