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I require an oscilloscope

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Anon_LG, Feb 28, 2016.

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  1. Anon_LG


    Jun 24, 2014
    I need an oscilloscope for serial communication debugging and potentially analogue filter and amplifier experimentation. I understand that audio will be the lowest frequency, but will also require a greater resolution.

    I have £170 (~$230 atm!) of my own money to spend. What can I expect to get for this, can I expect anything with the specs required, (bandwidth, sampling etc) required for these purposes? I probably can get by with one with only one probe.

    I will only be working with I2C, SPI, RS232 on ucs with clocks not exceeding 8mhz, so baud will not be high at all. As for audio, this will be some basic guitar analogue, so audio frequencies (as opposed to a guitar that plays at radio frequencies!)

    I may be able to get nothing of any use for £170, but I am interested in suggestions.

  2. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    Nov 17, 2011
    In terms of bandwidth etc. your requirements are nothing for modern scopes. A low end 20MHz type will suffice.
    As to resolution: 12 bit is a typical resolution for digital scopes, higher resolution is in my experience way off your budget.
    You may be interested in a little multifunctional gimmick like this bitscope. This is basically a front end for use with a PC where all the user interface lives. From the description:
    • Dual channel digital storage oscilloscope
    • 12 bit analogue sample resolution and high speed real-time waveform display
    • Capture 8 logic/timing signals along with cross-triggers for multi-channel mixed signal measurements
    • Capture SPI, CAN, I2C, UART & logic timing concurrently, solving complex system control problems
    • Display analogue waveforms and their spectra simultaneously in real-time
    • Generate an arbitrary waveform, capture analogue & digital signals concurently
    • Enables creation of programmable logic and/or protocol patterns
    • Record to disk anything BitScope can capture, allowing off-line replay & waveform analysis
    • User programmable, C/C++, Python, VM API

    Similar "scopes" are sold under different brands, e.g. picoscope. This evaluation may help you along finding the right tool for you.
    Anon_LG and Osmium like this.
  3. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

    Aug 31, 2014
    Always go for dual trace.
    All the things such as digital, storage, etc are a bonus.
    To see 8MHz you need 15MHz or more because the CRO starts to "taper off" (attenuate - the amplitude gets smaller than it really is) at 7MHz.
    You will have to look into the way they rate a digital CRO. Some digital CRO's are only $99.00
    Anon_LG likes this.
  4. dorke


    Jun 20, 2015
    Here is another option for you.
    I think it is a better solution and a much cheaper one.

    For audio you can get a PC Software Scope for free.
    They are excellent for audio and some also have a function signal generator output.
    They utilize the PC audio card for input and output.
    A simple adapter may be needed to protect the Audio Card,you can easily build that (Limiter,Attenuator and maybe DC block).
    Like this one.there are many others as well.

    For monitoring low speed serial communication you can add a
    PC based Logic Analyzer which is very cheap - Less than 10$.
    Like this one.
    It is Saleae compatible(you need to download the free software from their web site).
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
    Anon_LG and Harald Kapp like this.
  5. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

    Aug 31, 2014
    Never buy a CRO under 10MHz. Buy dual trace.
  6. Anon_LG


    Jun 24, 2014
    Thanks for the advice.

    I like the look of the bitscope very much, I am surprised by the price. What is/are the catch/es, other than the lack of integrated screen? If I do not use scaling probes what is the maximum negative and positive voltages that the scope may accept?

    I like this one, but I would prefer something in the hardware that can be portable. Additionally I need to use this at school to work on the flight simulator, and the Pi does not posses a sound card.

    Is the software used with bitscope lightweight? My PC takes five minutes to load AVR studio, I can go into task manager and see the RAM allocation being swallowed up.

  7. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    Nov 17, 2011
    Unfortunately I can't answer your questions from first hand experience. I've only been reading about the bitscope. The datasheet should answer the technical questions.

    You can download the software ans check how it runs on your computer.
  8. dorke


    Jun 20, 2015
    For portability,the ideal solution is a Laptop.
    A very old one P-4 running XP should be fine.
    You can have the software scope and the Logic analyzer both running on it...
  9. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009


    never heard of any guitars that play at radio frequencies ;)
    no one would be able to hear then

    Harald Kapp likes this.
  10. Windadct


    May 25, 2011
    I had on my Hanukkah list the Digelent Analog Discovery kit - have not ordered it yet - a little over your budget, but when I went to school that would have been like $10K (of fun)....
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