# Investing in an oscilloscope

#### dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,519
I will use this to see what it can do and at least get aquainted with the workings of a basic oscilloscope before making a decision about the big one!
I've found that one isn't enough. To calibrate a scope, you need a scope.

I used my Tek466 as my "portable" scope until it broke (haven't gotten around to troubleshooting yet). Now my "go to" is an SC502 (15MHz):

If I need more channels, I use a 7704 (shown with the SC502 for scale):

The nice thing about the SC502 is I can fill the other two slots with whatever I need at the time (signal generator, power supply, frequency counter, etc).

If I want a larger screen, I use a Tek7603.

#### Mellisa_K

Joined Apr 2, 2017
359
My first scope was a rack-mount duMont. My high school teacher gave it too me with the promise not to tell anyone. CRT died.

then I bought a real boat anchor. An military tube/transistor hybrid that weighed 110 lbs. Huge.
Then a Kikisui COS series scope (100 Mhz). QUOTE]

Boat anchor LOL

#### panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,829
well, i see no mention on any performance requirements or actual intended use. maybe a sound card bases scope will do.
i would say be cautions with scopes that require PC as PC software updates are frequent and you may end up with something that newer OS may not support.

#### narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
444
i would say be cautions with scopes that require PC as PC software updates are frequent and you may end up with something that newer OS may not support.
I wouldn't imagine this being much of an issue for name brand systems. Even so, I still run a lot of stuff on native XP systems and tons more in XP vmware's.

#### panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,829
that is decision everyone will need to make on their own.

#### mjaa

Joined Dec 11, 2011
5
Mark

#### Mellisa_K

Joined Apr 2, 2017
359
well, i see no mention on any performance requirements or actual intended use. maybe a sound card bases scope will do.
i would say be cautions with scopes that require PC as PC software updates are frequent and you may end up with something that newer OS may not support.

#### Mellisa_K

Joined Apr 2, 2017
359
Hi Melissa. I like your methodical approach to learning and experimenting wth electronics. You have got some nice hands on test equipment and I suspect you are a classicist by DNA, so I would recommend you continue and buy a used stand alone analog scope. I hate pc based anything and test equipment needs to be independent of that fault generating domain. Just look at what happened to standalone audio gear when a PC was considered a viable platform. $300 is more than enough to secure a HP, Tektronix or similar quality dual channel scope. They are heavy as and therefore posting not an option. Take the time to scan ebay industrial - test equipoment for one you can inspect and bargain for cash on the spot. Good luck! Mark That's a very encouraging post Mark. Thankyou. And yre right about me! I can't believe how helpful and altruistic this community is. I can honestly say I'm inspired by you all to keep learning. I would have burned out with frustration long ago without this resource. Thankyou all so much Mellisa #### JMW Joined Nov 21, 2011 123 My question is: as electronic engineers of considerable practical experience, what type of oscilloscope would you recommend i buy now, as my first oscilloscope, given my circumstances and interests and stage of development? As a social researcher i know the power of graphical output to tell a story. I love graphs. I am a hobbyist with a lot to learn about electronics. Ive been doing this hobby on and off for about 3 years. I only get a limited time to enjoy it. I am acquainted enough with it to know that i like it and I want to continue developing my skills. My only ambition in this area is to learn more about this fascinating quantum world of electronics - but not as a professional. I have little money to spend on this hobby. My next purchase is a benchtop oscilloscope - not a PC application. I know I can spend a lot of money on one but I hope I can buy one cheaper without preempting my later development needs while still meeting my current needs which are not very complicated. So far I have bought two DMMs, a good regulated power supply (X2), a good soldering iron and lots of components. I have recently been experimenting with timer/ oscillator circuits with the help of AAC members. This area seems to be my main interest for the foreseeable future. These use ICs such as 555 4017 4060 ULN2003. I have build irrigation timers, LED dimmers, LED flashers, clocks, and other timing devices. I would love to see the output of these ICs in a more visible way than just reading the voltage drops and current at their output. I want to be able to use an oscilloscope as a graphical diagnostic tool to accelerate my learning and to make things easier for me and less reliant on AAC members to develop my own circuits by altering components to see the effect on the output of the circuits. What more can I tell you about my circumstances/ needs so you can better advise me on this? I'm an RF technician, been that way for significant period. I use a Hantek, coupled with a notebook PC. Thread Starter #### Mellisa_K Joined Apr 2, 2017 359 @Mellisa_K Then there is the: The Boat Anchor Manual Archive http://bama.edebris.com/manuals/ Here in Australia, heavy stuff gets put into fibreglass keels. Ive got friends of my family who are yacht builders and they have put cast iron engine blocks, scrap lead, electric windings from motors and gennies and God knows what into their keels. Maybe the odd oscilloscope? #### rsjsouza Joined Apr 21, 2014 224 Some good suggestions all around. I would say you started from a good place by buying the ultra-cheap DSO188. Having a very small scope to see wiggly lines on a screen is a great way to start - is surely beats the alternative of having *no scope*. The brand-new market of digital oscilloscopes is full of good options (certainly better than ten years ago, where sub-$1k was nowhere to be seen) and the ultra-popular and very capable Rigol DS1054Z is still king as the lowest price aggregating a lot of performance for a standalone/bench model. Going up a bit on the price scale you can start considering a Siglent SDS1104X-E or a GW Instek GDS1054 for a slight edge on math functions, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and active development by the manufacturer (firmware is being actively released for these two).

Regarding the used market, I would be very cautious to get a used scope as your first one, unless you know its origin and how well it was taken care (quite a rare scenario, I must admit) - this is particularly critical with much older oscilloscopes with decades of use, where reliability is quite critical.

Analog oscilloscopes have a slight edge here, given they usually have full schematics available, and a regular 20MHz/2 channel tends to be quite simple and use off-the-shelf parts. The latest really advanced models from Tektronix are already pushing 20 years of age and have lots of ASICs that can become difficult to find. That may be a trivial task for someone that has multiple oscilloscopes (some to cannibalize for parts) and quite the experience, but for someone at the beginning of this journey this is a daunting task.

As with everything, choosing a simpler analog oscilloscope is a good choice if the price is right.

I have a Kenwood CS4025 analog oscilloscope that still works after all these years but it is rarely used these days.I used to have a DS1102 (the 100MHz of the previously mentioned DS1052) and it is an excellent beginner's digital scope. I don't know about the used market in Australia, but here in the US (test gear heaven) I wouldn't pay more than $100 (maybe$150 if the condition is pristine) for them. I sold it when I bought a more featured Rigol DS4014 for an excellent price on a clearance sale. In my case, not only the price was right but the previous oscilloscope did not lose much value when I sold it, illustrating something that was already said here as well: the oscilloscope you choose now does not need to be your last one.

The aforementioned used Tektronix TDS210 or TDS220 are good options as well, but keep in mind the brand name commands high prices for these. Also, the absence of schematics and off-the-shelf parts is a problem, especially if they were mistreated (they were very common in schools here, and several offers were quite abused).

At any rate, good luck in your journey.

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
20,884
Check out schools and universities. They often get rid of older equipment. You may be able to pickup a second hand scope for $50-$100.

#### panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,829
fair enough... sounds like anything in audio range will probably do (hence sound card scope may be an option or DSO188).
anything capable of few hundred KHz will be more than enough...

#### jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,085
Perfect! Thanks for the alert. I'm in!
When a CRT goes bad, have you considered what it will cost to replace or will that even be possible? I happen to have owned 3 analog (CRT) Tek scopes. One to use, one as a backup, and one that served as a donor for a CRT. LCD's are expensive too, but at least, most are still made for more recent scopes.

You also need to look at the variety of triggers and math modern digital scopes can do.

#### Mellisa_K

Joined Apr 2, 2017
359
Some good suggestions all around.

I would say you started from a good place by buying the ultra-cheap DSO188. Having a very small scope to see wiggly lines on a screen is a great way to start - is surely beats the alternative of having *no scope*.

The brand-new market of digital oscilloscopes is full of good options (certainly better than ten years ago, where sub-$1k was nowhere to be seen) and the ultra-popular and very capable Rigol DS1054Z is still king as the lowest price aggregating a lot of performance for a standalone/bench model. Going up a bit on the price scale you can start considering a Siglent SDS1104X-E or a GW Instek GDS1054 for a slight edge on math functions, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and active development by the manufacturer (firmware is being actively released for these two). Regarding the used market, I would be very cautious to get a used scope as your first one, unless you know its origin and how well it was taken care (quite a rare scenario, I must admit) - this is particularly critical with much older oscilloscopes with decades of use, where reliability is quite critical. Analog oscilloscopes have a slight edge here, given they usually have full schematics available, and a regular 20MHz/2 channel tends to be quite simple and use off-the-shelf parts. The latest really advanced models from Tektronix are already pushing 20 years of age and have lots of ASICs that can become difficult to find. That may be a trivial task for someone that has multiple oscilloscopes (some to cannibalize for parts) and quite the experience, but for someone at the beginning of this journey this is a daunting task. As with everything, choosing a simpler analog oscilloscope is a good choice if the price is right. I have a Kenwood CS4025 analog oscilloscope that still works after all these years but it is rarely used these days.I used to have a DS1102 (the 100MHz of the previously mentioned DS1052) and it is an excellent beginner's digital scope. I don't know about the used market in Australia, but here in the US (test gear heaven) I wouldn't pay more than$100 (maybe \$150 if the condition is pristine) for them. I sold it when I bought a more featured Rigol DS4014 for an excellent price on a clearance sale. In my case, not only the price was right but the previous oscilloscope did not lose much value when I sold it, illustrating something that was already said here as well: the oscilloscope you choose now does not need to be your last one.

The aforementioned used Tektronix TDS210 or TDS220 are good options as well, but keep in mind the brand name commands high prices for these. Also, the absence of schematics and off-the-shelf parts is a problem, especially if they were mistreated (they were very common in schools here, and several offers were quite abused).

At any rate, good luck in your journey.
Hello rsjsouza,

Thankyou so much.

Mellisa