Making the Rounds for New Test Gear at IMS

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Previously, this blog highlighted the merits of attending the ARFTG measurement conference at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS), coming up May 22-27. For test-and-measurement professionals, it is an opportunity to learn what others are doing on the design and practice sides of testing and share ideas.

But what about the IMS show floor, with all of those exhibition booths? Traditionally, this has been an unmatched opportunity to “play with” some of the latest test equipment, as well as to see examples of test software applications commandeered by representatives from some of the top names in RF/microwave test equipment suppliers.

IMS LogoCompetitors, of course, will try to make clandestine visits to the “other guys,” perhaps at lunchtime. In cases of both competitors and potential customers, the IMS show floor has always been like a department store for the latest RF/microwave test equipment and a chance to see what the gear looks like in real life, rather than in pictures on brochures or websites. Even better, it offers a chance to imagine how it might fit on one’s own test bench.

The first two days of the IMS exhibition are typically the busiest. Exhibitors scramble to make good appearances, ascertaining that everything at the booth is set up properly and they are in a position to answer any questions presented to them. Traditionally, the last or “short” day of the exhibition is the best time to take in new test equipment: The booth traffic is less hectic, and most exhibitors are starting to become more focused on when to knock off and wrap up everything at the booth for the trip home. This is usually the time to get a good look at that new analyzer or signal generator without being subjected to a serious investigation into the motives behind your interest.

The IMS exhibition floor is a trusted setting for exploring test instruments and software from some of the usual suspects in this industry, such as Anritsu Co., Keysight Technologies, National Instruments, and Rohde & Schwarz. Many of them will be showing product lines for the first time, providing visitors with a chance to learn more about the potential applications and benefits for new instruments.

For example, this will be the first time that Keysight puts on public display its CX3300 series of device current waveform analyzers—instruments that can measure device currents as low as 10 pA and as large as 10 A. Admittedly, these analyzers are not for everyone, and the sensors that go with them may not be as “flashy” as the instrument mainframes, but they are just as important for making those current measurements.

But for all the integrated-circuit (IC) developers on the show floor, and visitors with the same interests in serving energy-efficient device markets in emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications applications, these analyzers will appear as a gift from on high! And they are just one example of the many new “measurement toys” that might be found on the 2016 IMS exhibition floor.

The IMS has always been more than just an annual event for this industry, more than just a series of technical lectures or a boring exhibition floor. It is traditionally an emotional gathering of old friends and acquaintances and, for those interested in the latest test and measurement technologies and products hitting the market, it is a two-and-one-half-day opportunity to browse booths for new gear at some of the largest (and smallest) names in the RF/microwave industry involved with measurement solutions.

And often, some of these booths even hold solutions for problems, such as the current waveform analyzers, that visitors didn’t even know they had until they see the solution in front of them. Enjoy the show!

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