first oscilloscope - Siglent SDS1104X-E Vs. Hantek DSO3254A

Thread Starter

super7800

Joined Apr 3, 2019
42
hello all. i am a first year eeng student looking to buy his first oscilloscope. i have been looking at something like this four channel osciliscope: http://www.hantek.com/en/ProductDetail_134.html, (the DSO3254A) which features up to 250 MHz and 1GSa/s and costs about 475usd. i want to "overbuy" now, so that in the future i wont need to upgrade for a long time. i played around with its software and it seemed to do what i wanted, but alot of people online complain about it.



my question is if anyone owns this oscilloscope or other equipment from this brand (hantek), do they recommend it, and are the specs sheets accurate? should i try to buy a used older scope from a more reputable brand, and are there any specific models people recommend? my budget is about 400-500usd, but less is better. also is there any benefit to owning a more "conventional" scope? (i dont care about the loss of physical controls or screen). "conventional" scopes have the bnc jacks grounded, can this be done with a USB scope as well?

the only features it must have are:
-4 channel
-1 GSa/s +
-200 MHz +
- USB (or other interface) connectivity
- ext trigger

the spec sheet for this specific unit is below so that someone more experienced can take a look. any advice is appreciated, thanks!
 

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MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,208
IMHO, avoid the PC type scopes for an only scope. If your budget is small, I think you're better off getting a good used scope than a bad new scope. Check eBay, you may find a good used scope. Also something to keep in mind; if your PC scope is connected to your PC via USB, and you accidentally touch the probe ground to something capable of significant current, that current is most likely going right through the USB cable and through your PC. Someone I know did this, and they ended up with a new computer.

One thing I've learned in life is you rarely if ever regret buying the best tools that you can reasonably afford. When I bought mine a few years ago, Rigol seemed to be the best bang for the buck if you were buying a new scope. They are not perfect, but get the job done and have some really nice features, and they are software controlled so more features are just a new software key away. I bought the DS2072A and at the time they had a special that gave you most of the software unlockable features for free.

If you need a power supply, also check out the Rigol DP832. The voltage and current displays are very accurate (they match my Fluke 87v), and two really basic features that I've used quite often are the over current and over voltage protection. In addition to traditional current limiting, you can set a hard limit and if the circuit draws more than that limit the power immediately turns off. For example, you're working on a circuit that you expect to take 10mA, set the hard limit to maybe 12mA. Now if you accidentally touch something and cause a short, the power will immediately turn off reducing the risk of damage. It's good for any case where you want the power to stop immediately if current (or voltage) get out of range. It has lots of other features as well.

One thing that is really nice to have PC connected is a logic analyzer. The large screen and software support on a PC is just really nice when you're trying to decode things.
 

danadak

Joined Mar 10, 2018
4,057
One of the most popular scopes is the DS1054Z/1074Z, that can be hacked to 100 Mhz.

Price $350

eevblog did a lot of work on this scope, and others.

To get into a 4 channel 200 Mhz either used or Rigol has a number of offerings as do others.
Significantly more money.

Spend some time on web looking at reviews, its worth the effort as stuff is changing rapidly
due to ASIC cores.

I am fortunate to have a number of scopes, capabilities out to 10 Ghz, but the Rigol
1054Z is used 95% of the time. Most of my work combination of embedded and
analog.


Regards, Dana.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,943
My first scope was a Techtronics T921. Served me well enough to learn a little about scopes. The next scope I got (two of them actually) are dual trace. Leader LBO 514A scope. Off hand I can't tell you the speed, but the price for two was absolutely unbeatable. My son-in-law was a school teacher. The science lab was getting rid of a bunch of equipment. I got two scopes for FREE. Like I said - you can't beat free. Unless someone paid you to haul them away. For the stuff I do - they're way more than adequate.

I don't recommend four trace unless there's a real need for it. Dual trace is handy so you can compare against a reference or measure two incoming signals at one time. Like I said I think four trace is overkill. Unless you need four trace.
 

Thread Starter

super7800

Joined Apr 3, 2019
42
thanks to everyone who has helped so far.

@MrSoftware out of curiosity, why do people hate usb scopes? from my limited perspective, would'nt it have the same performance of a bench model, since it (probably) has the same circuitry minus display functionality and buttons? also, can you ground usb osciliscopes to earth in order to prevent failures like the one mentioned?

@danadak yes the Rigol DS1054Z seems to be a great 4 channel scope, and fits my budget nicely. thanks for the recomendation.

@shteii01 the maximum i will probably ever need is around 120 ac/dc (i wouldnt need to get great resolution, so i could use different probes), BUT that will not be what i plan to do normally. i have great interest in embed applications and digital logic, so on my normal use case i will not need to go past around 24v ac/dc.

@Tonyr1084 4 channel may seem overkill, however i'm finishing up my first year and i already "needed" (could have used a logic analyzer i suppose) a three channel scope (used my university's) to measure some logic. for what i plan to do i will definitely need a digital scope. and yes, nothing beats free!!

on eBay i found a bunch of these Tektronix TDS744A 500mhz 4 channel osciliscopes going for around 400$. i heard that there are some reliability problems with these, and they are big. could i connect it to a modern pc (i know ill need a adapter of some sort), and is it worth it to get something of this age, knowing that i really only want/need a oscilloscope capable of 200mhz?

if i where to get a desktop osciliscope, Tektronix TDS744A seems to be my best bet, as all the 200mhz+ desktop osciliscopes are around 800$. however, i'm still considering a usb scope, and am still wondering if anyone has used hantek's higher end scopes (specifically the DSO3254A), and if their datasheets are in fact correct.

thanks
 
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Sensacell

Joined Jun 19, 2012
3,470
I hate USB scopes with unbridled passion.

It's the problem of having to drag the PC around when you just want to check something.
One tends to get lazy moving gear around, dedicated instruments just make for better work habits.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,208
@super7800 - For starters you are tethered to a PC, which is not always convenient. You're also dependent on the PC working properly, and on the USB ports working properly. You're also dependent on software support. i.e. what if windows 11 comes out but the scope company decides not to port their USB driver to windows 11? Or that latest security patch just happens to interfere with the scope USB driver. Also USB itself is very noisy, and without stellar noise filtering, that noise may show up in your readings, especially low voltage readings. Then it becomes a problem of figuring out whether the noise you're seeing is originating in your circuit, or from the USB. I'm sure USB scopes are just fine for some uses, but for me personally dedicated hardware just has less potential for problems and more potential to work properly every time you need it.

Maybe this will help; what is your primary reason for wanting one that is PC connected? Is it to take screen shots, log data, or just the perception that you get more features for the money?
 

danadak

Joined Mar 10, 2018
4,057
I have a TDS754A in addition to the Rigol DS1054Z/1074Z.
Also memory pretty shallow. I use it 5% or less in my work.
Its a good scope but 1990's era capability.

Regards, Dana.
 

narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
558
It's the problem of having to drag the PC around when you just want to check something.
One tends to get lazy moving gear around, dedicated instruments just make for better work habits.
I see it more as very small device that sits at your workbench where your pc is already at. Not for moving around.

…But if you are toating it around I dont see much difference in toating a laptop vrs a standalone unit. Your still moving around a large device (excluding mini handheld units) and your laptop has the added benefit of resources like datashees/schematics/aac/etc being beside you already where a stand alone unit you would need to carry both or run back and forth if needed.
 

Thread Starter

super7800

Joined Apr 3, 2019
42
thanks again for all the help

@MrSoftware i was leaning towards a usb scope primarilly for its size, and for portability, as i am never really without a laptop, and my home setup has very little desk space but has 3 monitors, so displaying data onto a bigger screen is something i want. most desktop scopes can connect via usb too, so those other reasons are valid (data logging and screenshots), but something achievable with a regular scope. i am also leaning towards it because, as you say, "just the perception that you get more features for the money", because if i don't really need a screen or buttons, why pay for them? i do however agree about the software. this could be a problem, however it seems to me that if i get 10 yrs out of the device i will no longer care if its supported or not, and i do agree that it can be nice to have a more "interactive" physical device not tethered to pc, with less points of failure, but am unsure if this is what i need.

as to the usb noise you mentioned, is that really a problem? to me it seems that if the device was designed correctly this wouldn't be a problem, except for on really cheep dumpster quality USB scopes. anyone else have an opinion on this, or could you elaborate on your experience with this?

@danadak thats what i was figuring too. unless i really need 500mhz on a budget not necessarily worth it.

@narkeleptk i agree, but picoscopes are rather expensive, more than even physical scopes. have you had luck with other brands?

i think i have narrowed it down to either the Rigol DS1054Z (or a different model, better model) and the Hantek DSO3254A, but am still open to other suggestions. I've looked at Sigilents offerings also, but the best "bang for the buck" bench scope is still the Rigol. if anyone has used hantek gear, what was your opinion of them? to me the company looks good, but looks can be deceiving.
 
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ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,307
thanks again for all the help

@MrSoftware i was leaning towards a usb scope primarilly for its size, and for portability, as i am never really without a laptop, and my home setup has very little desk space but has 3 monitors, so displaying data onto a bigger screen is something i want. most desktop scopes can connect via usb too, so those other reasons are valid (data logging and screenshots), but something achievable with a regular scope. i am also leaning towards it because, as you say, "just the perception that you get more features for the money", because if i don't really need a screen or buttons, why pay for them? i do however agree about the software. this could be a problem, however it seems to me that if i get 10 yrs out of the device i will no longer care if its supported or not, and i do agree that it can be nice to have a more "interactive" physical device not tethered to pc, with less points of failure, but am unsure if this is what i need.

as to the usb noise you mentioned, is that really a problem? to me it seems that if the device was designed correctly this wouldn't be a problem, except for on really cheep dumpster quality USB scopes. anyone else have an opinion on this, or could you elaborate on your experience with this?

@danadak thats what i was figuring too. unless i really need 500mhz on a budget not necessarily worth it.

@narkeleptk i agree, but picoscopes are rather expensive, more than even physical scopes. have you had luck with other brands?

i think i have narrowed it down to either the Rigol DS1054Z (or a different model, better model) and the Hantek DSO3254A, but am still open to other suggestions. I've looked at Sigilents offerings also, but the best "bang for the buck" bench scope is still the Rigol. if anyone has used hantek gear, what was your opinion of them? to me the company looks good, but looks can be deceiving.
I'm going through a similar decision process, although at the moment I'm not as concerned with higher bandwidth. I have an old, cheap, busted analog scope at home and want to step up in quality as well as gaining the digital conveniences. I'm torn between a USB scope and the Rigol 1054Z.

I use the Rigol at work, and I love it. For me, the only reasons to consider USB scopes are lower price and better protocol analyzer functions. The downside of USB, besides those listed above by others, is the time lag. I've read numerous reviews indicating that there's noticeable latency when viewing live waveforms. If you never use a scope that way, maybe that won't matter, but I sometimes watch the live display when probing for noise, manipulating switches, wiggling dubious connections, etc. I want to see changes in real time so that hands-on troubleshooting is more natural and intuitive. I'm sure I'd learn to adjust to latency, but I'd rather not have to!

If I go USB, I'm leaving heavily towards Pico. They get really good reviews, plus I've worked with an 8 channel thermocouple data logger they make, and it's solid and easy. The Hantek units scare me. The prices are too good to be true. More importantly, the overwhelming impression I get from reviews is that physical quality is hit and miss, and software support & customer support are rough. Doesn't sound fun. I don't want my scope to be a constant repair project I have to figure out on my own... I want a trustworthy scope available for repairing all my other projects!

I'm 100% with you on 4-channel. I've used it for debugging SPI communication and in a few other situations. I'll admit it's quite rare that I need all 4, but when I do it sure is valuable!
 

sagor

Joined Mar 10, 2019
914
Besides Rigol and Hantek, you can also look into the Siglent series of scopes. While I only have a 2 channel scope, I have one that has built in UART/I2C/SPI/LIN decode (SDS1202X-E), of which I use the UART decode a fair bit (at 115kbaud), and have looked at I2C as well. Having lots of storage memory is important too.
It all boils down to what you plan to use the scope for. Some of the lower models do not have serial decode, should you want that. 4 channel and/or logic analyzer is good if working on multiple logic signals at the same time. USB scopes are a problem if your laptop is not with you, and extra gear to carry around.
A good desktop scope will have a USB port to store images, settings, raw data, etc. and if necessary, you can migrate that data to a PC to further work on with the vendor's software. Most stand alone scope makers provide software for direct connection to the scope (if desired) and/or processing USB data.
The opinions here will vary as much as there are models of scopes out there. You have to decide on the main factors you need (list them on paper first), then narrow down the scope choices from there.
Good luck.
 

Thread Starter

super7800

Joined Apr 3, 2019
42
thanks to everyone who gave me input

i have it narrowed down to:

Siglent SDS1104X-E (100mhz, hackable to 200?, quad 500Ms/s, single 1Gs/s) (500$)

Rigol DS1054Z (50mhz, hackable to 100mhz, quad 250Ms/s, single 1Gs/s) (350$)

Hantek DSO3254A (250mhz, quad 250Ms/s, single 1Gs/s) (450$) , also has function generator and crappy logic analyzer (i plan on buying a "proper" logic analyzer in the future, so that's not a feature i'm considering), but has much larger internal storage vs. those listed above, and is smaller.

its really between the hantek and siglent, and after alot of looking around those seem to be the best. before i make a final decision, i have two questions. (1) has anyone here successfully hacked the extra bandwidth onto the siglent, or own one? i found a thread here: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/sds1104x-e-hack-to-200mhz-and-full-options/ that talks about it. (2) i found pictures of the inside of the hantek. the internals look to have "less" than the internals of the siglent or rigol. i attached a pdf with the pictures. do they look acceptable?

thanks.
 

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Wuerstchenhund

Joined Aug 31, 2017
189
Forget Hantek. No, seriously, ignore them. Their kit isn't worth the money and is full of bugs. It's a toy.

Also forget about Tektronix unless you are into antiques, Tek was the king of scopes when analog scopes were still a thing but their digital scopes are between 'below average' to 'horrible'. Tektronix is mostly bought by people who's understanding of the test equipment market is stuck in the '80s.

In the entry-level class (sub-$1k), there currently are only two serious options:

The Rigol DS1054z is a great scope for an incredibly low price (<$400 for a 4ch scope), it can be unlocked to 100MHz and 24Mpts and all options enabled for free (and there are now offers which include all options except the BW upgrade already), and because it's been on the market for a long time it's firmware is now very mature. It's pretty much the cheapest scope that's not a toy. It's disadvantages are that it's a bit slow, that the sample rate is only 250MSa/s in 4ch mode, that it decodes only what's on the screen and not what is in memory and that it's FFT is limited to only 16k. Still, it's a robust and dependable entry-level scope.

Siglent has the SDS1000X-E Series which consists of 2ch and 4ch models. The 2ch variant SDS1202X-E is slightly more expensive than the Rigol DS1054z, however it offers 200MHz BW, 14Mpts memory and all serial decoders included. Both 2ch and 4ch variants offer a fast processing backend, decode from sample memory and FFT up to 1M. As with the Rigol, these are dependable entry-level scopes and not toys.

Either of them is a solid choice.

Keysight also has a new 'low-cost' scope which is the 2ch DSO-X1102A. The cheapest variant is the EDU-X1102A which starts around $449 but it only comes with 100kpts of memory which is laughably small. The $600 DSO-X1102A comes with 1Mpts of memory which is only slightly better compared to the 14/24Mpts of memory found in Rigol DS1054z and Siglent SDS1000X-E. Furthermore, things like serial decode are (very expensive) options, and the included passive probes are of particular bad quality. Unless it has to be Keysight, the DSO-X1102A and its EDU counterpart are inferior choices over the aforementioned Rigol and Siglent offerings.
 

Wuerstchenhund

Joined Aug 31, 2017
189
My first scope was a Techtronics T921. Served me well enough to learn a little about scopes. The next scope I got (two of them actually) are dual trace. Leader LBO 514A scope. Off hand I can't tell you the speed, but the price for two was absolutely unbeatable. My son-in-law was a school teacher. The science lab was getting rid of a bunch of equipment. I got two scopes for FREE. Like I said - you can't beat free. Unless someone paid you to haul them away. For the stuff I do - they're way more than adequate.

I don't recommend four trace unless there's a real need for it. Dual trace is handy so you can compare against a reference or measure two incoming signals at one time. Like I said I think four trace is overkill. Unless you need four trace.
Good for you that you're happy with the analog boat anchors (and a free analog scope is certainly better than nothing) but in 2019 it makes no sense going the analog scope route unless you're into antiques or completely broke when you can get a brand new DSO for <$400 and decent used ones (i.e. HP 54645A/D) for around $150.

Also, since the demise of analog scopes we no longer talk about the number of "traces", these days it's "channels". Simply because a channel may or may not end up in a trace (and not every trace is necessarily a channel, it could be a reference trace from memory, or a math function).

And this isn't the only thing that is different.
 
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