Creating a Sound Card Oscilloscope Probe | How-To Guide

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In summary, the conversation discusses using a sound card and software as an oscilloscope, as well as alternative options for purchasing a dedicated oscilloscope. The participants share their experiences using sound cards for audio testing and repairing equipment, and recommend specific programs for using a sound card as a scope. They also mention the cost and availability of protoboards for electronic projects.
  • #1


Any one ever use a sound card + software as an oscillscope?
I just want to know how i can make a probe to use as an oscillscope probe that can be plugged into the Input of a sound card.

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  • #2
For audio frequencies, the probe from a multimeter will be fine. That is to say, a piece of wire will do. However, at radio frequencies, you would require a good oscilloscope with some decent probes. But for a sound card and some software, 2 wires will be sufficient.
  • #3
I haven't seen a sound card thingy before, but I have seen special made PCI cards that come with all the needed cables/probes to take measurements with. The problem I have with those things is that they still cost you hundreds and hundreds of dollars, at least the ones I saw ($300 U.S. and up). For that kind of money I'd rather spend a few hundred more and get a stand alone unit.
  • #4
Yeah thatnks that is what i figured is that i can use just wires
  • #5
When I was 16, I managed to salvage a nice B&K oscilloscope, good to about 20 MHz. It's a pain in the ass to lug around but when I need it, it's the only tool I trust. I've tried some software for use with soundcards using the line-in as a scope but there are limitations.
I use mine mostly for audio testing, and often for bass frequencies. I doubt a sound car will read flat down to about 10 Hz while a good scope will.

What are you going to use it for?
  • #6
Im going to use it for mainly audio purposes. So i can repair audio equipment and design audio as well.
  • #7
If you have an old pentium 133 or something low-level with a soundcard, use that as your test machine. You can afford to fry the soundcard a few times while learning. However, be careful using this scope to repair active components. I don't even know what kind of voltage a soundcard can endure. I'd imagine the input impedance is the standard 10K so keep that in mind. A scope is in the Megaohm range.
  • #8
Where might I download a trial version of the 'sound-card software' so as to experiment with it?
  • #9
I download a program called WinScope but there are plenty of oscilloscope programs out there that use your sound card and a computer. Most I've seen are either freeware or shareware. But i haven't tested any of the programs yet so i don't know how good they are but I am going to eventually go out and purchase a scope.
  • #10
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  • #11
Just to add in that Mandrake Linux (and probably other distribs) come with it as an option to install. Would be nice to get a decent O scope for less then $1000.
  • #12
It would but that damn scopes are so expensive.
  • #13
I got an O-scope about a month ago from[/url] It does everything I need for my piddling and the price wasn't too bad. [url][/URL]

What I don't get is why protoboards are so expensive. :( Mine burned up last night right when I'm trying to work on my final project for instrumentation class too. It was very old.
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1. What is a sound card oscilloscope probe?

A sound card oscilloscope probe is a device that allows you to measure electrical signals using your computer's sound card. It typically consists of a cable with one end connected to the sound card and the other end connected to a probe tip that can be used to make contact with the electrical circuit being measured.

2. How does a sound card oscilloscope probe work?

A sound card oscilloscope probe works by converting electrical signals into sound waves that can be interpreted by the computer's sound card. The sound card then uses its analog-to-digital converter to convert the sound waves into digital signals that can be displayed on the computer screen.

3. Can I make my own sound card oscilloscope probe?

Yes, you can make your own sound card oscilloscope probe using basic electronic components and a few simple tools. However, it is important to note that making a high-quality probe requires some technical knowledge and precision, so it may be best to purchase a pre-made probe if you are not familiar with electronics.

4. What are the advantages of using a sound card oscilloscope probe?

One of the main advantages of using a sound card oscilloscope probe is cost-effectiveness. Compared to traditional oscilloscopes, sound card oscilloscope probes are much more affordable and accessible. Additionally, they are portable and do not require any external power source, making them convenient for on-the-go measurements.

5. Are there any limitations to using a sound card oscilloscope probe?

Yes, there are a few limitations to using a sound card oscilloscope probe. One major limitation is the bandwidth, which is typically lower compared to traditional oscilloscopes. This means that sound card oscilloscope probes may not be suitable for measuring high-frequency signals. Additionally, the quality and accuracy of the measurements may be affected by the quality of the sound card, so it is important to use a high-quality sound card for best results.

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