Electrical test and measurement equipment reviews.

  Digital Multimeter, Clamp on meter, Oscilloscope, Electronic component testing tools, all measuring equipment for demanding applications of our times:  Switching or Uninterruptible power supply, PV Inverters, VFD motor controllers, industrial electronics repair & HVAC.

Written by Kiriakos A. Triantafillou, Industrial maintenance electrician, Hellas.

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First look of FreeWave 3.20 software for the GDS-2000A series

Intro


In a way I do feel lucky, I got my scope at 16 of March and GW Instek released their software for it at 13 of March.

But I did not had a clue about it until finding it accidentally at 23 of March, and after having first a cold shower by finding out that LabView basic version retails at 999$.

I was in a way mislead that LabView is what I need so to enjoy even basic functionality of remote control due the USB cable and screen capture.


It looks that the GW Instek software developers needed a bit more time to make it happen than what the company had in mind.

My software CD came almost empty with a driver file and a User Manual in PDF.

The GDS-2000A series is very fresh product and eventually those mini inconveniences they will be sorted out in time by GW Instek, but until then Google will direct you in this page at your searches, and hopefully you will find back your smile.

In this quick look of the software you will see some screenshots and read my notes about the installer and the main software.

My tests shown that this software package it is very advanced and designed to serve  demanding users and needs, unfortunately there is some bugs in this first version and I did spotted the most of them.

I will be forgiving due the freshness of this software and the high complexity behind it, by reading the lines below you will understand of why I feel that way, gentlemen this software is a gem, not perfect yet but it does shine!  

Software Installer


a) The software installer it is simple and reliable like the GW Instek latest slogan, even so by starting it you will have to accept the installation on your computer of the latest Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (x86 and x64).

Due this process you will have to click YES in the first popup window which is the Microsoft licence in Chinese , them another similar window will open in the English language or what ever language your computer use as main, and by accepting two times the same licence the Microsoft .NET Framework 4 starts to downloaded automatically to your computer.


b) The Microsoft .NET Framework 4 is not that large as download but it takes allot of time to be installed, as soon it installs your system will ask you to reboot.

After the reboot the FreeWave 3.20 installer will start automatically so to install it self over the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.

USB connectivity    

There are no other surprises about the installation of the software, but I did have one by plugging the USB cable on my computer.

Even if the motherboard of my PC it is relatively fresh with only High Speed USB 2.0 480Mbps ports, I am receiving its and every time one warning that my ports are not High Speed.

I am going to guess that there is a tiny issue regarding the USB handshake of the scope with the INTEL USB controller of my motherboard, I have so many other USB High speed devices connected to my system and they are working nicely.

FreeWave 3.20  (GUI) Graphics User Interface.

The Interface is well build and looks solid but it comes with few software bugs and the Auto detection regarding finding the Oscilloscope port causes an significant time delay when starting the software.


Unfortunately the GW Instek software developers in their rush to deliver it they forgot to update the TXT file about what is included in this software release which is an upgrade from the FreeWave 2.04


Let’s see what the FreeWave 2.04 was capable for?

(And at this point I will copy & paste the text as is from the GW Instek Old Readme file.)

FreeWave version 2.04                       May 21, 2009


Description:

A real-time display scope's screen, capture waveform data, remote control,

and print- out function with the following features:-


- Real time displaying the scope screen via USB connection.

  The displaying screen can be saved as BMP, JPG, GIF, TIF, PNG formats.

- Video recorder is available and can be saved as WMA format.

- Auto-detect scope models with a single ΅SCAN΅¨ key.

- Waveform signal can be captured and saved as CSV format, convenient for third-party applications.

- All the remote control commands are listed on program.

  User can select any command as a batch file and execute this batch file as an auto-sequence program.

 

FreeWave 3.20 & up to date working features

In this new version of FreeWave there is no Real time displaying the scope screen via USB connection, there is no video record, and up to date there is no help-file as user manual.


I think that the transition of the software from the version 2.04 which was based on Microsoft .NET Framework 2 to the new FreeWave 3.20 which is based on Microsoft .NET Framework 4, forced the GW Instek software developers to start-up writing this software from the very beginning and that the new raised complexity it blown away their time schedule too.


The software looks very nice and hides some new features that I liked them allot.

My only current nag is about the windowed mode.


Now let’s see the basic of the interface which has five main sections which are named as ConnectImageDataCommand - and the fifth (unnamed) is the Waveform Zoom tool ( LM Icon at the top right).

Connect

In this section you will see the information’s of your Oscilloscope as soon it got detected by the software, hardware auto detection is set by default but there is an small icon ( binocular) at the left to force the auto detection in case that you plugged your scope on your PC after starting the software.

Image

The most wanted feature about screen capture, you can save the image as Gif / JPEG / TIF / PNG / bmp.


I did two tests and I will give you one example regarding the file size (compression) in its one file format (resolution fixed to 800 x 600).


Test-1 (black screen channels off)

Bmp = 1.876 Kb

TIF = 93 Kb

JPEG = 56 Kb

PNG = 22 Kb

Gif =15 Kb


Test-2 ( 2 Channels square wave 1 KHz)

Bmp = 1.876 Kb

TIF = 99 Kb

JPEG = 69 Kb

PNG = 27 Kb

Gif =20 Kb


My first thought is that naturally the Bmp gives the best results regarding best contrast of the dots in those divisions, but the optical quality of the waveform it does not decreased in any of those formats and probably the

800 X 600 resolution is very forgiving by it self.


BUG No-1

The Print function looks to have a serious bug in this first software release.

The FreeWave It does send the command to the printer but fails to set right the image resolution in dpi, this error makes my HP Printer software unable to control the printout, additional settings as “page orientation” or about “fit to page” they have no effect.

All that I am getting is the 2/3 of the Oscilloscope screen printed in landscape orientation with the image to cover the entire page (extreme use of ink) and .

It gives you the impression that the A4 paper sheet is not enough.

Data  

In this section you see the waveform and in a way it looks like a picture but what actually happens are that what you see it is transferred as numerical data from the oscilloscope which they are reconstructed as waveform on your screen.

A simpler explanation is that the waveform gets converted in to a spreadsheet and the software converts back those numbers in to graphs.

Its channel haves its own data and they are transferred one at the time.

In this mode you may control things or better said compare two waveforms against its other.


As soon you load the Data from your oscilloscope to FreeWave they are nicely displayed and you may use the cursor of the software so to measure the volts for example in a specific point of interest.


By downloading those Data from your oscilloscope, now the software is capable to store them as CSV files, and also you can load them back to it, and the FreeWave will work as viewer.

This is great for before and after comparisons, a simple example could be one waveform coming from a damaged power supply with high ripple and after the repair the latest waveform it would show the improvement.


BUG No-2

Basically this is what the software should do, but it does not do it yet correctly , the saved CSV from the software does not imported back correctly to FreeWave, and all that I can see is flat lines (No wave form).

Yes this is another bug found on it, but I will not nag because when this software eventually becomes bug free, it would be an amazing package.

Control

There is no need to say that I am very impressed by finding that the GW Instek developers they have load on it every hardware possible setting so to be controlled and by software.

It is a huge amount of main functions in it with even more sub menus with a tremendous number of parameters for its one.

Even if I did not managed to activate even one due the high complexity of all those options I feel very happy even by knowing how features rich this software is planed to be.

I will admit it I got scared in a way from this complexity, but this is a professional grade Oscilloscope with lots of potentials to be explored, from my viewpoint I would feel much worst by finding instead an remote control software with a silly interface of some pictured knobs, something that it resembles with the software of the mixer for my Creative sound card which I have to rotate those knobs by my mouse pointer.

This is an Oscilloscope and precision is all that maters, if you do care about reliable remote control, then you must have tools instead of toys.

Regarding GW Instek I will say that as soon they will release the User Manual for this software it will not be any need for guesswork.

Waveform Zoom tool

( LM Icon at the top right).

This software section or tab use data too so to project them as waveform and this is actually your mini toolbox, you may set markers on your waveform or Zoom In or save CSV files or load CSV files.


BUG No-2 again

Identical issues as found in the DATA section, all that you can enjoy up to date is the data coming from your Oscilloscope to it.




Either way I am adding three screen shots so to see how the Zoom works in three stages

a) View


b) selection


c) Zoom in


Conclusion


Quick summary of the bugs in this software version

1) Wrong printing parameters’ / printer control panel unable to compensate.

2) Loading saved CSV files (saved with basic or full details)(software offers two saving choices)  leads to wrong displayed waveforms.


Well as you can see by your own eyes the FreeWave 3 has significant potentials, even with the video controls grayed out, still looks impressive to me.

The cherry in the pie looks to be the full screen button (next to power off button) what I found as remarkable to it is the fact that in full screen the image that I get on my DELL 23” wide screen monitor which works at max 1920 x 1080 it looks sharp and crisp, if I do the same scaling up of an 800 X 600 image at that high resolution with my Adobe Photoshop, I do not think that I can get such great results.

I did take an 1920 x 1080 screen shot by using Print-Screen and pasted the data to Photoshop, I did scaling it down a bit so to fit in the ITTSB web site, all that I will say is just enjoy the clarity!

I believe that in the upcoming weeks GW Instek will sort out the bugs, my personal wish list includes also the end of this windowed mode too.  

As customer of GW Instek it feels good to know that other than getting a great scope, the software for it to be that advanced too, the sum of two gives me the confidence that I did the best selection about trusting  the GDS-2000A series in 2013.

#

1) Software Installer

2) USB connectivity

3) FreeWave 3.20  (GUI) Graphics User Interface

4) Conclusion

By Kiriakos Triantafillou ©2013 26 March

Full screen 1920 x 1080 resized down to 1024 x 768

FreeWave 3  Original image exported in PNG

FreeWave 3  Original image exported in Gif

FreeWave 3  Original image exported in Gif

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