Beginner Scope Selection Advice

Thread Starter

RFranks

Joined Jun 20, 2020
10
Hello all. I’m new to the forum and have never used an oscilloscope. I need advice on which scope you would recommend. I’m an audio enthusiast and want to acquire a scope for amplifier and power supply work. I’ll be working on solid state and tube amplifiers. I had pretty much decided on the Rigol DS1054Z, 50MHz 4 channel, but now see the DS1202E-Z, 200MHz 2 channel, is being offered from Rigol for $50 less. Not knowing what all I’ll ultimately be doing with the scope I’m undecided which would be the more appropriate purchase. Could you guys please offer your opinion?
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
248
Both options are very reputable and should be good for your audio work. However, if you need frequency analysis, you may be better served with the more advanced FFT feature of the GW Instek GDS1054B or the Siglent SDS1104X-E.

It is also said the Rigol DS1054Z has a noisier analog input circuitry, but unfortunately I couldn't find the thread where I read this.
 

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
I got the Siglent SDS1104X-E 4-channel and followed a guide to hack it from 100MHz back to default 200MHz, it works great, I haven't tried most the things it can do. I find it easy to navigate, there's a coulple things I'd change, but overall it's easy and makes sense to me, and this is my 1st modern scope.

The Rigol 1054 was cheaper in Canada, but not much.


If I had to choose I'd get the 4-channel scope, over the extra BW, just for the sake that you can get an older 200MHz scope pretty easy and cheap, but not a 4-ch scope.

So far I barely used all 4-ch, but thats just brcause I was lazy and wasn't doing much that needed it yet, but 4-ch is great.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
116
Hello all. I’m new to the forum and have never used an oscilloscope. I need advice on which scope you would recommend. I’m an audio enthusiast and want to acquire a scope for amplifier and power supply work. I’ll be working on solid state and tube amplifiers.
For the scope newbie, one with dedicated vertical controls rather than multiplexed (shared) controls makes the learning curve easier and as such have a look at the Siglent SDS1202X-E.

Elevated voltage work is something I wouldn't recommend you tackle until you have some amount of low voltage work under your belt.
As each channel shares the same reference point (BNC input shell) and also with mains earth, ground loops resulting in DUT shorts are not uncommon for the newbie which can damage the DUT or scope.
If you think a scope input is like a DDM but with one lead referenced to mains ground you'll understand you can't clip the probes reference lead just anywhere you like in a DUT.
To do that you need a differential probe so to isolate the signals reference point from mains ground.
 

Thread Starter

RFranks

Joined Jun 20, 2020
10
Thank you all for your help. It’s appreciated. Still haven’t decided. I’m thinking of perhaps a used analog scope. Can anyone recommend a good dealer to buy a tested analog scope from?
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
248
I would be very cautious about a used analog scope, even if tested and certified - the reason is that most of the very advanced models (Tektronix 22xx and 24xx, for example) are 20+ years old and therefore it is very uncertain when maintenance will be needed. Also, several of these models have parts that cannot be purchased separately anymore, requiring a donor equipment. These models also have a tendency to be sold at prices close or higher than the models you mentioned above (if you can't find a local deal, for example).

The simpler analog oscilloscopes (20MHz, 2 channel) are quite good for the beginner and with some luck can be had for very reasonable prices (or free). However, the same caveats above apply, with the only difference that they usually use common parts that can be purchased separately.

As with any used equipment sold without warranty, the risk is very high that it can become a repair project on itself - and to repair an oscilloscope you usually need another one. That is why I personally wouldn't recommend one for a beginner.
 

Thread Starter

RFranks

Joined Jun 20, 2020
10
I would be very cautious about a used analog scope, even if tested and certified - the reason is that most of the very advanced models (Tektronix 22xx and 24xx, for example) are 20+ years old and therefore it is very uncertain when maintenance will be needed. Also, several of these models have parts that cannot be purchased separately anymore, requiring a donor equipment. These models also have a tendency to be sold at prices close or higher than the models you mentioned above (if you can't find a local deal, for example).

The simpler analog oscilloscopes (20MHz, 2 channel) are quite good for the beginner and with some luck can be had for very reasonable prices (or free). However, the same caveats above apply, with the only difference that they usually use common parts that can be purchased separately.

As with any used equipment sold without warranty, the risk is very high that it can become a repair project on itself - and to repair an oscilloscope you usually need another one. That is why I personally wouldn't recommend one for a beginner.
Thank you kindly for your advice. It’s greatly appreciated!
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,975
Thank you kindly for your advice.
I have a half dozen Tek 7xxx mainframes from the 70's/80's and haven't had problems with any them. The manuals include schematics so you can do your own repairs (but repairing a scope requires another scope).

There are some custom chips, but it's a small fraction of the semiconductors.

For most work, I use a Tek SC502 15MHz scope. I like it because in a 4 bay mainframe, I have two slots left for other plug-ins (function generator, DVM, power supply, etc).
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narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
465
The siglents look pretty decent. I think I'd go with one of those over the rigol personally but as for the analog scopes go if you did want one, I picked up a 4ch 100mhz tek 2246 off ebay for $50. Works perfect and I use it quite often over other scopes. So it never hurts to search the ending soon auctions once in awhile. (even if you do pick up the rigol or siglent.
 

upand_at_them

Joined May 15, 2010
328
I wouldn't bother with a used analog scope. Modern digital scopes have so many features that you will be able to do so much with it. You won't regret the purchase.
 

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
If money is tight, I'd say an old scope is great. There's lot's of cheap 20MHz scopes on places like ebay. People used to fix vacucum tube TV's with vacuum tube with scopes, that really only showed the shape of a wave. I have 1 of those old VT scopes, someday I have to fix it and try it out.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
116
If money is tight, I'd say an old scope is great. There's lot's of cheap 20MHz scopes on places like ebay. People used to fix vacucum tube TV's with vacuum tube with scopes, that really only showed the shape of a wave. I have 1 of those old VT scopes, someday I have to fix it and try it out.
Well no, the beginner doesn't usually have the skills to keep an old CRO functional should it turn up its toes and even if they're prepared to take a dead or malfunctioning CRO on as a repair project another scope if often required to do the repair.
Cheap CRO's are now in advancing years and it's a lucky dip if you're to get a good one.
Been there, done that and there's nothing more frustrating than having to fix your scope before you can work on a project.
 

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
Yeah I'm not recommending a vacuum tube scope, but I would totally recommend a CRT scope still, for the price.

Now 1 of these days I'll probably gamble and get a 500MHz CRT scope, if that breaks, I'll have to try programing a MCU and screen...or sell it on as is I guess.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
116
Yeah I'm not recommending a vacuum tube scope, but I would totally recommend a CRT scope still, for the price.
A CRT scope is a CRO.......cathode ray oscilloscope and the newbies skill set and gear required to repair these is not trivial.

Newbies, take your pick, get a cheap CRO that you may or may not have the ability to repair or a compact reliable modern DSO that can typically do more than 'old iron' and allow you to get on with projects instead of needing to repair an old scope just to use it.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,259
As an inexpensive alternative for someone looking for a 1st scope to learn the basics, before buying a $500 scope, there is an alternative. This is the latest generation of the "Chinese cheapo" small handheld scope. I have the previous model and it is surprising at what this little thing is capable of. It can be bought as a kit if you are so inclined. Only caveat is that it doesn't come with a probe so add that to your order. There are several sources for it and can probably be found cheaper than this.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32973233356.html?
 

Thread Starter

RFranks

Joined Jun 20, 2020
10
Thanks, everyone. There’s some great advice here. I’ve researched scopes until my eyes are bugging out of my head! The more I look the more indecisive I become. It has to stop. I decided on the Rigol DS1202Z-E. Four channels would have been nice but I’m not willing to pay $50 more for only 50MHz just to get the two additional channels. I’ll likely never need them anyway. Since I’m learning and it’s strictly for audio applications, it will more than meet my needs and get me on my way. The price is great at $299 delivered. I think that’s hard to beat. Thanks all.
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
248
Congratulations on your purchase! I am pretty sure you will be very happy working with it. Besides, for this price you are already getting much more than what anyone (my wild guess) on this thread ever dreamed when they started on this curse (ooops), dise***, addict***, *ahem*, hobby! :p
 

Thread Starter

RFranks

Joined Jun 20, 2020
10
Correction. I thought the DS1202Z-E was offered with no tax. Not so. Only the DS1054Z was offered with no tax. So, instead of a difference of $50, the difference was $26. What the heck, I went for the DS1054Z. Even though, I don’t currently need four channels, they will be there if I do and I get a couple of extra probes in the deal. It’s on order. Thanks again to everyone.
 

upand_at_them

Joined May 15, 2010
328
I have the older (2-channel) DS1052E. Hemmed and hawed before purchase, but have used it a lot. And I'm even considering getting that 4-channel scope...bigger screen and tons of new features. You won't regret it. Especially since it's your first scope.

Check out the EEVBlog for how *not* to fry your scope. He might also have a video on general use.
 
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