Tiny Electronic Tools That Work In Tight Spots

As sophisticated electronic components proliferate in everything from aircraft to telephones, so does the need for a convenient way to repair and maintain them. That's not so easy, considering that the test and measurement tools needed are usually table-size machines that tend to be as complex as the components they are meant to fix. So Tektronix Inc. in Wilsonville, Ore., has shrunk the tools. Using low-energy microprocessors, it has come out with the TekTools line of "intelligent" handheld electronic oscilloscopes and other measurement devices that work like the old benchtop devices: They automatically find electronic and electrical signals and then display them on a backlit screen, allowing technicians to visualize problems on-site. The tools weigh about two pounds, run on standard batteries, and cost from $859 to $1,259, compared with about $2,300 for their larger cousins.

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