How To Choose An Oscilloscope
Key Oscilloscope Specifications
Some scopes are better than others. These attributes help you determine how well you can expect the scope to perform.
- Bandwidth — Oscilloscopes can be used most often to measure waveforms with a specific frequency. There are limits to the speed at which they can detect a signal change. A scope’s bandwidth is the frequency range it can measure reliably.
- Digital or analog? O-scopes are, as with almost all electronic equipment, either digital or analogue. Analog scopes use an electron beam to directly map the input voltage to a display. Digital scopes incorporate microcontrollers, which sample the input signal with an analog-to-digital converter and map that reading to the display. Analog scopes tend to be older and have lower bandwidths, fewer features, and may look cooler.
- Channel Amount — 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. Commonly, there are two to four channels scopes.
- Sampling Rate — This characteristic is unique to digital scopes, it defines how many times per second a signal is read. For scopes that have more than one channel, this value may decrease if multiple channels are in use.
- Maximum Input Voltage — Each piece of electronic equipment has its limitations when it comes high voltage. Scopes should all be rated with a maximum input voltage. There is a high chance that the scope may be damaged if your signal goes above this voltage.
- Resolution — The resolution of a scope represents how precisely it can measure the input voltage. As the vertical scale adjusts, this value may change.
- Vertical Sensitivity — The minimum and maximum voltages for your vertical scale. This value is listed in volts per div.
- Time Base — Time base usually indicates the range of sensitivities on the horizontal, time axis. The value of this parameter is displayed in seconds per division.
- The input impedance is a measure of how much a circuit’s signal frequency can be affected by a small amount of resistance, capacitance or inductance. Every oscilloscope will add a certain impedance to a circuit it’s reading, called the input impedance. The input impedance is usually represented by a high resistive impedance (>1MO) in parallel ( It is easier to measure very high frequencies signals than the impact of input resistance. The probe that you use might have to compensate.
Here are some specifications that you can expect for a mid-range scope, using the GA1102CAL example: If you were a fan of this, you might also be into
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These characteristics will help you choose the oscilloscope best suited to your needs. You still need to learn how it works…on to the next page!
There are many channels available for Oscilloscopes. Very basic ones may only have a single channel, but this will still enable it to perform many tasks as a single channel is what is used for the majority of measurements and investigations.
However, many scopes will have two or four channels. Although some scopes may only have one or two channels, this can be costly and detract from performance.
Some scopes, namely mixed signal oscilloscopes may also have a number of logic inputs in addition to the normal analogue inputs. They are intended for checking the state of the logic channels. However, they can’t be used to measure voltages but only the logic state.
As the timing of allt he channels will be the same, driven by the trigger, it is very useful for checking the correct operation of complex logic boards and the like. You can use the normal analog channels to view voltages, waveform shapes and so on, while the logic state channels are useful for viewing states on various lines.
It is important to decide how many analogue channels are required when making selections. Two or four seems most common, but some might require eight. It is also important to determine whether logic state inputs will be required.
Digital oscilloscopes must convert an analog signal to a digital one. The vertical channel resolution determines the “granularity” of the signal.
The vertical channel resolution is dependent upon the digital to analogue converter in the scope. Eight bits, for example, provides 256 digital levels (2-8th powers), while a 10-bit resolution gives you 1024 levels.
12 or 14 bit resolution is good for most applications, but 15 or 16 bit resolution will provide the greatest detail.
High end scopes may provide 14 to 15 bits resolution for all inputs but the maximum 16 bit resolution when one channel is being used. This approach reduces cost and will enable the user to focus on accuracy when only one channel is in use.
Analog Or Digital?
We mentioned that there are two kinds of oscilloscopes. Digital is the norm for newer models of oscilloscopes, i.e. those made after 1995. Very few modern manufacturers still produce analog ‘scopes.
If you are asking how to buy an oscilloscope? At first glance the analog oscilloscope looks very similar to the digital one. It might actually look the same to untrained eyes, if not a little bigger. The key ferences lie largely in their hardware and performance.
- Display waveforms on a green cathode ray tube (CRT)
- Control X- and Y- axis using a sawtooth wave generator and high-gain amplifiers
- Use a threshold detector to trigger the generator (that also resets it).
- Use pixels sparingly and with no specific resolution
- Also come equipped with a vertical channel, a horizontal channel, a time base, and a CRT module
These ‘scopes display waveforms on a CRT screen using high gain amplifiers. Because the CRT has deflection circuits, the electron is able to’sweep away’ the phosphor in the tube’s faces to provide an exact reading. There are two types of channels, the horizontal and vertical. Each channel has different modes and features.
- Vertical Channel: An attenuator and preamplifier as well as an analog delay line and a vertical amplifier.
- Horizontal Channel: an internal work mode, an external work mode
The trigger section is devoted to stabilizing and focusing the oscilloscope. The trigger tells the scope what parts of the signal to “trigger” on and start measuring. The trigger can also be modified to maintain a static display if your waveform has a periodic pattern. A poorly triggered wave will produce seizure-inducing sweeping waves like this:
The trigger section of a scope is usually comprised of a level knob and a set of buttons to select the source and type of the trigger. The level knob can be twisted to set a trigger to a specific voltage point.
The rest of the trigger system is made up of a series of buttons, screen menus and other options. Their main purpose is to select the trigger source and mode. There are a variety of trigger types, which manipulate how the trigger is activated:
- The most basic type of trigger is an edge trigger. It will key the oscilloscope to start measuring when the signal voltage passes a certain level. An edge trigger can be set to catch on a rising or falling edge (or both).
- The scope will be triggered by a pulse. This trigger allows it to focus on the specified voltage. The pulse’s duration and direction can be specified. It can either be as short as 0V ->5V ->0V or as long and prolonged at 5V to 0V.
- A slope trigger can be set to trigger the scope on a positive or negative slope over a specified amount of time.
- There are more complicated triggers, but they can be used to concentrate on standardized waveforms carrying video data like NTSC and PAL. Each frame begins with a different synchronizing pattern.
A triggering mode is a setting that tells the scope what your feelings are about a trigger. In automatic trigger mode, the scope can attempt to draw your waveform even if it doesn’t trigger. Normal mode only draws your wave when it detects the trigger. Single mode searches for the trigger and draws your wave when it finds it.
The automotive oscilloscope must be equipped with certain features to ensure it performs well. These are the features available on modern technology automotive oscilloscopes. The fact that the automotive oscilloscope has the following features is very important to take advantage of the technology.
- Auto oscilloscope allows for automatic installation of time and voltage base in just one click.
- This works with all makes and models of current vehicles.
- It is compatible with LIN, CAN and FlexRay bus standards,
- Reads and displays electrical signals in high resolution waveforms,
- The automotive oscilloscope can be used to manually edit the image of measurement parameters.
- The waveform data is recorded and analyzed by the device.
- The control panel is color-coded with 4 channels.
- The interface is intuitive and easy to use. It also allows for trigger point adjustments, real-time scale information, as well as an intuitive user interface.
- You can connect it directly via USB to the power supply.
- You can get free software updates online.
From the past to the present, oscilloscopes have been a common device in the electronic industry. Specifically, one of the areas where oscilloscope is frequently preferred is automotive. It is clear that the process of making an automotive oscilloscope has not been as efficient as it was in the past. In particular, it can be observed that the size of the oscilloscope is much larger. But technology has brought about changes in all areas. One of the areas that experienced change was oscilloscopes. Oscilloscopes were initially used in large vehicles, but it is now much simpler.
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Oscilloscope Rise Time
Rise time describes the useful frequency range of an oscilloscope, and this is a critical measurement in the digital world. Rise time is often considered when measuring digital signals like pulses and steps.
In order to accurately capture the details of rapid transitions, an oscilloscope must have sufficient rise time. For accurate time measurement, an oscilloscope must have a fast rise time. This equation will calculate the oscilloscope rising time for each signal type.
For instance, a 4-ns rise time needs a scope with faster than 800 ps rise time. This rule may not be always possible, as bandwidth is not an issue. Many logic families offer faster rise times than the clock rate. A processor with a 20 MHz clock may well have signals with rise times similar to those of an 800 MHz processor. For studying pulses and square waves, rise times are crucial.
An oscilloscope’s sample rate is comparable to a film camera’s frame rate. It determines how much waveform detail the scope can capture.
Sample rate (samples per second, S/s) is how often an oscilloscope samples the signal. We recommend that you use the ‘five-times rule’. Use a sample rate of at least 5x your circuit’s highest frequency component.
Oscilloscopes come with a wide variety of sample rates, from 1 to 200 GS/s, to meet the needs of your application.
The faster you sample, the less information you’ll lose and the better the scope will represent the signal under test. However, fast sampling will also fill up your memory quickly, which limits the time you can capture.
What Is An Oscilloscope Used For
Are you looking for tips on choosing an oscilloscope model? You are at the right place!
Understanding how oscilloscopes or oscopes work is crucial in order to determine which features are most important. It will also help you determine the amount of money that you’ll need.
Many people consider bandwidth to be a major deciding factor. An oscilloscope with a bandwidth of 100 Mhz may cost a few hundred dollars but one with a bandwidth of 1Ghz+ could cost nearly $50,000. An entry-level oscilloscope priced between $300 and $500 will suffice for most non-professionals.
A product designer, technician, or researcher may need one of these oscilloscopes in order to simultaneously show mixed signals, which can include analog and digital activity. If you were a fan of this, you might also appreciate
Uses Of Oscilloscopes
Oscilloscope specifications: How to Buy the Best Scope
Oscilloscopes are a very common form of test equipment – possibly the most important type of test equipment.
It is common to have to pick one from a test equipment shop, as a rental, or even when you buy an oscilloscope.
When selecting an oscilloscope, what are the most important specifications and parameters and which ones will affect the performance of the scope in the particular application. It is important to consider all specifications when looking for the ideal oscilloscope. These specifications include performance specs as well as those that can have a significant impact on their usage.
The horizontal section of the scope controls the time scale on the screen. Like the vertical system, the horizontal control gives you two knobs: position and seconds/div.
To increase or decrease horizontal scale, the seconds per division knob (s/div), can be rotated. If you rotate the s/div knob clockwise, the number of seconds each division represents will decrease – you’ll be “zooming in” on the time scale. Rotate counter-clockwise to increase the time scale, and show a longer amount of time on the screen.
Using the GA1102 as an example again, the display has 14 horizontal divisions, and can show anywhere between 2nS and 50s per division. So zoomed all the way in on the horizontal scale, the scope can show 28nS of a waveform, and zoomed way out it can show a signal as it changes over 700 seconds.
The position knob can move your waveform to the right or left of the display, adjusting the horizontal offset.
Using the horizontal system, you can adjust how many periods of a waveform you want to see. Zoom out to see multiple peak and troughs in a signal.
Or you can zoom way in, and use the position knob to show just a tiny part of a wave: