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Agilent 86100B & 81204B Oscilloscope Controllers

The SuperZoom Controller(s) give users advanced options for acquiring signal data using the Agilent 86100B and 81204B Oscilloscopes (OSC). These programs provide a more precise way of imaging and manipulating signal data. Data can be viewed down to the picosecond range.

The major benefit of these programs is that they allow you to store and display screen data that is acquired by the Oscilloscope’s internal settings. By doing this, the data can be viewed whenever it is needed, and the settings can be applied to other signal channels, or to new data that is gathered. The 81204B has even greater functionality, since all data that is stored in the memory buffer of the Oscilloscope can be acquired and saved to a file for further usage. This way, a user can compare past and present acquisitions to each other.

In order to use the Programs, follow these steps for initial setup.


  • First, make sure that the device is hooked up to your PC via a GPIB or equivalent interface; and that all probes and cables are secured to samples and the OSC.
  • Next, select your OSC address in the Instrument control. At this stage, pressing the capture button should load data from all of the currently live channels onto the Waveform Graph, as well as populating the other controls with relevant OSC settings.
  • Drag and Drop features- the Waveform graph has a palette of controls at your disposal. The cursor has little value since it cannot control the graph. The Grab tool allows you to change the X and Y axis of the graph, which updates the OSC to the same Trigger Delay and Offset values, and then the graph update’s its data to the new data on the OSC screen.
    The Zoom Palette allows you to zoom in and out in several different ways. This updates the scaling and position of the OSC, allowing fine signal control.
  • Data Mode: This mode initially asks the user whether or not they want to save the data on the screen to a file, and then loads the data onto the screen. When this is finished, the user may examine all of the Waveform data, without changing the OSC display. Any zoom settings can be saved in this mode to an ini file, and these files can be re-applied to the OSC when Screen mode is re-enabled.
  • Screen Mode: This mode is a continuous acquisition mode in which the user can directly influence the OSC via the graph and Settings Controls.
  • Save: The Save under the Listbox saves only Trigger Delay, Trigger Level, the Horizontal and Vertical Scales, and the Vertical Offset into the file, but not the Screen data. The Screen data can only be saved by activating Data mode.
  • Load: The Load button under the list-box is capable of loading any saved configuration files, and will update the OSC first to those settings, and then populate the Waveform graph with the relevant data that is acquired.
    It will also load and data files that have been saved when Data Mode was entered. In this case, the OSC will be updated to the waveform configurations, but the data payload will be loaded onto the program’s graph, and any changes to the graph will not affect the OSC.
    Double clicking on an item in the list-box will also open the file’s as well, however, in this method, no File Dialog will open.
  • Delete: This button allows the user the option of removing a highlighted configuration or data file from the list-box.
  • Autoscale: This button commands the OSC to Autoscale itself, and then the Waveform graph acquires the new data and configuration that was automatically chosen. This function overwrites any current configurations.
  • Memory Depth: The Memory depth controls the amount of points that are acquired and displayed in the OSC.
  • Controls: The control boxes in the Program allow you to change the relevant values that are stored in the OSC device. There is the choice of slowly incrementing values by using the single unit increment/decrement arrows, or a desired value can be written into the controls, and the graph will update accordingly. Note: the graph has to update each time the value is changed, using the control arrows may take a little bit longer than using an approximation method to reach the target level.
  • Multi-Channel Display: The OSC itself has capabilities to display more than one channel at a time, with only vertical controls being applicable to each one separately. The channel control in the SuperZoom allows you to control each channel individually, simply by changing to that channel via the control. The Display will change itself to each channel that is enabled.
  • Averages: This feature allows the user to enable the Oscilloscopes internal averaging feature. Additionally, you may specify whatever amount of averages as you want, unlike the standard set that is provided in the OSC.


-All 86100B features with some differences.

  • Data Mode saves all Waveform data that is stored in the memory buffer (size is determined by the Memory Depth control with a max of 2,050,000 pts)
  • The OSC and PC need to have access to the Network Drive in order to transfer all waveform data. This process still requires up to a few minutes for large memory depths, however, it is still much more efficient (all data within 1 minute), rather then transferring data directly through the GPIB (only 100 pts/sec.)
  • File Path: Since the OSC and PC need to access a Network drive, a common directory must be chosen for both of them using a file path. Simply go to the directory you want, and then select any random file that is contained in that directory. The program will take care of the rest of the work required to allow easy data transfer between the PC and OSC.
  • Sample Rate: The sampling rate can be changed to the varied values that the OSC supports. This allows for a finer control of how many points are acquired.
  • Memory Depth: The memory depth in this OSC has a greater capacity than the other one, giving the user a larger amount of waveform data to work with when it is saved.

Program Assumptions

In order to run this program, it is assumed that the OSC device is enabled and hooked up to the PC via a GPIB or equivalent interface. For file transfer on the 81204B, a network connection is required for both the PC and OSC to the desired network drive.

The PC also must be running the LabVIEW Run-time engine, version 2009 or newer.

Program Download

The Executable files for the program(s) can be found in the UserPanel_Multiplot folder in either of the following downloads. Source code may be found on the network drive.



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