Instrumentation and Test & Measurement Systems Demand Higher-Performance Connectors

By Wayne Shockloss | March 08, 2022

Specialized test connectors and equipment help new products meet ruggedness, outgassing, and other performance and compliance requirements. 

Instrumentation connector technology is evolving to serve higher speeds and bandwidths, RF technologies (including microwave and mmWave), and the analog-to-digital transformation. Test & Measurement and instrumentation processes have become essential to the development and regulation of equipment used in telecommunications, consumer electronics, automotive, medical and laboratory instruments, and other emerging sectors.

To meet these rapidly evolving needs, connector suppliers are expanding their standard product offerings. New interconnects are being developed to align with increasing requests for higher density products and miniaturized standard connector platforms. Specialized test connectors and equipment help new products meet ruggedness, outgassing, and other performance and compliance requirements. With many new electronic devices emerging, time-to-market has also become critical to ensure component availability aligns with OEM lead times. 

Oscilloscopes Transform from Analog to Digital 

The oscilloscope market is transforming from analog to digital and enhancing the ability of equipment to test, measure, analyze, and compare measurements with more accuracy and precision. The minor drawback of the digital oscilloscope is its limited refresh rate of a digital screen, but the technology is improving.

The rising demand for safety, navigation, and infotainment features for autonomous vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and electric cars is driving the utilization of advanced probes into connected automotive systems, which support higher bandwidths, higher speeds, and wireless sensor technology. The oscilloscope equipment market is expected to reach approximately $2.77 billion by the end of 2026, with a five-year CAGR of 5.4%.

Samtec Inc. is focusing its new product development activities on high-speed and high-density connectors and cables, niche RF and I/O assemblies, and ruggedized interconnect solutions, which serve growth and advancement in computers and peripherals, industrial systems, Test & Measurement, and telecom/datacom, consumer, medical, automotive,  and instrumentation applications.

Samtec RF Solutions

Samtec offers a range of RF connectors for high-speed, high-precision applications, including SMA, SMB5, MCX, MMCX, and non-magnetic solutions; cables with mix-and-match termination options, including BNC, HD-BNC, DIN 1.0/2.3, or SMB; and Bulls Eye high-performance interconnect solutions, 100 Ohm shielded twisted pair cables, ganged micro-mini, and high-isolation IsoRate systems.

Amphenol RF offers both 50 ohm and 75-ohm versions of its BNC connector

Amphenol RF offers both 50-ohm and 75-ohm versions of its BNC connector, including a portfolio of PCB receptacles, bulkhead receptacles, reverse-polarity connectors, resistor terminations, and other accessories. Right-angle and straight-plug versions, gold-plated connector shells and contacts, and complete cable assemblies are also available.

Named after its inventors, Paul Neill of Bell Labs and Carl Concelman from Amphenol, the BNC connector was originally designed for military applications. Today it is used for video and RF applications and to capture signals on oscilloscopes and other Test & Measurement equipment.

Numerous companies offer industry-standard BNC connectors, including BelfuseHirose ElectricJAEMolexNeutrikTimes Microwave Systems, and Würth Elektronik. 

Advanced Oscilloscope Probe Technology Drives Increased Demand 

As oscilloscope technology advances speed, bandwidth, and sampling rates, new probe capabilities and features are emerging to enable quicker and easier Test & measurement analysis. Analysis continues to expand beyond basic signal visualization as engineers require signal and power analysis, decoding serial buses, signal integrity measurements, or advanced jitter analysis.

Tektronix probes

Image courtesy of Tektronix.

Scopes have also become more upgradeable. Historically, scopes have been focused on measuring time domain, but frequency domain measurements are growing, because they tend to enable quicker and easier problem solving, troubleshooting, and debugging.

Digital oscilloscopes with higher-resolution and lower noise emerge in support of higher data rates. Power efficiency requirements and battery-powered devices are driving significantly lower voltage signals. AI is also expected to expand analysis capabilities.

Expanding oscilloscope probe offerings are expected to drive growth of the global oscilloscope probe market from $1.69 billion in 2021 to $2.53 billion by 2026, representing a five-year CAGR of 8.12%.

CarlisleIT P500 Passive Probes

CarlisleIT P500 Passive Probes provide an industry-leading DC 500 MHz bandwidth and 1,000V CAT III and 600V CAT IV high voltage, general-purpose probing solution for a variety of low-power devices, manufacturing, laboratory test and research, and low-frequency computer and telecom measurements. It is ideal for probing pitch ICs and dense geometry circuits common in today’s electronics.

Digital Multimeters Trend Toward Portable, Handheld, and Benchtop Units

Multimeters can measure two or more electrical values – primarily voltage, amperage, continuity, frequency, capacitance, impedance (resistance), or current in a wiring circuit, which makes it an essential instrument for testing, measuring, diagnosing, and troubleshooting circuitry problems. Advanced digital multimeters (DMMs) capture more detailed measurements such as microamps, decibels, rotations per minute, temperature, and humidity.

Growth of handheld DMMs is accelerating based on the increased usage in the automotive and energy fields, primarily driven by the increased demand for electric and autonomous vehicles in North America, Europe, and China.

There is also a rise in high-performance benchtop DMMs for laboratory projects. Benchtop DMMs typically offer more connectivity options, such as LAN, USB, and GPIB, with more automated testing analytics with higher resolution, trend charts, and visualization of measurements. The handheld and benchtop DMM market is expected to reach $1.14 billion by the end of 2026, with a five-year CAGR of 4.3%. 

Fluke Digital Multimeter

Fluke, the market leader in handheld DMMs, offers its new 87V Industrial Digital Multimeter with heavy-duty test leads, alligator clips, test probes, clamp meter combo kit, and accessories. The Fluke 87V Industrial DMM provides high resolution and accuracy to efficiently troubleshoot motor drives, plant automation, and electromechanical equipment in challenging environments. 

Teledyne Reynolds Ruggedized PeeWee High voltage series

Teledyne Reynolds, a leader in Test & Measurement devices, also manufactures connectors and cable assemblies. Teledyne recently introduced its Ruggedized PeeWee (PWR) High Voltage Series, which has an 18 kVDC rating for test, measurement, instrumentation, semiconductor, and other test applications. The PWR provides improved abrasion resistance leveraging thicker FEP-insulated wire, and a more ruggedized, robust strain relief that delivers an even more reliable connector-wire-connector assembly. The Pee Wee series is ideal for DMMs and other test applications.

L-com offers GPIB (IEEE 488) connectors

L-com’s GPIB (IEEE 488) connectors, available from Newark

L-com, stocked by Newark, offers GPIB (IEEE 488) connectors with aluminum nickel-plated shells with overlapping seams, which are corrosion resistant and inherently immune to electromechanical interference (EMI) leakage. The connector, available from Newark, features 30 microinch gold contact plating, which provides reliable connections with highly repeatable mating cycles.

General purpose interface bus (GPIB) IEEE 488, one of the most widely used connector interfaces, is considered the industry standard for DDMs, oscilloscopes, signal generators, spectrum analyzers, vibration meters, and other Test & Measurement instruments. 

Calibration Equipment Driven by Power, Signal, and Wireless Connectivity Solutions 

Calibration instruments measure a broad spectrum of device functions, including temperature, vibration, sound, light, pressure, flow, data acquisition, and other multi-functions. Calibration measurements require a sensor or probe to capture measurements and compare them to a reference device under test (DUT). Calibration equipment can be stationary or benchtop, but there is a growing trend for portable and handheld instruments. Most calibration equipment uses power, signal, and wireless connectivity solutions and many suppliers also offer independent calibration certifications, and accreditation services.

Industrial and automotive industries have rising demand for calibration instruments, largely driven by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for steering, monitoring, braking, and warning systems, and autonomous vehicle requirements.

The calibration equipment market is expected to reach $4.16 billion by the end of 2026, with a five-year CAGR of 5.4%. Calibration services are expected to account for $4.84 billion and are excluded from this calibration equipment market forecast.

Bishop & Associates Instrumentation Market for Connectors research report provides an in-depth analysis of the markets, products, and technologies of instrumentation equipment manufacturers and provides examples of connectors used in instrumentation applications by sub-sector.

Learn more about the companies mentioned in this article: Belfuse, Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, Hirose Electric, JAE, Neutrik, Newark, Samtec Inc., Teledyne Reynolds, Times Microwave Systems, and Würth Elektronik.

Like this article? Check out our other test equipment articles, our Datacom-Telecom Market Page, and our 2022 and 2021 Article Archives

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Wayne Shockloss
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