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10 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist Review with Buying Guide (Updated 2017)

Want to buy the best oscilloscope? Our guide offers tips to help you make the right decision.

An oscilloscope is a right tool that can be used to visualize different voltages and their temporal progression on a screen. On this page, you'll find the best oscilloscope for hobbyist on the market in direct comparison - with accurate tests and many interesting tips.

10 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist


Product Name

Brand Name


Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL

100 %
Editor's Rating



Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope

100 %
Editor's Rating



Tektronix 1052B

100 %
Editor's Rating



Hantek DSO5072P Digital Oscilloscope

99 %
Editor's Rating



Siglent Technologies SDS1102X Digital Oscilloscope

99 %
Editor's Rating



Siglent SDG1025 

98.5 %
Editor's Rating



SainSmart Mini Nano DSO203 Digital Storage Oscilloscope

98.5 %
Editor's Rating



GW Instek GDS-1054B Digital Storage Oscilloscope

98 %
Editor's Rating

GW Instek


Tektronix TBS1064

97.5 %
Editor's Rating



SainSmart DSO NOTE II NEW Update Version DS202

97 %
Editor's Rating


10 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist Review

1. Siglent sds1052dl review - Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist

The latest siglent SDS1052DL+ is a new and upgraded version of siglent's great sds1052dl. With a new, higher-resolution LCD and an added lan interface the SDS1052DL+ represents the updated version of one of the most popular 50 MHz oscilloscopes available today. This digital oscilloscope is perfect for electronics uses such as product design, assembly lines, repairing, and servicing, and electrical engineering education. Its highest real-time sample rate of 500MS/s (1 channel) and record length of 32Kpts (1 channel) for getting detailed waveforms.


  • Shipping weight 7.7 pounds
  • Its height- 6.2 inches, length-12.7 inches and Width-5.3 inches
  • 50 MHz Digital Oscilloscope
  • 2 channels
  • 50mhz digital oscilloscope
  • Maximum real-time sample rate of 500MS/s
  • Record length of 32Kpts for acquiring detailed waveforms
  • LCD display
  • Certified frustration-free


  • New and higher resolution display
  • It us a 50 MHz digital oscilloscope but you can get 100 MHz signal without trouble
  • Advanced triggers for Isolation of specific signals
  • Built-in frequency counter
  • Automatic measurements
  • It can be used for product design, assembly lines, repair and servicing, and electrical engineering education
  • No warm up time need
  • Better frequency counter
  • It includes USB and LAN interfaces


  • The user guide should be more user friendly
  • The fan is quite noisy but its not a major issue to me


Overall this oscilloscope is perfect from all side except the sound. From my personal experience, I can say this is the best oscilloscope for the money as it will fullfil your task as it has that capability.

2. Rigol ds1054z review - Best Selling oscilloscope

Rigol DS1054Z one of the best selling oscilloscopes in the WORLD since its release. It has a 30-day money back guarantee. DS1054Z Features 50 MHz Analog Bandwidth Entirety of 4 Analog Channels Maximum Waveform Acquisition Rate of up to 30,000 wfms/s Carries 4 RP2200 150 MHz Passive HighZ Probes Low noise floor USB Host for Thumb Drive Large 7" Display 12 Mpts of Memory. It works well, and the construction is as good as that of expensive top-brand items. Rigol's innovative UltraVision technology provides a deeper memory depth of 12Mpts standard and is upgradeable to 24 Mpts (with the purchase of MEM-DS1000Z). With a resolution of 800 X, 480 pixels makes it possible to observe all channels on a single screen. This presents for better usability and more dynamic analysis. So we choose it in our test as our number one oscilloscope.


  • Weight 6.6 pounds
  • Body style benchtop
  • 50 MHz Digital Oscilloscope
  • 4 channels
  • Deeper memory 12 Mpts upgradable to 24 Mpts via a software key
  • 1 GSa/sec sampling
  • Up to 30,000 Waveform capture rate


  • Solid building quality
  • Fine software
  • Many adjustment controls
  • The software is easily install able 
  • It includes triggers, storage
  • Easy to use
  • Reliable


  • The fan is quite loud. So you can change


Overall this oscilloscope is perfect from all side except the sound. From my personal experience and on the basis of sales data from website I can say this is the best selling oscilloscope as it will fullfil your task as it has that capability.

3. Tektronix tbs1052b review - High Quality Also Price High Oscilloscope

The Tektronix TBS1052B oscilloscope gives you with affordable performance in a small design. It is packed with standard traits – including USB connectivity, limit testing, data logging, frequency counter, trend plot, context-sensitive help menu, 34 automated measurements. It also contributes to getting more done, in limited time. If you are searching for a powerful, affordable, oscilloscope, from a trusted brand, then this oscilloscope is for you.


  • Weight 6.85 pounds
  • Body style benchtop
  • 50 MHz Digital Oscilloscope
  • 2 channels
  • 7" WVGA (800X480) Active TFT Color Display
  • Maximum real-time sample rate of 2GS/s
  • Recording the length of 2.5kpts per channel for getting detailed waveforms
  • UL Certified, CE approved
  • CAT II 300V safety rated
  • Warranty 5 years


  • Automatic measurements
  • Convenience functions such as limit testing, frequency counter, etc.
  • Context-sensitive maintenance menu
  • Lowest loading for passive probe in this product class
  • No cooling fan need so its run in less noise
  • High reliability
  • Portable
  • The scope is very light
  • Data logging will enable automatic preservation of triggered waveforms
  • Monitoring power supply stability
  • The trend plot feature helps to plot the trends of any measurements


  • The scope is quite slow. So, you should have patience 


The Tektronix 1052B can manage your professional needs with a brand recognized for quality equipment that you can believe. All at a very affordable rate! Properly made and simple to use, most buyers of this product are greatly pleased with their buying and would advise this oscilloscope to others.

4. Hantek dso5072p review - Best Handheld Oscilloscope

The Hantek DSO5072P Digital Oscilloscope which has 70 MHz Bandwidth, 7.0" LCD Display. We found this digital oscilloscope is perfect for those you serious hobbyist.


  • Weight 6.17 pounds
  • 70MHz bandwidths
  • 1GSa/s Real Time sample rate
  • Large (7.0-inch) color display
  • Record length up to 40K
  • Trigger Mode: Pulse width/line selectable video/overtime etc
  • Warranty 1 year


  • Alternative of expensive oscilloscope
  • Easy to switch
  • Well designed
  • Well writen easy manual
  • No need to control from PC
  • Smooth and solid control
  • Easy to use firmware
  • Bright screen
  • Good quality probes
  • It has ability to store screen pictures on a USB flash drive.
  • Light weight


  • Not yet found any significant problem


All these features and pros make us decided to take it as the 4th best handheld oscilloscope. The price and quality are excellent without hesitation.

5. Siglent sds1102x review - Best Digital Oscilloscope

I would like to tell something about the characteristics of an oscilloscope for 'small users.' What do you require for your daily tasks? Even the cheapest models from the manufacturers already have a sample rate of 500 MS/s or 1 GS/s, which is more than what the average electronics engineer requirements. More important is the input bandwidth. Which is an evidence of the quality of the analog input stage. Most electronic engineers operate on circuits with frequencies up to a few MHz and then a simple USB scope with a sample rate of 100 MS/s.


  • Weight 2.205 pounds
  • 100MHz bandwidths
  • Its height 7.3 inch and width 4.85 inches
  • Sample Rate1 Gsa/s.
  • 2 channel
  • New generation SPO technology.
  • 500 UV/div sensitivity
  • Record length is 14 MPts.
  • USB/LAN interfaces.
  • 256 Level intensity grading
  • Waveform capture rate to 60,000 wfs/s


  • Good Performance
  • Easy to use
  • Complete and easy manual
  • Large display
  • Perfect menu system
  • Quick booting
  • The fan is not noisy
  • Provide more statististical data
  • Easy to read text


  • The serial decoding is in basic level


So, it is clear to you why we decided to take this Siglent Technologies SDS1102X as our 5th recommendation for you as the best diigital oscilloscope.

6. Siglent sdg1025 review - Best Budget Oscilloscope

The Siglent SDG1025 oscilloscope is another best digital oscilloscope because of its functions. It uses DDS technology. It provides double output. This oscilloscope has adjustable phase. Its highest output frequency is 25MHz.


  • Shipping weight 7.5 pounds
  • Display type 3.5" TFT-LCD
  • certified frustration-free
  • 125MSa/s sample rate
  • 14bit vertical resolution
  • 16Kpts wave length
  • Output frequency is 25MHz
  • Abundant modulation function
  • Sweep-frequency output


  • Double output
  • Adjustable phase
  • Internally installed 48 types of waveform and externally 5 types of standard waveform
  • It provides LabVIEW drivers which helps to communicate with NI-VISA
  • Perfect as a teaching tool
  • Professional control
  • Perfect for coding and data analysis
  • The LCD screen helps to see many parameters of the waveforms at once
  • By using this device, it is possible to display and change some of the parameters in two different ways
  • versatile and precise
  • Easy to use/ user friendly


  • Not yet found and significant cons


The Siglent SDG1025 is in our recommendation list because of its accuracy, quality, and strong user satisfaction and got our best budget oscilloscope name.

7. Sainsmart dso203 review - Best Portable Oscilloscope

The sainsmart is a mini handheld pocket-sized digital storage oscilloscope which is PC-based. It has 3" 240 × 400 widescreen color TFT LCD screen. STM32 is the master MCU. The FPGA to implement the control and supervision of external ADC and data cache. It is low-power, low-cost oscilloscope.


  • Weight 80g without battery
  • Body style handheld
  • 8 MHz Digital Oscilloscope
  • 4 channels
  • 3" 240 × 400 widescreen color TFT LCD screen
  • Sampling rate1kSa/s - 72MSa/S
  • Test Signal generator 10Hz to 1Mhz
  • Max input voltage 80Vpp
  • Storage 4k per channel


  • Low cost
  • Useful signal generator
  • Compact Design
  • Fast operation
  • Portable
  • Easy settings
  • Easy to use


  • Low power
  • Low storage capacity
  • The navigation takes some time


The SainSmart Mini Nano DSO203 is a perfect low priced device for the hobbyist. So we recommend it to you if you want a better quality product at a low price.

8. GW Instek GDS-1054B Digital Storage Oscilloscope - Best Oscilloscope for the Money

The GW INSTEK GDS-1000B series proves the impeccable functionalities with a very ordinary pricing. It allows customers to understand the true meaning of great device. Its functionality includes-including parameter measurement, cursor sign, digital voltage meter, and data logging, etc. All applications of the GDS-1000B series can be utilized to the educational area and the fundamental R&D units of the industrial sector.


  • Weight 6.173 pounds
  • Its height-38.0 centimeters, width-12.73 centimeters and length-20.8 centimeters
  • 50MHz bandwidth
  • 4 Channels
  • 4ch input
  • 1GSa/s maximum sampling rate
  • 10M maximum memory depth for every channe
  • l7" 800 x 480 WXGA LCD display
  • 1Mpts FFT frequency domain signal display
  • Zero Key function for horizontal time, vertical voltage, and triggering


  • Parameter measurement
  • Cursor indication
  • Digital voltage meter
  • Data logging
  • The zero key function allows engineers to work more efficiently
  • The open wave connection software allows users to conduct waveform observation
  • The data storage is controlled by remote PC
  • The manual is well written 
  • Large screen and excellent graphics
  • It comes with four probes
  • Lots of knobs and menus


  • The fab is quite noisy


All these features and pros made this oscilloscope unique and excellent. So we choose this oscilloscope as our one of the recommended best oscilloscope for the money.

9. Tektronix TBS1064 review - Best USB Oscilloscope

It is an excellent digital storage oscilloscope which Can provide a great set of measurements on display. Most of its features are set through a menu system that is connected to buttons on the front of the scope. The USB port on the front panel allows saving settings, the display image, or actual signal data in files on a USB drive. Many other features made it another best digital oscilloscope for hobbyist.


  • Shipping weight 7.4 pounds
  • 4-channel
  • Bandwidth from 60 to 150 MHz
  • 5.7 in. (144 mm) Active TFT Color Display
  • Maximum sample rate of 1GS/s
  • 16 automated measurements
  • FFT analysis for simplified waveform analysis
  • Built-in waveform limit testing
  • Built-in context-sensitive help
  • UL Certified, CE approved and CAT II 300V safety rated
  • No cooling fan meaning lower noise
  • Reliable
  • Warranty 5 years


  • Perfect for product design and debugging, servicing, electrical engineering education and repairing
  • Safety rated
  • Real time measurement on display
  • Autoset button helps to save time
  • Well written user manual
  • Front USB port helps to display image, save settings etc.
  • Excellent quality
  • Lower noise as cooling fab is not needed


  • Lower memory per channel


All these features and pros made this oscilloscope perfect and still now it has no technical issue. So we took it in our recommendation list and it is an excellent quality high price best USB oscilloscope.

10. SainSmart DSO NOTE II DS202 Review - Best Cheap Oscilloscope

The Smart DSO202 Note II is a pouch size 2-channel digital oscilloscope. It is small and easy to transport. It holds USB flash disk storage and USB. This is an amazingly compact oscilloscope, at a high price. If you think the DSO202 may suit your needs, keep reading to find out if it will.


  • Weight 7 ounces
  • 1 Lithium ion batteries required
  • 50MHz bandwidth
  • 2 Channels
  • Analog bandwidth 1MHz
  • Max sample rate 10MHz
  • Sample memory depth 8K
  • Coupling is AC/DC
  • Analog Input Sensitivity: 10mV/Div~10V/Div (1-2-5 Step)
  • Vertical Position is adjustable with Indicator
  • Horizontal position is adjustable with indicator
  • Automatic measurement frequency
  • Waveform storage 8MB Memory
  • Built-in: 600mAh Chargeable Lithium Battery / USB
  • Color TFT LCD
  • Input Capacitive touch and slide gesture


  • Excellent design
  • Works great
  • Excellent measurement ways
  • Accurate measurements
  • Respond quickly
  • Multiple menus
  • Easy to operate
  • Well written manual


  • The size is small, but if you are comfortable with a small mobile phone, then it will be ok for you.


All these features and pros made this oscilloscope perfect and still now it has no technical issue. So we took it in our recommendation list as the best cheap oscilloscope. The SainSmart DSO202 is an excellent compact scope, which can be used as a primary piece of test equipment for essential hobby application. As a portable supplement to a benchtop oscilloscope that you can carry with you. Any traveling technicians will be hard-pressed to find a more useful piece of test equipment then this! This is the best low cost oscilloscope which we can say in another term as the best inexpensive oscilloscope ever found.

10 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist Buying Guide

What is an Oscilloscope?

It is a quasi artificially composed word from the Latin oscillare = rocking and the old Greek skopein = consider.

The oscilloscope is an electronic measuring device which can make several electrical voltages visible at the same time. Of particular interest in these measurements is usually the temporal course or the temporal changes of the voltage curves, which are then brought directly to a small screen. Previously they used picture tubes; today LCD displays are used. Sometimes you hear the terms oscillograph, or simply shorter only "Oscar," "Ozzie" or "scope" in this context. An application example would be an ECG, in which electrodes on the human skin transform the movements of the beating heart into voltage impulses, which can then be visualized via oscilloscope/oscilloscope. Read in wiki about Oscilloscope to know more. 

Digital oscilloscope functions:

  • Pre-triggering is possible with it. Here, you can wait for a particular event and look at it.
  • Also, the setting will change automatically when an external signal is popped.
  • Also, an analysis software is also available on board, with which, for example, the frequency and the rising time can be measured.

The main criteria to consider when selecting your best compound miter saw

If you want to buy an oscilloscope, you always have a question about the planned use. This means for you: what do you need for it? What do you want to measure with it? Is it stationary in a workplace or do you need it on the road? Some important factors when purchasing an oscilloscope are the bandwidth, the sampling rate, the number of available channels, the measurement accuracy as well as the storage depth. But what exactly does this information mean? We will tell you what you should pay attention to:

Infographics oscilloscope

Infographics oscilloscope

1. Analogous vs. Digital oscilloscope?

Digital storage oscilloscopes replace analog devices. For this reason, you should be particularly aware of what your goal is. The digital oscilloscopes now have an increased range of functions as well as smaller displays and can also be used easily on the road. The simultaneous display of several signals is also effortless.

For the measurement and analysis of various electrotechnical signals, oscilloscopes have prevailed since the beginning of the twentieth century - then still under the name Galvanometer. The word oscilloscope consists of the old Greek skopein (consider) and the Latin oscillare (rocking). High-frequency electrical signals from TVs, radios, and computers are easily visualized with these devices, and the digital oscilloscopes have almost entirely replaced the analog variant of the market. Other types of oscilloscopes are CCD oscilloscope, mixed-signal oscilloscope or the somewhat more particular waveform monitor (WFM) from the field of video technology.

Structure and function

Analog oscilloscopes work with a traditional cathode ray tube, while digital devices with LDC technology work. For digital oscilloscopes, it may be that the display is larger or even colored. For modern digital oscilloscopes, such a representation is no longer a problem for the better differentiation of the channels.

Since an oscilloscope is of particular interest to the temporal voltage profile, both analog and digital devices display the voltage signal on the one hand, and the electrical current, frequency, phase shifts, throughput characteristics or pulse diagrams, on the contrary. Digital storage oscilloscopes also have the functions of pre-triggering, analysis software for various values, averaging, mathematical functions as well as frequency spectra, statistics, and histograms. Furthermore, in the case of the digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) the view can be increased slightly. Scrolling is also possible.

Advantages of Digital Oscilloscope

  • It is smaller in size
  • No longer requires an uneconomical cathode ray tube
  • It is energy-efficient with LCD technology
  • The measurement data are displayed more precisely and better
  • Faster processors with these devices convince
  • Modern digital oscilloscopes with more great functions for signal analysis work

Disadvantages of Analog Oscilloscope

  • Orthogonal errors
  • Edge blur
  • Cushioning errors and non-linearity are classic disadvantages
  • Big size of the instrument.
Analog or digital - for which purposes is the oscilloscope suitable?

DSOs are nowadays ideal for high-frequency signals. With these devices, more great functions, signals, and frequencies can be efficiently recorded, stored and analyzed. An analog oscilloscope stores the image instead of the signal on the tube, which is not the case with DSOs.

2. Bandwidth

One of the most basic sizes you should look for when purchasing an oscilloscope. The bandwidth determines the maximum frequency of all components of an analog signal that can be detected by the device at maximum. Remember: The highest bandwidth is not always the best choice - here you have to decide from application to application (as with the selection of suitable probes). This is because too high bandwidths can also increase the noise level and the noise (because you also detect much more disturbing and falsifying signal components from outside) or reduce the accuracy and resolution. In principle, the bandwidth should be at least twice the maximum frequency of the transmitted signal. High bandwidth is particularly necessary for high-frequency signals,

Tip: With DSP you have the possibility to select different bandwidths and thus to adapt to your current circuit. This way, you suppress deliberately distracting secondary signals and noise.

3. Input channels

Buying an oscilloscope means that the flexibility and accuracy of the channels are critical. There is the choice between analog or digital input (a digital input can only detect the state - a 0 or 1 is output via a predefined threshold value). With first insulated data, you can avoid short-circuits during power supply measurements. Of course, you should also consider beforehand how many signals you want to measure. Oscilloscopes have one to four channels of the input signal so you can represent and compare up to four measurements at the same time.

4. Input impedance

This value corresponds to the resistance. An oscilloscope usually has the input impedance 1 M-Ohm or 50 Ohm, to load the measuring point (<< 1 MΩ) only slightly. By connecting a probe head, this input resistance can be increased to 10 M-Ohm or more. The input resistor should be tuned to your bandwidth and probes.

5. Sampling rate

The sampling rate is another important point when you want to buy an oscilloscope. It determines the resolution and accuracy of the measurement decisively - because it determines how many details of the lines and waveforms can be recorded and stored by your oscilloscope. To do this, you must know that the waveform consists of individual sample points. The more points the wave has, the more accurate and finer it can be displayed. This is roughly comparable to the resolution of an image: the more pixels an image has, the more precise and sharper details are revealed. We recommend that the sampling rate is at least five times higher than the input frequency. Example: 1GHz bandwidth requires 5 Gigasamples of the scanning rate!

6. Saving depth

The oscilloscope stores the detected signals until its memory is filled. The storage depth defines exactly this space required for this. It therefore, indicates the number of points which can be stored when a complete signal is recorded. The higher the memory depth, the larger the size and the duration of the signal recording.

7. Health navigation & Zoom

An accurate and comfortable navigation allows you to move along the saved graph, to scale your image section horizontally and vertically, and to select the appropriate section to analyze. And especially with great memory depths and very extensive waveforms, a zoom is indispensable for an accurate evaluation. When buying an oscilloscope, you should pay attention to an easy, controllable navigation and a powerful zoom.

8. Automatic measurement functions

These are various convenience functions to analyze the graph - such as amplitude measurements, temporal measurements, rise times, period duration, etc. Select the appropriate analysis function and read the result.

9. Probes

Probe heads take the desired values, e.g.,. Voltage, current or optical signals. The scope of delivery of an oscilloscope usually has at least one probe, more preferably two. This way you get the probes directly you need and are appropriate for the oscilloscope and do not have to look for suitable probes for your measurement intent.

  • When purchasing probes, be aware that they affect the measuring signals as little as possible (active probes will change the voltages, for example, less than passive costs, but usually also more)
  • Digital probes are to be used with parallel bus (can scan several channels)
  • We advise you in general to compatible system heads, which are calibrated together with the system, can be directly recognized by the oscilloscope and allow special functions.
  • There are different types of probes: hand-held probes with manual holder, soldering probes (for soldering to the signal source), etc.

10. Triggering

Triggering means that you can start the signal acquisition at predefined times (e.g., for individual events). Of course, you need to know what you're looking for and what events your oscilloscope can trigger. The triggering itself takes place in real time (analog) and causes the detection.

There are hardware and software triggers as well as probe shapes such as "Visual Triggering": In this variant, you can, for example, place self-defined areas over the graph and define them as a barrier or transition zone. The trigger jumps in this case only if the signal interacts with the fields you specify (it runs through or does not happen - depending on the settings).

11. Application support

Some manufacturers also offer software packages that are specialized in specific applications, which make the process (measurements, analysis, report) quite simple.

For this, of course, you need to know what you want to measure and capture in what context.

12. Easy operation

Particularly with the intensive use of the device, you will appreciate a good user guidance and intuitive operation quickly. Since such qualities are not apparent from the technical description of the manufacturer, you can check out our detailed tests and product presentations here. Importantly is among other things:

  • Inputs graphical menu guidance, convenient functions
  • Settings can be saved
  • Good cars
  • Straightforward and intuitive selection duties in the context menu via right-click
  • The dashboard is possible: this allows you to compile duties and evaluations individually in a personalized interface
  • Interactive online help

13. Connectivity

Surely your oscilloscope also needs appropriate connection possibilities. Again, the requirements depend on your application. The following things you should consider:

  • Slot for memory card
  • USB port
  • GPIB
  • Graphics card connector for connecting to an external monitor
  • Printer connection for direct printing
  • Programming interface
  • Data transfer to MS Excel or Word for evaluation
  • LabView for detailed analysis

14. Other scope of delivery

Also, the delivery of a connection cable (usually USB) and corresponding drivers are advantageous so that you can connect the device to your PC, if necessary - with mobile devices - recharge the battery and document the measurements on the PC. For this, of course, a similar PC software is recommended. Certainly, not the oscilloscope, but with some manufacturers an excellent Drinkable.Apart from this, a printed manual is hardly included in the scope of delivery. Meanwhile, some manufacturers are changing to PDF documents, so the instructions are always up-to-date, even if only in English. Especially in the case of technical and complex topics, laypeople should inform themselves in advance or read our tests.

It is also good for you if the manufacturer has a set of probes for each channel, which also corresponds to the analog bandwidth of the oscilloscope. So you can get started right away.

In the case of battery-operated devices, you should ensure that the delivery is accompanied by an accuracy or replacement pack or if you have the appropriate batteries in stock. Useful is always an external charger.

15. Display

For the display, the requirements are based on what you prefer. Digital storage oscilloscopes are now available in the handy pocket format, while analog devices have a correspondingly large display due to the cathode ray tube used. In general, if you are looking for mobile devices and have no problem with smartphones, you will certainly be happy with modern oscilloscopes. A screen, which can represent various signals in different colors (usually ~ 65 k), is in principle also advantageous. On the other hand, there is have similarity between oscilloscope and metal detector. The similarity is both of them have  display and show the result. If you are a metal detector then you read our best metal detector article.

Necessary Accessories

As already said, the oscilloscope is used to represent an electrical voltage over time. The following paragraph explains which components are necessary. An oscilloscope is technically based on a Braun tube (also called Brown tube or cathode ray tube). Some say the name is still a term from physics teaching. In this paragraph, we will clarify the essential components of an oscilloscope.The Braun tube is an electron beam with a visible electron beam for the temporal depiction of the voltage profile. The structure is as follows:

The Brauner tube directs the electrons, due to electromagnetic fields, so that they fall on different light sources.

  • Cathode: A heated cathode (with voltages between -200 to -800 volts) emits the electrons. These migrate by attraction to the opposite anode.
  • Anode: The anode is opposite the cathode and controls the velocity of the electrons (with applied voltages of +100 to +200 volts). Their speed is so high that the electrons directly pass through the anode.
  • Electron optics / concentrating coils: The electron optics influences the deflection of the electrons in the electric field. So you can control the bundling of the electrons in the oscilloscope. More strong and focused electrons appear in the light-emitting layer as a clearer and sharper point.
  • Wehneltzylinder: Thanks to the Wehneltzylinder you control the intensity and thus the brightness of the bright point on the front screen - the so-called light layer. The strength is influenced by the velocity and density of the electrons.
  • Luminous layer/screen: Here, the deflected electron beams meet and are readable and readable by the user for the measurement.
  • Baffle plates/deflection coils: It is important to know that electrons are the lightest electrically charged elementary particles, but they have an (albeit minuscule) mass. This makes it possible to divert them in their orbit with electromagnetic fields or gravitational forces and to control them in a targeted manner. It is precisely this physical effect that makes use of an oscilloscope: the original line image is ultimately produced by two opposing deflection plates. As the name implies, they deflect the electron beam in several directions. The X-plates allow the time measurement with their horizontal deflection (left and right). With their vertical deflection (top and bottom) the Y-plates again visualize the voltage measurement.

So once again briefly: the Braun tube belongs to the heart of the oscilloscope because with it the tensions to be measured become visible. It consists of an electron beam and an electron beam. The cathode, which is located within the Braun tube, is used to emit electrons. These electrons are attracted to the anode, which is also located in the tube. The oscillating cylinder affects the intensity of the bright point on the screen and focusses the impinging electron beam. Subsequently, the deflection plate in the oscilloscope ensures that the light beam is converted into a two-dimensional image. There are two plates in the oscilloscope, which divert the electrons once in the horizontal and in the vertical plane. In this case, the flat plate refers to the time measurement and the deflection in the vertical plane to the voltage measurement. It is only now that the voltage becomes visible on the screen of the oscilloscope using an additional light layer.

For the processing and documentation of the data on the PC or other mobile devices, a digital storage oscilloscope is recommended. This has an interface so that uncomplicated data transfer between the device and the laptop / PC are possible. This development is also strengthened by the programming of particular apps, so that data transfers from first devices are to be available more quickly and efficiently. Handheld oscillators are used for mobile processing outside the physics room. These consist of powerful accumulators that allow long-term utilized in the field.

How to use an oscilloscope (Tutorial)

Historical evolution of the oscilloscope

In this article, we look at the historical development of the oscilloscope from the "Hospitalier-Schreiber" to the modern digital measuring device.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, galvanometers were used to register a waveform over time by passing a laterally moving pin over an always rotating roll. An example of this is the so-called "Hospitalier-Schreiber". These and similar devices have been used for almost 100 years and lastly referred to as a "measuring recorder. They were, however, strongly limited by the limited possibility of movement (mechanical dynamics) of the pencil, which applies not only to the amplitudes but, above all, to the speed of the pin movement, that is, the frequencies. This bandwidth constraint, which acts as a low-pass physical filter, allows for low-frequency recording. For example: at the time of recording an earthquake.

Then light came into the dark

The invention and the use of the mirror galvanometer resulted in a significant improvement in the bandwidth because the (slow) mechanical pointer could be dispensed with. The recordings were made optically using a light source, the light beam of which was directed onto a light-sensitive film via a small movable mirror on a torsion thread.

A significant advantage of this system was the almost arbitrary amplification of the signal by just increasing the distance (lever) between the mirror and the film strip. Nevertheless, the handling was a little complicated, and the necessary development of the films was an additional effort. The cathode ray tube finally came into play. Although it was already known since the end of the 19th century, its practical application for a measuring device with two electron beams was only used in the 1930s by the British company ACCossor (later Raytheon). These initially still uncalibrated devices were often utilized in the Second World War, to bring the signals of the radar devices on a screen.

Meaning of triggering

The idea of ​triggering in the case of periodic waveforms, developed in Germany during the Second World War, allowed a precise temporal orientation for the representation (stacking) of the continuously repeating signal, which was the basis for the underlying architecture of the analog oscilloscope. The first commercial oscilloscope from the American company Tektronix with the designation "Model 511" appeared then also 1946 on the market. However, non-periodic processes could also be indicated with the analog oscilloscope by using specially coated cathode ray tubes with very long (storing) afterglow time. This is why the term oscillograph was used. However, the image resolution and the lifetime of the screen were quite limited. Also, there was still the technical solution of the so-called "event-triggered photographic recording," in which the image was automatically photographed on the cathode ray tube at the right time.

The Skiatron

The so-called bluetongue tube was not self-luminous but had an external light source. The electron beam was directed to a vaporized layer of alkali halides, mostly potassium chloride (KCL). The flood of electrons caused a punctual discolouration, which appeared to be blue-violet or rather blue-violet, and this trace was very stable, in some cases up to days. Heating could then erase the image.

Horizontal and vertical scales of the oscilloscope

Sometimes you want to see the tiny things. For this to work, we have to deal with the resolving power of the two oscilloscope axes and, last but not least, with the limits of the A / D converter used in the oscilloscope (analog to digital).

The modern digital oscilloscopes have already become powerful computers, which can be configured to automatically carry out repetition measurements with the greatest possible precision in a given time cycle. A vital primary setting you should always pay attention to is the scaling. It is mainly responsible for the resolution, but also for the sampling rate (sampling). To explain this plausibly, we would like to take a closer look at an example of the vertical (amplitude) axis:

The vertical amplitude axis of the oscilloscope

Suppose your digital oscilloscope is equipped with a 21-bit digitizer. This means that the maximum measuring range, which you can specify in the settings, is subdivided into two high 21 (= 2.097.152) discrete intermediate steps. If a measuring range of -1000 to +1000 volts is set, you reach with the oscilloscope a maximum possible resolution of approx. 0.1 mV. But if you know that you are not interested in the large deviations of the measurement curve, but only the range of +/- 1 volts around the zero line, then you choose these much narrower limits also as a maximum measuring range. The digitizer then divides 2 volts into a right 2 million segments, achieving a resolution of 1 microvolt. This means you are looking at the process much more accurately (with the digital magnifying glass).

​The horizontal time beam

The horizontal scale is always the time beam for the oscilloscope. When changing the timebase setting, the sampling rate (also called the sampling rate) is re-fixed and thus also the time per scale part. Also, in this case, you need to know what you have or want to achieve. A small example also gives you more understanding: If you are interested in the fluctuations of daily outdoor temperature, it makes no sense to tap and store the temperature measurement 1000 times a second, but every 4 minutes (240 sec = 0.0025 Hz) Temperature value, which would reflect the daily temperature curve sufficiently accurately. If you want to measure the ground movements of a local earthquake whose signal frequencies can reach up to 70 Hz, you must have a sampling rate of at least 140 Hz, Better than 200 Hz. In this case, a maximum of a few 10 seconds of the time beam is displayed on the screen.

Conversely, one can say that the smaller the sampling rate, the smaller is the time span that the scopes can record with signal data. This finding is of particular importance when time-related measurements such as (short) rise times and flank slope, pulse widths or frequencies play a role.

Frequently Asked uQestions

An oscilloscope is an electronic measurement device, which reflects voltages and their course visible on a screen. They are differentiated into analog and digital oscilloscopes. The analog devices use a cathode ray tube to display the digital devices over time. The oscilloscope is one of the most important measuring tools in electrical engineering. With such types of devices you can measure high-frequency electric. Signals in radio, in televisions or even in computers.

1. What sizes can be measured?

Not only the magnitude of a DC or AC voltage can be measured and determined with an oscilloscope, but also its temporal progression. The voltages required for measuring are connected via so-called BNC sockets on the front side using a probe.

An oscilloscope can measure the following variables:

  • Frequency of a Signal
  • The electrical current -> this can be determined, for example, using a current clampFrequency response of electronic circuits
  • Graphs of pulses on digital microprocessors and circuits
  • Phase shift of a signal with a Lissajous figure

2. Which components are involved in the measurement?

  • The oscilloscope consists of a cathode, which is responsible for the delivery of the electrons.
  • Also, it contains a Wheel cylinder, which influences the brightness of the screen.
  • Also, an electron optic is installed. It is responsible for the deflection of the electrons into an electric field.
  • There is also an anode. Their task is to control the speed of the electrons.
  • Also, baffle plates are present which create an image instead of a bright spot.
  • Another component is the light-emitting layer and the light-emitting point. You can find out more about the various components and the structure of an oscilloscope here

3. What settings does an oscilloscope provide?

In the following list, we explain the most common user functions for an oscilloscope using the above graphic. Certainly, the controls and knobs can vary slightly or be arranged differently on your particular device - but this overview should explain a large part of the controls.

Note: In the following, the term "div" is often mentioned. The abbreviation Div comes from "Dive", which means "part." Div is thus in the case of an oscilloscope for a raster unit.

What settings does an oscilloscope provide

What settings does an oscilloscope provide

Functions for operation and general display:
  • 1/2 Power On / Off: Typically the on / off switch of the unit. In most cases, there is a light (LED in modern oscilloscopes or a small neon tube in older models), which lights up when the light is on.
  • 3 Trace rotation: A slider for fine-tuning the horizontal track with the raster lines.
  • 4 Intensity: Adjusts the brightness of the electron beam on the screen. This can usually be brightened or dimmed using a rotary control. But be careful: dazzling settings can cause the electron beam to burn in the long term.
  • 5 Focus: Use this knob to adjust the sharpness of the electron beam.
  • 6 Cal (Calibration Point): This connector can be used to obtain a uniform square-wave signal with a stable voltage and frequency - the so-called calibration voltage. This is useful for correct settings, calibrations and, for example, for balancing feeler dividers.
Vertical functions:
  • 7 Position: This knob adjusts the position of the electron beam. This can be used to align the beam about the coordinate system.
  • 8 INV (English: invert): This switch is used to reverse the current channel by reversing the polarity of the signal input. In this case, the negative value of the voltage is indicated, and the electron beam image is a head.
  • 9 Vertical Scaling Control: This slider (also known as the Volts / Div control) is used for vertical scaling. It adjusts the sensitivity of the vertical amplifiers (Y amplifiers). This determines the height of the electron beam in small graduation steps. The values refer to volts per centimeter.
  • 10 Variable: The variable height settings. With this, you can fine-tune the electron beam step by step on your respective vertical scaling unit. The CAL value sets the height exactly to the values of the vertical scale control.
  • 11 The AC / DC switch: Use this to define how the measurement signal is coupled:
    • AC: Only considers the alternating voltage. DC components are filtered out
    • DC: Considers both DC and AC voltage components. The signal is ultimately passed and displayed faithfully to the original.
  • 12 GND switch: The ground switch. If you select this setting, the measurement signal is ignored, and the input of the oscilloscope is applied to the field. This can be useful, among other things, to remove electron traces from the display.
  • 13 Channel-1 Input: This is where you connect the cables of the respective channel.
Horizontal functions:
  • 16x10 Mag (10x magnifying glass): This function is a kind of fast zoom and helps you to zoom in directly into an area without changing the time or other settings. Note: This magnifier only magnifies the image in the horizontal direction (the voltage level remains unaffected)
  • 17 X-position control: This controls the horizontal position of the electron beam. For example, you can navigate left and right to measured values that are outside the screen without having to change the time factor.
  • 18 XY switch: This switch changes the coordinate system from voltage-time to XY. This mode means that your voltage is displayed on channel one along the X axis while the voltage on channel two is imaged on the Y axis. The resulting new relation allows for more complex comparisons and phase analyses.
  • 19 Horizontal Scaling Control: This control adjusts the horizontal deflection speed of the electron beam on the screen in relation to time (in milliseconds) per unit. For example, if the controller is set to 5 ms per div, the electron beam will travel a distance of one unit on the screen in 5 milliseconds.
  • 21 Variable: The variable length settings. With this, you can fine-tune the electron beam step by step on your respective set of Horizontal scaling units. With the CAL value, you specify the length exactly to the values of the horizontal scaling control.
  • 22 GND (English: "Ground"): This is the earth connection of the housing.
  • 23 Switches between Chop mode and Alt mode: Use this switch to toggle between Chop and Alt (alternate) mode
    • Chop mode: In this chop mode, the signal of the first or the second channel is alternately displayed for each horizontal channel of the electron beam. In this case, a high frequency is switched between the channels (during the beam reflux). Thus, low frequencies can also be rendered flicker-free.
    • Alt mode: In the old mode (as the name implies), the images of the first and second channels are displayed alternately. In the case of fast time deflection, they are simultaneously visible at the same time. However, at low frequencies, we recommend Chop mode, since it is flicker-free.
Trigger functions:
    • "AC": in this switch position, the DC voltage components are suppressed selectively. Thus, the trigger does not jounce when signals with a lower cut-off frequency than indicated.
    • "HF" (High Frequency): in this mode, your oscilloscope filters down low-frequency signal parts. This is used to suppress interference signals.
    • "DC" (corresponds to "DC voltage coupling") in this switching position all measuring signals from 0 Hz contribute to the triggering.

4. What is triggering?

To obtain a standing image when measuring with an oscilloscope, the signal to be measured must be properly triggered. Here you can select the channel on which the triggering should take place using a switch at the oscilloscope. The digital storage oscilloscope has an external trigging input. After running the display, the time-delay generator waits until the measuring signal has the same direction and the same level. Only then it can be triggered again.

Best Oscilloscope Brands

1. Siglent

SIGLENT is a global high-tech company; They began developing digital oscilloscopes in 2002. After 13 years of research and development, their products include digital oscilloscopes, isolated handheld oscilloscopes, function/arbitrary waveform generators, DC power supplies, digital multimeters, spectrum analyzers and other general test instruments. They provide the Best Value in Electronic Test & Measurement.

2. Tektronix

They are the measurement insight company committed to performance, and forced by possibilities. They design and manufactures test and measurement solutions to break through the walls of difficulty, and accelerate global innovation. They emphasize on greater ease, speed, and accuracy. Their solutions have supported many of humankind’s most significant improvements of the past 70 years. In 2016 they launch TBS2000 oscilloscope.

3. Rigol

There are no compromises while you choose a Rigol product. They provide all of the performance and characteristics you require to quickly accomplish your tasks along with the quality and comfortable to use you demand. They believe that you will be delighted with their products & the outstanding value they provide that all backed by a three-year warranty.

4. Hantek

Qingdao Hantek Electronic Co., Ltd. is a producer of general instruments specializes in composition, product, marketing, and service. It is an industry in national level with new and powerful technology which has passed the ISO9001:2008 global quality management system certification and ISO14001:2004 environmental management system certification. Hantek has several possible different type innovations. The absolute power of Hantek has improved day by day after more than ten years service and development, and the constant innovation in science and technology. Hantek has built up an active fighting team and formed an excellent national machine brand.

5. SainSmart

SainSmart is a professional Open Hardware company specializing in Maker products ranging from Development Boards and Sensors to Motors and Testing Tools. They aim to meet the comprehensive demands of any and all electronics hobbyists. SainSmart strives to give top-notch high-grade products at prices that even the most cost-conscious buyers cannot resist.


  • GW Instek Announces New 50Ω Impedance Adapter (GAK-003) Option for the GDS-2000A Series Digital Storage Oscilloscopes… Do you think GDS-1000B is better than GDS-2000A?

    • Thanks, cooper. This it should be offered as a standard option with every new Oscilloscope. similar third-party solutions retail at 40 – 50 USD. The GDS-1000B is better in some cases like its providing 100 MHz, 70 MHz, 50MHz compared to GDS-2000A it’s providing 70 MHz. But the price of GDS-2000A is quite similar.
      On the other hand, GDS-2000A is providing some facilities like- 80,000 wfm/s Waveform Update Rate and VPO Technique, Function Generator Option, Upgrade to Mixed Signal Oscilloscope (MSO), Design for Plugged-in Options, Segmented Memory, Zoom Window, Mixed Signal Oscilloscope(MSO), Complete Trigger Functions, 36 Automatic Measurement, Data Log, CAN/LIN Bus trigger and analysis, Advanced Logic,Various Interfaces Support, Option of DDS Signal Generators. you can Shop Now GDS-2000A.

  • Alex you are really great and thanks again for your help and after your review I bought it and its really working like a pro 🙂

  • What probes would I be able to use with this degree that will enable me to take a gander at 50 microvolt motions between 500 Hz and 30 MHz in Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL?

    • If you have a known pickup intensifier that will work at 50 UV and in any event appear on your most reduced vert. Input setting it should work OK for you. I’ve utilized this procedure. You would utilize an x-1 test. An unpleasant estimation on an adjusted beneficiary would be an S-9 perusing on its S-meter.

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