The AD2 Returns: Adapting to the Remote World

Analog Discovery 2 in hand

In 2020, the Analog Discovery was mostly missing in action after the beginning of the year, and it was sorely missed. For over a year now, Digilent has been in and out of stock of its most popular product due to supply chain and manufacturing complications posed by COVID-19. By March of 2020, a large majority of professional engineers and students around the globe had moved their bases of operations from their labs to their own homes – a change of scenery that has lasted longer than many would have first thought.

The Analog Discovery 2 Brings Engineering Home

When the pandemic first started, we noticed a huge spike in sales inquiries for the Analog Discovery 2. Turns out, this little green box makes working from home much easier, and is generally just a handy bench companion to have around. As universities clamored to make sure their Spring semesters weren’t totally lost, they ordered by the boatload. Electrical engineering courses were being made remote, and the presence of plenty of online resources to help with instruction like Real Analog were highly coveted by professors that were making the transition. Other test engineers that might have limited access to their benchtop scopes also began to make noise to get the AD2 for use as an easy-to-configure USB oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer. By April, our stock was gone.

Several times throughout the year we thought we had it figured out, but dates changed because of the effect of COVID on the semiconductor industry, high priority purchase orders came in from larger universities, and month after month, we had to continue returning to our customers that still needed/wanted an AD2 with the message of, “We’re working on it.” It was frustrating for both us and them, trust me. However, after a bit of parts reorganization and some on-the-spot creativity by our partners, we were finally able to get our heads above the water, and are happy (and confident!) to announce that the Analog Discovery will be returning to our online store on April 5th in a limited capacity, and hopefully for good later in the month.

What Makes the Analog Discovery 2 Such a Great Work From Home Tool?

This is a question that we give the answer to all over our website, social media, and the Analog Discovery 2 store page, but I think that it’s best answered by those who use it:

A professor from the University of Michigan says:

As part of practice for the midterm exam, I asked my ECE students several questions on the types of filters, which are related to their Lab 4 experience. In my office hours, a student taking the course remotely from NY (who is a Mechanical Engineering major, not ECE!) told me that he actually built a circuit and measured the transfer function in order to answer my theoretical questions! He showed me his circuit (series RLC) and shared a screenshot of his data. In reply, I built the same circuit, ran the measurements, and shared my screen (with live data) then emailed him a screenshot with my results. Within a minute, the student found his error (in the choice of the frequency range) and obtained good data. I think using WaveForms with the Analog Discovery 2 is a shining example of what should be kept as part of student learning and our teaching when the COVID-related restrictions are lifted, and we will be able to return to the labs.

Another customer recently answered this:

My favorite thing about the Analog Discovery 2 is how convenient and portable it is. It’s part of my EDC and with the AD2, a screwdriver set, and a multimeter and I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world at a moment’s notice!

And it’s affordability?

My favorite part of the AD2 is the sheer value in cost-for-performance. It is a set of tools I could not otherwise afford. The software that goes with it (WaveForms) is so good and so flexible, without this, the usefulness of the tool would be hampered. The complete package and portability makes this a good tool for my home office.

What is Going to Happen to Engineering Moving Forward?

The truth of the matter is that we don’t know, but we have a strong hunch that USB scope products like the Analog Discovery 2 will continue to gain prominence and become a part of not only electrical engineers’ repertoire, but the tool suite of every engineer.

One Comment on “The AD2 Returns: Adapting to the Remote World”

  1. I was fortunate enough to be an early adopter—we already had 25 AD2s for in-lab use a year before COVID, and our lab-services manager was very quick in getting in the queue to get more, so we had enough units to send one home with every student in a 45-person fall course.

    Some other classes had to make do with the Openscope MZ (which I’m glad to see has been discontinued—it did not enhance Digilent’s reputation).

    Some classes used Analog Devices’ new ADALM2000, which seems to be very similar to the Analog Discovery 2 in terms of hardware. Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of the hardware and software?

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