Review of Tektronix Mixed Domain Oscilloscopes MDO4014-3

Table of contents

RoadTest: Tektronix Mixed Domain Oscilloscopes MDO4014-3

Author: migration.user

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

Here’s the first portion of my review: Some initial thoughts and a video demonstrating the mixed domain capabilities of the scope combined with the I2C serial bus decode option. I’l be posting more videos and a more detailed review.


I received the oscilloscope on a Friday afternoon, unpacked it, and took it to the lab. It was not long before I realized that Element14 had sent me the MDO4104-3 (1 GHz analog bandwidth), not the MDO4014-3 (100 MHz bandwidth) that I was expecting. I contacted Element14 on Monday morning and I was informed that I had received the correct model. As a result, I'll be reviewing the MDO4104-3 model.




Figure 1. The contents of the box.



Figure 2. A clsoe up of the accesories and probes.


The oscilloscope comes with a nice complement of accessories:


1. A MDO4000 Series user manual. Unfortunately, the user manual doesn’t have a theory of operation section. It’s always important to understand how the instrument you’re using actually works and it’s a shame Tektronix doesn’t include this information in the user manual.


For a nice description of how the MDO oscilloscope work, read:



2. A hard scope cover. Unfortunately, it does not fit when the supplied N-to-BNC adapter is installed.


3. An N to BNC adaptor


4. 4 1 GHz probes


5. 1 16 channel logic probe cable. See my comments below


6. 1 Box of logic probe accessories


7. 2 CDs with manuals and software


8. 1 Accessory pouch. It has some velcro tabs and some strange loops, but it’s not clear how to neatly attach it to the oscilloscope. Hanging it from the handle will block some of the vents on the back of the scope.


I was disappointed with the quality of the digital logic probe and it appears that my cables were abused at the factory. There is a section of the ribbon cable with some pretty significant nicks and abrasions. Although it appears that the cuts do not penetrate the insulation all the way to the conductors, I’ll be contacting Tektronix about a replacement.


Figure 3. Damge on the logic probe cable.


In addition, the logic probes are only labelled on one side. Stickers on both sides would have been nice.



Figure 4. Logic probes.




The screen is nice, but I’ve noticed some pretty significant variation in the apparent color depending on viewing angle. I’v taken two pictures of the oscilloscope screen comparing the head-on view and the view from a standing position when the scope is sitting on a standard height bench. For bench work, this may not be a big deal, but I often use instrumentation as part of a larger experiment and the being able view the screen from any direction is important.



Figure 5. Note the color shift as a function of viewing angle. The RF trace can appear red or yellow depending on where you stand.


All of the options for the oscilloscope are enabled for 30 days after the first time power is applied.


I’ve made a short video that demonstrates the mixed domain capabilities of the oscilloscope by examining the time behavior of an I2C controlled RF oscillator. This demo relies on the I2C decode functions that are part of the time-limited 30 day trial.



  • I have been able to use a pocket wireless keyboard with mine, making a full size keyboard fit nicely onto an already crowded bench can be a chore and a waste of precious space.

  • Excellent review and honest assessment of the user interface.


    It looks like they could use an external keyboard connection to make the data setup easier.

    I think I remember seeing that you could save and retrieve setup files from a USB stick.

    Now if you could set up the scope on a lab network so that the information could be collected and dispersed to a number of analysis processors and provide metadata back to the scope to enhance the information collected, I would say the scope would be indespencable for most users.


    I should add hear that I built one of the first digital oscilloscopes back in 1982.  We used it to assess radar patterns.  I am glad that the User Interface of this model has greatly improved over the initial capabilities I used back then.


    Keep up the good work,


  • Shame that the HD version wouldn't upload, I watched what was available and the quality was quite dreadful.


    Maybe Element14 should consider using embedded youtube?