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MicroZed Chronicles: Sneak Peek Analog Discovery 3

Over the years working as both a FPGA developer and author of this blog, I have found it very useful to have a range of test equipment. This is very helpful for debugging board issues and during FPGA bring up. The test equipment varies from power supplies, active loads, USB power meters, and HDMI frame capture devices to oscilloscopes, pattern generators and logic analyzers. Of course, it’s also useful to have something portable because I often end up on site with clients.


As you’ve seen in past blogs and projects, I’ve used the Analog Discovery, Analog Discovery 2, Digital Discovery, and the Analog Discovery Pro several times. Often, there is a AD2 in my backpack because they come in incredibly useful when I want to look at a signal etc. or battle with an I2C.


Therefore, I was very happy to recently receive the new Analog Discovery 3 -- the latest addition to the family.


Like the previous members of the family, it is connected to a PC using a UBS link. In this particular case, it is USB C and connects to an updated version of the waveform’s software.


The Analog Discovery 3 provides developers with the following:

  • Oscilloscope – Two differential inputs, sampled at 125 Msps with a 14-bit resolution ADC. When used with the Discovery BNC Adaptor, this provides 30 MHz of bandwidth. The BNC Adaptor also enables signals to be AC coupled.

  • Arbitrary Waveform Generation (AWG) – Two differential outputs, 14-bit resolution sampled at 125 Msps.

  • Logic Analyser – 16 digital inputs sampled at 125 Msps

  • Pattern Generator – 16 digital outputs sampled at 125 Msps

When combined with the WaveForms software, these interfaces provide the ability to view FFTs, and eye diagrams and decode SPI, I2C, UART, CAN etc.


One of the main differences between he AD3 and AD2 is that the sampling rate has increased by 25% from 100 Msps to 125 Msps. This makes for a large difference when working with digital systems.


To look at the capabilities of the analog front end with the BNC adaptor fitted, I thought I would use the dynamic clocking wizard design running the Cora we looked at a few weeks ago.

This project enables us to change the clock frequency output at run time so it will be a good platform for doing a few simple tests.

The dynamic clocking example outputs two different clock frequencies which are captured on the AD3 using scope probes connected to the BNC adaptor. In the WaveForms software, we can see the time domain and also the FFT of the input clock.

The FFT shows a very clean spectrum with few spurs. Being able to see the FFT is good especially when we are working with outputs of filters etc. as demonstrated here.


I also noticed that the protocol decoding now includes JTAG, serial wire, HDMI CEC and ACR ROM formats along with the standard SPI, I2C, UART etc. The JTAG and SW debug capabilities are very useful when bringing up boards especially if there is onboard JTAG networks which need decoding.


I am told the AD3 and the latest version of WaveForms which supports the AD3 and new modes will be available as of June 14. I am going to replace the one normally in my backpack with the AD3 and use it in anger now.


Workshops and Webinars


If you enjoyed the blog why not take a look at the free webinars, workshops and training courses we have created over the years. Highlights include

Embedded System Book


Do you want to know more about designing embedded systems from scratch? Check out our book on creating embedded systems. This book will walk you through all the stages of requirements, architecture, component selection, schematics, layout, and FPGA / software design. We designed and manufactured the board at the heart of the book! The schematics and layout are available in Altium here Learn more about the board (see previous blogs on Bring up, DDR validation, USB, Sensors) and view the schematics here.



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