With increases in technology over the last five years, circuitry is becoming more and more of a popular hobby for people around the world. Based on simple economics, we know the increase in demand will also cause an increase in supply. When we look at oscilloscopes in this context, it explains why it’s so difficult to choose. For that reason, we decided to share our expertise and help identify the best oscilloscope for hobbyists.
Factors to Consider
It’s always important to consider the following factors when choosing an oscilloscope:
- What is the maximum frequency range that the oscilloscope can accurately measure? Always remember the rule of five. Your scope should have “five times the bandwidth of your highest-frequency signal.”
- Rise time
- How fast is the rise time? This is important in determining the accuracy of the details of your signals. Faster rise time = more accurate measurements and less errors.
- Matching Probes
- What is the bandwidth for the probes you’re using? Do they match the scope’s bandwidth? It’s ideal to use the same brand of probes as the device itself. This will decrease the likelihood of incompatibility and error.
- Input Channels
- How many input channels will you need? Devices can have anywhere from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 channels. The more you have, the more signals you’ll be able to compare. However, this will also increase the price.
- Sample Rate
- How much of the waveform detail can the scope capture? If you’ve study film or photography, it’s similar to the frame rate. The higher the rate, the higher the quality and detail.
- Record Lengths
- Up to what length can the scope store records? Usually, it’s a limited number. The greater this length, the more detailed your records will be.
- Advanced Application Support
- What types of technologies can pair with your scope? With all the technology, especially open source, it’s important that you can connect it with applications for solving complex tasks.
The Top 5 Oscilloscopes
To help you find the best one faster, we’ve identified our top 5 based on those factors. Here they are along with what type of hobbyists they might be ideal for:
Short description: Analog Discovery 2
Ideal for: Students or Hobbyists who want a device with a small footprint and versatility to help them learn or prototype.
Short description: 60 MHz handheld oscilloscope (battery powered)
Ideal for: Technicians in the field, people who need to troubleshoot on the go
Short description: Dual Channel USB smartphone, tablet, or laptop oscilloscope
Ideal for: Someone looking for smartphone/IOS/Android connectivity.
Short description: This Phosphor Oscilloscope has a fast refresh rate and huge record length of 14Mpts.
Ideal for: Engineers looking for advanced features and affordability.
Short description: DSO5202P-INT
Ideal for: New Users, Hobbyists, Advanced Users who are looking for the best bang for the buck. This is our pick for the best oscilloscope for hobbyists.
As you can see, the best oscilloscope for hobbyists is not always the one with the highest price tag. Remember to always consider all factors and the projects for which you’ll be using it. Oscilloscopes are powerful devices! It only makes sense to do your research and choose the best so you get the best results.
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