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Read HP SDF binary and ASCII files

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sdfascii is a Python (2.6+/3.3+) module for reading the HP/Agilent Standard Data Format (SDF) binary files and the ASCII files saved by HP/Agilent Dynamic Signal Analyzers (DSA).

The HP/Agilent 35670A Dynamic Signal Analyzer has the ability to save files as either SDF or ASCII format.

HP/Agilent SDF Binary Format

The “Standard Data Format Utilities User’s Guide” version B.02.01, P/N 5963-1715 was used to determine the SDF file format while developing sdfascii.

HP/Agilent DSA ASCII Format

Four files are created when saving to the HP/Agilent DSA ASCII format:

  1. .HDR contains SDF header information
  2. .TXT contains the y-axis information, preserving the same units as displayed on the analyzer screen when the trace was saved
  3. .X contains the x-axis information
  4. .Z contains the z-axis information, if the trace contains waterfall data

Source: Agilent discussion forum question When I save the trace in the ASCII format, there are 4 files created with extensions of .txt, .hdr, .x, and .z. What are the contents of these files?


sdfascii is developed using Scott Chacon’s GitHub Flow. To contribute, fork sdfascii, create a feature branch, and then submit a pull request. GitHub Flow is summarized as:

  • Anything in the master branch is deployable
  • To work on something new, create a descriptively named branch off of master (e.g., new-oauth2-scopes)
  • Commit to that branch locally and regularly push your work to the same named branch on the server
  • When you need feedback or help, or you think the branch is ready for merging, open a pull request.
  • After someone else has reviewed and signed off on the feature, you can merge it into master.
  • Once it is merged and pushed to master, you can and should deploy immediately.


sdfascii is released under the MIT license. Please see the LICENSE.txt file for more information.

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