Test equipment is essential to any electronics enterprise. On a hobbyist scale, an investment in a digital multimeter (DMM) pays for itself in troubleshooting and repairing that first piece of audio or amateur-radio equipment. On a somewhat grander scale, few (if any) microwave companies could stay in business long if their test equipment were to suddenly vanish. We depend on it to evaluate the performance of our designs, and we count on its accuracy to provide us with the peace of mind that our products are meeting or exceeding the performance levels that we promise to our customers.

The importance of test equipment was recently reinforced for me after hearing from two industry friendsone a supplier of test gear and one a user. The former depends on microwave engineers to use his products; the latter relies on the product to verify the performance of his own company's products. In the second case, the companya high-quality passive components and high-frequency-assembly supplier based out of Long Island, NYwas experiencing profound growth in several markets. Economic health meant adding people and the tools they needed to do their jobs, including several vector network analyzers (VNAs).

If anything, this two-company example provides one of the smallest possible samples of the current world economy for electronics, with test equipment sales being a single-barometer gauge of its health. At least in the electronics sector of the economy, test equipment is one thing that everyone needs, and can't grow without. For more on managing the cost of test equipment, click here.

On an altogether different topic, Microwaves & RF has now established a presence on Twitter. To follow us, click here.