Rigol Oscilloscope - decent?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by JMac3108, May 28, 2016.

  1. JMac3108

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    I'm looking for a home oscilloscope and am considering a Rigol. I can get a 2-channel 100MHz version for under $400. Anyone have one and can comment on their usability, reliability, features, etc?

    I'm not looking for recommendations to get an analog scope. I'm an EE designer by day and made the switch to digital scopes in the 90's and have never looked back. I've always used high-quality Tektronix digital scopes at work, but I'm not ready to spend that much for home use. How would the Rigol compare? Thanks!
     
  2. KL7AJ

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    Nov 4, 2008
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    I've gotten the chance to kick the tires of Rigol instruments during the past few Dayton Hamventions, and they are fine instruments.
     
  3. shteii01

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    Feb 19, 2010
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  4. JMac3108

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    I read the specs and there are a couple things I'm not sure of ...

    Can I save a waveform on a USB stick and if so, what is the format ... jpg, bmp?

    Will it perform a single acquisition sequence like my Tektronix? In other words, I can set it to trigger once, on a non-repetitive waveform?
     
  5. shteii01

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    You never said which model it is.
     
  6. JohnInTX

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    Jun 26, 2012
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    Rigol makes the entry level stuff for Keysight (formerly Agilent/HP) and seems to be a solid line of scopes. You don't get something for nothing, however, and any entry level DSO has limitations that have to be understood. One of the more important ones IMHO is the waveform/sec capture rate and how long after capturing a waveform does it take to process and display the captured wave(s) before it is ready to capture another one. The time taken in processing can mean missed glitches in a signal. Here is an apnote from Keysight that explains it - their higher level scopes have custom ASIC processors that others don't.. so... they tout Wf/S pretty loudly but it is not without merit.
    http://www.keysight.com/main/redire...IAL&ckey=1374518&lc=eng&cc=US&nfr=-11143.0.00
    It is self serving of course but serves to identify an issue with all DSOs i.e. after capturing a screen's worth of data, it takes some time to get it processed and displayed. During that time the scope is blind to other signals that may happen that may be important. Lower end scopes with a lot of traces/features will suffer in Wf/S as they don't have the processing power to do all of the fancy computed display stuff and keep up a good trigger rate. If your work involves tracking elusive glitches on long signals, you probably will be disappointed/mislead by a low cost scope. OTOH, if your needs are more modest, the Rigol stuff is a good choice. If you are aware of the instrument's limitations it will serve you well - just learn it well enough to capture the bad guys on the first trigger.

    The key is to understand your equipment - thoroughly - and do what it takes to get the best out of it while knowing what the limitations are.

    EDIT: yes, any of the Rigols will do a single sweep capture. The DS1102E basic 2ch 100MHz captures to a USB stick and probably has more options than that. I too am an old Tek guy but after a lot of research, I replaced my beloved TDS420A with a Keysight DSO 3024T. Happy.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2016
  7. Jony130

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  8. jpanhalt

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    Jan 18, 2008
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    I have the DS1054Z, which I got in December 2015. My other scopes are a much older analog one and a TDS210 -- both Tek.

    With the limitations described by JohnInTex, I do like the Rigol scope. The various trigger and measurement options are really nice to have. There is the delay that has been mentioned, which is probably inherent in all scopres of this type and price range. Dave (EEVblog fame: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php ) has a favorable review of the scope, and if you search that site you will find a discount that one vendor gives. It is my #1 scope; although, I still use the TDS210 when I am looking at signals where the delay is a problem. Aside from the advantages mentioned and in its datasheet, I found its RF emission to be less than the TDS emissions. In a recent project, I needed to receive and decode the WWVB time signal. My TDS210 made such reception impossible. The Rigol did not.

    One complaint with the Rigol is its cooling fan. I have not found that to be an annoyance, but then, I can't hear when someone is knocking at the front door either. There are a few user modifications for the Rigol, one of which addresses the fan issue. One makes it into a spectrum analyzer, and another extends its frequency range. All of the mods presumably void the warranty.

    Something to be careful of is do not buy "gray" market devices from China. Be sure to buy from an authorized US distributor -- with the discount, it may actually cost less and you have full warranty protection. There is also an educational discount, if yo qualify. If I were looking for an inexpensive scope, I would buy the Rigol again. If you also want a signal generator, there is another thread on the Rigol SG's at EEVblog too.

    John

    Edit: Forgot to mention another mod. that is popular: changing the multipurpose select encoder to one with detents. That encoder is used for almost everything and users find that without detents, it is easy to select a choice other than the one you intended to select. I do not consider it a major impediment and would not void the warranty for that mod alone. Being left-handed and operating the select knob with my right hand may be an advantage.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  9. JMac3108

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    Thanks all. Good info.

    John, I used the TDS420A for many many years. I love that scope!!!
     
  10. JMac3108

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    Wow, I just discovered that I have a Tektronix 2232 digital scope. About 5 years ago the company I was working for was giving away obsolete equipment and I picked it up. I completely forgot about it until I found it in the closet yesterday! Its an early Tek digitals scope but seems pretty capable (2 channel, 100MHz). I think I'll give it a go before buying the Rigol.

    BTW, the purpose of this exercise is setting up a home electronics lab. As an EE I've always done enough design work on the job to keep me satisfied, so I never had a lab at home. When I did have the need to do a personal project, I just stayed late and used the lab at work. I've been working for several years now as an engineering manager and am missing getting my hands dirty, so I thought I'd setup a lab. Also, this management job is not stable and I'll probably be job hunting soon. I may go back into design engineering so the lab gives me a chance to get back into the hands-on work.
     
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