An oscilloscope is a technical device, a measuring device that measures electrical waveforms and shows it on a screen. The primitive types of oscilloscopes were analog. But since technology evolves so fast, most of the oscilloscopes nowadays are digital.
Oscilloscopes are used for testing, measuring and monitoring in a wide range of settings. The best oscilloscope is hard to find, so we have explained to you, some of the features and requirements it should have.
What is an Oscilloscope?
Oscilloscopes are often recalled as O-scope. Oscilloscopes are used to monitor the oscillations of a circuit, hence the name. The main purpose of an oscilloscope is to graph an electrical signal as it varies over time.
Most scopes produce a two-dimensional graph with time on the x-axis and voltage on the y-axis. The controls on the front of the device allow you to view the output according to your convenience. They allow you to adjust the screen, the scale both horizontally and vertically, zooming in the display, focusing and stabilizing the signal and so on.
Now, what can you do with an oscilloscope? The uses are quite a lot. Wherever the voltage and frequencies need constant monitoring, an oscilloscope is the first tool you need. To illustrate further, the uses of an oscilloscope can be briefly fallen into two types:
Related to Timing
- Frequency and period
- Duty cycle
- Rise and fall time
Related to Voltage
- Average and RMS voltage
- Maximum and minimum voltage
The oldest form of oscilloscope, still used in some labs today, is known as the cathode-ray oscilloscope. More modern oscilloscopes electronically replicate the action of the CRT using an LCD (liquid crystal display) similar to those found on notebook computers.
The most sophisticated oscilloscopes employ computers to process and display waveforms. These computers can use any type of display, including CRT, LCD, LED, OLED and gas plasma.
How Does an Oscilloscope Work?
At the first glimpse, a traditional oscilloscope might seem like old-fashioned TVs. However, the traditional oscilloscopes work almost the same way the traditional Cathode Ray TVs work. In fact, sometimes you’ll see that the oscilloscopes are being referred to as Cathode Ray Oscilloscopes or CROs.
In a TV, electron beams are made to scan the back of the screen which is coated with a special chemical called phosphor. Each time the electron beam hits the coating, it gets lightened up and forms a picture. Thus the entire screen is scanned before the blink of an eye and you see the complete picture on the screen not realizing the time intervals. This happens again and again. Thus we see moving pictures on a TV.
Now, for oscilloscope, unlike TV, they draw wave shapes instead of pictures. The tracing mechanism inside of an oscilloscope is divided into lots of two-dimensional grids. The grids are arranged in x and y-axis.
When the circuit senses any kind of electron movement, it traces the path of the electrons as well as the time intervals between them. The movement of the electrons is traced on the y-axis while keeping the track of time on the x-axis. This happens so fast that we see a continuous line of electrons as a bright beam of light.
What is a Good Oscilloscope?
Some scopes are just better than others. Some scopes are way better than others. There are certain characteristics to help you define how well you might expect a scope to perform. It’s always important to consider the following factors when choosing an oscilloscope:
Analog or Digital – What type is Good?
The first factor you have to consider about an oscilloscope is the type of it, analog or digital. The analog ones have those old CRT monitors and trace the beam of electrons to map the voltages.
The digital ones have microcontrollers and analog to digital converters. Obviously, the digital ones are fast, provide more accurate results, and have a lot of unique features that the analog ones lack. But the analog oscilloscopes may have a faster response and look much cooler.
Does the Bandwidth Follows the Rule of Fifth?
Bandwidth may be the main feature of an oscilloscope, so you will have to be careful when taking it into consideration. It’s the highest limit of frequencies the oscilloscope can go. Of course, the oscilloscope with high bandwidth is the better one.
There’s a rule regarding the bandwidth of oscilloscope. It is called ‘the rule of fifth’. According to it, the bandwidth of your oscilloscope has to be at least five times the maximum frequency you’ll work with.
How Many Numbers of Channel are Good Enough?
Sometimes you’ll have to compare two or more signals. You can do that only if your device has two or more channels. Many scopes can read more than one signal at a time, displaying them all on the screen simultaneously.
Each signal read by a scope is fed into a separate channel. Thus the signals are shown side by side and can be easily compared.
Sampling Rate is Important?
This is identical to fps of video signals. It defines how fast the electrons are framed on the screen. The more the sampling rate, the more the detail and quality. But, when you will be using more than one channel simultaneously, the quality will reduce since the sampling rate will then get divided to the channels equally.
Is the Rise Time Faster Enough to Meet the Highest Accuracy?
The specified rise time of a scope defines the fastest rising pulse it can measure. The rise time of scope is very closely related to the bandwidth.
The rise time is important in determining the accuracy of the details of your signals. Faster rise time means more accurate measurements and fewer errors.
Is the Memory Plenty for You?
All oscilloscopes have memory, used to store the samples. Once the memory is full, a device will have to empty it and to start from the beginning, which will have a negative effect on your work.
That’s why you should choose models with plenty of memory, or models which support memory extension. Note: This feature is commonly known as memory depth.
Best Oscilloscope Reviews
Here are the top notch oscilloscopes we selected.
1. Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 mhz Digital Oscilloscope
The oscilloscope has a super feature of history function. What do we do with this? Well, this feature allows the user to store already triggered waveforms and hence review them. Pretty cool right?
This particular Digital Storage Oscilloscope is designed for numerous applications, such as servicing and repairing, research work purposes, usages on assembly lines and even for engineer education.
The oscilloscope has an impressive build quality, modern design, paired with easy-to-use features. But as the drawbacks, you can’t use the oscilloscope for logic analysis. The knobs are sensitive and the fans can be noisy.Check on Amazon
2. Tektronix TBS1052B Digital Storage Oscilloscope
It comes with an interesting feature called “Limit Test Feature”. When the source signal passes the limit or falls below the limit you have set, it notifies you with special tones.
The scope is popular among the hobbyists, as servicing and repairing, research work purposes, medical applications and etcetera.
This scope is noise free as it has a cooling fan inside, has advanced features, has outstanding build quality. But don’t ignore the facts that, the scope is more expensive than the other options in this range.Check on Amazon
3. Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes
A far more interesting feature of this particular scope is the waveform capture rate. It is impressive 30.000 wmfs/second and it is one of the highest in the class.
Rigol DS1054Z also comes with a USB port where users can insert their flash drive.
The scope has an amazing build quality along scratch and dust protection. It certainly offers the best for its price.
But on the dark side, resetting the device takes more time than it should. The operation of the scope might seem complicated for beginners but good for professionals.Check on Amazon
4. Hantek DSO5072P Digital Oscilloscope
This oscilloscope operates at 70MHz bandwidth and features a large 7″ LCD colour display. It offers a high level of visibility and it can be used even when the sunlight is bright.
It has a protective layer and it is immune to the scratches or damages, another needed feature. The advanced trigger mode features which include edge, slop, overtime, line selectable, pulse width made the device suitable for all kinds of simulations.
This digital oscilloscope is perfect for electronic hobbyists as well as enterprising engineering students. It is perfect for carrying and usages on different, remote locations as it has an interesting carrying handle.
The scope is considered the best for the beginners. It has the easiest of the controls. One of the drawbacks is that it has only two channels. Also, you may need US or Euro power cable to power it up.Check on Amazon
5. Oscilloscope Multimeter, LIUMY Professional
The display has a high contrast LCD. You can work with it in the daylight easily. What about in the dark? The manufactures got your back there as well. They provided a LED backlight for low light operation.
The dedicated chip of the scope offers automatic waveform capture function, thus making the operation easy and accurate.
The scope comes with built-in fuse protection. So you can work with safety. It can serve you both the purpose of ac and dc. You can choose to automatically shut down or continuous operation as per your convenience.
The scope is applicable to the workplace such as family, school, and factory. Protect safety. The small and compact size made it popular with the people of the variable workplace.No products found.
6. Signstek Nano ARM DS212 Portable Mini Handheld Touch Screen Digital Storage Oscilloscope
The touch responsive display has a capacitive convenient operation. You can easily operate it with the gestures of one-click, double-click, press and slide.
Now since it has a lot of screens, you might question the scope’s integrity. To assure you, the scope is built on the fashionable aluminium shell. The 8M Memory Card lets you store all the readings you want.
The scope is small enough to take it anywhere. It can meet the demands in many fields, such as school experiment, electronic repairing and electrical engineering.
The scope has a dual channel output with adjustable phase and comes with a USB device, USB host and USB-GPIB interface. But it’s not suitable for higher work precision requirements. And though it is powered by lithium-ion batteries, they last for a maximum period of two hours.Check on Amazon
7. Kuman 3O-IUX5-O0TZ DSO 138 DIY Kit Open Source 2.4″ TFT 1MSPS Digital Oscilloscope
The display has a 2.4 inch TFT LCD which provides you with sharper and clearer pictures in almost all lighting condition. The dual port facility allows you to observe more than one signal at a time.
The scope has an eye-catching bandwidth of 0-200kHz, keeping the sensitivity as high as they could. Talking about sensitivity, the sensitivity error is less than 5%, which is impressive for a scope of this budget.
The oscilloscope kit comes in two configurations. One is with all SMD parts pre-soldered. The other one has one the main IC pre-soldered. You have the privilege to choose according to your need.
The scope is popular among the hobbyists, as servicing and repairing, research work purposes, medical applications and etcetera.Check on Amazon
8. SainSmart DSO212 Pocket Size Portable Handheld Mini Digital Storage Oscilloscope
The scope has a sampling rate of 10MSa/s. It can record signals up to 8 MB. Hence saving and transferring waveform images easier than ever.
The scope has a sturdy build quality along with a decent look. This gorgeous looking black device will simply be another everyday tool of your life. Speaking about life, this battery-powered device can serve you for quite a long time. And when the charge goes down, you can again charge it up.
The operation of the tool is simple. Think it as the smartphone of your hand. The touch screen allows controlling almost everything. However, there are some buttons and wheels to make the control more feasible.
As the device is small, there is a risk of it getting lost or stolen. But this same feature certainly made the tool more portable than any other oscilloscope in the market.No products found.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can oscilloscope measure current?
Ans: Most oscilloscopes can only directly measure voltage, not current. One way to measure AC current with an oscilloscope is to measure the voltage dropped across a shunt resistor.
Q. Can oscilloscope measure the dc voltage?
Ans: Yes, it can. Most oscilloscopes can measure both ac and dc voltages.
Q. Can an oscilloscope measure rms voltage?
Ans: No, it can’t. It can only trace the peak of the voltage. But once you measure the peak of the voltage, you can calculate the RMS value using proper multiplication.
Q. Can oscilloscope display sound waves?
Ans: It can’t show raw sound signals if you connect the sound source directly to the scope. Because the sound signals aren’t electrical. You can convert the sound signal to electrical using a microphone first.
As you can see, the best oscilloscope is not always the one with the highest price tag. Remember to always consider all factors and the projects for which you’ll be using it. Oscilloscopes are powerful devices. It only makes sense to do your research and choose the best so you get the best results.
The above information would be sufficient enough in the selection of a perfect O-scopes. Do peep into the information provided above before buying your scope.