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    First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    Im deciding on which oscilloscope brand to get. I have read a few other threads in these forums and others and I think I have a good idea of what I want. It seems to be that a used Tektronix off ebay is a popular deal. Im wandering about BK precision products though. I used them in college, im an ME, but I never see anyone talk about using them in any forums. Always seems to be agilent, tek, lecroy that people discuss. I can pick up a new BK with equal/better than specs, as far as I can tell, than a used one at similar price off ebay. Is there something im missing here?

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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    I would say Tektronix probably make the best oscilloscopes in the World. Many are still working perfectly after 30 years or more. That's also their weakness, the Ebay ones are usually old and although excellent when working, you might have trouble getting spares if there is a fault. There is an excellent Yahoo Group supporting Tek equipment and people there will usually advise on how to repair them if needed.

    Brian.


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    •   Alt27th December 2010, 16:04

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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    It depends on exactly what you are going to do with the scope! TEK scopes are good and pretty reliable, HP are ok, lecroy good, the others are 2nd tier.

    If you are a ME and want to use it in mechanical work, like robotics, you are going to need to sampe slow moving stuff. Therefore, make sure you get a digital scope with sufficient record length memory to see your waveforms.

    If you are an audiofile, a good 100 MHz analog scope would be fine.

    If you are an RF guy or ham, you probably want the fastest Analog scope you can get to see the rf waveforms (you can see them on a digital scope too, but to do so you need a very high clock rate that you probably can't afford, even used).

    If you are going to be doing a lot of microcontroller work or digital electronics, you want a digital scope, or maybe even a logic analyzer instead.


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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    Well im trying to decide between the bk 2542 (100Mhz, 4000 point record length, 1GSa/s, 2 input) and a tek TDS2014B (100Mhz, 2500 point record length, 1GSa/s, 4input) so far. I really like the idea of having 4 inputs instead of 2 but at the same time the record length is much smaller on the Tek. It seems odd that they wouldnt be able to record much much more data. Seems like that would be such a simple and cheap upgrade. I cant find others in this price range that can store more data either. Thanks for the input!

    ---------- Post added at 14:12 ---------- Previous post was at 12:57 ----------

    Does the USB drive increase the record length size or just the amount of records to be stored?



    •   Alt27th December 2010, 20:12

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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    Both of those a high specifications and probably more than you need if you are using it for hobby purposes. It's always better to have something you may not use than not have it when you need it!

    What the USB drive does is dependent on the OS of the scope, for example, some scopes use them to store programs to process the sampled data rather than store the samples themselves. I think my ancient Tek storage scope has 1024 point record length and I find that is more than adequate. Don't forget you can set the conditions required to start sampling, you don't have to capture everything then search for particular points afterward.

    Brian.


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    •   Alt27th December 2010, 21:53

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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    The difference between 4k points and 2.5k isn't significant. I would go for 4 channels - so useful in so many situations. If you want long record length you need to be looking for 100k+.

    Keith


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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    Have a look at the scope buying guides on ebay. there are some good points about common faults and recommendations. Digital scopes offer much more these days and 1GS/s is probably the lowest rate to look at now.



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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    I wouldn't get hung up on sample rates. 1Gs/s is fine for a 100MHz oscilloscope. Far more important to look at other aspect such as number of channels, memory depth and trigger abilities. If you were likely to be designing 270Mb/s serial digital TV links then the answer would be different but I would guess you are more likely to be looking at the signals from a microcontroller with a 20MHz clock and associated analog signals.

    Keith



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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    No I wouldn't get hung up on it either, its just that 1GS/s is the sweet spot for me in the second hand market. The results are often less ambiguous to the inexperienced user re aliasing etc. If he were looking at 270Mb/s signals I would hope he wouldn't be asking the question! Analog scopes are fine for repetitive signals and simple triggering, DSOs are much more versatile and will last longer. My philosophy is always buy the best instrument you can so you won't have to buy another one when you out grow it. TEK 465, 475 series are great but old, 2645 have front end hybrids that fail, HP 54000 series good but check sample rates, kikosui make good multichannel analog scopes. B&K are not as well known as the others and may be good value for money as you don't have to pay for the badge. HP and Tek are popular because of the manuals and service support out in the hobby world. If you need to fix an out of support instrument - you want as many hands out there as possible. Also they are very reliable - thats why you pay for the name. If you're not in a rush, spend some time familiarizing yourself with whats on the market. Some of the HP logic analyzers with scopes do very well and are often quite cheap e.g. 16500C - but check cards! The most important thing to ask is what do you want to look at?



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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    I would suggest a larger record lenght than either of those. The record length is what helps you find a single glitch somewhere in a long line of data. A 2.5K record length, to me, would be unusablle. I usually keep my scope on 1 Meg record length, but I do a lot of high speed stuff. I would say that a 10 K record length is the minimum acceptable, and much more would not be extravagant!



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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    I find it difficult to be objective in the long vs short memory debate. I use long memory scopes but with advanced triggering you can avoid the need for huge zooms. However, long memory oscilloscope usually have advanced triggering as well. The benefit of the long trigger is you don't have to dream up the advanced trigger scenario to catch the event - you catch it then zoom in.

    However, on a limited budget any oscilloscope is better than nothing, which is what I had when I started out in electronics.

    Another option to consider is USB scopes. I am not a fan of them but a lot of people are and you can get a lot of facilities for a reasonable amount of money.

    Keith



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    Re: First Oscilloscope for hobby use

    Hello.

    Next year i am planning on buying my first osciloscope. I think this one will be a good choice: OWON MSO8102T. Has anyone used this one? Any comments/recomndations? The price is a bargain and it has a lot of interesting features.

    Thanks for our help.

    Have a nice day.

    Happy new year! :)

    JamesQ



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