How long should T&M gear be supported?

Article By : Michael Dunn

You or your company spends megabucks on some fancy piece of T&M kit. Upset are you that it’s abandoned after three years?

One of the sparkling jewels here at EDN Labs is a Tektronix MDO4014-3, Tek’s still-unique time-correlated scope-SA (spectrum analyzer). As much as we’re happy to have it, I admit to being quite miffed that it has been orphaned.

Introduced in late 2011, EDN’s arrived about a year later, and its screen captures have adorned many of my blogs. It’s a sweet piece of T&M gear, but neither is it perfect. In fact, there are quite a few unresolved bugs (which I’ve reported over the years). Of course, I’ve kept an eye on Tek’s site, and installed firmware updates as they appeared, but would you believe that the last – and presumably final – one arrived in November 2014, a mere three years after the instrument’s introduction?

The MDO4000 displaying the latest firmware: v3.18


Since the MDO4k’s debut, Tek has succeeded it with the “B” & “C” versions. Fortunate owners of those continue to receive updated firmware, but for how much longer?

Having not been on intimate terms with similar gear from manufacturers like R&S, LeCroy, and AgiXXXHPXXXKeysight, I can’t say whether the grass is any greener in those fields. But I can say I’m very disappointed with this state of affairs. I can’t believe that the latest-and-greatest MDO4000C is different enough from the original MDO4000 that common updates are infeasible. Even if it is, three years is way too short a life cycle for gear of this class.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss.

And, happy 2018.


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Michael Dunn is Editor in Chief at EDN with several decades of electronic design experience in various areas.

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