Best value oscilloscope if you are on a tight budget.

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
Yes. It's time. Because I want to start working on a PWM signal generator from first principles as it were.

I can see some expensive used ones on ebay and some new hand held, less expensive ones that are small but appear to be functional.

It would be nice to have an all bells and whistles one, that's true, but the pension won't stretch that far.

Do any of you have any suggestions?

Up to £100 let's say.

Thanks
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,803
Hard to find a new one in that range and I'll dismiss the PC based ones that use the audio input connection for starters. But here is a small handheld/portable/9V battery-powered/USB charged one that I bought and keep in a drawer. But it is surprisingly good for what it is. Doesn't come with a probe and they usually have to be bought in pairs. This is a kit but can be bought assembled and tested.

https://www.amazon.com/DSO-Shell-Oscilloscope-DSO150-15001K/dp/B076HD5862/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2792QNZPEMHEG&keywords=jyetech+dso150+oscilloscope&qid=1580165021&sprefix=jye+,aps,158&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExUkZPVE1JVVAxRVdHJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzg5ODAyMkEzWldIQzI5RlBEWCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjgzNjc3MkZWVFQ1VzA4TkJVRiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
 
Last edited:

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,153
If you're ok with a USB scope that connects to your computer, the Picoscope 2204A might for the bill:

https://www.amazon.com/Pico-PicoScope-2204A/dp/B00GZMRZ3M/ref=asc_df_B00GZMRZ3M/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312278522835&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12588439279860814538&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9033312&hvtargid=pla-404289765070&psc=1

I haven't used this one before, but I've worked some Pico data logging equipment (for thermocouples) and was happy with it. I was considering one of the Picoscope line for home use, but I think I'm going to try the Digilent Analog Discovery 2 instead, because I want a logic/protocol analyzer too, and it looks like the best combo I can afford.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
8,725
Ah, Rigol versus Siglent. We will know on February 2, 2020 after the Super Bowl. If your budget is £100 ($131), I suggest a small handheld.

My first o'scope this century was a Velleman HPS5 (https://www.velleman.eu/products/view/?country=es&lang=en&id=340241). It worked, but was quickly replaced by more capable instruments. The current Velleman HPS140MK2 is a little over your budget at $189. Might find one cheaper and within your budget. I still have and use my old one, as it is truly portable. For a bench instrument, I would never go that direction.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,676
There are a ton of cheap scope reviews on youtube. Beware though! If someone has an affiliate link or seems to be related to the seller in any way, keep that in mind while watching the review! Side note; I tend to like the Dave Jones (EEVBlog) reviews, he usually has good info.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=inexpensive+oscilloscope&page=&utm_source=opensearch

Look carefully. For a price that low, you might get a more usable scope if you go for an old analog scope. It won't have the fancy digital storage features, but will likely do a better job of showing you what you're trying to see.
 

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
Hard to find a new one in that range and I'll dismiss the PC based ones that use the audio input connection for starters. But here is a small handheld/portable/9V battery-powered/USB charged one that I bought and keep in a drawer. But it is surprisingly good for what it is. Doesn't come with a probe and they usually have to be bought in pairs. This is a kit but can be bought assembled and tested.

https://www.amazon.com/DSO-Shell-Oscilloscope-DSO150-15001K/dp/B076HD5862/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2792QNZPEMHEG&keywords=jyetech+dso150+oscilloscope&qid=1580165021&sprefix=jye+,aps,158&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExUkZPVE1JVVAxRVdHJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzg5ODAyMkEzWldIQzI5RlBEWCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjgzNjc3MkZWVFQ1VzA4TkJVRiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
Now that looks like a good candidate until you get to the 60mm screen. I don't think I could cope with that to be honest. Need something a bit larger. But thanks. I hadn't though about kits.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,803
Actually although small it is a crisp sharply delineated display with several lines of numerical data. I'll try to take a pic after I wake up a bit.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
3,774
There are a ton of cheap scope reviews on youtube. Beware though! If someone has an affiliate link or seems to be related to the seller in any way, keep that in mind while watching the review! Side note; I tend to like the Dave Jones (EEVBlog) reviews, he usually has good info.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=inexpensive+oscilloscope&page=&utm_source=opensearch

Look carefully. For a price that low, you might get a more usable scope if you go for an old analog scope. It won't have the fancy digital storage features, but will likely do a better job of showing you what you're trying to see.
Being able to freeze a signal on the display was a REAL leap for me. When coding / testing to handle a PS2 mouse with my micro, it was an invaluable resource.
 

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
Thanks to all for your input.

Just one thing. Sam says he doesn't like the PC based ones but I have to say that the idea of looking at a high res PC monitor rather than a 60 mm grey screen is definitely appealing. Especially when your eyesight is crap. Does anyone else share Sam's opinion on that matter? What's the main reason? At the end of the day I just want to be able to see waveforms in detail including things like back EMF spikes and obviously square waves and such. I imagine the larger screen and higher resolution would be better for that purpose.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,153
Thanks to all for your input.

Just one thing. Sam says he doesn't like the PC based ones but I have to say that the idea of looking at a high res PC monitor rather than a 60 mm grey screen is definitely appealing. Especially when your eyesight is crap. Does anyone else share Sam's opinion on that matter? What's the main reason? At the end of the day I just want to be able to see waveforms in detail including things like back EMF spikes and obviously square waves and such. I imagine the larger screen and higher resolution would be better for that purpose.
Well, I can't speak to screen size concerns, but I will say that when I'm using the digital scope at work, I really appreciate the ability to save screenshots on a jump drive and copy them into the computer for future reference. I have folders full of screenshots that I refer back to as needed when revisiting old questions. I tried doing the same thing with my analog scope at home by literally just taking pictures of the screen, and I can tell you it's quite a pain!!!

Sorry, bit of a tangent there. I imagine it depends on what kind of signals you're viewing and whether or not you'd like to keep a record of them, but at least for my needs, it seems like either a digital scope with USB capability or just a computer based USB scope is a much more powerful tool.

The counter argument is that in the lower price ranges, circuit quality may not be the best, and a good quality used analog scope may be much better quality and offer better bandwidth for dealing with high frequencies than a new digital one. For my needs this hasn't been a problem so far, but I can't speak for others.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
2,255
Just one thing. Sam says he doesn't like the PC based ones
He is talking about ones that use the audio board in the PC for sampling. These are not good at all, they are limited to audio frequencies and are not accurate.

There are also USB based scopes that sample the data themselves and display on a PC. That is not what he was talking about when he said to rule them out.

Bob
 

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
Well, I can't speak to screen size concerns, but I will say that when I'm using the digital scope at work, I really appreciate the ability to save screenshots on a jump drive and copy them into the computer for future reference. I have folders full of screenshots that I refer back to as needed when revisiting old questions. I tried doing the same thing with my analog scope at home by literally just taking pictures of the screen, and I can tell you it's quite a pain!!!

Sorry, bit of a tangent there. I imagine it depends on what kind of signals you're viewing and whether or not you'd like to keep a record of them, but at least for my needs, it seems like either a digital scope with USB capability or just a computer based USB scope is a much more powerful tool.

The counter argument is that in the lower price ranges, circuit quality may not be the best, and a good quality used analog scope may be much better quality and offer better bandwidth for dealing with high frequencies than a new digital one. For my needs this hasn't been a problem so far, but I can't speak for others.
Actually, that's something I didn't immediately think of. But of course the ability to take a screen dump is a huge plus. I guess with the analogue you could always take a picture. Now that you mention it I think that's the way to go. I am wondering also if it's possible to interface with the data from these devices. I'm a software developer so that would be an intersting project too.
 

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
He is talking about ones that use the audio board in the PC for sampling. These are not good at all, they are limited to audio frequencies and are not accurate.

There are also USB based scopes that sample the data themselves and display on a PC. That is not what he was talking about when he said to rule them out.

Bob
Ok. I'm not familiar with any of thei stuff hence my questions.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,153
Actually, that's something I didn't immediately think of. But of course the ability to take a screen dump is a huge plus. I guess with the analogue you could always take a picture. Now that you mention it I think that's the way to go. I am wondering also if it's possible to interface with the data from these devices. I'm a software developer so that would be an intersting project too.
Most, if not all, of the digital ones I've seen offer some means of exporting, generating, or accessing a table of data. At least some of them also offer ways to programmatically access data, but I don't remember which ones. Those features are definitely out there - you'll just have to read the fine print to see who offers what.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,803
Surprisingly, my little one has Normal, Single, and Auto triggers. Also has Hold/Run switch. 8x12 graticule w/ 4 subdivisions. 5mV to 20V, 10us to 500s, 200kHz (good enough for audio), and on-screen displays Freq, Cycl, PW, Duty, Vmax, Vmin, Vavg, Vrms, Vpp. I am impressed at what this little thing will do for its low price. I was having an electrical noise problem on my bench scope and thought it was from a fluorescent light. So I got the handheld out and clipped a bit of wire onto a probe and used it to wave around at the various electrical devices around my bench and discovered it was coming from my gooseneck LED light/magnifiers PWM dimmer. Supposedly also has some memory but I haven't tested that feature.

Here is a review:
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,803
Sam says he doesn't like the PC based ones
No, I said the audio port PC ones as the audio port can be fried easily and now that audio is on the motherboard instead of a card that would not be good. The USB ones avoid that problem but are somewhat kludgy. The little handheld is a cheap starter scope. Scopes get better as the price increases. Apparently the new Siglents are easily USB connected to as large a monitor as you want. I don't need that size and other than just seeing the basic shape of the trace, depend on the digital scopes' ability to provide measurements of the signal without having to interpolate from the graticule. I don't need remote control and data logging. Stretching your buy-in budget to $300 will get you a nice entry-level bench DSO with tons of features and a nice screen. Or buy a good cheapo and save for the big one later. YMMV
 

Thread Starter

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
222
No, I said the audio port PC ones as the audio port can be fried easily and now that audio is on the motherboard instead of a card that would not be good. The USB ones avoid that problem but are somewhat kludgy. The little handheld is a cheap starter scope. Scopes get better as the price increases. Apparently the new Siglents are easily USB connected to as large a monitor as you want. I don't need that size and other than just seeing the basic shape of the trace, depend on the digital scopes' ability to provide measurements of the signal without having to interpolate from the graticule. I don't need remote control and data logging. Stretching your buy-in budget to $300 will get you a nice entry-level bench DSO with tons of features and a nice screen. Or buy a good cheapo and save for the big one later. YMMV
TBH I don't know enough about the subject to know what you meant by your comment. I will take a look at that video. The screen doesn't look that bad actually when you see it in someone's hand . The white on dark blue seems to work from a readability perspective.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,803
It actually looks better in person than on the video and my old eyesight is terrible. The one in the video has an odd waveform to be coming from a sig gen. Mine on the sig gen gives perfect waveforms. There are a couple of variable caps inside to align and calibrate if needed.
 
Top