1. Introduction

Congratulations on your choice of instrument. It will serve you well and give you today’s ultimate performance for many years to come, whether you work with advanced ultra-high resolution frequency analysis in R&D, high-precision calibration in Metrology, or high speed testing of time & frequency in test systems.

Your instrument is the industry’s first bench-top multichannel frequency counter/analyzer designed to bring a new dimension to bench-top and system frequency counting and analysis. It gives significantly increased performance compared to traditional Timer/Counters. The CNT-104S offers for example the following benefits:

  • 4-parallel time-stamping input channels, means you have 4 independent frequency counters in one box. An enormous save of money and space in test systems
  • Phase-compare 4 stable frequencies continuously in real time in a time metrology lab, without the need for external signal switching
  • The parallel-channel time-stamping design, where all channels run on the same time scale, allows to measure Time Interval with multiple stop channels, which is very valuable for exact timing of one-shot events
  • Graphical intuitive User Interface, with large 5” color touch-screen control
  • Easy control of instrument via mouse or web interface.
  • Up to 13 digits of frequency resolution per second and up to 7 ps resolution/timestamp
  • A high measurement rate of up to 20M readings/s to internal memory
  • Optional oven-controlled timebase oscillators,Choice of RF prescaler options with upper frequency limits ranging from 3 GHz to 24 GHz
  • Integrated 1Gbit Ethernet and USB interfaces with SCPI commands support

1.1. Powerful and Versatile Functions

In addition to the traditional measurement functions of legacy timer/counters, these instruments have a multitude of other functions such as Multi-stop Time Interval, Phase, Duty factor, rise/fall time, Slew Rate, TIE (Time Interval Error), Totalize and Peak Voltage. The CNT-104S introduces the concept of parallel measurements, for example 4 frequency measurements in parallel, or one rise time plus one fall time measurement in parallel on the same pulse. Even on single-shot pulses!

By using the built-in mathematics and statistics functions, the instrument can process the measurement results on your benchtop, without the need for a controller. Math functions include inversion, scaling and offset. Statistics functions include Max, Min and Mean as well as Standard and Allan Deviation on sample sizes up to 32×106.

1.2. No Mistakes

You will soon find that your instrument is self-explanatory with an intuitive user interface. A settings menu tree with few levels makes the CNT-100 easy to operate. The large graphic LCD is the center of information and can show you several signal parameters at the same time as well as status.

Measurement samples are presented as numeric values, or graphically over time, to reveal signal stability, trends, or modulation. Stability information can easily be presented as value distribution or trend plots in addition to complete numerical calculation results like max, min, mean and standard deviation.

The Autoset function is available on any input waveform and can make best settings of the currently selected measurement function. Use the built-in web server interface or VNC to get an enlarged view of the front panel on your desktop or laptop PC, tablet or even mobile phone. You can control every setting, start & stop measurements, and even download measurement data.

2. Design Innovations

2.1. State of the Art Technology Gives Durable Use

These Analyzers are designed for quality and durability. The modern design with high integration and low component count reduces power consumption and results in an MTBF of 15,000 hours. A rugged mechanical construction, including a metal cabinet that withstands mechanical shocks and protects against EMI, is also a valuable feature. Rubber bumpers around the front panel further enhance ruggedness.

2.2. High Resolution

The use of reciprocal interpolating time-stamping counting, combined with a smart calibration algorithm, results in excellent resolution: <7 ps per time stamp or 12-13 digits/s in frequency measurements for all frequencies.

Timestamps of trigger events are taken continuously, and the frequency values are calculated on the fly, while the set measurement is running without interruption in the background, thereby assuring gap-free zero-dead-time measurements between samples. Minimum time between calculated values is 50 ns, meaning a sampling speed of 20 MSa/s.

3. Remote Control

This instrument is programmable via Ethernet (ETH) or USB interfaces.

The ETH is the primary interface intended for use in test systems, on lab benches, and fully remote control and monitoring from “anywhere in the world”.

The web interface and VNC server are included, which gives you an exact copy, pixel by pixel, of the instrument’s screen. All instrument settings can be controlled from the web interface or VNC, and result data can be read.

In test systems, the CNT-104S uses the standardized SCPI language for programming the instrument’s functions and reading the results.
The USB interface is mainly intended for the lab environment with the “remote” controller in a nearby place.

3.1. Fast Data transfer over remote interfaces

The bus transfer rate is up to 200 measurements/s for individually triggered measurements, and 170k measurements/s in block transfer mode. Array measurements to the internal memory can reach 20M measurements/s.

This very high measurement rate makes new measurements possible. For example, you can perform jitter analysis on several tens of thousands of pulse width measurements and capture and transfer them in less than a second.

The 4-channel parallel frequency measurement architecture significantly improves measurement speed, compared to using 4 separate frequency counters, and individually addresses them in a sequence.

The CNT-104S also features data streaming “forever” of gap-free measurements. This means you could leave CNT-104S in a field site, either connected to a local PC or connected to a local network, to monitor e.g., 4 different synchronization signals for a week or two and come back and collect tons of gap-free data for analysis.

Programmer’s Handbook helps you understand SCPI and the Analyzer’s programming. Complete counter settings can be stored and can easily be recalled on a later occasion.