An example would be the NI USB-6366.

My guess is that it's primarily due to the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) since it should be the component responsible for the high rate conversion, even though I don't know what are the specifics that make high-sampling-rate ADCs expensive (an info on that would be appreciated). Nonetheless, there are all the other considerations like: BNC connectors (for electromagnetic isolation), usb and ethernet connectors, memory, software, # of I/O, etc.

So is it equally the result of all these factors or is there one that stands out?


closed as primarily opinion-based by PeterJ, winny, Voltage Spike, Dmitry Grigoryev, clabacchio Sep 21 '17 at 16:25

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Low volumes mean a relatively large portion of the prices are R&D costs. \$\endgroup\$ – Turbo J Sep 14 '17 at 14:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Design work, verification, software for this, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Joren Vaes Sep 14 '17 at 14:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ofcourse, but gennerally it's not that massive a factor. But ofcourse, these types of things don't use low-quality components \$\endgroup\$ – Joren Vaes Sep 14 '17 at 14:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not especially easy to design things that work at 100MHz and have e.g. very low crossover between channels. It looks like it will have multiple osciliscope-like frontends too. It looks like the sort of thing that costs multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to design (ie a few senior engineers for several months), and sells maybe a few hundred or thousand units. \$\endgroup\$ – pjc50 Sep 14 '17 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Three words: "amortized R&D costs", and five more words: "What the market will bear". \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Sep 14 '17 at 16:02

I would not call the example a board.. it's a complete product targeted for a very small niche market.

As others have mentioned, a lot of the cost will be to recoup development, but it also has a number of certifications that also did not come cheap.

I would also assume that someone also figured out that whatever market they were after, presumably academia, was willing to fork over big bucks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm surprised that hardware itself has the less influence on the price. Would you say there are cheap alternatives, maybe general purpuse, to the example product I gave? \$\endgroup\$ – Learn_and_Share Sep 14 '17 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hardware has an effect too, but for products like your example, it's a smaller factor. I am sure you can find a lot cheaper data acquisition solutions out there though, esp PC cards. \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor_G Sep 14 '17 at 15:52

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