Once again I thought I'd do a series of blogs on my experiences as an applications engineer for a major semiconductor company, Analog Devices, at International Microwave Symposium (IMS). This year the city of Tampa, Fla., played host to the symposium. It was a nice enough city, but in this writer's opinion, did not play quite as good of a host as the past two cities, Seattle and Montreal.
More on that later, however, for now let's discuss one of the most important aspects of traveling to a tradeshow: the preparation. This year, Analog Devices had released two new ADCs in the gigasample space, the 14-bit dual 1.0 GSPS AD9680 and the 12-bit single 2.0 GSPS AD9625. The 2.5 GSPS version of the AD9525 was announced on the first day of the show as well.
This is now my fourth year of attending IMS as an applications engineer at Analog Devices and in all the past years I had the pleasure of demonstrating ADCs with sample rates of 250 MSPS. Back in 2011 when IMS was in Baltimore, I had the pleasure of showing a demonstration of the AD9467 which was a newly released 16-bit single 250 MSPS buffered ADC. In the past two years I demonstrated newly released ADCs with the JESD204B interface, the 14-bit dual 250 MSPS AD9250 and the 14-bit single 250 MSPS AD9683.
For all of these demonstrations I was able to easily peruse our supply cabinets in the lab at Analog Devices and obtain the necessary low phase noise Wenzel oscillators along with high performance TTE filters that I would need to provide the ADC clock and analog input signals. These devices offer the performance necessary to show the capability of the ADC (instead of showing the limitations of the input sources as lower quality sources might result in). In addition, these devices are quite portable and make taking them along to a demonstration on the road much easier. Another advantage is being able to leave signal sources (such as the Rohde-Schwarz SMA100 or the Agilent MXG) in the lab for use by others while I am traveling to the show.
With this in mind, I set about my usual preparation this year for the IMS show. There was only one thing that I forgot when planning this year... I did not yet have any low phase noise Wenzel oscillators available that were above about 350 MHz. Going about with the typical busy-ness that an applications engineer can expect, I did not realize the fact that my oscillator availability was a problem until a few weeks before the show. This was just a slight problem as I planned to demonstrate the AD9680 at the show. In addition, I had also agreed to help support a demonstration of the AD9625 at the Mouser booth during IMS as well. Upon this realization, I immediately swung into action and began by contacting my local Rohde-Schwarz and Agilent sales representatives.
As it turned out, two of my colleagues had already reserved the SMA100 signal generators that would have been available, but I was in luck, my local Agilent sales representative came to the rescue and I was allotted an MXG signal generator for the demo. I still needed a few more sources so I contacted Wenzel and requested the oscillators that I would need for the show. I also worked with some of my fellow applications engineers at Analog Devices and found out about an additional source of low phase noise oscillators that I could use, Crystek Corporation. As it turned out, one of the other applications engineers in my group had made PCBs to work with their oscillators. I also found out that we had available TTE filters in the lab that I could use at the show.
I put in my request to Wenzel, who came through in the clutch and delivered two low phase noise oscillators. In addition, I was able to get an expedited order of surface mount low phase noise oscillators from Crystek to complete my demonstration requirements. These additional Wenzel and Crystek oscillators arrived the week before IMS so I had some time to spare. I'd usually much prefer to have the equipment in place well in advance, but in this case, I was extremely happy to have everything ready to go. I tested everything as it would be set up at the show and was ready to go. Unfortunately, with the demonstration only coming together the week before the show, I had no time to offer training to the Mouser booth personnel before arriving at the show. As a result, I changed my travel plans to arrive late Sunday evening to give time on Monday to both set up my demonstration of the AD9680 at the Analog Devices booth as well as set up and train the Mouser booth personnel on running the AD9625 demonstration.
Of the many things I've learned in the last few years of attending IMS, one is to always pack extra equipment. As a rule of thumb I usually pack two of everything that I need and, in this case, I made no exception. I packed up everything and shipped it to the hotel on the Thursday before the show. I double checked its arrival on Friday and then later headed off on Sunday evening to the airport. After a late arrival and a pretty good night of sleep, I headed over to the exhibit hall on Monday morning. I proceeded to set up my AD9680 demonstration at the Analog Devices booth. In the process, I had an issue with one of the 15 V wall supplies that I needed to power one of the Wenzel oscillators. Good thing I packed an extra though, so I was able to get my demonstration up and running. I then proceeded over to the Mouser booth to meet the staff and set up the AD9625 demonstration.
The booth staff was quite friendly and very eager to learn about the demonstration. This setup went a little smoother and I had no need of the extra equipment I had brought along. By the afternoon, I had both demonstrations tested and running, had a nice lunch with the staff from the Mouser booth, and was looking forward to Tuesday morning and beginning another fun and informative IMS show. Next time, I'll look at how things went on the first day of the 2014 IMS show. I'd like to give a special thanks to Agilent (which will soon be Keysight), Wenzel, and Crystek for coming through like champs in providing the equipment I needed for the demonstration in such short order!
Editor's note: Three blogs for each of the three days at IMS will follow with Jonathan Harris's experiences and observations there.