Socket Server Utility for Agilent PNA Series

The most common LAN connection mechanism provided by test equipment (including the ENA, ESA, PSA and E4406 VSA from Agilent) is the LAN Socket Server. Through this, a connection is made from a PC client to the instrument server, and two-way text can be passed between them. The same SCPI mnemonics are used as for a GPIB connection.

The PNA series of network analyzers from Agilent have LAN connectivity as well as GPIB to control the instrument. However, the intended method for programming the PNA is using DCOM (Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model), which is different from most other LAN-enabled products. This suits users working in a suitable software programming environments, but for users migrating from GPIB to LAN, there can be a considerable amount of learning and re-programming involved.

At P&H, we have developed a Socket Server for the PNA. It runs on the PC inside the PNA, and provides the Socket Service to the network. It also communicates with the PNA using COM, and passes SCPI commands and queries to its SCPI parser. Responses from the PNA are automatically passed back to the client.

This helps to isolate software revision changes in the PNA from requiring changes or recompilation in each client application - and the COM type library and the registry keys for COM to work do not have to be installed on each client machine.

Note though that DCOM is a more secure mechanism than Socket Services - the PNA Socket Server is designed to allow SCPI commands from any computer on your network, whereas DCOM requires password-protected privileges to be set up on each client machine. This can be viewed as an advantage or a security issue, depending on your working environment



1) Agilent VEE

VEE version 6.0 onwards has support for COM/ActiveX programming. It is possible to program the PNA via COM in VEE. But there are two learning curves faced by the user: how to do DCOM in VEE, and how the PNA COM model is layed out. For VEE programmers that are comfortable with SCPI programming, socket services are a natural step. VEE's socket I/O object is so similar to the GPIB I/O object that they could convert an existing SCPI program to use the PNA socket server in no time.

2) P&H Software

Forthcoming releases of our SoftPlot and RemoteControl software will be able to communicate with instruments that provide LAN Socket Services.


Program Installation

PNASocketSvr is copied into the Program Files area of the PNA and arranged to auto-start and run in the background.

PNASocketSvr - Ordering Information and Enquiries...


The PNA Socket Server will be included with SoftPlot V4.0, but is available separately for PNA users with other application software.

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