Digital Oscilloscope


An oscilloscope or scope is an electronic measuring instrument that creates a visible two-dimensional graph of one or more electrical potential differences. The horizontal axis of the display normally represents time, making the instrument useful for displaying periodic signals. The vertical axis usually shows voltage. The display is caused by a "spot" that periodically "sweeps" the screen from left to right.

Digital storage oscilloscope Oscilloscope software running in WindowsThe digital storage oscilloscope, or DSO for short, is now the preferred type for most industrial applications, although simple analogue CROs are still used by hobbyists. It replaces the unreliable storage method used in analogue storage scopes with digital memory, which can store data as long as required without degradation. It also allows complex processing of the signal by high-speed digital signal processing circuits. The vertical input, instead of driving the vertical amplifier, is digitised by an analog to digital converter to create a data set that is stored in the memory of a microprocessor. The data set is processed and then sent to the display, which in early DSOs was a cathode ray tube, but is now more likely to be an LCD flat panel. DSOs with colour LCD displays are common. The data set can be sent over a LAN or a WAN for processing or archiving. The scope's own signal analysis software can extract many useful time-domain features (e.g. rise time, pulse width, amplitude), frequency spectra, histograms and statistics, persistence maps, and a large number of parameters meaningful to engineers in specialized fields such as telecommunications, disk drive analysis and power electronics.

Important digital oscilloscope products:

Manufacturer Model Condition Description Specs
178 New 178
2201 New 2201
2230 New 2230
2232 New 2232
2522B New 2522B
2542 New 2542
485 New 485
5020 New 5020
5105B New 5105B
6100 New 6100
ADS 2061M New ADS 2061M
ADS 2061M 3rd party pre-owned Not-on-file(other-mfr) ADS 2061M
ADS 2061M 3rd party pre-owned Not-on-file(other-mfr) ADS 2061M
QU1202CA New QU1202CA
QU1202CA 3rd party pre-owned Not-on-file(other-mfr) QU1202CA
UQ1042 New UQ1042
UQ1042 3rd party pre-owned Not-on-file(other-mfr) UQ1042
Agilent 16530A New Digitizing Oscilloscope Timebase Card 16530A
Agilent 16531A New Digitizing Oscilloscope ACQUSITION Card 16531A
Agilent 16533A New 1 GSa/s 2-Channel 250 MHz BW Digitizing Oscilloscope Module 16533A
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Digital Oscilloscopes by different manufacturers:

Example usage

The classic use of a scope is to diagnose a failing piece of electronic equipment. In a radio, for example, one looks at the schematic and tries to locate the connections between stages (e.g. electronic mixers, electronic oscillators, amplifiers).

Then one puts the scope's ground on the circuit's ground, and the probe of the scope on a connection between two of the stages in the middle of the train of stages.

When the expected signal is absent, one knows that some preceding stage of the electronics has failed. Since most failures occur because of a single faulty component, each measurement can prove that half of the stages of a complex piece of equipment either work, or probably did not cause the fault.

Once the failing stage is found, further probing of the defective stage can usually tell a skilled technician exactly which component is broken. Once the technician replaces the component, the unit can be restored to service, or at least the next fault can be isolated.

Another use is to check newly designed circuitry. Very often a newly-designed circuit will misbehave because of bad voltage levels, electrical noise or design errors. Digital electronics usually operates from a clock, so a dual-trace scope is needed to check digital circuits. "Storage scopes" are helpful for "capturing" rare electronic events that cause defective operation.

Another use is for software engineers who must program electronics. Often a scope is the only way to see if the software is running the electronics properly.