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PC oscilloscope recommendations?

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by Scott Kelley, Nov 5, 2005.

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  1. Scott Kelley

    Scott Kelley Guest

    I need to get a digital scope. Since I will want to use it in the field
    some, I'm thinking along the lines of a computer plugin type. Typical use
    will be for audio range stuff and microcontroller signals.

    Any thoughts or suggestions as to things to look for and/or specific
    products to consider or avoid?

    Scott Kelley
  2. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    Figure you'll want to see at least the fifth harmonic (unless square
    waves that are indistinguishable from sine waves are OK), so take the
    single shot (not repetitive) sample rate (say 40 Msps for a popular
    model) and divide the Nyquist freq by five: 4 MHz. That's certainly OK
    for audio and quite a bit more. Just know what it is you're getting.

    Digital displays are fairly cheap and easy (as compared to the monster
    CRTs and supporting electronics of a generation ago) so consider that on
    a real portable scope you're paying for the sampling and the signal
    processing, not so much the user interface -- and you'd pay just about
    as much for an equivalent capability if the GUI was offloaded to a PC.

    If you need to be "battery portable" the price goes up a bit but if you
    can get along with a power cord, Tek and HP both have very capable
    digital scopes in the $1200 - $2K range that are small enough to take
    along with you. If you really need battery portable, add Fluke's
    ScopeMeters to the mix along with the other two.
  3. Art

    Art Guest

    Definately stay away from the Tenma Brand supplied by MCM Electronis.
    Totally useless unless you like the storage DMM features or work only with
    audio signals, most of the time they do not sync even at vertical
    frequencies and are useless at horiz frequencies, exp in HD monitors or RF
  4. slodgey

    slodgey Guest

    I have been using a Fluke Scopemeter 97 for about 8yrs. They are
    excellent but expensive. I think the newer models are even better. The
    one I have has a link for the PC but I think it costs me extra.
  5. Guest

    There are some very nice devices like this on the market, however, the
    speed of most of these limits their use to audio work for the most
    part. I really wouldn't want to use any that I had access to for
    digital work. Most of these are produced by small garage firms, and
    usually advertise for sales in publications like 'Nuts & Volts'. These
    of of limited use, but in certain situation they are 'the handiman's
    friend', just like Duct Tape.

    A common feature on many of these is the ability to display in either
    the time domain or the frequency domain (Fourier Transform). This is a
    surprisingly useful feature in audio and analog communications work,
    particularly when working in the field and you have to carry and entire
    lab in your suitcase! :)

    Sadly I don't own one, so when I travel to the field to do work for the
    FAA or some other organization, the only off-the-shelf instrumentation
    I carry with me is a Tek pocket oscilloscope (owned by my employer), a
    laptop and prom burner (for implementing embedded code changes in the
    field), an inexpensive Wavetek DMM, a small set of handtools, a small
    soldering iron, and a few home made kludges that often prove useful in
    my field of work.

    You'd be amazed at how useful a simple 9-volt battery with clip on test
    leads soldered to it can be for tracing and polarizing comm lines,
    forcing logic states (with a current limiting resistor) and a myriad of
    other uses.

    Kindest regards, Harry C.

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