# Do I need more testing gear?

#### DraxDomax

Joined Apr 5, 2019
50
Hi, I am just starting. Right now, I am going through the books available here but I am also fooling around with the breadboard and stuff.
I have a cheep multi-meter that helps me a lot to confirm theoretical situations when I am learning about voltage, resistance and current.

However, I do read about "osciloscopes"? I think these are devices that measure wave form as a part of studying AC electronics.

My ultimate interests are battery and power applications but I think some playing with audio and radio is inevitable! (and important
to my understanding of electronics, of course).

Do I need an oscilloscope or other gear?

#### AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
10,908
It all depends how deep you go into stuff.
For a cheap 'scope you can use a PC and free software. This also gets you a spectrum analyser.
For instance: https://www.zeitnitz.eu/scope_en

#### DraxDomax

Joined Apr 5, 2019
50
It all depends how deep you go into stuff.
For a cheap 'scope you can use a PC and free software. This also gets you a spectrum analyser.
For instance: https://www.zeitnitz.eu/scope_en
That's a pretty nice case of repuroposing what you got instead of buying more stuff.

However, I am not sure I can pull this off on my laptop:
1. I only have 1x3.5mm jack, which I think is output only.
2. I am scared to fry my laptop. It's an on-board soundcard.

BTW, will this read different wave shapes? I recall seeing waves that look "rectengular" and other waves that look "triangular". I thought all the sound card cares about is frequency?

#### Wolframore

Joined Jan 21, 2019
2,234
YES! Don't ask my wife... more... more better...

You can get some toy oscilliscopes online for about $20 as a kit... would be informative and would work fine for audio.... #### AlbertHall Joined Jun 4, 2014 10,908 That's a pretty nice case of repuroposing what you got instead of buying more stuff. However, I am not sure I can pull this off on my laptop: 1. I only have 1x3.5mm jack, which I think is output only. 2. I am scared to fry my laptop. It's an on-board soundcard. BTW, will this read different wave shapes? I recall seeing waves that look "rectengular" and other waves that look "triangular". I thought all the sound card cares about is frequency? You might get an old desktop for nothing/peanuts then you don't need to worry about frying the soundcard, #### rsjsouza Joined Apr 21, 2014 273 You can get by without an oscilloscope - I only got one 15 year after starting as a hobbyist. However, as Wolframore mentioned above, the cheap kits allow you to get started with a very basic but still functional oscilloscope for your learning purposes. I provide some suggestions at this link. Although tempting, using your only laptop for this is way too risky. As mentioned by AlbertHall, you will have to get a spare PC. #### Wolframore Joined Jan 21, 2019 2,234 Actually I need one of these "toy" ones for when I do transient testing in field... need to just trigger and records for about a 100 millisecond to 1 sec max... anyone have a suggestion? Don't care if it's not pro... just gotta work and give me decent results. since its a DC pulse freq doesn't matter. Cheaper the better... i won't cry if I destroy it... Thread Starter #### DraxDomax Joined Apr 5, 2019 50 So, does the software scope detect different wave shapes or it just reads the peaks and assumes it's a sine? Also, is there other gear I might need? I've also heard about logic analyzers? #### AlbertHall Joined Jun 4, 2014 10,908 So, does the software scope detect different wave shapes or it just reads the peaks and assumes it's a sine? Also, is there other gear I might need? I've also heard about logic analyzers? Software scopes, just like hardware scopes display the waveform of whatever signal you feed to it. Essentially the display is a graph of voltage against time. #### Wolframore Joined Jan 21, 2019 2,234 Oscilloscope is a great place to start. You can see logic levels with them. Once you get more specialized in different areas. Spectrum analyzers and sig gens but some scopes come with limited features on some models. Basics is multimeter and power supply. Everything else is more advanced. You can get far with ohms law and a good multimeter. #### SamR Joined Mar 19, 2019 3,071 In order of "need/want": Digital autoranging MultiMeter (<$50)
Bench DC power supply (~<$100) (or a breadboarded LM317 1.5A, 1.2V TO 37V ADJUSTABLE VOLTAGE REGULATOR or kit <$20)
Signal generator (<$100) Oscilloscope (<$700 depending on what you want, used cheaper)

Ron

#### BR-549

Joined Sep 22, 2013
4,938
I never thought about it, but Albert has a good point. A dedicated bench computer(even second hand) would be an excellent tool, or a toolbox, for many other tools.

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
22,886
If you don't know what an oscilloscope does then you do not need one.

You are already doing well with a basic DMM and a soldering iron. That's all you need for now.

Wait a few more years. By then you will find out what you really want (not need).

(and a few more years down the road you will come to really want an oscilloscope, a function generator, and a variable bench power supply...\$)

#### SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
3,071
or other gear?
Start with a BENCH! A place to work, good lighting, comfortable seating, durable nonconductive bright surface, room for equipment and parts, storage drawers, power connections, shelves, and books. Those are some of the things I had before I started buying expensive electronics. The rest will come later when you need it and have room for it.

#### AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
10,908
An audio distortion analyser, a valve (vacuum tube) tester, an ancient LCR bridge...