RoadTest Keysight BenchVue - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: RoadTest Keysight BenchVue

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?: null

Detailed Review:

This is my review of Keysight BenchVue software which was kindly provided to me via this RoadTest.

I would like to thank Keysight and Element14 for this award.

 

This review might be a little late, but I just finished one professional certification course and am heading towards another one.

 

Installation, licensing, connection, usage

 

I received my instructions and entitlement certificate via email, with indicated licenses for:

BV0002A- BenchVue Function Generator Pro

BV1001A – BenchVue Test Flow

 

This certificate has to be redeemed for actual licenses on the dedicated Keysight website.

 

The core (free) version of BenchVue is available for download from Keysight, and here comes my first gripe:

You have to leave your name and email just to download the software! I know it is free and everything, but IMHO this is just a nuisance.

 

Upon installation, BenchVue complaints...

 

I understand that Keysight expects people to have IO libraries already installed for communicating with their instruments, but it would be nice to warn users during installation that IO libraries have to be installed prior to using BenchVue, and provide a download link.

OK, so I had to spend a little time investigating, and find a IO Libraries Suite Downloads section on Keysight's website. Again, you have to leave your name and email...

After that install, BenchVue starts normally.

 

Apps tab is the place where you can manage apps that are specific for instruments. Apps for DMM, oscilloscope and power supply are installed by default, while others you have to install yourself.

Function generator app is not installed by default, and installation is fast and easy from within BenchVue.

 

So I went ahead with the licensing for the Pro features. You have to have an account with Keysight for this operations.

After jumping through few hoops, the licenses arrive via email. You can drag&drop the license file to enable full functionality, which is nice.

FG pro license also enables linking with Waveform Builder pro software for creation of custom waveforms.

 

This is the main view of FG Pro app with generator connected via Ethernet.

 

 

I created a simple TestFlow routine by dragging the control elements of the FG, which are conveniently highlighted in orange, to the Test Flow panel.

 

Then, when you drag the control to the Test Flow panel, you can adjust the parameters of the control, whether you want to Set it, or Get a value, Sweep or List, etc..

 

It was pretty easy to create a nice little sequency of sweeps from 100 mVpp to 500 mVpp sine waves in 100 mVpp increments, and then sweep in freguency for each of those levels, from 1 kHz to 10 kHz in 1 KHz increments.

 

As an automation tool from within BenchVue, it is a pretty good and usefull tool. You can easily create complex sequences for automated test, with nice and easy graphical interface, and visualize acquired data in the Data Manager tab. There is also a Library tab which has a few examples of Test Flow sequences for all kinds of instruments, covering some common usage scenarios with each of them. Also, nice and useful feature.

 

Considering I only have function generator to test BenchVue (duly disclosed in my RoadTest application), there is not much data to be gathered except that coming from the Test Flow itself.

However, here is the picture and you can pretty much imagine how usefull this would be in conjuction with DMM, DSO/MSO and/or a power supply.

 

After that, I tried to create an arbitrary waveform using linking feature with the Waveform Builder, but I could not get it going. Manually starting Wave Builder from the Apps tab and then clicking Create also did not work for some reason. At the same time, even though BenchVue was communicating with the FG, Wave Builder could not find the remote instrument on the network.

I am not sure whether it is a bug or some issue with my PC.

 

 

Some final thoughts

 

All in all this is a pretty decent piece of software for remote control of Keysight instruments, and combined with Test Flow it offers great T&M automation capabilities.

There are some quirks and issues, but with some effort most of them are easily solved. I would like to see BenchVue Signal generator app available also for AWGs, at least for some less complicated digital modulation signals.

 

There are few key objections:

 

  • Windows only. I would like to see at least Linux version, maybe even Mac OS.
  • Jumping through hoops during installation and licensing. This is not in the same league as 89600 VSA software, maybe it should have more relaxed licensing procedure?
  • IO libraries are required, and no notifications is given about this.
  • Linking with Waveform Builder is not working (at least in my case).

 

I only had few hours to try this software, and I may have missed some glaringly obvious things. However, I hope that in the future I will have more time to revisit some of this objections, and maybe even use a different PC.

I would recommend this software, on account of the great features and especially Test Flow functionality.

Anonymous
  • Thank you for your comment.

     

    Yes, pretty much all of the functions from the front panel are available from within the FG app. I haven't tested them all, but frequency, amplitude, type of waveform, modulation, sweep, burst, internal arb, loading of external arb, impedance, polarity, sync with second channel, etc. are easily configurable.

    And just by clicking on the instrument icon you can access the internal web interface of the unit itself.

  • Nice honest review.

     

    You have confirmed some of the issues I had about the software.

     

    I am curious, did the software support the ability to control all of the functions of your generator with the same level of capability you have manually?

     

    Thanks

    DAB