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bfollowell

Anyone have oscilloscope recommendations?

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For those of you that own oscilloscopes, what would you suggest for someone looking to pick one up? I have never owned one, and haven't used one since my bench tech days, about thirty years ago. I see quite a few older model BK Precision and Tektronix models on ebay for $70-$120. What's your guys' opinions on them?

 

Here's a good example:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Oscilloscope-BK-Precision-2120-B-20MHz-Portable-Dual-Trace/133299376683?epid=96961693&hash=item1f0943122b%3Ag%3AHDoAAOSw7XNcv09u&LH_ItemCondition=4&LH_BIN=1

 

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I´m not a specialist with that, got myself an old Grundig SO40 from a friend for little money.

 

The question is, what you´re up to with it. How precise has it to be, how important is the form factor? Meanwhile there are many quite cheap digital versions, that might serve well.

 

@tf_hh might give some recommendations.

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A nice Tektronix 475 or 474 would be my choice. Just be sure that the probes are true high-speed units so you see what is there.

 

Bob

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I've made it decades and tinkered with smaller projects without one, so I doubt it would need to be all that precise. I just know there are times when looking at continuity, resistance, and voltage don't quite cut it and looking at a waveform would be useful. In all honesty, it probably wouldn't get all that much use, which is why I've never purchased one, and why I'm reluctant to spend too much on one now.

 

I was also looking at a Hantek digital scope. I have an old laptop on my workbench that I use as a SIO2PC server and I think it would be up to the task of being a display for it.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Hantek-Portable-Oscilloscope-Analyzer-Diagnostic/dp/B01N74XEAN/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=digital+oscilloscope+hantek+6022bl&qid=1588637336&sr=8-10

 

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6 minutes ago, bfollowell said:

I was also looking at a Hantek digital scope. I have an old laptop on my workbench that I use as a SIO2PC server and I think it would be up to the task of being a display for it.

I have a 6022BE but I quickly replaced it with a self-contained unit (a Siglent 1202X-E). The Hantek works but it's awkward has hell to keep another computing device, a mouse and display attached to it to use it. The included software is Windows-only and isn't terribly well-written, though it's simple enough to use. There is an open-source replacement software for it called OpenHantek6022 that greatly improves usability and adds features. I compiled it for Raspian and used an RPi3 as the host device when I had it in regular use. 

 

Like I said - it works okay, but the frustrations and limitations eventually drove me after about 6 months to a real scope. YMMV of course. 

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I bought a simple CRO about 11 years ago to assist with analysing my interlaced video signals.

 

These days there's also the option of relatively low cost multi-channel USB devices with the capture/display being taken care of by the PC.

I guess the choice in the end can come down to what the expected application is.

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This sent me down a rabbit hole. I admittedly have a tool fetish, and these are just inexpensive enough to get me thinking. Haven't sprung yet though. Plus they can be bought in kit form.... 

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10 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

I have a 6022BE but I quickly replaced it with a self-contained unit (a Siglent 1202X-E). The Hantek works but it's awkward has hell to keep another computing device, a mouse and display attached to it to use it. The included software is Windows-only and isn't terribly well-written, though it's simple enough to use.

Have to agree with @DrVenkman , don't buy one of these, software kept crashing, I sent it back for a refund.

 

I ended up with a PicoTech 2204 for £99 and am quite please with it.

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Posted (edited)

The one Phaeron uses seems pretty popular?

 

No idea what it costs, just floating the idea..

Edited by Mclaneinc

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I’m using a picoscope 3205 mso and am pretty happy with it. Though there is something more real about a physical one, I used to have this enormous Tektronix 7603. It rocked but almost did my back in whenever I had to move it!

These days also using a saleae logic which also has analog. I’ve only tried the digital side of it so far though.

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If USB-type scopes are a consideration, Picoscopes are excellent. They range from the basic right up to extremely high spec. Occasionally you get older models being sold off by Picotech as a clearance thing, and they're a steal for that sort of money. A few years ago I picked up a Picoscope 3206B for around £250 from Picotech themselves when they discontinued it (the current version is priced at £979), including two good 250MHz probes. They don't currently have any deals in that price range on their website however...

 

The same applies for various other manufacturers I'm sure, so worth keeping an eye out on their websites or for discontinued model numbers cropping up. I was interested in the Pico units because I already used them in work and liked how they worked.

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Depends on what you'd like to do with it but for general (including digital / Atari) stuff the Rigol DS1054Z might be a good choice (this is also what phaeron seems to be using, judging from the screenshots). Costs about 330 USD new (just checked tequipment site) and 4 channels are really helpful when doing digital stuff.

 

I'd stay away from old analog scopes (unless you have a really specific requirement, eg 500MHz+ bandwidth at no budget), to diagnose digital stuff you really want something with (segmented) storage.

 

Standalone scopes (i.e. with their own screen and real knobs to turn) are also a lot easier and more intuitive to use than the PC based ones IMO (they may offer other features, but the better ones like the picoscopes aren't too cheap).

 

I'm using a Rigol MSO2072A here (2ch analog plus 16 digital) here and I'm quite satisfied with it.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Since we’re posting specs and prices, the Siglent 1202X-E (mine, references above), is about $349 last I checked. 200 Mhz, two channels and (a selling point for me over similar Rigol scopes), all features in the firmware are available at purchase. Rigol locks a number of features out and you have to pay an additional fee or hack your scope to unlock them. That seems pretty absurd to me, but again, YMMV on such things.  

 

 

307EEF2F-99AB-423D-8EEE-4D78EA619606.jpeg

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All Rigol DS1000 and 2000A models ship with all options included. For more bandwidth either buy the higher specced models or search the eevblog forum for riglol :)

 

so long,

 

Hias

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17 hours ago, bob1200xl said:

A nice Tektronix 475 or 474 would be my choice. Just be sure that the probes are true high-speed units so you see what is there.

 

Bob

The 465B never gets any love.

 

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If you're doing some analysis work a desktop.  If your just fault finding a hand held will serve you well.

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6 hours ago, HiassofT said:

Depends on what you'd like to do with it but for general (including digital / Atari) stuff the Rigol DS1054Z might be a good choice (this is also what phaeron seems to be using, judging from the screenshots). Costs about 330 USD new (just checked tequipment site) and 4 channels are really helpful when doing digital stuff.

 

I'd stay away from old analog scopes (unless you have a really specific requirement, eg 500MHz+ bandwidth at no budget), to diagnose digital stuff you really want something with (segmented) storage.

 

Standalone scopes (i.e. with their own screen and real knobs to turn) are also a lot easier and more intuitive to use than the PC based ones IMO (they may offer other features, but the better ones like the picoscopes aren't too cheap).

 

I'm using a Rigol MSO2072A here (2ch analog plus 16 digital) here and I'm quite satisfied with it.

Yes, I'm using a DS1054Z I picked up from Amazon -- 4ch analog but no digital inputs. The last scope I was using was an old school analog Hitachi, so it's so nice to be able to stop on a single sweep, measure points, and save it to USB. But one thing that drives me crazy is that it doesn't allow fine horizontal (time) scale adjustment, only fine vertical scale.

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, bfollowell said:

This is a really bare bone digital scope and I wouldn't recommend it unless your budget is really tight and you can get it for 50 - max 100 USD.

 

The ~350 baseline set by the mentioned Rigol and Siglent hobbyists scopes is where I'd start looking as they offer a lot more value for the money than the older/cheaper scopes (like the Hantek or eg the Rigol DS1052E which seems still to be available for about 250 USD).

 

With these newer/current scopes you'll get higher waveform update rates which are not only helpful to catch occasional glitches but are only used to do intensity graded display. I.e. you get an "analog scope like" display where glitches/rarer occurring waveforms are displayed in darker color. That's enormously helpful to get a quick impression how the signal looks like. You'll miss that with the Hantek and older Rigol, they'd just jump between the waveforms (or might not even catch that every tenth time the signal only reaches 3V instead of 5V).

 

Large sampling memory (several megpoints compared to a few kpoints), especially in combination with segmented memory is really helpful to capture a longer sequence and then zoom in. Or, with segmented memory, record a bunch of traces and then check into the one you are interested in (which might be eg the 5th or 6th occurrence of the trigger, not the first or the last).

 

You get a really nice choice of advanced triggering features that the simpler/older scopes don't offer. Some of them are really helpful as well as you can trigger for setup/hold violations, occasional glitches etc.

 

Ah, and also helpful are the various builtin decoders (RS232, I2C, SPI). While these decoders are a bit bare-bone compared to the one of (PC-based) logic analyzers they are still quite usable and you can quickly check eg which command frame your Atari sent to a disk drive etc.

 

so long,

 

Hias

Edited by HiassofT
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Like I said $250 is already more than I want to spend. $350 is out of the question, period. It’s a tool I’d like to have, but probably won’t get that much use. I’ve made it 30 years without one, so I really can’t justify that kind of money for something that would set unused on my work bench much of the time.

 

 

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35 minutes ago, bfollowell said:

Like I said $250 is already more than I want to spend. $350 is out of the question, period. It’s a tool I’d like to have, but probably won’t get that much use. I’ve made it 30 years without one, so I really can’t justify that kind of money for something that would set unused on my work bench much of the time.

In this case it's best to look out for a used scope in the <= 70 USD range and hope it'll keep working for some time.

 

If it breaks down you won't have lost too much money. To repair an analog scope you'd need another scope (chicken, egg...) and lots of the mid/late 1980ies and later models contain custom parts that are unobtainable (eg the Tek 2465 etc). Digital scopes are basically unrepairable, unless it's some very basic thing like a broken cap in the power supply.

 

OTOH new scopes in the 200-300 USD range aren't too attractive by today's standards and sooner or later you may realize you really miss the features that would have been present in the 350 USD models. As these cheap scopes have almost no value on the second-hand market (everyone knows about their limitations) you'd have to completely write off the money spent on it if you want to move on to a better model or just keep using it. Buy cheap, buy twice.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Trouble with finding an old scope (which is what many people recommend) is that they're heavy and therefore very expensive to ship.  In terms of quality and features, this does seem like the best option, but I think you're stuck finding something locally if you want it to be any cheaper than new options once you take shipping into account.

 

Start by seeing if you get lucky on something like Craig's List.

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Just to be clear: I don't recommend getting an old boat anchor, I only mentioned that as a last resort in case of a really limited budget as the other options in the < 350 USD range aren't too great either.

 

Quality-wise you can't count much on it, these are 25-40 year old things that can break down any time and may be unrepariable. And feature-wise the current hobbyist scopes also have a lot more to offer.

 

Features in used LeCroy, R&S or HP/Agilent (digital) scopes may be better but good luck finding them for 200-300 USD 🙂

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Of course there's always rock bottom single trace 😁

 

But at least it does work and you get the joy of building it yourself.

 

 

IMG_20200423_123027.jpg

IMG_20200423_122953.jpg

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32 minutes ago, TGB1718 said:

But at least it does work and you get the joy of building it yourself.

But what’s the bandwidth? :)


If it’s not at least 20 MHz, you won’t be able to use it for nearly any vintage systems and get anything even approximating an actual waveform for most signals. 

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