Computer Based Instruments Information

Spectrum analyzerComputer-based instruments are part of a computer (a board, for example), or need to be connected to a computer in order to measure and display data.

Types of Computer Based Instruments

There are several types of computer-based instruments. Examples include:

  • computer-based spectrum analyzers
  • computer-based oscilloscopes
  • computer laboratory instruments

A computer-based oscilloscope transforms a signal into a pattern or waveform and produces a graph of voltage against time on a computer screen. A computer-based spectrum analyzer is an instrument that can also be connected to a computer and is used to measure the frequency spectrum of the signal. A computer laboratory instrument is used for the purpose of analyzing, testing, and verifying various concepts and equipment in laboratories. A technique called digital and vector modulation is popularly used for establishing communication between computers. Other computer-based instruments are commonly available.


Computer-based instruments have many specifications and function in a variety of ways. A computer-based oscilloscope has an external analogue to digital converter that can be connected to a PC. A computer-based oscilloscope has several parameters to consider such as:

  • computer host
  • digital inputs
  • operating temperature
  • maximum shock
  • maximum vibration
  • analog bandwidth
  • number of channels

A computer-based spectrum analyzer displays signal amplitude on the vertical axis and frequency on the horizontal axis. Computer-based spectrum analyzers parameters include form factor, number of input/output channels, and dynamic range. In digital and vector modulation, both the digital and vector modulations are used. In digital modulation, the information to be transmitted is converted into digital form. In vector modulation, a single modulator is used to control both amplitude and phase. Computer-based instruments are designed and manufactured to meet most industry specifications.


Computer-based instruments have a wide range of applications in the field of education and research. Computer-based spectrum analyzers can easily measure radio frequency signal intensity, frequency, and also power density through the use of calibrated antennas. A computer based spectrum analyzer can also be used to check whether a wireless transmitter is working in accordance with the federally defined standards. Major advantages of computer-based oscilloscopes are low cost, portable (when used with a laptop), easily handled, and equipped with storage capability. A computer-based instrument can be created to resolve open-ended design problems. Due to the low cost of computers, computer-based instruments are particularly suitable for the educational market where equipment budgets are often low.

Related Information

CR4 Community—Spectrum Analyzer Help Needed

IEEE Spectrum—The Surprising Story of the First Microprocessors

IEEE Spectrum—Jerobeam Fenderson's Trippy Oscilloscope Music

Image credit:

Binarysequence / CC BY-SA 3.0


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