5 Things to Avoid When Choosing the Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist

Oscilloscope is an electronic visualization instrument for graphic representation of electrical signals that vary over time. It is normally used in "Signal electronics" for the analysis, design, and study of circuits and low power devices.

Explained in another way, they are electrical signals in the form of coordinates on a screen where there is an X (horizontal) axis that measures time in seconds, milliseconds and microseconds; and a Y (vertical) axis that measures the voltages in volts, millivolts, and microvolts. The image that we obtain as results of those two factors is what we call "Oscillogram". There are two types; analog and digital. The results shown on the screen are the same in both, but each type is recommended for different uses.

Why would I need one?

For example, you are trying to build a dimmer circuit for the lighthouse, and you need to check if it will work before being connected to your car. An oscilloscope shows you if the circuit is working properly or if you must change or modify something before the device works. You can fix small problems before they become bigger, and consequently more expensive.

If you love electronic hobbies, an oscilloscope could be very useful. But there are many of them in the market, which makes it difficult to know which one is appropriate. Since we are not looking for a professional one, the search is shortened enough. Here, we will try to advice how to choose the best oscilloscope for you. What should you avoid when you start to make your own research? >

5 things to avoid when choosing to buy an oscilloscope for hobbyist

1. The budget will depend on what you are willing to spend. The prizes are between $300 and $1000. The secondhand ones are around $300-$400. An efficient digital storage oscilloscope will resist a long time, it won’t be out of date quickly.I recommend one with at least 10MHz bandwidth, but no more than 100MHz because you are not going to need it as high as that. So, you don’t need to buy a professional one if you are going to use it as a personal hobby.

Prices will vary if the device is new or second hand. Don’t be afraid if you buy something that other people used before. Nowadays, people buy second-hand products more often than before. Many people sell things that they have not even used once.Anyway, if you get a second-hand one, make sure you have checked the features that the device contains. Try to set a budget interval, avoiding the cheapest ones and the most expensive ones. The right range for an oscilloscope for amateurs is around $300-$600.

2. The most recommendable brands you can find in the market are three: Tektronik, Agilent,and Rigol. Try to avoid the advertisement if you don’t know the brand or if there is no any reference on the internet about it. For example, Rigol DS1052E which is 50MHz 1GSa/s costs around $675 on eBay.

They are the best quality devices for amateurs. However, we are talking about high quality which probably is too much for a beginner. eBay is not the only way to buy an oscilloscope. You can also get a new one if you don’t trust second-hand purchases. There is a cheap brand called Saelig. Here is the link to its online store http://www.saelig.com/ where you can find new oscilloscopes for less than $400. This is a good choice for people who don’t trust second-hand websites.

3. You also need to learn more about the type of oscilloscope which it will be more useful for you, I’m going to provide some tips. There two types, the analogic and the digital one. An older analogic oscilloscope will be enough if you are working with analogic circuits. The digital one has some advantages since it can measure voltage and frequency.

Furthermore, you will be able to save waveform to analyze later if you desire to go farther. Try to avoid the analogic one if you are going to work with microcontrollers or serials communications. In that case, the digital oscilloscope is exactly what you are looking for.

4. When we talk about how many channels it is recommended that a device has, it can be a bit disconcerting to choose the right thing. One channel oscilloscope could not be enough since you cannot compare waveforms easily. So, it is recommended to avoid the one channel oscilloscope.

I would probably avoid a device with more than three channels because it is too much for a beginner. You won’t use all of them at the same time. Then, the perfect one for Hobbyist should have two or three channels, no more.

5. Be very careful and check all the details that you can find in the information section. Avoid the advert if the description says "no tested" or "as is". Be sure you can find a picture in the purchased advertisement in which the device is on and running apparently properly. If the oscilloscope is off in the photo, it should cause us distrust. It may have a technical problem or that has not been turned on in a long time.

You must check every detail in there. If you find something suspicious, do not make a risk, although the price is very low.The Internet is a very useful and easy tool, full of offers and advantages. However, it has its disadvantages, since we buy without having the object in our hands, which causes many sellers to take advantage of this physical distancing.

An oscilloscope is the most popular type of electronic test kit you can find after a multimeter. It is a very useful tool if you are a fan of electronic devices. However, like all complex apparatus, there are many types and models. It is important to decide well what exactly you want. The oscilloscopes for Hobbyist are not the most expensive. You can find good quality at cost. All we need is patience, time and fixation when we are going to buy a product.

Do not rush. Mark your requirements and conditions and compare in different services, either in an online shopping website or a brick and mortar one. Remember, do not spend more than it is necessary; find a known and identifiable brand and if you want to save waveform buy a digital one, take an oscilloscope with two or three channels. Also,; and check all the details in the information, as well as, the pictures and references.

I hope these tips are useful for your future purchase.


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