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. With so many options, what is 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 studied 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.
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 on the market.
We covered the base features, and listed the primary pro’s and con’s of each oscilloscope to find the best oscilloscope for hobbyists!
This list covers the following oscilloscopes.
- Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes
- Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E
- OWON XDS3104E Digital Oscilloscope
- Siglent Technologies SD1202X-E
- Hantek DSO5202P
- Rigol DS1102E 100MHz
- Siglent Technologies SHS806TCAL
- Tektronix TBS1052B
- Owon HDS102M Series HDS Handheld
- Siglent Technologies SDS1102X
- Hantek DSO5072P
- SainSmart DSO Note II DS202 Nano
- Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL
- GW Instek GDS-1054B
- KEYSIGHT EDUX1002A InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series
- Tektronix TBS1064
- Rigol DS1202Z-E
So keep reading!
The Rigol DS1054Z has 4 channels, and 50 MHz bandwidth. It includes a free software bundle BND-MSO/DS1000z which is nice. Ultravision, deeper memory 12 Mpts which is upgradable to 24 Mpts via software key. It has up to 30,000 wfms/s waveform capture rate, a 7’’ WVGA (800×480) TFT screen, and a USB host, USB device, LAN, Aux (TrigOut/PassFail). To top it off it has real time waveform record, replay, FFT function standard, and a variety of math functions making it one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists.
- 4 channels
- One of the best graded intensity displays on the market
- It has all the mathematical operators you could ever need
- Up-gradable memory depth, bandwidth and frequency
- 4 channels share the same vertical settings control
- Fan noise can be disruptive
- A few UI lags
- Bulky compared to other units thus it can be tiring to carry for an extended amount of time
- It may absorb weak signals
The Siglent SDS1104X-E has 4 channels and 100 MHz bandwidth. It offers a real time sampling rate of 1 GSa/s (Total of 2A-to-D converters). It has a maximum capture rate of 100,000 in normal mode, and 400,000 in sequence mode. A memory depth of 14 Mpts, as well as a bode plot function (side note: Requires SIGLENT SDG X or SAG1021 function generator). It has search/navigate functions as well as web-based browser remote control, optional Wi-Fi dongle, and an optional MSO capability. With so many features, the Siglent SD1104X-E is one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists on the market.
- Built-in web server
- Wide colored display that’s zoom-able for a more accurate recording
- Fast speeds enable device to detect the fastest waveform and capture the signals
- Works with the latest SPO technology
- Trigger functions help make references to the signal memories
- Optional items you have to order such as the 16ch logic decoder, USB AWG, a USB Wifi, which are are all additional costs
- The 1x/10x switch is easy to shift on accident
- Numerous functions can be confusing to new users
When talking about the best oscilloscope for hobbyists on the market, the Owon XDS3104E has to be on that list. It has 4 channels and a 60MHz – 200MHz Bandwidth, 1GS/s sample rate. It offers 8-bit or 14-bit high resolution ADX along with a 40M record length max 70,000 wfms/s waveform refresh rate. It also has an 8’’ display with a 800 x 600 resolution LCD, an optional multi-touch screen. It’s SCPI and LabVIEW supported with a multi-trigger and bus decoding function. Finally it has a multi-interface integration, along with a USB host, USB device, USB port of PictBridge, LAN, AUX, and VGA.
- Low background noise
- User friendly operating experience
- Comes with a Record Feature
- Built in frequency generator saves space
- Sturdy probes
- Multipurpose button tends to rotate when pressed, knocking off the entered data
- Build-in multi-meter may lag sometimes
- Quick start guide does not provide enough
The Siglent SD1202X-E has 2 channels and a bandwidth of 200 MHz with a 1 GSa/s real time sampling rate. It has a maximum capture rate of 100,000 in Normal mode and 400,000 in sequence mode. It also boasts an impressive memory depth of 14 Mpts. It has a minimum vertical input range of 500 uV/div and an innovative digital trigger system with high sensitivity and low jitters. It has a 256-level intensity grading display and a color-temperature mode in other oscilloscopes in this class. The serial bus trigger/decode comes standard.
- The real-time sampling rate is high
- Intuitive user interface
- Large memory depth
- 200 MHz allows to troubleshoot more complex devices
- Low cost making it an excellent entry level oscilloscope
- May need to change the sweep delay whenever you want to set trigger position
- Only has 2 channels
- No HDMI port to be able to display on a larger screen
The Hantek DS05202P has 2 channels, with 200 MHz bandwidth. It has a 1 GSa/s real time sampling rate, with a 7’’ WVGA (800×480) color display. It boasts a memory depth of 40k. The trigger mode has edge/pulse width/line selectable video/slop/overtime etc. The USB host and device connectivity is standard and it has four math functions, including FFTs standard.
- User friendly menu
- Lightweight and portable
- Comes with 2 dual rated probes
- One of the best value scopes on market
- Screen recording on PC may lag
- Rubber buttons cheaply designed
- Signal noise might be high when zooming in too much
The Rigol DS1102E comes with 2 channels with an external trigger, and 100 MHz bandwidth. It has a 1 million point deep memory, 1 GSa/sec max sample rate. The 5.7’’ TFT QVGA (320×240) LCD backlit display is 64k color. The trigger modes come with edge, pulse width, slope, video, pattern, continuous time and alternate. The scope supports both Chinese and English input.
- Features a user friendly pop-up menu
- Ulta lightweight making it one of the most portable scopes on the market
- Durable construction
- Significant sample rate
- Noisy fan
- Small display screen
- Persistence setting in the X-Y mode is either On/Off and can’t be set to a few seconds for things like the curve tracer
The Siglent SHS806TCAL Handheld Oscilloscope has 2 channels and 60M MHz bandwidth. It has a 5.7’’ TFT-LCD display with a NIST-Traceable Calibration with data. The unit is calibrated prior to shipment which makes it ready to use immediately. The multimeter mode measures voltage, frequency, duty cycle and power. Real-time sample rate of 1GS/s and record length of 2mpts allows it to acquire up to 18 hours of detailed waveforms.
- Handheld, making it compact and light which makes carrying easy
- Easy to dial buttons
- Comes with a 1 year warranty
- USB function allows for easy data transfer
- Only 2 channels
- Small display compared to most which requires you to transfer data on the computer for easy viewing
- Manual could use improvement
The Tektronix TBS1052B comes with 2 channels and a 50 MHz bandwidth. It has a 7’’ WVGA (800×480) Active TFT color display. It boasts a maximum real-time sample rate of 2GS/s on all channels without interleaving. It has 2.5kpts per channel for acquiring detailed waveforms. It’s UL Certified, CE approved, and CAT II 300V safety rated.
- No cooling fan means lower noise and higher reliability
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- Pan and zoom feature
- Lightweight and portable
- Limit Test Function (compares different waveforms against the predefined boundaries to determine whether it falls in the Pass/Fail category)
- The triggers may be unreliable
- Display refreshes at about 5 frames per second
- Does not display min-max voltage ranges
Owon HDS102M Series HDS Handheld
The Owon HDS102M Series HDS is a single channel, 20 MHZ handheld scope. It can measure voltage, current, resistance and capacitance. It offers a maximum real-time sample rate of 100 Ms/s and a record length of 6,000 points for acquiring detailed waveforms. The multimeter provides a manual and auto-ranging options for user control. The display is a 3.5’’ color TFT-LCD. The scope meets the EN 61010-1:2001 safety standard, and is rated for CAT II installations of up 400V.
- Compact Design
- Multiple Automatic Measurements
- Anti-glare screen
- Easy to read instructions
- Small screen
- Limited use
The Siglent SDS1102X has 2 channels and 100 MHz bandwidth. It offers a sample rate of 1GS/s and a record length of 14 mpts. It has 256 level intensity grading and color temperature modes with a waveform capture rate of up to 60,000 Wfs/use.
- One button shortcuts simplify complex measurements
- Wide colored screen with excellent display for data
- Lightweight and portable
- Utilizes modern SPO technology
- Power button is low quality
- Basic serial decoding
- Have to purchase additional features such as Wave Gen
The Hantek DSO5072P is a 2 channel, 70MHz bandwidth scope. It has a 1GSa/s real time sample rate with a 7’’ color display WVGA (800×480). It has a record length of up to 40k. The trigger mode measures edge/pulse, width/line, selectable video/slop/overtime. The USB host and device connectivity is standard, with multiple automatic measurements. The scope also provides four math functions, including FFts standard. It also comes with PC software for real-time analysis.
- Clear display
- User friendly design
- Numerous trigger modes
- Outdated PC software
SainSmart DSO Note II DS202 Nano
The DSO212 Mini comes with 2 analog channels, 1 operation channel and 1 MHz bandwidth. The screen is a 2.8’ TFT LCD’ with a 320 x 240 resolution. It has a max sample rate of 10 MSa/s and a memory depth of 8k. The trigger mode has ascend/descend edge. It has an inbuilt Signal Generator: sine/square/triangle/sawtooth wave along with a synchronous mode: auto, normal, single, none, scan value/average.
- Small and portable
- DSO function to catch and store single events
- Good contract screen
- Test signal output connector
- May not be properly calibrated out of the box
- Doesn’t come with perfect probe (may have to purchases elsewhere)
The Siglent SDS1052DL is an upgrade to the popular SDS1052DL model. It has 1 channel and 50 MHz. The display is a 7 inch color TFT-LCD display. It has a maximum real-time sample rate of 500MS/s and a record length of 32Kpts for acquiring detailed waveforms. The scope also has advanced triggers for isolation of specific signals. It offers features such as cursors, build-in frequency counter, and automatic measurements. It comes equipped with USB and LAN interfaces.
- User friendly setup
- Lightweight and portable
- Sturdy construction
- Low screen resolution
- Noisy fan
- Slow speed
GW Instek GDS-1054B
The GW instek GDS-1054B has 4 channels and a 50 MHz bandwidth. It offers a 1 GSa/s maximum sampling rate, and a 10M maximum memory depth for each channel. The 7’’ WXGA LCD display boasts a 800 x 480 resolution with a 256 color gradient display function. It comes with a 1 Mpts FFT frequency domain signal display and has a zero function for horizontal time, vertical voltage and triggering. With the GW coming with 4 probes, its no wonder it made it on our list of best oscilloscope for hobbyists.
- Comes with 4 probes
- User friendly
- Dense waveform capture and zoom
- Noisy fan
- No yellow or green color rings with probes
KEYSIGHT EDUX1002A InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series
The KEYSIGHT EDUX1002A InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series has 2 channels and 50 MHz bandwidth. It has built in language support, and built in 20 MHz wavegen and frequency response analysis. Other features include math, FFT, analog bus, and protocol triggering/decode. It boasts a signal detail with 50,0000 wfms/sec update rates. Keysight is a company that targets professional use, but the great price point of this scope make it one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists as well!
- Professional level equipment with hobby level price point
- Menu options are pragmatically laid out
- Sine wave is the only waveform that goes to full 20 MHz
- Square and pulse waves are restricted to 10 MHz
- Ramp wave goes only up to 200 kHz
The Tektronix TBS1064 has 4 channels with a 60 MHz bandwidth. It has a 5.7’’ active TFT color display and a maximum real time sample rate of 1GS/s on all channels without interleaving. It also has a record length of 2.5kpts per channel. It comes with 16 automated measurements, and FFT analysis for simplified waveform analysis. The two built-in features are waveform limit testing, and context-sensitive help. The scope is UL certified, CE approved, CAT II 300V safety rated. The features of the Tektronix TBS1064 make it one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists on the market, but its high price point is something to consider.
- No fan means the device is quiet
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- User friendly
- Small display screen
- High price point
The Rigol DS1202Z-E has 2 channels and 200 MHz. It has a real time sample rate of up to 1Gs/s, and a 24Mpoint memory. It also has a higher Waveform Capture Rate (up to 30,000 wfms/s) and a real-time Waveform Recording & Playback (up to 60,000 frames) with an Intensity graded color display. It also boasts a 7’’ color display.
- Great price point for capabilities offered
- Glitchy multifunction button
- Only 2 probes
- No manual on CD
We hope this list of the best oscilloscopes for hobbyists helped you make an informed decision!
To recap here are the best oscilloscopes for hobbyists and their price.
- Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes – Price: $349.00
- Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E – Price: $499.99
- OWON XDS3104E Digital Oscilloscope – Price: 899.00
- Siglent Technologies SD1202X-E – Price: $764.15
- Hantek DSO5202P – Price: $324.47
- Rigol DS1102E 100MHz – Price: $299.00
- Siglent Technologies SHS806TCAL – Price: $465.00
- Tektronix TBS1052B – Price: $624.00
- Owon HDS102M Series HDS Handheld – Price: $219.00
- Siglent Technologies SDS1102X – Price: $499.00
- Hantek DSO5072P – Price: Price: 194.99
- SainSmart DSO Note II DS202 Nano – Price: 109.99
- Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL – Price: 259.00
- GW Instek GDS-1054B – Price: 331.73
- KEYSIGHT EDUX1002A InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series – Price: $500.00
- Tektronix TBS1064 – Price: $1,174.27
- Rigol DS1202Z-E – Price: 369.00
[Side note: As you notice, Siglent Technologies has 5 scopes that appear on this list. That’s not a coincidence. The company has a reputation for making the best oscilloscope for hobbyists for a while now. For a comparison between the X-Series versions follow this link.]
Now we did promise you bonus content, and we don’t want to disappoint!
When you look at that list, the price point ranges from $109.99 all the way to $1174.27. That’s a significant price range and a significant amount of money.
For more experienced hobbyists looking to upgrade this might not be an issue, but for a complete beginner just starting to get into oscilloscopes this might be a pricey commitment.
Not to worry!
We here at Circuit Specialists understand that and that and when we made the list of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists we made sure to cover all available price points.
Introducing the JYETECH DSO150
The JYETECH DSO150 is a 1 channel, 200 KHz bandwidth oscilloscope with a 12-bit resolution and a record length of 1024. This handheld scope has a 2.4-inch color TFT LCD with 320 x 240 resolution. The best part?
It’s only $39.52!
The incredible price for this scope makes it one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists on the market. For a full comprehensive review click the link here.
There! We covered an extensive list of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists for all price ranges!
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.
Still need more information or would you rather talk to someone directly? You can email us at any time at email@example.com or 1-800-528-1417.