Stuff Max Likes – Oscilloscopes
I like Oscilloscopes. They show how voltage varies with time and given that information along with the electrical component values used in a circuit there are very few circuit parameters that cannot be measured or calculated. Oscilloscopes are by far the best way to visualize what is happening in an electronic circuit to quickly assess how it works or why it no longer works.
There is a lot of good introductory information about oscilloscopes online and as I find better ones I’ll try to update this list:
HobbyProjects.org Oscilloscope Tutorial
CIE Bookstore Oscilloscope Tutorial
Nuts and Volts Oscilloscope Tutorial
Williamson Labs Oscilloscope Tutorial
Virtual-Oscilloscope.com Oscilloscope Simulator
Tektronix Oscilloscope Simulators
At this time, March 2015, I own 3 Oscilloscopes (two of which work) .
This is my Iwatsu 200 MHz scope. A friend gave it to me because the controls were acting up and he had lost patience with it. I tore down the controls, not a trivial task, and re-soldering the front panel connections. It has worked great ever since and 200 MHz is more than adequate for most of what I do. I even have a manual so I can theoretically figure out how to use all the advanced features. It does have an odd quirk with the controls. Channel one is on the left and channel two is on the right as expected. But the time base A controls are on the right while the B controls are on the left. I know that Japanese is read from right to left but it makes scope operation confusing at times. It took longer than I care to admit before I noticed this and I still forget from time to time.
This is an old Hitachi 60 MHz scope I’ve had for years. I think I picked it before I got married. The CRT is dim but readable and everything else appears to work. I’ve not completely figured out how to use the delayed time base but I haven’t tried that hard yet because I haven’t needed it. Someone gave me another of the same model that has a few issues and some broken knobs but the CRT is much brighter so I may swap parts in the future and see if I can get one good scope out of the lot. About the only irreparable part in these old CRT based analog scopes is the CRT. When they burn out or get too dim to read it can be hard to source a decent replacement. Making a precision electrostatic deflection CRT from scratch is a bit beyond most makers but a few have given it a shot: Home Made CRT. This is not something you can use in a scope though.
the best bang for your buck in a new scope
If I were buying a new scope today it woud be the Rigol DS-1054Z for $400. This is by far the best bang for your buck. Four channels means you can measure four independent voltages and digital scopes have sampling and analytical functions far beyond old analog CRT models. Plus they have the convenience of knobs and buttons that, to me, are much more intuitive than PC based scopes. Another bonus for the adventuous is that you can “hack the DS-1054Z into a DS-1104z” which has a 100 MHz bandwidth.
An excellent entry level PC based Scope
If you don’t have $400 you could do worse ordering a BitScope Micro for $145. This includes an 8 channel logic analyzer for digital signals, an arbitrary waveform/clock signal generator and analog comparators. With the optional MP01 Adapter for $30 you get the connectors needed to use regular oscilloscope probes instead of the mini clips that come with the BitScope Micro. Throw in a couple of probes for $50 or get cheap ones on Ebay and you’ve got a sophisticated electronics test suite for about $225. If you want cheaper you’ll likely need to troll Ebay and put in some refurbishing time and effort
Agilent DSA-Z 962404Q
When Money is no Object
Claimed to be “the worlds fastest oscilloscope” this reportedly half million dollar piece of test equipment has been put through its paces. Unfortunately there don’t seem to be any of these available on Ebay just now so it will probably be a while before I manage to pick one up.