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Precise Current Profile Measurements Of Bluetooth Low Energy Devices

New information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives. The Bluetooth low energy (BLE) standard is aimed at IoT applications and dramatically extends battery life. In order to implement it, there is a need to reduce the amount of unused power from existing devices, and engineers are therefore exploring component level dynamic current consumption, which is difficult to measure, especially for low-power devices used in IoT enabled products, because of the limited dynamic range, large measurement noise and limited bandwidth.

The CX3300 series of Device Current Waveform Analysers allows you to visualize wideband low-level, previously unmeasurable or undetectable, current waveforms. The mainframe has either 2 or 4 channels to receive signals from the Current Sensors and digitize them by a maximum of 1 GSa/s and a 14-bit or 16-bit wide dynamic range. There are three types of Current Sensors that can detect a wide range of dynamic currents from 150 pA level up to 10 A, with a maximum of 200 MHz bandwidth.

The CX3300 series also features useful analysis capabilities such as an Automatic Power and Current Profiler, a Power Measurement Wizard, FFT Analyser and Statistical Analysis functions, which accelerate the analysis of the measurement data without the need to use external analysis utilities.

 Problems with Present Solutions

In order to meet the demands for power consumption reduction, precise dynamic current waveform measurement and debug must be required. However, there are a few difficulties to be resolved as follows:

– Limited dynamic range

Most of the battery-powered devices have low power sleep mode that consumes very little supply current such as less than 1 μA, while the active mode usually requires more than 10 mA current. It is difficult to measure such a wide dynamic range of currents with a single measurement.

– Large measurement noise

Clamp-on type current probes are widely used, but measuring low-level current less than 1 mA is always difficult due to the large noise floor. Using a shunt resistor and an oscilloscope is very useful, but the minimum measurable current is limited due to the noise floor and the voltage drop across the resistor.

– Limited bandwidth

Low-level current waveform measurements with a certain level of resolution need a tradeoff with bandwidth, otherwise wideband measurements may degrade the resolution. Using a multimeter or an ammeter is popular for high resolution measurements, but not appropriate for wideband current measurements due to the lower bandwidth.

– Multiple instruments required

A multimeter is commonly used to measure the averaged sleep current, while the active current can be captured using an oscilloscope. The total power and current consumptions must be manually estimated from these results, but the data is not always reliable and it can be time consuming to validate it.


The CX3300 Series of Device Current Waveform Analysers can solve the problems when measuring the precise dynamic current of BLE devices. Key features are follows:

– A single measurement covers sleep to active mode with a 14 or 16-bit wide dynamic measurement range which clearly visualize even low-level current waveforms.

– The dynamic current waveform in sleep mode is now clearly visible by using the ultra-low noise current sensors.

– The narrow and sharp peak or spike current is captured by the wide bandwidth up to 200 MHz max bandwidth, 1 GHz max sampling rate and 256 MB memory depth so that you can easily eliminate any unexpected noise or other interferences.

– The voltage passive probe can simultaneously capture current and voltage waveform, enabling you to precisely estimate the power consumption.

To find out more about this product, click here.

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