17 Best Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists: Bonus Included! [2021 Update]
With increases in technology over the last five years, the 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:
First, 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
Then, 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 fewer errors.
- Matching Probes
Next, 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
Furthermore, 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
Additionally, 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
Finally, 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
Want to learn more about oscilloscope? You can read What is an Oscilloscope? Why is it important? to find out more.
Next, 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.
Furthermore, 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.
Finally, we covered the base features, and listed the primary pro’s and con’s of each oscilloscope to find the best oscilloscope for hobbyists!
Table of Content
- Hantek DSO5202P Digital Storage Oscilloscope
- Rigol DS1054Z
- Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E
- Owon XDS3104E
- Siglent Technologies SD1202X-E 200 Mhz
- Rigol DS1102E
- Siglent SHS806TCAL
- Tektronix TBS1052B
- Siglent Technologies SDS1102X
- Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL
- GW Instek GDS-1054B
- KEYSIGHT EDUX1002A InfiniiVision 1000 X-Series
Hantek DSO5202P Digital Storage Oscilloscope
The Hantek DS05202P has 2 channels, with 200 MHz bandwidth, one of our best beginner series oscilloscopes. First, the unit has a 1 GSa/s real-time sampling rate, which is impressive for its price range. The unit comes with a 7’’ WVGA (800×480) color display for easy navigation, reading value and, manipulating the graphs. On top of that, the unit boasts a memory depth of 40k (wow). The trigger mode has edge/pulse width/line selectable video/slop/overtime etc. Finally, the USB host and device connectivity are standard and it has four math functions, including FFTs standard, which is needed for any engineering classroom.
- User-friendly menu
- Lightweight and portable
- Comes with 2 dual rated probes
- One of the best value scopes on the market
- Screen recording on PC may lag
- Signal noise might be high when zooming in too much
The Rigol DS1054Z has 4 channels, and 50 MHz bandwidth. First, it includes a free software bundle BND-MSO/DS1000z which is nice. Ultravision, deeper memory 12 Mpts which is upgradable to 24 Mpts via a 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 oscilloscopes 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
Siglent SDS1104X-E 100MHz 4 Channel Digital Oscilloscope
The Siglent SDS1104X-E has 4 channels and 100 MHz bandwidth. First, it offers a real-time sampling rate of 1 GSa/s (Total of 2A-to-D converters). It also has a maximum capture rate of 100,000 in normal mode, and 400,000 in sequence mode. Furthermore, the unit has a memory depth of 14 Mpts, as well as abode plot function (side note: Requires SIGLENT SDG X or SAG1021 function generator). Next, it has search/navigates 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 oscilloscopes for hobbyists on the market.
- Built-in webserver
- Wide colored display that’s zoom-able for a more accurate recording
- Fast speeds enable the 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 all additional costs
- The 1x/10x switch is easy to shift on accident
- Numerous functions can be confusing to new users
Owon XDS3104E 4Ch 100MHz n-in-1 Digital Oscilloscope
When talking about the best oscilloscope for hobbyists on the market, the Owon XDS3104E has to be on that list. First, it has 4 channels and a 60MHz – 200MHz Bandwidth, 1GS/s sample rate. Furthermore, 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 an 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
Siglent SD1202X-E 200 Mhz, 2-channel oscilloscope
The Siglent SD1202X-E has 2 channels and a bandwidth of 200 MHz with a 1 GSa/s real-time sampling rate. First, it has a maximum capture rate of 100,000 in Normal mode and 400,000 in sequence mode. On top of that, It also boasts an impressive memory depth of 14 Mpts. The unit has a minimum vertical input range of 500 uV/div and, an innovative digital trigger system with high sensitivity and low jitters. Finally, 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 the trigger position
- Only has 2 channels
- No HDMI port to be able to display on a larger screen
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 in color. The trigger modes also come with an 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
Siglent SHS806TCAL 60 Mhz handheld oscilloscope
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. Furthermore, the unit is calibrated prior to shipment which makes it ready to use immediately. The multimeter mode measures voltage, frequency, duty cycle, and power. Finally, the real-time sample rate of 1GS/s and record length of 2mpts allow 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
- The USB function allows for easy data transfer
- Only 2 channels
- Small display compared to most which require 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. To top it off, the unit boasts a maximum real-time sample rate of 2GS/s on all channels without interleaving. Furthermore, it has 2.5kpts per channel for acquiring detailed waveforms. The unit is 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
- The display refreshes at about 5 frames per second
- Does not display min-max voltage ranges
Hantek2D72 70 MHz Oscilloscope, Waveform Generator
The Hantek2D72 70 MHz Oscilloscope, Waveform Generator & Digital Multimeter is a next-generation tool that can keep up with most if not all of your technical and engineering needs. It’s a 70 MHz oscilloscope with a 250M Sampling Rate, an arbitrary waveform generator, and a highly accurate digital multimeter that can measure AC/DC voltage/current, resistance, diode, capacitance, and on-off test. It’s powered by 18650 lithium batteries that could go a full-day work so it’s extremely portable and safe. Electroboom found it quite useful in testing voltage and current in his How Safe Is the SHOWER HEAD OF DOOM?! video. Since it can do the job of three, you wouldn’t have to keep tons of devices on your bench to work on any projects. Needless to say, it’s the perfect rig for technicians on the go!
- Compact Design
- Multiple Automatic Measurements
- Anti-glare screen
- Easy to read instructions
- Small screen
- Limited use
Siglent Technologies SDS1102X
The Siglent SDS1102X has 2 channels and 100 MHz bandwidth. First, the unit offers a sample rate of 1GS/s and a record length of 14 mpts. It also 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
- The power button is low quality
- Basic serial decoding
- Have to purchase additional features such as Wave Gen
Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL
The Siglent SDS1052DL is an upgrade to the popular SDS1052DL model. First, the unit has 1 channel and limited to 50 MHz. The unit comes with a 7-inch color TFT-LCD display. Second, it has a maximum real-time sample rate of 500MS/s and a record length of 32Kpts for acquiring detailed waveforms. Furthermore, the scope also has advanced triggers for the isolation of specific signals. It offers features such as cursors, a built-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 an 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, it is no wonder why it made it on our list of best oscilloscopes 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 wave gen 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 makes it one of the best oscilloscopes for hobbyists as well!
- Professional level equipment with a hobby-level price point
- Menu options are pragmatically laid out
- The sine wave is the only waveform that goes to full 20 MHz
- The 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 oscilloscopes 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.
- The 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!
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’s versions follow this link.
Now we did promise you bonus content, and we don’t want to disappoint!
Super budget option!!!
First, 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.
Also, 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 Hantek 20 MHz USB Oscilloscope for PC. The best part?
It’s only $67.67!
First, the Hantek 20 MHz USB Oscilloscope for PC is a 2 channel. However, this tiny scope has 20 KHz bandwidth oscilloscope with a 8-bit resolution and a max. Sample rate:48MS/s. The unit conforms to the standard USBXITM interface, and can easily insert into a USBXITM housing allowing the user to build up a combination instrument.
Furthermore, the incredible price for this scope makes it one of the best oscilloscopes for hobbyists on the market. When you don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in something you might only use one.
There! We covered an extensive list of the best oscilloscope for hobbyists for all price ranges!
Finally, 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.