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Digital Oscilloscope Purchase Thoughts

  1. Jan 3, 2014 #1


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    I am totally fed up with not having had the use of an oscilloscope for many years. It has been very frustrating on so many occasions. I need one.
    So, my options are (and I only want to spend minimal cash, of course): An ancient eBay analogue scope for something around £100, a PC based one or a small, hand-held digital scope. Anything more desirable will cost too much.
    Before I bid on a dodgy old analogue scope, can anyone give me an opinion about the Portable pocket sized 'Arm' style scopes?
    Alternatively, is there a sampler which will interface with my iMac? I couldn't find anything that I could use without invoking Parallels (the PC emulator).
    I would really appreciate some well informed answers. I'm sure several of you guys have been there too.
    Cheers in advance.
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  3. Jan 3, 2014 #2


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    I think a major consideration would be the relationship among these:
    (1) what kind of response time do you need for what you do?
    (2) what kind of response time is available on the analog scope ?
    (3) what kind of response time is available on the digital scope ?

    I suppose there are other considerations such as how high a voltage they can deal with but my concern was always with response times.
  4. Jan 3, 2014 #3
    A couple years ago a fooled around with this:


    Very nice GUI, drives just like real scope, free, but, of course, limited to bandwidth of soundcard.
  5. Jan 3, 2014 #4


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    Does it work on OS X? (As in my question.)

    I was after around 20MHz response as that seems to be the break point between cheap and not cheap. It also takes care of lots of home electronics stuff. I have no chance of working on GHz processor circuits - rather it would be audio / inverters / simple logic etc.
    I really wanted to know about the downside of the little hand held jobs. Have you used one?
  6. Jan 4, 2014 #5
    Looks like OS X would be a problem.

    I've never used the little Nano oscilloscopes but they look pretty amazing for the price. I would be worried that a single channel would be too limiting, and the multichannel ones are more expensive (but maybe still in your budget).

    Hopefully someone who has one will chime in.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2016
  7. Jan 4, 2014 #6


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    No, can't help you there. I only used big expensive lab ones. Never had one at home.
  8. Jan 4, 2014 #7
    FWIW - in 30+ years in electronics, maybe 95% of oscilloscope work has been done single channel. but, when you need it, you need it.
  9. Jan 5, 2014 #8


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    The workhorse of analog oscilloscopes has been the 20 MHz dual trace type.

    You may not need dual trace, but it is an indication of a better type of device.

    With the arrival of digital oscilloscopes, perfectly good analog types are available cheaply.

    I have a 20 MHz oscilloscope which can give a stable sinewave from a 60 MHz input.

    The portable $60 oscilloscopes have very small screens but 60 MHz bandwidth. So, maybe a bit difficult to use, but an amazing price.
  10. Jan 5, 2014 #9
    Hello Sophie ... been looking at this pretty hard for while now. I have come across a couple good "deals" for older analog, but the general consensus is that the sellers rarely will certify the scope is 100% functional. There are guys selling reconditioned - and they will back the scope up - but at your price point that may be tough. So for the money I have pretty much given up on older used analog - but still possible.
    The next best choice at that bandwith is the PC scopes, the Hantek types seem to have a pretty good reputation ( http://dx.com/p/hantek-6022be-2-ch-...01072?tc=USD&gclid=CNrg9czf57sCFUjxOgodhXYAGw )
    I am looking for more like 200mHz Bandwith ( for power electronics) and need the scope to do a Lissajous (V-I curve trace) - so the low end DSOs ( $300-500 US) 2 channel can get me to 100mHz -- the 200 Mhz is tougher to find. - I would prefer the DSO to allow easier snapshots of switching events.
  11. Feb 3, 2016 #10
    I've bought several used analog scopes over the years, but wish I had invested in the newer digital scopes. I'm now planning to order a 100 MHz, Hantek, digital storage scope that will allow single traces to be 'captured', something impossible on the old analog scopes. The model I'm planning to purchase is the Hantek DS05102P. I've never used a digital scope before, so this will be a new experience.

    I visit electronics forums, and it would be nice to be able to store a single trace of a waveform on a thumbdrive, for transfer to my computer, so I could post it on one of those forums. Does anyone know if this is possible with the above mentioned scope?
  12. Feb 4, 2016 #11


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    Some firmware guys at work just bought a couple of these for use at their desks (at my recommendation based on https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...-hobbyists-toolbox.351351/page-4#post-5298309 )
    "Driven by the free WaveForms 2015 (Mac, Linux and Windows Compatible) software, Analog Discovery 2 can be configured to work as any one of several traditional instruments."

    One of them said he hooked at a 12Mhz USB (full speed) signal and got mush (maybe expected at 100MSPS). Also, they don't really capture to the PC, just their internal; memory.

    He invited me to look it over, so maybe I will tomorrow or next week.
  13. Feb 4, 2016 #12


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  14. Feb 4, 2016 #13

    That's a bit discouraging news. I just assumed that a digital storage scope would have the capability to save a single trace, which then, like any other data, could be saved on my computer in some kind of file - jpeg, for instance. Well, I'm returning the 70 MHz Hantek scope as soon as it arrives, possibly today. But I haven't yet ordered the 100 Mhz, so my options are still open. I'll check out the links you provided.
  15. Feb 4, 2016 #14
    From this video it looks like USB scopes are rather limited in capabilities, and it's best to buy an actual digital scope.

  16. Feb 4, 2016 #15
  17. Feb 4, 2016 #16

    Thanks for the heads up on this, and the link. That would save me over 100 dollars from the model I was planning to buy. But a few questions, it says "easy waveform storage". So, is there a way that the stored waveform could be transferred to a computer, say via a thumb drive, and then displayed on a personal webpage (for illustration purposes)? I'm kind of clunky with computers, and it takes me a while to figure these things out in the best of circumstances, so it would be nice if this capability was built into the software of this scope. I suppose it's possible that I would have to buy some extra software in order to transfer the waveform image to different platforms. But that would be OK if it's not too expensive.
  18. Feb 4, 2016 #17
    When you save a waveform with this guy, it creates a .csv file of the values on its internal storage.
    To put it on a webpage all you would need to do is connect it to your computer (via USB). Copy the file on to your computer. Open the CSV in excel and make a chart. After that save the chart as .jpg and upload it to the webpage. Unlikely you'll find any way that's much easier. I suppose some OScopes allow you to save waveforms as .jpeg's :)
  19. Feb 4, 2016 #18
    I'm a test equipment dealer. You don't want an old analog scope because they are a maintenance headache, and PC scopes are awkward. A modern cheap Tek hand held scope is best, you will understand once you have one. They have autos, default setup, make digital copies, and are maintenance free. I can probably get a free one sent to you. PM me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2016
  20. Feb 5, 2016 #19


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    Thanks Bernie but my post was two years ago. I actually bought an old steam scope that does the job and cost very little on eBay (UK). It seems to work OK and it works as I expect it to. Obviously not as smart as a modern one and I may upgrade one of these months.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2016
  21. Feb 6, 2016 #20
    A modern small scope less than about 10 years old is a different ball game than an older scope. Older scopes are a maintence headache; the newer scopes with SMT technology are much more reliable and trouble free. Newer scopes have an AUTOSET function (sets triggering, vertical, and horizontal scales), automatic measurements of trace parameters, DEFAULT SETUP to make life easier, trivialy easy recording of displays, and more. I think the best value for most techs are scopes like the Tektronix TDS2002B or TDS2002C which are sometimes available on Ebay UK for about £200.
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