Siglent Instruments: Some First Impressions About Software

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,856
Thanks to various feed back here on the forum, I recently purchased a Siglent scope, along with companion AWG and MSO options, as well as a bench supply, a standalone AWG, and a DMM.

Siglent SDS1204X-E 4-Ch 200MHz Super Phosphor Oscilloscope
Siglent SPD3303X-E DC Power Supply
Siglent SDG2042X 40MHz Function/Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Siglent SDM3055 5½ Digit Dual-Display Digital Multimeter

My general first impression is that Siglent's instruments are high value for the dollar and well built. The interfaces have various idiosyncrasies I would change but nothing that makes them unusable. The limited testing I've been able to do satisfies me so far.

One of the reasons I bought these basic bench instruments all from one vendor was for compatibility when it comes to automation, which I intend to do for some projects. They all have Ethernet and USB, and they support VXI-11 (TCP VXIbus protocol) and USBTMC (USB Test and Measurement Class). These are standards, and so you don't have to rely on Siglent software.

But, Siglent does offer "EasyXXX" programs where XXX is some appropriate description for the type of instrument (e.g.: EasyScope, EasyPower, etc.). It seems that "Easy" was chosen to confuse the user. The software is not "Easy". It is old, not just old in the sense of versions but in UI design and philosophy; It is arcane; and, it is poorly documented.

The first trouble is that you must install National Instruments NI-VISA runtime for the programs to communicate with the instruments. This is free, but it is massive. If you are not going to be using LabView it's super-overkill for a simple communications layer—but it freed Siglent from having to write that part since they were already going to have to write LabView drivers, which they've done.

I'd like to use LabView, but it is far too costly. At my previous job, we had a site license, so it was always available. But starting at $399.00/year for the base version, I won't be subscribing anytime soon. I will probably develop my own software for the control I want to do, it won't be graphical, just a text-based control and acquisition system focused on my needs.

In any case, I installed the four applications and eventually figured out, no thanks to any easily accessible documentation, that I needed NI-VISA. Once that was installed, three of four applications run, and do some useful things, but not nearly as useful as they could and should be. I haven't used them extensively but I can see that I will use them, and get genuine value from them—they are just disappointing and a missed opportunity. I think if Siglent spent time producing a nice integrated suite of software for measurement and automation it would be a real selling point for their hardware.

More later, if anyone is interested.

[edited for autocomplete remediation]
 
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Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,856
Thanks, I am looking around and that's helpful. I also discovered the scope uses a VNC server to send the live screen data for its web interface and it can be connected to with a regular VNC client. It's a nice remote display with low overhead.
 

Wuerstchenhund

Joined Aug 31, 2017
189
Great review! Glad you like the hardware.

As to the EasyWhatever programs, you are absolutely right. They are crap, plain and simple. I fully agree that the programs look outdated like they came straight from Windows95, the UI is between horrible and idiotic.

The problem is, the same is essentially true for the software additions from pretty much any other test equipment manufacturer out there, even the big brands. Keysight has some decent addon programs, but even the standard versions are pretty expensive (the free basic versions, where they exist, have very little functionality).

You should see the abomination Rigol offers as waveform editor for its Arbitrary Waveform generators. They even charge you for some better math than the primitive stuff that's in the free variant.

But then, the main purpose of the connectivity features of test equipment is to control them with purpose-built software. The software addons are just that, free addons.

LabView is one example of better software, and doesn't have to be expensive:

http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/213095

https://store.digilentinc.com/labview-home-bundle/

I'd probably spend the $49 for the Home version of LabView, or use any other language (like C/C++/C#, VisualBasic, Python) to control the instruments from your PC.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,856
LabView is one example of better software, and doesn't have to be expensive:
Thanks for this! I wasn't aware of the home license. I've purchased out, and I'm waiting for fulfillment to download it.

This is a great option. I don't *love* LabView, but it's probably the best thing available.

Thanks again.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,856
Well, the LabView struggle begins. The huge size and unnecessary complexity is burdensome, but two of four instruments are talking to it at this point, and today the other two will join them. What a mess the drivers are, what an ugly, outdated interface.

I am also forced to use Windows, which I really would rather not, but first world problems plague us all.
 

v1x2w3

Joined Jan 20, 2007
54
Thanks for documenting your Siglent software experience Yaakov. (And, grats on your 4 piece Siglent Elab purchase)

I installed NI-VISA but still couldn't get the software to see the oscilloscope. Since you and others don't think much of the software, I'll just skip it.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,856
LabView is great stuff for automation. The Siglent supplied software and built-in control can't do waht doesm LV o what LV does but it provdes useful features.

Make sure your scope's firmware is up to date. If you can connect the scope to Ethernet, you can use it's built-in web server to remote control it. It will let you watch it live, and change settings.
 
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