Agilent Technologies 34411A Specifications

Agilent 34410A/34411A
6 1/2 Digit High-Performance
Application Note
Features and Performance
Applications and Solutions
Understanding Fast Measurements 13
The Advantages of a
Built-In Web Server
The Agilent 34410A and 34411A
are the latest generation of
6 1/2 digit multimeters from
Agilent Technologies. The 34410A
and 34411A are general-purpose
DMMs that give excellent price/
performance in a wide range of
applications. Each DMM builds
upon the success of the industrystandard Agilent 34401A,
and each offers significantly
enhanced functionality for
bench and system users.
Whether your application is
in electronic components,
aerospace, communications,
automotive, industrial, or one
of the many other industries
that require DC and AC measurements, you will find that
the 34410A and 34411A DMMs
offer you the performance
you need and are easy to use.
This application note gives you a
detailed look at how you can use
the features and performance
of these new DMMs in a variety
of applications to overcome
measurement challenges.
Key features:
Agilent 34410A 6 1/2 digit
high-performance DMM
• 10,000 readings/s at 51/2 digits
• 1,000 readings/s at 61/2 digits
• 30 PPM 1-year basic DC
• LAN, USB and GPIB standard
2/4-wire ohms
• Frequency, period, continuity,
and diode test
• Capacitance and temperature
• Wide measurement ranges
• Data logger with 50-k reading
non-volatile memory
Agilent 34411A 6 1/2 digit
enhanced-performance DMM
All the features of the
34410A, plus:
• 50,000 readings/s at 41/2 digits
• 1-million-reading memory
• Analog level triggering
• Programmable pre/post
The 34410A and 34411A are
backward compatible with the
Agilent 34401A multimeter and
support a 34401A emulation
mode. You will find a detailed
comparison of the 34401A
with the new 34410A/ 34411A
DMMs in Application Note
5989-4038EN, “Replacing the
Agilent 34401A with the New
Agilent 34410A and 34411A
High-Performance Digital
Multimeters.” A number of
performance specifications are
called out in this application
note; however, please refer to
the 34410A/34411A multimeter
data sheet, publication number
5989-3738EN, for specifics on
overall measurement and
system performance.
Overview of Features
and Performance
Both the 34410A and 34411A
are excellent bench-top and
system DMMs. They are designed
to be the best of both worlds
and provide a very consistent
path from the R&D bench environment into design validation
and manufacturing.
Key features for bench-top testing
As bench DMMs, the 34410A
and 34411A provide expanded
R&D characterization functions
and features:
• Small bench-top foot print
• Easy-to-use interface
• Dual displays for setup
and measurements
• Enhanced probe kit for
surface-mount parts
Freq/Period, 2/4 wire
• Diode testing and continuity
• Precision capacitance
• Offset-compensated
resistance measurements
• Temperature measurements
(thermistor and RTD)
• Peak measurements while
measuring DC or AC signals
• Statistical math at maximum
sample rate
• Limit checking with analoglike status on display
• Simple data logging to
non-volatile memory
• Built-in Web server
• Intuilink software for
Excel spread sheets
In today’s electronic world,
surface-mount resistors and
capacitors are very small and
unmarked. If you have a DMM
with a high-quality set of
surface-mount probes, you can
make precision capacitance
measurements which will help
you re-categorize that pile
of parts lying on your bench.
Peak measurements while performing precision DC or AC
measurements is a significant
troubleshooting tool. The built-in
data logging wizard allows you
to pick any function, set up the
timing, and let the DMM make
unattended measurements while
storing them into non-volatile
memory. With a LAN connection to your PC, the built-in
Web server makes it easy to
cut and paste readings directly
into your spread sheet, or you
can use the supplied IntuiLink
software for simple data logging
from USB, LAN, or GPIB.
• Hardware handshake to
switch instruments
• Precision sample timer
for waveform capture
• Peak measurements while
measuring DC or AC signals
• 100-Mbit LAN, USB 2.0,
and GPIB
• Web server for remote access
• LXI Class C compliant
• 34401A emulation mode
• Drivers for IVI and LabVIEWTM
Key features for system use
Remove the rubber bumpers
and handle, and you have a
system-ready DMM that can
outperform even VXI and PXI
instrumentation. You get higher
throughput in high-volume
manufacturing for applications
such as wireless handsets,
wireless LAN, Bluetooth,
and automotive testing.
Key features for the system user:
• Front and rear input
• Easy-to-use SCPI
command language
• Up to 50 k readings/s,
continuous to PC
• Traceable accuracy in addition
to fast measurements
• Retrieve readings up to
270,000/s from reading
• Sub-millisecond
command parsing
• Sub-microsecond external
trigger latencies
These DMMs are system ready –
you turn them on, and they’re
ready for operation from the
front panel or through a Web
browser. You don’t have to
install drivers before you
can even use the instrument.
Having a built-in Web server
gives you complete control of
the DMM from any computer
that has a LAN port. If you can
connect to, you can
connect to these DMMs without
the need for any driver software.
Developing programs is almost
as easy. The DMMs come with
Agilent’s powerful VISA I/O
library, drivers, and examples for
the most popular programming
development environments, so
you are programming within
minutes, not hours.
If you are considering replacing
the 34401A in your test system, all
you need to do is put the 34410A
or 34411A in emulation mode
using the “SYSTem:LANGuage
34401A” command. You do not
have to rewrite your tests –
except to compensate for a
much faster instrument and
higher-resolution measurements. This mode is retained
in nonvolatile memory, so when
you cycle power, the DMM
still thinks it is a 34401A.
Please refer to Application
Note 5989-4038EN, “Replacing
the Agilent 34401A with the
new Agilent 34410A and
34411A High-Performance
Digital Multimeters.”
Applications and Solutions
Whether your application
requires general-purpose
measurements, precision
DC and AC measurements,
waveform capture of mechanicalelectrical signals, or fast
throughput and programming
speed, these new DMMs have
the measurement capability
you need. This section gives
you examples that demonstrate
some of the newer capabilities
not found in many generalpurpose DMMs. The next
section, “Understanding Fast
Measurements,” will show
you how to configure your
DMM for these measurements.
Precision measurements
with high NMR
The 34410A and 34411A use
a special aperture-shaping
algorithm to increase normal
mode rejection (NMR) of
power-line-related noise in
DC measurements. It is an
increasing and decreasing
series of weighted averages
of multiple measurements.
This special algorithm is
utilized on NPLC settings of
2, 10, and 100. At 1 PLC, the
NMR is specified as 55 dB,
but at 2 PLC, the rejection
leaps to 110 dB at ±0.1% of
the power line frequency.
Most DMMs provide only
60 dB of rejection at 10 and
100 NPLC settings and ±0.1% of
deviation from line frequency.
However, the shaped aperture
algorithm creates a wider notch
of operating frequency and
achieves 75 dB at ±1% and 55 dB
at ±3%. This allows higherprecision measurements at
faster rates than is available
from most other DMMs on
the market.
Precision capacitance
When you are designing circuits,
it is highly advantageous to
know the actual value of a
capacitor to be used in a circuit.
Hand-held multimeters and
most 51/2 digit multimeters
typically use a measurement
technique that assumes an ideal
capacitor being charged by an
ideal constant current source
to determine capacitance with
the formula C = I/(dV/dt). These
instruments then specify an
error of 1% or more for film
capacitors (polyester and
polypropylene dielectrics)
but do not specify errors for
capacitors of other dielectrics.
Real-world capacitors exhibit
non-ideal behavior due to
dielectric absorption, leakage,
dissipation factor, and nonlinear
equivalent series resistance
(ESR). Current sources are not
ideal either, so a substantial
amount of error can be introduced using this time-domain,
straight-line approximation
The 34410A and 34411A
use a patented, time-domain
algorithm to reject some of the
non-ideal performance characteristics of capacitors. First
and foremost, the A-to-D is
able to sample fast enough to
capture multiple points on the
charge ramp of the capacitor
under test without introducing
significant noise to the measurement. Second, the constant
current source does not have
substantial non-ideal behaviors
such as a thermal tail when
turning on. Third, the internal
capacitance of the DMM and
lead capacitance of the probes
can be calibrated out using
the built-in math null function,
which subtracts the initial measurement from all subsequent
Substantial improvements in
accuracy are attained using
this technique. The 34410A
and 34411A DMMs can actually
perform much better than their
0.5% specifications. In lab testing
on a high-accuracy capacitance
standard, these DMMs achieved
a performance level on the order
of 0.1%. Furthermore, measurements of capacitors with poor
dielectrics, such as aluminumelectrolytic capacitors, showed
greatly improved accuracy.
Simple data logging without a PC
Let’s say your boss stops
by just before you leave for
lunch and asks you to measure
temperature changes in the
computer server room. He
suspects the air conditioner
is generating rapid and wide
changes in temperature.
How can you get this started
quickly and still meet your
lunch date on time?
• Grab your 34410A, probe,
and power cord and bring
them to the computer room
• Position the sensor probe
• Select the temperature
measurement function
and sensor type
• Press the Data Log key
and set up 1-second
intervals for an hour
• Press the Trigger key to
start the process
• Go to lunch
When you return from lunch,
the measurements are complete. Or, if an hour has not
passed, you can stop the data
logging process by pressing
any key for a prompt. Either
way, your readings are stored
in non-volatile memory.
Now finish up:
• Unplug the DMM and carry
it back to your office
• Hook up the LAN and
start your PC’s browser
• Cut and paste readings
from the browser into
your spread sheet
• Print out the chart or graph,
and submit it to your boss
Key points:
• You did not have to drag
a computer along to set up
• Set up was very easy from
the front panel.
• The 34410A is small and
easily transportable.
• You did not need to write
or load a program to gather
the data.
Precision DCV measurements
combined with peak measurements
Power supplies often have
ripple voltages that are riding
on top of the desired DC output.
These ripple voltages are specified and tested to be a certain
level or less. Frequencies of the
AC signal are often power-line
related, but they can be associated with higher-frequency
byproducts of switching power
supplies. For example, Figure 1
shows a DC signal with an
AC component.
A common approach to this
measurement problem is to
make both a DCV and ACV
RMS measurement. However,
there are limitations to this
• Making two measurements
takes more time – especially
changing function and range.
• A typical ACV RMS measurement lacks valuable peak
• Having to digitize to get peak
information takes time.
Figure 1. A 5 V DC signal with an AC signal
The 34410A and 34411A
DMMs provide a secondary
measurement function called
peak measurements that you
can activate when you make
precision DCV (or ACV)
measurements. Here is an
improvement on the above
• Enable the peak measurement function.
• Make a precision DCV
measurement using 1 or
more periods of power-line
cycle integration time to
reject power line frequencies
and random noise.
• The DCV and peak measurement data is displayed.
Peak measurements occur at
20-µs intervals during the
aperture of the DCV measurement, so any peak that is at
least 20 µs wide can be detected.
Several scenarios that can be
determined from the two measurements:
1. The DCV and peak-to-peak
data are within tolerance –
2. The DCV is correct, but the
peak-to-peak value exceeds
a limit – failed
3. The DCV is slightly off,
but the peak-to-peak value
is OK – failed
In cases 2 and 3, the peak-to-peak
ripple voltage is in question.
Case 2 may be excessive noise
spikes due to failed output
filtering. Case 3 could be
distortion that is creating an
asymmetrical AC component
that adds a DC component
to the DCV measurement. In
that case, the ripple may retain
the same peak-to-peak voltage.
When the primary measurement
fails, more information about
the signal is required. The
34411A DMM provides waveform capture at 50 k readings/s
that can sample the signal to
provide additional diagnostic
In manufacturing, the goal is
to minimize test time, so the
combination of precision DCV
and peak measurements can
significantly reduce test time
compared to making individual
DCV and ACV measurements
or digitizing and processing the
signal. The additional benefit
is obtaining the peak-to-peak
information which can better
indicate the quality of the
power supply’s output signal.
Precision measurements
with level triggering
The following waveform (Figure 2)
represents the current drain of
a battery during an operation
in a hand-held device. The goal
is to measure the average DC
value of the pulse, but only
during the duration of the pulse.
This pulse has no associated
5-V logic signal event that can be
used as a synchronous external
trigger. At first, it would seem
that capturing the asynchronous
event with a large number of
high-speed measurements –
followed by processing the
waveform in a computer to
come up with the result –
would be the only solution.
This is a relatively simple measurement to make for a DMM
that has analog level triggering.
No external TTL-pulse is needed
to start the measurement. The
34411A is set to trigger at some
point on the rising edge of the
pulse (a percent of range). A
trigger delay can be used to
make sure the measurement
starts on the “flat” portion
of the pulse, and the A-to-D
aperture is set to a value that
maximizes the precision of the
measurement without exceeding
100 µs
the duration of the pulse width.
In the example, a 100-µs delay
from the level trigger will place
the beginning of the measurement past the rising edge.
Using a 1-ms aperture, the
34411A can make a 6 1/2 digit
measurement. In addition, any
DC measurement allows the
use of the peak measurement
function to capture the peakto-peak content, as shown in
the previous example.
1 ms
Average DC
Level Trigger
Figure 2. Peak detect occurs at 20-µs intervals over the duration of the measurement aperture
Testing fluorescent ballasts
using direct-sampled ACV
When a fluorescent lamp is off,
the mercury/gas mixture within
the tube is non-conductive. When
power is first applied, 300 VAC
is needed to initiate a gas discharge of mercury radiation.
The electric current passing
through the low-pressure gas
emits UV light. The internal
phosphor coating efficiently
converts most of the U V to
visible light. Once the initial
discharge takes place, a much
lower voltage – usually a
voltage from 100 VAC to
175 VAC – is needed to maintain the discharge, dependent
upon the wattage rating of
the bulb.
A DMM is needed to test
the ballast voltages to assure
the correct voltages are being
applied. This is an ACV measurement. Many DMMs, including
the Agilent 34401A, use an
analog RMS converter for
ACV measurements. Although
these converters can measure
frequency content as high as
1 MHz, they do not do a very
good job of telling the DMM
that short-duration, highvoltage spikes may be present
on the input. These short spikes
may have little impact on
RMS content, so the resulting
voltage measurement may
hardly deviate from the
expected voltage.
Initial Discharge – 300 VAC
Steady State – 100 VAC
Figure 3. Ballast voltage needed to start a fluorescent bulb and then keep it lit
For example, the ballast may
actually generate 1-kV or
higher spikes along with the
300-VAC signal needed for
initial startup. The DMM may
read 300 VAC and occasionally
301 VAC. The test system thinks
that is just fine – well within
tolerance. However, you do
not see the huge voltage spikes
pounding against the input
section of the DMM. If the
DMM does not have effective
input protection, the input
circuitry can eventually fail
after continued abuse.
The 34410A and 34411A use
a direct sampling technique to
make AC RMS measurements.
Relative to analog RMS calculations, the direct sampling
technique offers four primary
advantages: 10-times faster
AC measurements, improved
accuracy for high-frequency
sinusoids, peak-to-peak information, and no crest factor
Significant over-sampling of
the input signal can detect the
narrow, high-voltage spikes,
and the DMM can then respond
to those spikes with an overload
error condition. This informs
the test engineer that a problem
exists either in the wiring
connections to the DMM or in
the ballast. The solution can be
as simple as adding filtering in
the fixture to suppress expected
spikes before arriving at the
input terminals of the DMM.
Either way, the test engineer
is better informed by a DMM
that can “see” that actual content
of the signal. Direct-sampled
AC provides that visibility into
signal content, so both RMS
and peak measurements can
be made simultaneously.
Level triggering with scopelike waveform capture
Aerospace and automotive
applications are replete with
mechanical-electrical signals.
There are mechanical parts
that oscillate, vibrate, and
experience tension or compression. The frequency content
of these signals is relatively
low, often less than 8 kHz. For
example, a typical accelerometer
will have a bandwidth of 2.5 kHz.
The 34411A provides waveform
capture for these types of signals
using the following capabilities:
• 50-kHz sample rate at
4.5 digits using a low-jitter
sample timer
• Bandwidth response relatively
flat (< 0.1 dB at 3 kHz;
< 0.6 dB at 8 kHz)
• Analog level trigger
• Pre- and post-trigger sampling
• 1-million-reading storage
• 270-k readings/s access
to reading storage
Electronic signals generated in
functional test applications
also are often below 8 kHz:
voice signals of 300 Hz to 3 kHz,
battery drain in handheld
devices such as cell phones,
cameras, or PDAs, and other
low-frequency-content signals.
The measurement of current
drain in handheld devices is
commonplace in the electronics
industry. Long battery life is
a key factor in customer satisfaction. It is important to
understand the current drain
for various operations of a
handheld device.
Some Agilent power supplies
can sample accurately at
microampere levels the current
waveform supplied to a device
under test. The Agilent N6700
power supplies provide this
capability. However, the measurement is limited to the current coming out of the supply.
Level Trigger
3 seconds
Figure 4. Using level triggering to digitize current drawn from a digital camera battery
Once a test system determines
that too much current is being
drawn from the battery, a
number of other test points
are typically tested to see which
sections of the hand-held device
are on when they should or
should not be on, and for
how long. This test requires
waveform capture to check
the timing of current usage.
The waveform in Figure 4 is
the current drain from a camera that has just been actuated
to take a picture. In this case,
this is the voltage across a current shunt. Represented in the
waveform are the mechanical
movements of the auto focus,
processing the picture, driving
the display and status LED’s,
and storing the result in
flash memory.
The 34411A level trigger is
specified in units of any measurement function. In this case,
a DCV measurement is being
made at 50 k samples/s. With
1 million readings, 20 seconds
of data can be stored at this
rate. Pre- and post-triggering
allows you to create a scopelike capture of the waveform
around an event. The DMM will
continuously make measurements
until the level trigger is met. It
will retain the pre-trigger count
of measurements and then begin
the count of post-trigger measurements. This is an excellent
alternative to waiting for an
asynchronous event, and there
is no discontinuity of measurements between pre- and posttrigger counts.
Delayed sampling from occurrence of an external trigger
In many applications, you need
to wait a period of time before
actually making a measurement,
as illustrated in the example
where we discussed precision
DC measurements of pulses.
There are many reasons for
delaying a measurement. You
may need to wait for the signal
to settle – as is typical when
you are measuring large resistances in the presence of stray
capacitance. In the ballast
application we discussed earlier,
a delay is needed to make the
instrument wait until after the
initial high-voltage discharge
has taken place, so the quiescent AC voltage level can be
Sample #1
Sample #2
Sample #3
Figure 5. Using a precision timer to sample signals
Both the 34410A and 34411A
have a hardware-coupled
external trigger input. A delay
can be inserted between the
external event and the start
of any measurement. This
delay can be zero, and the
measurement engine starts its
measurement in less than 1 µs
from the external trigger (DC
measurement). The delay can
also be up to 3600 seconds
(with 20 µs resolution).
Both the 34410A and 34411A
have a precision sample timer
with very little jitter (<100 ns).
An external trigger event can
start a single measurement
or a burst of measurements
spaced by the sample timer.
Figure 5 illustrates the concept
of a separate trigger delay
and sample intervals. Sample
intervals can be as low at
100 µs for the 34410A and
20 µs for the 34411A.
External or Level Trigger
Trigger Delay = 2 seconds
Figure 6. Using an external trigger and a delay to synchronize sampling
Borrowing from the earlier
battery discharging example,
an external trigger or level
trigger (34411A only) can
begin the process of making
any measurement or
waveform capture.
Simultaneous measurements
with multiple DMMs
In automotive and aerospace
applications with mechanicalelectrical components, it is
common to make simultaneous
measurements of multiple
sensors. When you are using
switches, scanning high-voltage
signals at high speeds is
difficult without attenuation,
especially when you are using
FET switches. It is also difficult to scan signals that have
drastically different voltage
levels or different measurement
functions at high speeds. In
these situations, you can
connect multiple DMMs directly
to sensors with all external
trigger inputs in parallel to
a single trigger event.
The 34410A and 34411A use
hardware coupling to connect
external trigger inputs to the
measurement engine. Trigger
latency or jitter is less than
1 µs, so multiple 34411A DMMs
running at 50 k samples/s can
begin sampling at virtually the
same time. With each 34411A’s
reading storage at 1 million
readings, up to 20 seconds of
data can be captured in parallel.
Using four 34411A DMMs gives
an effective sample rate of
200 k samples/s, and readings
can be retrieved either
continuously at the 50 k rate
or in bursts of up to 270 k
readings/ second from each
34411A's reading storage.
For this particular application,
the four DMMs may be borrowed
from colleagues. It is easy to
set up a number of instruments
with complimentary triggering,
and the 100 Mbit LAN or USB
2.0 interfaces can easily keep up
with the combined data rates.
200 k
External Trigger
Figure 7. Making simultaneous measurements on a DUT using
multiple multimeters
External DMM connected to switch
The fastest and most convenient
way to scan through a list of
channels is to hardware-couple
the DMM directly to a switch
instrument, like the Agilent
34980A switch/measure unit.
Once you start a scan, the
switch and DMM communicate
without any intervention from
the PC. This is much faster than
trying to sequence channels
using software commands.
Most switch instruments implement a channel closed output
and a channel advance input:
• Channel closed –
a pulse is output when a
channel is guaranteed closed
• Channel advance –
a pulse received advances to
the next channel in the list
When using an external DMM,
the voltmeter complete line of
the DMM is connected to the
channel advance of the switch.
The external trigger input of
the DMM is connected to the
channel closed output of the
switch. A channel list is created
in the switch and is configured
to sequence through channels
when a pulse is received on its
channel advance. The channel
Figure 8. Agilent 34980A switch/measure unit and 34410A DMM
list is initiated, and the switch
will close the first channel in
the list to begin the process.
When the first channel in the
list is guaranteed closed, the
switch instrument’s channel
closed output is pulsed. That
pulse triggers the DMM. When
the DMM is finished looking at
the input signal, it will pulse
its voltmeter complete output.
This causes the current channel
to open and the next channel
to close. The cycle is repeated
until all channels have been
scanned. Programming examples are included with the
34410A/ 34411A CD (and at that
show how to use an external
DMM to scan channels with the
34980A switch/measure unit.
The 34410A and 34411A use
a fast auto-ranging technique
that makes scanning a wide
variety of signal levels virtually
as fast as most switches can
scan. Voltmeter complete and
external trigger levels can be
set as positive- or negativegoing pulses to accommodate
virtually any external switch
instrument. If necessary, an
additional delay can be programmed into the sample rate
of the DMM in order to permit
additional time for input signals
to settle before the DMM
actually makes measurements.
RMS Noise (ppm of range)
and 34411A have industryleading performance in
measurement speed versus
RMS noise. The chart in Figure 9
shows the entire measurement
speed spectrum of both DMMs,
from 0.001 NPLC (50 k readings/s) to 100 NPLC.
Understanding Fast Measurements
Some of the examples in
the previous section require
programming the DMM to its
fastest measurement settings
and using the trigger subsystem.
Depending on the requirements
of your application, the fastest
rate may not achieve the desired
performance. For example, if
measurements are made with
an aperture less than 1 PLC
and in the presence of significant power-line frequency
interference, there is no normal
mode rejection (NMR) at those
frequencies. Any rejection of
such interference would have
to occur through averaging
readings in the computer, and
many samples must be taken
over the period of the noise to
reject. To sample faster than
1 PLC in the presence of noise,
the typical solution is to add
passive filtering to the sensors
before they are measured by
the DMM.
Resolution also can be reduced
when you are making fast
measurements. For the 34410A
and 34411A, the reduction is
based on noise performance of
the A-to-D and input circuits.
All DMMs have such noise in
varying degrees. The 34410A
Operating Characteristics
Maximum readings/second
Integration Time (NPLC)
Figure 9. The entire measurement speed
spectrum of the 34410A and 34411A DMMs
This chart represents straightthrough signal processing – the
10 V range. The following table
shows how noise affects resolution of different measurement
50 k
10 k
2-wire Ω
25 k
For the 34411A, note that 50 k
readings/s is specified at 4.5
digits for DCV, but it is only 3 k
readings/s with DCI. A speed
reduction is also recommended
and occurs with resistance
measurements. This does not
limit measuring current or
resistance at 50 k readings/s.
It simply means that Agilent
has chosen to show readings
rates only for the 4.5, 5.5,
and 6.5 digits resolutions. In
applications like automotive
electronic test, 3.5 or 4 digits
of resolution may be more
than adequate, so higher
sample rates are useful.
One way to make faster, higherresolution DCI measurements
at guaranteed higher resolution
is to use an external current
shunt and sample the shunt
resistor using DCV at 50 k
readings/s. A 1-ohm resistor
gives 0.001 V at 1 mA, so very
precise measurements can be
made at high resolutions.
How to set up the DMM
for fast DC measurements
There are a five key factors
that control measurement
speed for DC measurements:
• Autozero
• Autorange
• Aperture
• Automatic trigger delay
• Peak measurements
When you use autozero, autorange, and peak measurements,
you engage an internal software
state machine to control
operations inside the DMM.
This state machine is limited
to about 2000 readings/s, best
case. To achieve readings rates
higher than 2 k readings/s,
the internal state machine
must be disengaged by turning
off autozero, selecting a fixed
range, and disabling peak
Autozero occurs after each
measurement of the applied
signal. Internal circuitry disengages the applied signal and
shorts the path from the input
terminal to the A-to-D. Any offset is measured and subtracted
from the actual measurement.
This means there are two
readings taken for every measurement. Turning autozero
off saves time because you
make only a single measurement and do not engage the
software state machine.
Autorange makes pre-measurements of the applied signal to
try and determine the best range
to select in order to achieve the
highest resolution measurement.
Autorange is very fast in these
DMMs and can easily track a
120-Hz signal. Autorange will
also take longer when transitioning from the 10 V or
10 Mohm ranges to higher
ranges. Turning autorange
off will disengage the software
state machine.
Aperture is the time the A-to-D
spends integrating the applied
signal. The minimum DC
apertures for the 34410A and
34411A are 100 µs and 20 µs,
respectively. Aperture resolution is 20 µs; therefore, the
highest sample rate for the
34411A is 50 k readings/s –
20 µs aperture. The next highest
rate is 25 k readings/s –
40 µs aperture.
The automatic trigger delay
is a programmed setting that
is enabled by default. When
enabled, the DMM determines
the recommended delay based
upon function, range, and
integration time or aperture
time. This delay is associated
with the trigger subsystem.
If disabled, it is disabled for
all functions.
Peak measurements are
designed to be used when
making precision DC measurements. In those cases, the
aperture of the measurement
is usually 1 or more PLCs.
Peak measurements can be
enabled with 6.5 digit DC
measurements and still achieve
1000 readings/s.
SCPI command example to
achieve maximum measurement
speed for DCV:
The aperture setting is set to
MIN. For the 34410A, this
would be 100 µs. For the
34411A, 20 µs is the MIN. The
same commands can be used
for DCI, ohms, or temperature
– but you have to change the
or TEMP.
Autozero cannot be turned off
when making four-wire ohms
measurements. Temperature
measurements are all resistive
and can be two- or four-wire
How to set up the DMM
for fast AC measurements
For AC measurements, the
following are the key factors
in measurement speed:
• AC filter setting
• Autorange
• Automatic trigger delay
All AC measurements are limited
to 500 readings/s or less.
Measurements can be slower
dependent upon the settings of
these three factors. AC filter is
common to all AC measurements
and is the most significant
factor. The response of the
filter affects measurement
speed. See the table below:
Input Frequency
Default Settling Delay
3 Hz - 300 kHz (Slow)
2.5 seconds/reading
50 readings/second
0.625 second/reading
167 readings/second
0.025 second/reading
500 readings/second
20 Hz - 300 kHz (Medium)
200 Hz - 300 kHz (Fast)
Maximum Reading Rate
The default setting when using
the automatic trigger delay is
shown. If the trigger delay is
set to zero, the maximum
reading rate is possible.
Autorange does not significantly
impact the measurement speed
until a high-voltage signal causes
an actuator relay to change
ranges. The automatic trigger
delay slows down the measurement speed based mainly upon
the selection of the AC filter.
SCPI command example to
achieve maximum measurement
speed for ACV:
ACI will use the same commands – except for specifying
CURR instead of VOLT. For
frequency, the FREQ:APER
command specifies a gate time
of 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, or 1 second,
which will also affect reading
rates in addition to the AC
filter selection.
Peak-to-peak measurements
do not slow down AC RMS
Count and Delay Pacing
How to set up various
triggering scenarios
The 34410A and 34411A have two
triggering models. The models
are illustrated in Figure 10.
When you use the SCPI commands shown in the previous
section, the count and delay
pacing model is implied. If
the trigger delay is zero, the
next measurement will begin
immediately after the previous
measurement. This model is
particularly useful for generalpurpose measurements –
especially if you want to use
autorange. That is, you set up
the DMM to run as fast as it
can, and you don’t worry about
how long each measurement
is taking. However, this model
is not good for waveform
capture, since the constant
trigger delay occurs after a
measurement is completed.
The precision sample timing
model is used to perform
waveform capture. In this case,
the sample period is set to a
value less than or equal to the
interval. As long as the sample
period does not exceed the
interval, predictable time
placement of measurements
takes place. Note that trigger
delay is now a separate parameter and is only used at the
beginning of the burst of
measurements. With this
model, using autorange is
Sample #1
Sample #2 Trigger
Sample #3
Precision Sample Timing
Sample #1
Sample #2
Sample #3
Figure 10. Multimeters can pace samples by using just a delay (top), or by using a precise timer (bottom).
not a good idea, since you
don’t really know when the
measurement will begin or
end. Samples that exceed the
interval will cause a warning
that timing is not met, which
simply means you are no
longer precisely pacing all
Here is an example of using
the precision sampling trigger
subsystem. All measurements
are stored in reading storage,
DCV at 50 k readings/s, an
initial 1 ms trigger delay,
and external trigger:
The INIT command arms
the trigger system, and the
system is now waiting for an
external trigger. Notice that
the sample timer can equal
the aperture time.
This example can be modified
slightly to use level triggering
to trigger at 0.8 V.
Adding the following command
to the level triggering changes
would allow 1,000 readings to
be taken in pre-trigger mode,
so that 49,000 readings will be
taken after the 0.8 V level is
exceeded. The SAMP:COUNT
is the overall number of readings to be taken. PRET will
subtract from the 50,000.
System readings and
throughput rates
The 34410A and 34411A have
excellent programming and
data retrieval performance.
This performance is exhibited
in the tables below, which are
straight from the data sheet.
There are three paths described
in the system reading architecture diagram. See Figure 11.
• Path A – this is the reading
rate into reading storage.
Top speed into memory is
50,000 readings/s, which
is a function of the A-to-D
sampling rate. Any measurement – DC or AC – will
generate a pulse on the
voltmeter complete signal
of the DMM. That signal
can be used to measure all
sample rates on a scope
or frequency counter.
times are shown in the direct
I/O table and represent a
“READ?” command, which is
the same as the
“INIT;:FETCH?” command.
• Path B – this is the time it
takes to retrieve readings
from reading storage (DMM
memory to PC). This speed
is dependent both upon the
data format and the interface.
Data format can be ASCII
(15 bytes), binary 32 (4 bytes),
or binary 64 (8 bytes). Interfaces include the physical
interfaces of GPIB, LAN,
and USB 2.0, and also
LAN: VXI-11 or sockets.
• Since the data rates are so fast
when you use binary format,
the PC can keep up with any
sample rate by simply issuing
requests for blocks of readings
at periodic times while making
continuous measurements at
up to 50,000 readings/s rate.
Only two modes are not fast
enough to keep up with
50,000 readings/s: ASCII and
64-bit binary over GPIB.
• Path C – this is the time it
takes to programmatically
trigger a reading (or readings)
and retrieve the results into
a computer. Single reading
DMM memory to PC (Maximum reading rate out of memory)1
Drawing – Path B
32-bit Binary
64-bit Binary
USB 2.0
LAN (VXI-11)
Direct I/O Measurements (Single reading – measure and I/O time)1
Drawing – Path C
Figure 11. System Reading Architecture
LAN (Sockets)
Maximum Reading
Rate into Memory
or to Direct I/O
USB 2.0
0.006 (0.001)
10,000 (50,000)
Fast Filter
1 ms Gate
Drawing – Path A or C
1/2 scale input signal, immediate trigger, trigger delay 0, auto-zero off, auto-range off, no math, null off,
60 Hz line frequency, Specifications are for 34410A or (34411A). See manual for performance on other functions.
The Advantages of a
Built-In Web Server
The 34410A and 34411A have a
built-in Web server that provides
a very powerful configuration,
diagnosis, and programming
tool. All you need is a LAN
connection, Web browser, and
the DMM’s IP address. If your
computer can access,
you can access a 34410A/11A
from anywhere. You need no
other software to completely
configure the DMM. The DMM
can be configured for DHCP
(obtain an IP address from a
external host), AutoIP (DMM
can assign its own IP address),
or manual IP assignment. Once
you know the IP address, you
simply enter that into the Web
browser’s URL. Up to three Web
browsers can be simultaneously
Here are some of the key
capabilities provided in the
34410A/34411A Web server:
• Extends ease of use by
showing all parameters at once
• Visual aid in developing
external programs
• Cut and paste readings
into your applications
• Log/capture SCPI commands
from any interface
• Learning tool to understand
how to program the DMM
• Remote/passive monitoring
of test system measurements
One of the most powerful
capabilities of the Web server –
aside from an even easier-touse-interface and passive
monitoring while in a test
system – is the SCPI command
logging feature. You literally
don’t need a manual to learn
how to program the DMM.
Using the command logging
capability of the Web server,
every configuration you make
from the browser will create
an associated SCPI command
sequence that shows how to
configure the DMM programmatically. You simply cut and
paste the SCPI commands from
the browser window into your
program. This capability is
found under DMM Overview
and the Read/ Clear Remote
I/O Traffic Log selection.
The 34410A and 34411A DMMs
offer superior ease of use on the
bench, and they offer blistering
performance for test-system
applications. Whether your
application requires generalpurpose measurements, precision DC and AC measurements,
waveform capture of mechanicalelectrical signals, or fast
throughput and programming
speed, the 34410A and 34411A
offer measurement capabilities
that make them ideal tools for
a broad range of applications.
Related Agilent literature
Data sheets
Standard commands for programmable instrumentation.
This is an English-style
language that has been
used in instrumentation
for many years.
Agilent 34410A/34411A
6 -1/2 Digit Multimeters
Interchangeable virtual
instrument. Oriented towards
having programming routines
that can be used for any
vendor’s DMM.
Normal mode rejection.
Usually related to rejecting
power-line frequency noise.
Number of power-line cycles.
Power line is usually 50 Hz or
60 Hz, but it can be 400 Hz.
Application notes
Replacing the Agilent 34401A
with the New Agilent 34410A
and 34411A High-Performance
Digital Multimeters
You can get copies of
these publications at
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Printed in the USA August 2, 2006
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