Perhaps your first thought when you saw the Digilent Analog Discovery 2™ innocently sitting on your kitchen table was that you forgot to return one of those vibrating coaster pagers given to people waiting in line at busy restaurants.
In reality, the Analog Discovery 2 (Figure 1) won’t buzz when your table at the restaurant is ready. Far from it. It’s a multi-instrument circuit analysis tool that packs an array of functionality in its small size, making it ideal for students and hobbyists. The Analog Discovery 2 provides hours of technical enrichment to those who work with analog or digital circuits. For students who are looking for programs that advance their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the pocket-sized tool can be configured to do the work of a shelf full of traditional lab equipment. Hobbyists who have limited desk space will appreciate its versatility. Here’s a look at its top features:
Figure 1: The Digilent Analog Discovery 2 is a multi-instrument circuit analysis tool that can be configured to do the work of a shelf full of traditional lab equipment. (Source: Mouser Electronics)
The dual-power (USB and external) Analog Discovery 2 measures, visualizes, generates, records and controls mixed signal circuits. It also is a 2-channel oscilloscope, function generator, voltmeter, DC power supply, network analyzer, spectrum analyzer, and impedance analyzer. The device is built on a Xilinx Spartan 6 field programmable gate array (FGPA), so it can accommodate multiple instruments working at once within shared buffer memory parameters. Its rugged polycarbonate case features air-cooled vents and rubber feet to stay in place.
The Analog Discovery 2 does require a mothership PC to be functional (Figure 2). Once connected, the WaveForms cross-platform software (Mac, Windows, and Linux) can help users configure the device for any measurement situation. Simple projects can range from joystick tracking, curve tracing, audio testing, a homemade electrocardiograph (ECG)–even fun stuff such as building a beverage can theremin, an electronic instrument that requires no physical contact. For the more advanced hacker project, one possibility is it’s a starting point for developing smart devices such as a hospitality robot that is capable of interacting with visitors at public spaces such as malls. Really.
Figure 2: The Digilent Analog Discovery 2 requires a personal computer connection to function. (Source: Digilent)
The Digilent Ultimate Analog Discovery 2 Bundle is an associated development kit to test and debug Digilent Analog Discovery 2’s various circuits. The kit includes the device as well.
Other development and companion tools for the Discovery 2:
Discovering the many applications of the Digilent Analog Discovery 2, its development tools and close cousin, the Digilent Digital Discovery, will provides hours of tech enrichment for students and hobbyists. You’ll be so busy might not even have time to go to a restaurant and wait for a table.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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