Purchasing an Oscilloscope

Dennard T.: I really want to immerse myself into what I’m doing in electronics, and as much as I’d like to I can’t drive the 30 minutes everyday to school to use the lab, I would like to build my own Lab / Workshop at home. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations of Oscilloscopes for someone like me?
Clyde A. Lettsome, PhD, PE, MEM Answer: I would say buy what you can afford that can serve your current everyday needs. If you find that you can afford more, buy an oscilloscope that can handle your future career needs. Ask yourself these questions before purchasing:

  • What is the highest frequency signal you think you will need to analyze in the time domain? More than x2 of that frequency is too much.
  • Are the signals you will be dealing with periodic, aperiodic, or both? If they are aperiodic or both, then you need a digital oscilloscope with an acquisition/capture/storage feature.
  • Would it be helpful to use or have the data you are analyzing in digital format (for a report or for storing on a computer)? If yes, get a digital scope with USB port.
  • Will you be looking at analog and digital signals together? If so you need a mixed signal oscilloscope.
  • If you plan on purchasing a digital oscilloscope will be reading analog signals, how precise should the resolution be?

Other than standard oscilloscope features, everything else are “bells and whistles”.

Good luck!

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