Hand Held DSO, useful?

Thread Starter

Travm

Joined Aug 16, 2016
321
I'm looking at picking up an Oscilloscope, hobby purposes only.
I haven't yet identified an actual need. But when i get there I dont want to not have the tool (also I'm pretty good at finding reasons to use new tools).
Are the cheap sub$100 DSO's totally useless? All I see myself using it for is measuring things on smaller micro-controller or sensor boards I might design and build.
Or should i get one of the budget scopes from Rigol or Hantek or something like that? They seem about twice as expensive. Also since i'm not sure what I need it for exactly. I may get into trying to measure RF radiation on power supplies and class D amps, etc. But I havent researched that enough to know exactly what I would need either, and that is probably 1-2 years in the future.
Any thoughts? Am I throwing my money away today if i buy a cheap DSO?
 

andrewmm

Joined Feb 25, 2011
530
a few things define what a scope is capable off

Bandwidth ( you cant really see a signal of more than the bandwidth, remember a square wave like a clock needs 3 and 5th harmonic, so even a 10 MHz clock, you need a 50 plus MHz scope to see it, and remember the probes need as good if not better bandwidth

Sampling speed if digital, as a first assumption needs to be 5 times, preferable 10 or more times the bandwidth.

Screen size / memory depth , A small 2 inch screen with 120 pixels is not going to allow you to see much

The main cost of a digital scope is the ADC, just look at sites like Ti, costs of fast ADCs with more than a few bits.

If you have a laptop, people like picotech.com amongst others do scopes that save the processing and display cost and use the PC, so you get more bang per buck.
 

Thread Starter

Travm

Joined Aug 16, 2016
321
Wow, those are several thousand each. Sweet idea, but orders of magnitude outside my budget.
Edit, ok I found the cheaper ones, but they are only 10 or 25mhz. Is not all bandwidth created equal?
 

Delta prime

Joined Nov 15, 2019
430
For digital scopes, sampling rate and memory depth are equally important. The Nyquist criterion states that the sampling rate must be at least twice the maximum frequency that you want to measure. For a spectrum analyzer, this may be true, but for a scope you require at least five samples to accurately reconstruct a waveform
 
You can't go wrong with the DSO150 Shell. It's a single channel, low bandwidth scope that's like $20.00 assembled.
There's no place for a battery. I have a 9V battery strapped to the back.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
123
To the subject of this thread.....only to a point....and very limited at that.
Disclosure, I sell scopes.
As your knowledge and needs grow an insufficient initial investment will limit your growth and I recommend you dig further into your pocket for a scope with a better feature set. But where of course do you stop....inbuilt AWG, MSO capability, active probe support and so on are not something many of us ever need but good BW and memory depth permit a DSO to do what it does best, capture and deeper analysis.
If you'd be happy with just 2 channels the SDS1202X-E is hard to beat.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,406
200kHz, Single channel, Fully assembled w/ probe. Amazing little handheld scope that does a lot for a small price. Is it as good as a big scope? No. But for ~20$ it is one heck of a deal. Not bad just to have around to stick in your pocket to use on the go even if you already have a real scope. Needs a standard 9V battery-powered barrel plug to go with it or a wall wart.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000419608836.html?
 

Thread Starter

Travm

Joined Aug 16, 2016
321
To the subject of this thread.....only to a point....and very limited at that.
Disclosure, I sell scopes.
As your knowledge and needs grow an insufficient initial investment will limit your growth and I recommend you dig further into your pocket for a scope with a better feature set. But where of course do you stop....inbuilt AWG, MSO capability, active probe support and so on are not something many of us ever need but good BW and memory depth permit a DSO to do what it does best, capture and deeper analysis.
If you'd be happy with just 2 channels the SDS1202X-E is hard to beat.
I think that is why I'm leaning towards a cheap handheld. Right now I don't even know if 2 channels is enough. I think I'd rather start with something on the cheap end. Writing off $50 is easier than $350 if I buy a cheap 2 channel and find out quickly I need 4.
I've been trying to decide for over a year now, at some point I'm just going to have to pick one.

I was eyeing that rigol too, it's on sale...
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
21,664
If you have little experience using an oscilloscope and is vacillating between a 2-channel and 4-channel scope here is my take. I have over 50 years of professional experience in all aspects of design/R & D/science & engineering/maintenance/repair, etc.
Granted, I have never used a 4-channel oscilloscope so I don't know what I am missing. However, it would be extremely difficult for me to concoct a scenario where a 2-channel scope could not handle the job while a 4-channel scope could.

The bottom line: get a 2-channel scope unless you like collecting expensive pieces of equipment and money is not an issue.

As for a cheap hand-held, you will be quickly disappointed. I would rather own a good $50 used analog scope than a $50 toy.

If you really want something just to play with, get a DSO138.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
123
I think that is why I'm leaning towards a cheap handheld. Right now I don't even know if 2 channels is enough. I think I'd rather start with something on the cheap end.
I can almost assure you just 2 channels will be sufficient and they make up the vast bulk of my sales.
What matters more is what you can do with a good feature set and the novice just looks at an instrument and thinks it's just a scope. This is what I mentioned as to the feature set, a host of measurements, good FFT, simple to use UI, protocol decoding etc etc.
Writing off $50 is easier than $350 if I buy a cheap 2 channel and find out quickly I need 4.
Then why not 6 or 8 channels, yes they exist.[/QUOTE]
I've been trying to decide for over a year now, at some point I'm just going to have to pick one.
I've lost count of how many scopes I've owned, at least a dozen or more ranging from 60's CRO's to the latest DSO market offerings and they all can do basic scope use........if that's all you need. In those 20 years using scopes my skills and knowledge have grown along with the capability of the instruments which at the end of the day is just another tool and for which you certainly get what you pay for.
Now much older my $ spend is on tools that will go the distance and with a sufficient quality of build that I know can be trusted to perform when necessary.
Many of my clients seek advice on models that will best fit their needs as such is the experience here of some other members too. It's your $50 to write off as you please but personally I'd rather blow it on a nice night out than suffer the experience of a cheap tool unfit for future self development.
Don't get me wrong, the brand I sell also has HH scopes but their capabilities are somewhat limited so I chose not to stock them and point buyers to a scope I know will not let them down.
YMMV.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
21,664
Here is something to think about. Say you're a hobbyist and you have $350 to spend.
Which would you rather have, a good DSO or a 3D printer? They are about the same price right now.

In my areas of interest, if I did not already have both (and I do have both), it would be a very difficult decision to have to make.
 

tautech

Joined Oct 8, 2019
123
Here is something to think about. Say you're a hobbyist and you have $350 to spend.
Which would you rather have, a good DSO or a 3D printer? They are about the same price right now.

In my areas of interest, if I did not already have both (and I do have both), it would be a very difficult decision to have to make.
:)Yeah been following them with interest and only ever had one job that they interested me for but a mate in Aussie printed the HP CRO cord wrap feet I needed and posted them to me in NZ. Now I think the design we developed is on thingyverse or whatever they call the 3D model site.
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
253
A few more datapoints in the extreme low end of the toy Chinese scopes (here).

A fully portable scope with good reputation is from MicSig (here) - it is at the same price level as a bench scope, though.

If you are considering PC-based USB oscilloscopes, I got a Owon VDS1022I on a sale last year (less than $100USD) that is quite handy and useful - it has no decoding, etc, but it is a great oscilloscope and has a very good user interface. Some folks were even able to build upon one of the software versions available (details about the scope are in this large thread; jump to page 18 or 19 for details about the custom software)
 
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