What is a Digital Storage Oscilloscope

First off it is important to understand the many terms that digital storage oscilloscopes may be called by. Some of the most popular terms used in the field include o-scope, DSO, or scope. These electronic test instruments allow for a user to observe constant varying signal voltages in a number of different applications.In most cases an oscilloscope will have a display that works on a two-dimensional graph where there is an Y and X axis. The Y, or vertical axis, will show the potential differences of the electrical device, while the X axis, horizontal, is plotted as a function of time. Any other quantity that can be changed to voltage can be shown along the Y axis, o-scopes will even show events that may repeat, or not change at all.

Many people are surprised to see digital storage oscilloscopes used in so many industries. These industries include medicines, science, engineering, and telecommunications, general purpose o-scopes are used in general maintenance of electronic tools or lab work as well. Often specific industries will use specialized DSO’s, one example being the automotive industry that uses these tools for analyzing the ignition system.

When the o-scope first became popular it used cathode ray tubes as the display and linear amplifiers acted as the signal processing. Over time digital storage oscilloscopes modernized, and adopted the LED or LCD screen. These modern instruments are also fitted with much faster analog-to-digital converters and digital signal processors.

Digital storage oscilloscopes may be used in many different industries, but they are very common among hobbyists as well. They can be used to troubleshoot many in-home electronic dilemmas that could arise. For instance, replacing a stepper motor in an old machine, you’ll need a digital storage oscilloscopes to setup the wiring.


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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