DSO Nano Portable 1Mhz Scope Review

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by thatoneguy, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. thatoneguy

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    I decided not to wait for a review and nabbed one. Got it from eBay for $80 with shipping (Skip the ones that are $40 + $30 shipping, you'll only get $40 back if something is wrong, be sure to get the "all in price"). Mine took less than 1 week to arrive from China. I did pay an extra $2.50 for "expedited shipping" that appears to be worth it.

    The device is a ripoff of one of These, but made in China. Capabilities are similar from what I've read and watched on videos. I would have gotten the Seed version if they had any in stock when I was looking.

    Size is a bit smaller than a Droid phone. Comes with a nice x10/x1 switchable probe (no compensation though).

    Firmware updating is simple, a few to choose from, but didn't help the UI much.

    It is advertised as "1Mhz", but is only useful to around 100-200kHz, the same "overrating" needed for Analog scopes. I will still use a Tek for anything over about 50kHz.

    Biggest downside (other than bandwidth and UI), is that it is DC Coupled only, and the interface is best described as "kludgy".

    There ARE good parts:

    Extremely Portable
    Floating ground
    Excellent performance in audio range, and up to around 40kHz it gives a great rendition of waveforms, though on a smaller screen, compared to my Tek.
    Square Wave overshoot is merely an extra pixel or two on the leading edge rather than the nice sinewave tip the Tek shows. Still, excessive overshoot or undershoot is visible.
    At 100kHz+, square waves have sloping edges, and at 200kHz+, the amplitude is incorrect in addition. Above that, the display shows a triangle wave when measuring a squarewave. For Sinewave, it can give you an idea of what is going on though. The DC Coupling (lack of AC coupling) does make checking ripple difficult.
    For 555 timers, Triac Circuits (switching probe to x10 allows mains checking), etc, it would be 100% sufficient, especially for $80.

    It did NOT come with a 2G SD card (2G is max, doesn't support SDHC). I also had to add a skeleton filesystem after formatting the SD card ($5) with FAT16.

    The waveform single event trigger&capture as well as the pause/store screenshot (.BMP) to SD immediately puts it above used analog scopes in the same pricerange.

    It cannot be connected to a PC for a better display, it only shows as a mass storage device.

    Battery life is very good, for the size. It charges through a Mini-USB port in about an hour.

    Stored waveforms can be recalled and overlaid on a new measurement, which does help with the single channel limitation.

    Once you get used to navigating the menu, it is very usable, and extremely compact compared to "Standard Scopes".

    For the $80-$90 price, I'd suggest everybody that wants a scope and will be working mostly with 555 timers, audio circuits, and serial protocols would be happy.

    Conclusion: You Most likely will NOT regret nabbing one of these at the price of $80 or less ! (unless you want to work with RF or measure a CPU clock). The "Bang For Buck" factor is extremely high with this unit.


    They are coming out with a dual channel, 30Mhz version for $300-ish, I'm eager to try it out when it is released. I'm sure the user interface will have the same limitations, due to lack of space for controls, but the greater bandwidth would make the 30Mhz model a great portable scope, assuming it is accurate to 3-5Mhz.
     
  2. thatoneguy

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    The scope is available at the link above for $85, but they seem to have problems keeping them in stock, for good reasons, they aren't a ripoff (The US Company).

    I would have been more than happy to order from the US based business that created them, if they could have given an accurate "in stock" date.

    I've had orders (money) sitting around for up to years with pseudo-vaporware, where you don't find out until after you've sent the cash that it is being used to build the factory that will create your item. I don't think that is the case with seeed, but I rank ordering from China at about the same risk of loss as ordering from a startup.

    I will wait for the seeed 30Mhz 2 channel, the extra buttons on it appear to have most of the user interface issues reduced, at least.
     
  3. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
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    SeeedStudio are not a rip-off company. The scope is an original design, and is fully open source. I don't think I'd call that a "rip-off". Besides, almost everything is made in China nowadays - you can't escape it, which sucks, really.

    However, I would advise buying a dedicated oscilloscope to sit on your desk. You won't regret it; the cost is high, but it's probably worth it in the advantage you gain from it, even from a 25 MHz model.
     
  4. thatoneguy

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    I agree that this is a "Spare Scope", but for those who want to capture single events, but cannot afford a Full Bandwidth DSO, it is a compromise.

    New DSO's at 50Mhz are in the $400 range from Rigol, IIRC, and reviews of them have been great. If you have $400, and are trying to decide between this "DSO Nano" and a Rigol 50Mhz DSO, DEFINITELY get the Rigol Bench scope (or preferably Tek, if you add a digit of pricetag).

    For a "quick look" to see if a low frequency circuit is running, or to explain to kids interested in electronics, the DSO Nano is perfect. For design or troubleshooting, you should have a 250Mhz+ Scope. Hobbyists are fine with a 25Mhz+ scope, digital or analog, as catching glitches isn't a priority.

    I should have made that a bit more clear above. If you already have a scope (analog or DSO), this is a great addition to your tools for a low price. If you are curious to see what "waveforms" look like, and not much more, it is a great deal. If you are serious about electronics, you should already know that you need more bandwidth and capabilities.
     
  5. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
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    My second-hand scope cost £150 or around $233, and that was a 100 MHz digitising model. The store I bought it from had some other scopes for £50, old analog-only models. Overall, the DSO Nano is a neat oscilloscope, but if anything, I will wait for the DSO Quad, which has ~36 MHz analog bandwidth and also has a basic two channel logic analyser (I don't know why they didn't make it 8 ch, but I suppose there wasn't space for it. Maybe it's only intended for serial protocols, but you need at least 3 for SPI.)
     
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