Monday 10 May 2010

Real time recording instrument

Signal recording instrument synchronizes two 16-bit channels at 200 MSPS

Pentek has announced its Model RTS 2703 Real-Time Recording Instrument, which packs up to 4 Terabytes of removable RAID storage and dual 200 MHz, 16-bit sampling channels into a 4U rack-mount instrument. Both sampling channels use the same start, stop, triggering and clock timing to ensure that the two data sets are fully synchronized. In addition to the data acquisition and recording functions, the instrument forms a complete high-performance Windows XP workstation that can run under standalone operation as well as connect to a gigabit Ethernet network for remote access and control.

“This instrument is the first to offer two A/Ds with 16-bit resolution and a 200 MHz sampling rate. It’s ideal for radar, communications and storage applications that need high-speed synchronized recording of multiple data channels,” said Chris Tojeira, recording systems product manager at Pentek. “A single instrument can capture two 90 MHz bandwidth signals and users can easily synchronize multiple instruments to increase channel count for beamforming applications.”
High Performance Data Acquisition and Storage
The two 16-bit data acquisition channels deliver nearly 90 dB of spurious free dynamic range, allowing users to detect small signals of interest surrounded by large interferers. A hardware-driven DMA engine continuously streams data at 200 Msamples/second from each channel to dedicated five-unit RAID arrays with a capacity of 2 TB per channel, ensuring more than an hour of continuous recording without dropping a single sample.

The storage system incorporates 10 SATA disk drives configured as dual five-unit RAID arrays. The units can offer RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 10 and 50 and can be configured to offer redundancy in the recording to ensure that data is never lost. The hot-swappable RAID disks are front-panel accessible, which allows users to readily remove and replace the drives for extended recording or transport to another location.

Simple Access to Recorded Data
Unlike the proprietary file formats typically used in other high-performance data recording instruments, the RTS 2703 records its data files in the Windows-compatible NTFS file system. This means users can access files with the instrument’s workstation capabilities immediately after recording with no file conversion processing required. Users can also remove the RAID drives from the instrument and use them immediately in another Windows-compatible system with no file conversion or other special software.

Each data file includes a header containing a time stamp, file size and recording parameters such as channel number and acquisition settings. With long files, users can extract segments of interest from within the file and save them as separate files. Data is accessible off-unit through a variety of mechanisms, including transfers using the built-in USB or gigabit Ethernet ports to external storage or other network-connected computing systems. Users can also copy files to optical disk using the 8X double layer DVD +R/RW drive on the front panel.

SystemFlow Software
As with other members of Pentek’s RTS 27xx family, the dual-channel recording instrument is fully supported by Pentek’s Model 4990 SystemFlow Instrument Software. This includes a Windows-based graphical user interface (GUI) that provides a simple means to configure and control the instrument. Virtual-instrument push buttons, status indicators, pull-down menus and data-parameter entry windows provide simple and intuitive operation for all functions. Custom configurations can be stored as profiles and later loaded when needed, allowing the user to select pre-configured instrumentation settings with a single click.

SystemFlow Signal Viewer
SystemFlow also includes a powerful signal viewing and analysis tool, so users can monitor signals before, during and after a recording session. The Signal Viewer includes a virtual oscilloscope and a virtual spectrum analyzer for detailed signal analysis in both time and frequency domains.

Advanced signal analysis capabilities include automatic calculators for signal amplitude and frequency, second and third harmonic components, total harmonic distortion (THD) and signal to noise and distortion (SINAD). With time and frequency zoom, panning modes and dual annotated cursors to mark and measure points of interest, the SystemFlow Signal Viewer can often eliminate the need for a separate oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer to monitor signals of interest.

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