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Buy an (your first) Oscilloscope

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RMIM

Member
Hi I’m new to electronics and would like some advice on buying an oscilloscope.

I actually own an oscilloscope already – the Velleman HPS10 (10MHz sampling rate. 2MHz analogue bandwidth). Trouble is, I don’t really like it. I hate the dot matrix display. I find the unit a bit bulky.
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=32611

I was thinking of getting USBscope50 1GS/s Digital storage oscilloscope/75MHz Analogue bandwidth. (Very small unit)
Rapid Electronics - Elan USBscope50 1GS/s Digital storage oscilloscope

Or what about something from china (ebay) – (I find the dimensions of the 2nd unit too big though)
PC USB Portable 5 Channel Digital Storage Oscilloscope on eBay (end time 26-Jul-09 18:33:51 BST)

PC USB Portable 5 Channel Digital Storage Oscilloscope on eBay (end time 26-Jul-09 18:33:51 BST)

I don’t want to spend more that £200. The unit I have is a 10Mhz/ 2Mhzbandwith – Is this adequate? What stage do you have to reach before you need something more powerful?

When would you require a 1GS/s / 75MHz unit over a 10Mhz/ 2Mhzbandwith.
Is the USBscope50 worth the money?
Im really after a small unit that has a nice looking interface (maybe something like a real oscilloscope) that will be useful for many years to come, in case my electronics knowledge increases and I require a better unit than the one I currently own.

What kind of oscilloscope is useful in tv repair etc.
(If you are wondering what I might be doing with an oscilloscope at this early stage, well im tinkering with some IR/RF circuits at the moment. Also I have started to work with PICs.)

Thanks.
 
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Hero999

Banned

RMIM

Member
Thanks for the reply Hero999. So you say the Velleman HS10 is just a toy – it’s good to know, this means buying another scope is a good idea. (I’ll have to try and get rid of it on ebay)

But what about the scope that I like – the

Rapid Electronics - Elan USBscope50 1GS/s Digital storage oscilloscope

or is this just another toy?

Thanks.

(The one you linked is not really pc based. I wanted something PC based.)
 
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Hero999

Banned
I've not had any experience with PC 'scopes.

The Chinese 'scope I posted has a USB interface, two channels and is able to work without a PC.

The 'scope you posted is only single channel so for dual channel you'll need to buy two. It does have the advantage of galvanic isolation which most 'scopes don't offer.

EDIT:
Both 'scopes only offer 8-bits vertical resolution which dosen't sound very good to me.
 
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Hero999

Banned
Well I like the idea of galvanic isolation and that extra features can be added in software.

What's so bad about PC based 'scopes?

I've never used one but I've thought about buying one before.

I've just noticed another thing: the Elan 'scope doesn't have an external trigger; is this typical for a PC based 'scope?
 
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RMIM

Member
There's little reason to want a PC based scope, real scopes are more useful and better featured.
oh. I did not know that.

I really needed the portability of the USB pc scope. I always have my laptop with me, so that does not count as part of the size.

I really wanted to buy it. Would it be a total waste to buy it? Is it over priced for what it can do?
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
oh. I did not know that.

I really needed the portability of the USB pc scope. I always have my laptop with me, so that does not count as part of the size.

I really wanted to buy it. Would it be a total waste to buy it? Is it over priced for what it can do?
They tend to be lacking in basic facilities, and expensive for what they are.

I would suggest one could be useful, but as an ADDITION to a real scope, not as a replacement.
 

Hero999

Banned
The Chinese 'scope seems to be quite portable too - it can be powered by a battery pack (sold separately). I don't know how heavy or big it is though.
 

tunedwolf

Well-Known Member
I have to agree with Nigel on this one, buying yourself a real 'scope will pay dividends in the long run. USB 'scopes look great on paper, and perhaps fill a niche depending on what your exact application might be, but for general use, lacking in features and expensive. Also, the required features are only as good as the software support.

Spending £200-£300 you will easily pick up a great secondhand 150-200 Mhz Analog, dual beam or better, 'scope, complete with cursors and all the bells and whistles that go with it. More to the point, it will be robust and accurate.

Don't make the mistake of compromising on the features and accuracy that you will need because of budget restrictions, you really will regret it.

rgds
 

kinarfi

Well-Known Member
I have the DSO-2150 and I'm quite happy with it. There is also the stingray and a few others. I like the PC Scope.
150Msa/s USB Port scope of the oscilloscope DSO-2150 - eBay (item 120442185210 end time Jul-29-09 07:40:00 PDT)

Attached are a few captures from it. Not a lot info manuals with it though. and not absolutely certain about voltage readings,but I like the wave form pictures.
STEERING pictures from good times photos on webshots
POWER STEERING IDEAS pictures, photos, and videos, from good times on webshots
 

Hero999

Banned
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kinarfi

Well-Known Member
My son, who is Microsoft Certified, what ever that means, and I have stayed a way from Vista and use XP Pro, so I can't answer as to the Vista part.
Oh yea, it also want microsoft front page, but worked with out, just cancel the request, I just got tired of it asking for it and gave it.
Kinarfi
 
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RMIM

Member
I would suggest one could be useful, but as an ADDITION to a real scope, not as a replacement.
Thanks for that line Nigel. I was going to give up on the idea of a pc based till I saw that. I’ll get a real one at some other point when I know a lot more electronics.

I bought the USBscope50. Seems to be made in the UK. – it’s the size of a really fat pen drive, that’s tiny for an oscilloscope. I need the portability.

I have been working with some IR decoders/encoders HT12A / HT12D, the oscilloscope has been very useful. The scope was expensive, it’s only one CH, unless I buy another one and stack it – but it’s small (the reason I bought it) and I like the interface.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Thanks for that line Nigel. I was going to give up on the idea of a pc based till I saw that. I’ll get a real one at some other point when I know a lot more electronics.

I bought the USBscope50. Seems to be made in the UK. – it’s the size of a really fat pen drive, that’s tiny for an oscilloscope. I need the portability.

I have been working with some IR decoders/encoders HT12A / HT12D, the oscilloscope has been very useful. The scope was expensive, it’s only one CH, unless I buy another one and stack it – but it’s small (the reason I bought it) and I like the interface.
As long as it does what you need, then that's all that matters - not too bad a price either.
 

Hero999

Banned
My son, who is Microsoft Certified, what ever that means, and I have stayed a way from Vista and use XP Pro, so I can't answer as to the Vista part.
Good for him, sorry but Microsoft Certified sounds a bit too much like marketing hype.

Oh yea, it also want microsoft front page, but worked with out, just cancel the request, I just got tired of it asking for it and gave it.
Kinarfi
I wouldn't recommend using MS Front page unless you don't mind if the webpages created with it can't be viewed properly by 40% of the Internet.

Thanks for that line Nigel. I was going to give up on the idea of a pc based till I saw that. I’ll get a real one at some other point when I know a lot more electronics.

I bought the USBscope50. Seems to be made in the UK. – it’s the size of a really fat pen drive, that’s tiny for an oscilloscope. I need the portability.

I have been working with some IR decoders/encoders HT12A / HT12D, the oscilloscope has been very useful.
Good, I'm glad it does what you want.
The scope was expensive, it’s only one CH, unless I buy another one and stack it – but it’s small (the reason I bought it) and I like the interface.
If they made a two channel 'scope which costs 50% more then I would consider buying it and if it had a separate trigger then I would certainly buy it.
 
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Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I wouldn't recommend using MS Front page unless you don't mind if the webpages created with it can't be viewed properly by 40% of the Internet.
Rubbish - writing pages that don't work correctly is down to the writer, NOT the package used. What features does Frontpage even give you that are browser specific anyway? - most features are server dependent, and while my webspaces all are Frontpage capable, I never have it enabled.

You should write pages to work in all browsers, and never use anything specific to a particular one.
 

RMIM

Member
Good, I'm glad it does what you want.
If they made a two channel 'scope which costs 50% more then I would consider buying it and if it had a separate trigger then I would certainly buy it.
Well it's a stackable design. Allowing up to 4 to be connected together. But that would be a 100% increase for 2nd CH.

As for the separate trigger, I’m new to oscilloscopes so not 100% sure what you mean, but the CH’s can be used independently (different time bases if you wish). In the Demo Mode it lists all 4 channels and gives you buttons to change the trigger mode, im not sure if that is what you mean.

The software (25Mb) available at

Tiny USB Oscillocsope

for both windows and linux goes into demo mode if you dont have the scope connected, if anyone wants to download it and give me their opinion.

Thanks
 
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Hero999

Banned
Most oscilloscopes have an extra trigger which you can set to start the trace when a certain event is detected i.e. positive or negative going voltage above/below a certain threshold.

This has all manner of uses. For example, you could put the trigger on the clock of an MCU and still have two other channels free for watching events synchronised to the clock.

EDIT:
Do you have to buy the software separately?

If I've paid good money for the 'scope I wouldn't want to be stuck using demoware to use it!
 
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RMIM

Member
y the software separately?

If I've paid good money for the 'scope I wouldn't want to be stuck using demoware to use it!
NO NO. The 25Mb download is not a demo. It's the full software free. But if it does not detect the scope it gives a DEMO of its capabilities, showing a sine wave and square wave. Lets you click on all the buttons to get a feel of what it will be like.
 
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