Spectracom - Essential Ingenuity

CNT-9x Firmware Release Notes 1.23

Firmware Version


Firmware Date


New Features

Common for all platforms
  1. Time of day added to the version string (“About” menu and response to ‘*IDN?’ SCPI command).
  2. Signature added to HEX file to let Loader know if it’s CNT-9x HEX or not.
  3. Blinking rate of blinking indicators (Limits, Ouch/Overload, etc.) decreased by a factor of 2
  4. Autoset algorithm for measurements from A and/or B channels modified: now also frequency is measured and Auto Low Freq setting is set accordingly (in interval 10 .. 100 Hz). This allows to fasten Autotrigger and Volt measurements.
  5. Limits for Measurement Time setting now depend on particular Measurement Function selected.
  6. Total Reset command implemented (can be accessed via User Opt -> Save/Recall -> Total Reset or via ‘SYSTem:INSTrument:PURGe’ SCPI command) which does the following:
  • Settings are reset to defaults;
  • All saved setups (including protected ones and power-up  setup) are erased;
  • Status registers are reset;
  • Interface setting, GPIB Mode and Address are set to: GPIB, Native, Address 10;
  • Setup Protect setting is set to On;
  • Instrument is rebooted which assures that: all internal measurement and output buffers are zeroized, SCPI macros are erased.
  1. Debug menu are added that allows to adjust internal correction factors manually for development and debug SW versions (accessible under User Opt -> Calibrate -> Internals).

  1. Frequency compensation calibration (for Power) and PROM programming feature added.
  2. Selection for Volt (measured on A or B) units added (may be Volts, Watt or dBm).
  • Menu:  “User Opt -> Units -> Volts  -> V|dBm|W”
  • SCPI:
  1. Low charge pump (VCO gain) decreased from 1.6 mA to 1 mA in order to remove holes below 60 GHz.
Also debug SCPI command ‘:SENSe:HF:VCOGain <Gain>’ is introduced to change VCO gain (for tests only!).
Actual VCO gain would be 100 uA * (<Gain> + 1). Min <Gain> - 0, max – 15. I.e.:
<Gain>    Current
0                          100 uA
1                          200 uA

15                      1.6 mA
This parameter is not saved on stand-by and is set to default (1.6 mA) at power-up.

CNT-91 only
  1. Support for Rubidium option (SRO-100) added, including:
  • Rubidium calibration
  • Blinking “Rubidium Unlocked” display indicator
  • New Status bits in Device Status Event register (:STATus:DREGister0): “Rubidium Locked” (bit 3) and “Rubidium Unlocked” (bit 4)
  • About menu indicates ‘CNT-91R’ for CNT-91R now
  • New ‘:SYSTem:INSTrument:TBASe:LOCK?’ to retrieve immediate Rubidium state (1 – locked, 0 – unlocked
  • Message box on start-up with warning about UART communication malfunction.


Common for all platforms
  1. Display contrast setting is now restored properly on instrument start-up.
  2. Bug fixed:
    • actual Hold Off (and Meas Time, Stop Delay, etc) was 10 ns greater than the value set by user.
    • Resolution of these settings was 1 ns, while it is really 10 ns
  3. Bug fixed: sometimes Smart Frequency measurement didn’t finish (dashes on screen + SING indicator or timeout on bus fetch).
  4. Bug fixed: Volt auxiliary measurement label was displayed when measuring on non-XL channel C.
  5. Bug fixed: Device Clear bus command sent quickly after any SCPI command caused bus hang.
  6. Bug fixed: X- and Y-axis scaling on Plot screen was sometimes wrong.
  7. Bug fixed: instrument freezed with junked or empty display after large number of consequent bus fetch commands.
  8. Workaround for USB “Connection lost” problem is introduced:
Previously, sometimes after long USB run, USB chip freezed and after that instrument didn’t respond and couldn’t be found via USB. However, instrument’s firmware were running OK. Only resetting the instrument helped.
Now, when this situation happens, firmware resets the chip. So user gets error message but then is able to continue operation.
  1. Bug fixed: erroneous frequency/period readings in smart mode and large measurement time (“999 s problem”).
  2. Bug fixed: CNT allowed bus fetch requests fr more than 10000, while internal buffer can only fit 10000. In some cases this lead to instrument freeze. Now CNT rejects request for more than 10000 and puts error message in the error queue.
  3. Bug fixed: ‘:CALCulate:LIMit:PCOunt:[TOTal]’ command existed but was never updated by software and always returned 0.

  1. Bug fixed: Smart Frequency/Period C stopped when XLSTAT went low and then back high (mixer signal output went off the range and then back)
  2. Bug fixed: Manual acquisition failed for 710-720 MHz.
  3. Bug fixed: wrong title in Meas Func -> Power&Volt menu.
  4. Fixes for XL timeout.

CNT-91 only
  1. Bug fixed: fetching on the fly during large blocks measurements with small pacing sometimes caused measurement abort.
  2.  Bug fixed: pulse generator settings weren’t restored on recalling defaults (User Opt -> Save/Recall -> Recall Setup -> Default).
  3. Bug fixed: ‘CALC:TOT:TYPE’ command with parameter caused bus error (-141 “Invalid character data”).
  4. Bugs for Totalize function SCPI commands fixed and now comply with the following:
  • Totalize commands are available for CNT-91+ only.
  • [:VOLTage]:TOTalize[:CONTinuous] is available in :CONFigure[:(SCALar|ARRay)] tree but not available in :MEASure tree. Command format:
    :CONFigure[:SCALar|ARRay][:VOLTage]:TOTalize[:CONTinuous] [(@1|2)[,(@1|2)]]
    that is also HP compatible. If only one channel is specified, then only one value will be output, otherwise 2 values will be output.
  • For the reason of HP compatibility the following commands are introduced -
    :CONFigure[:SCALar][:VOLTage]:TOTalize[:TIMed] [<Gate time, s>][,(@1|2)]
    :MEASure[:SCALar][:VOLTage]:TOTalize[:TIMed]? [<Gate time, s>][,(@1|2)]
    Note: both are for :SCALar subtrees only.
  • The following commands (native and compatible) are available for configuring Totalize:
  • Manual totalize
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]:ARM[:STARt]:SOURce IMMediate
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]:ARM:STOP:SOURce IMMediate
  • Timed totalize
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM[:STARt]:SOURce EXTernal1|EXTernal2|EXTernal4
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM[:STARt]:SLOPe POSitive|NEGative
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM:STOP:TIMer <numeric_value> [S]
  • External arming
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM[:STARt]:SOURce EXTernal1|EXTernal2|EXTernal4
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM[:STARt]:SLOPe POSitive|NEGative
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM:STOP:SOURce EXTernal1|EXTernal2|EXTernal4
[:SENSe[:TOTalize]]:ARM:STOP:SLOPe POSitive|NEGative
  1. Bug fixed: ':SENS:TIE:FREQ? MIN|MAX' didn’t work
  2. Bug fixed: it was possible to measure Frequency Back-to-Back with Timebase Reference set to Ext Ref, but without real external reference connected; results were faulty.
  3. Bug fixed: ‘:TOT:GATE ON|OFF’ command was ignored if being sent just after ‘:INIT:CONT ON’ first time after start-up.
  4. Bug fixed: strange screens were displayed sometimes when selecting totalize function via ‘CONF:TOT:CONT’.

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