Oscilloscope Measurements

digital storage oscilloscope enables you to perform a wide variety of measurements on a waveform, the complexity and range of which depend on the features of your specific oscilloscope, so if you’re in the market for a new oscilloscope, keep the types of measurements you will be taking in mind. Let’s take a look at some basic measurements commonly found on many oscilloscopes.

Peak-to-peak voltage

Peak-to-peak voltage measurement allows you to calculate the difference in voltage between the low and high voltages of a waveform’s cycle.

RMS voltage

RMS voltage is used to measure the root mean square (RMS) voltage of a waveform, and this calculation can then be used to compute its power.


The risetime measurement is useful for calculating the time it takes for a signal to go from a low to how voltage, and the risetime is typically calculated by computing the amount of time it takes to travel from ten percent to ninety percent of the the peak-to-peak voltage.

Pulse width

Positive pulse width measurements are used to compute a pulse’s width by gauging the time it takes for a waveform to go from fifty percent of the peak-to-peak voltage to the maximum voltage and then back to the fifty percent point. Negative pulse width measurement calculates a pulse’s width by computing the time it takes a waveform to go from fifty percent peak-to-peak voltage to the minimum and back to the fifty percent mark.


The period measurement is used to find a waveform’s frequency.


This kind of measurement, as you would expect, is used for calculating the waveform’s frequency.

Please note that this list is here to give you an overview of common measurements available for a number of oscilloscopes, but it is not comprehensive: many oscilloscopes are capable of additional measurements.


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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