Agilent 33622A Waveform Generator - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Keysight 33622A Waveform Generator

Author: nermash

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?: null

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Annoying whine of SMPS when in standby...

Detailed Review:

First of all, I would like to thank Agilent and Element14 for providing me with the opportunity to roadtest their top of the line 120 MHz arbitrary generator 33622A.

In my review I will try to cover some aspects and detail of operation that have caught my attention and which IMHO distinguish this unit from others.

 

Package contents, initial overview

After the almost inevitable delay in custom clearance that lasted some 8 or 9 days, I finally got my review unit.

Straight out of the box, and yes it has that intoxicating smell of new equipment and immediately you can simply feel that this is high end, laboratory grade, quality piece of equipment.

 

 

Inside the box you get pretty much standard Agilent issue: the generator itself, Certificate of calibration issued January 2014, manuals, driver, libraries on DVDs, power and USB cable.

I feel that Agilent could have included some other accessories, maybe couple of adapters and jumper cables, especially considering the price point of this unit. Full blown copy of Agilent Waveform Builder Pro software would be very nice, and it is now available free on special offer from Agilent, albeit only for some countries. I think that this machine deserves to have full copy included in the kit from the start.

 

On the back of the unit you have standard 10 MHz reference input and output (in case you want to sync it to the higher grade frequency standard or other equipment in your lab), Kensington lock, external modulation input and external trigger/gate/FSK/burst input. Connectivity wise there are LAN and USB ports, and there is also a place for an optional GPIB connector.

 

The ugly

Not huge issue, but for this price I really would not like to see ugly red smudge on the front bumper straight from the box. Not a big deal though, it is only cosmetic issue, just a mention...

 

The bad

As other roadtester have mentioned before, this unit has almost unbearable high pitch whine coming from the power supply when plugged in power but not powered on (it has a soft start feature). It is really really annoying, so much so that I prefer to remove the IEC plug from the back as soon as I finish working with the unit. Even when powered down and with power cable removed the whine continues for good 10 seconds or more, increasing in pitch and volume until the capacitors discharge. I must admit that I expected Agilent to do better.

 

The good

Well, apart from the ugly and the bad point, I am failing to find any further flaws. Build quality is excellent, as you would expect from Agilent, unit is compact and does not require much space, 4,3“ 480x272 LCD is  crisp, bright, it has excellent viewing angles, UI is smooth and polished.

Boot time is 33 seconds (both with factory shipped 1.06 and later upgraded 1.08 firmware revision), not great but not bad either. Fan starts out at max on boot, but it soon quiets down until internal temperature rises.

Even without consulting the manual (which real engineers don't need anyway ) you are up and running in few minutes, providing you have some knowledge about function and arbitrary waveform generators. Of course, sooner or later you will have to look at the manual since hidden complexity of this machine is simply amazing.

 

Here are some quick specs:

 

Waveform

Maximum Frequency

Sine

60 MHz up to 10 Vpp
80 MHz up to 8 Vpp
120 MHz up to 4 Vpp

Square/Pulse

50 MHz up to 10 Vpp
100 MHz up to 4 Vpp

Noise

60 MHz up to 10 Vpp
80 MHz up to 8 Vpp
120 MHz up to 4 Vpp

Ramp/Triangle

800 kHz

PRBS

100 Mbps up to 10 Vpp
200 Mbps up to 4 Vpp

Arbitrary

1 GSa/s, 14 bits

 

Add to that jitter spec of <1 ps RMS, 4 MSa of memory for arbitrary waveforms (max of 64 MSa), 0,03% THD and 2,9 ns of pulse rise/fall time. These kind of specs are not that common and they clearly show advantages of Agilent's Trueform technology.

I have tried to find some details about Trueform, but details are not available. Agilent claims it is the merge of the best of PPC and DDS worlds, and the only bit of info I came across is that it is using „exclusive virtual variable clock with advanced filtering techniques that track the sample rate of the waveform“. My guess is that they are employing some sort of high end DSP filtering...

 

More to follow...

 

Update 27.5.2014

After I had some time to put this unit through its paces, I am starting to publish blog posts that are part of this Roadtest requirements. While other esteemed reviewers have already went to all the great features of the 33622A generator, my plan is to show some more practical examples, measurements and test setups in my review. So, please read also the other 3 reviews if you would like to have a broad picture of what this machine is capable of.

 

Blog post #1: Trueform and some guick checks...

Blog post #2: Baseband IQ signals with Agilent 33622A

Blog post #3: Complex RF digital modulation with 33622A

Blog post #4: Noise experiment with 33622A

Anonymous
  • Mark, unfortunately I am not equipped with equipment of such grade that would allow me to directly measure this jitter spec, so I will take Agilent's word on it.

     

    However,my plan is to show this indirectly, through playback of complex IF/RF digitally modulated waveform, which is where the signal integrity strength of this unit will prove itself.

  • Nermin,

     

    Do you have equipment that would allow you to do a jitter measurement on the 33622A?

     

    Mark

  • Hi Nermin,

     

    Good start to your review of the 33622A.. I look forward to reading the rest of your findings.

     

    The whine from the 33622A is the first thing I hear when I enter my workspace.  I am tempted to unplug the thing when it isn't in use, as you describe, but my bench arrangement makes that difficult to do.  I don't want to use a power bar with a switch becuse I have a counter with an oven controlled crystal oscillator that needs to be powered all the time to maintain temperature.

     

    I'd like to see Agilent step in here and fix this annoying problem.  All four reviewers have noticed the standby whine in the 33622A.  I have three other Agilent instruments on my bench with the same form factor and none of them make this noise, so I think the issue is specific to the power supply design in the 33622A.

     

    Mark