There’s an argument that can be made that even the inventor of the famous cathode ray oscilloscope, Karl Ferdinand Braun could not have foreseen how far his invention would survive. Technology and reality often go hand in hand and are responsible for a lot of progress that we see today. It is perhaps one of the technology’s greatest fortes; to be able to perfect on perfection. The great technological wonders we see today came to be in this current state because of continuous innovation as well as the willingness of our society to give way to these advancements.

Today, Oscilloscopes have gotten a lot more important and allow you to do a lot of things including defining your own instrument functionality in software. There are so many options to choose from such as the variable power supply USB oscilloscope among many others. With these you can perform a number of tasks such as general measurements, custom measurements as well as spectrum analyzer, frequency counter and ultrasonic receiver.

But how do you make sure that you’re buying the best oscilloscope? Here are some tips and considerations that’ll help you come up with the best answer to your questions.

Bandwidth

What exactly is the bandwidth when it comes to the oscilloscope? Well, the bandwidth in this is supposed to describe the frequency range of the input signal and then pass it through the analog front end. The bandwidth ensures that the amplitude loss during this entire process is as minimal as possible. The amplitude loss usually occurs from the tip of the probe where the input of the ADC is located.

As a general rule, most experts recommend that you use an oscilloscope that has a bandwidth that is at least twice the top frequency component in the signal you’re expecting to receive.

There’s a lot of frequency related content that will depend a great deal on how you your measure the digital pulses of your signal.

Sampling Rate

While bandwidth is perhaps the primary measure tool with which you should consider your oscilloscope needs, another important factor is the sampling rate. The sampling rate has its own unique importance because if it’s insufficient than it doesn’t matter how your bandwidth is. The sample rate can be described as a simple rate at which the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is supposed to digitalize the incoming signal. It’s worth mentioning here that they are not related at all.

Despite that, as a general rule, it is important that the sampling rate of your oscilloscope should be at-least 3 to 4 times greater than the bandwidth.

Triggering

In almost all cases, the oscilloscope is supposed to catch a signal based on certain prerequisites. It is the triggering within the device that allows people to isolate the event and capture the event before it occurs. There are three distinct categories of triggering within the oscilloscope i.e. analog edge, digital as well as software triggering.

The particularly high-end oscilloscopes will have higher rearm times between the triggers and will allow you to capture multiple points using a particular trigger.

Onboard Memory

The data is usually transferred from the main oscilloscope to the main PC for the purpose of measurement and subsequent analysis. Each instrument comes with its own maximum rate at which they can create the sampling; it should be a deciding factor that influences your decision.

The purpose of the on-board memory is to ensure that you that there is sufficient transfer of the sample rate and that the instrument has the memory to acquire the signals at the optimum moments for your data processing.

 

Justin Germino
Working in the IT Industry for over 17 years starting with OS, Networking and then moving into web based technologies including authentication and online security. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
Justin Germino

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