Best Hobbyist Oscilloscope Reviews – (2018 Updated Guide)

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Anyone who has been inside a laboratory, or simply seen one on television or in the movies, is certainly familiar with the wavy patterns of light as displayed on a small screen. This device is called an oscilloscope, or, in some instances, it is simply called an “o-scope”.

It is also sometimes referred to as a CRO, for cathode ray oscilloscope, they type you may be more familiar with from your TV screen or old Sci-Fi movies, or a DSO, for the more modernized digital storage oscilloscope.

Hobbyist Oscilloscope FeaturedThe later, digital variety may be more than previous versions in that it can store results of your measurements, and display them on other digital devices, such as a computer. Oscilloscopes are instruments used to measure and display the waveform of electronic signals. Simply, it takes the signal and turns it into a wavy line on a small screen.

Oscilloscopes are used for a wide variety of applications. Some are used in the science field, while others are used primarily for medically related scans and tests. It can also be used by engineers, as well as in the automotive and telecommunications industries. General purpose machines are used for equipment maintenance and other lab work. More specialized versions are adapted to diagnose automobile engine problems or measure and map heart functions

But, odds are, if you are at the point of shopping for an oscilloscope, you already have more than a general idea of what they are, and just exactly what type of device will meet your needs. Below I will list the ten best oscilloscopes I have found available. Read carefully and decide wisely to be sure of a perfect device to fit your needs.

Best Rated Digital Oscilloscopes For Hobbyist

Hantek DSO5072P – Perfect Digital Hobbyist Oscilloscope

Hantek DSO5072P Digital

 

First up is the Hantek DSO50729. Most reviews seem to agree that this is an excellent product for the money, some calling it a professional scope at hobbyist prices. It comes equipped with a large 7-inch screen, and will record up to 40 K of data. The device has a useful limit of 20MHz as the highest frequency which can be displayed with accuracy. The Hantek DSO50729’s price makes it an excellent choice for a hobbyist on a budget who is committed to quality and accuracy in his work. It’s only flaw seemed to be poor quality capacitors as installed by the manufacturer, but this is an easy and inexpensive fix for a qualified use at a bargain price.=


Siglent Technologies SDS1102CML Digital Oscilloscope

Siglent Technologies SDS1102CML

 

Next up is the Siglent Technologies SDS1102CML Digital Storage Oscilloscope. This is an upgraded version of the company’s previous release, with an improved high-resolution display. The device features an easily viewed seven-inch dual channel display, cursors, math, automatic measurement, and built-in frequency controls. It also has USB and LAN interfaces, with easily understood software.


Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E Digital Oscilloscope

 

Siglent Technologies

 

For just a few dollars more you may want to consider the Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E Digital Oscilloscope. This is a 200 MHz bandwidth machine with a real-time sampling rate of up to 1 gse/use. The latest generation of SPO technology provides excellent signal fidelity and performance. It offers a 256 intensity display, with a color display mode not available in other models. The device provides LAN and USB interfaces. You may not need all of these features, that is why it’s important to compare different types of equipment. .


Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes

Rigol DS1054Z Digital

 

The next option you may want to consider is the Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope, a 50 MHz bandwidth device with four channels Its real-time sample rate is 1G Sa/s. It also features “UltraVision” technology, offering a seven-inch WVGA with multiple intensity levels in its waveform display. The device comes with 12 mpts of memory standard but is upgradeable to 24.


Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL – Hobbyist Oscilloscope

Technologies SDS1052DL

 

Next up, we return to the popular and dependable Siglent line of oscilloscopes, with the Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL+, an updated and improved version of the popular SDS1052DL. This is a 50 MHz two channel device with a peak sample rate, given in real time, of 500MS/s and a record length right around 32 Kpts. The device offers a higher resolution display, and more advanced triggers for the isolation of specific signals. Cursors, math, built-in frequency counters, and 32 types of automatic measurements are offered, along with the addition of USB and LAN interfaces. The SDS1052DL+ is fairly priced and reliable. Great for any hobbyist.


Owon PDS5022T Portable Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Owon PDS5022T Portable

 

Another option certainly worthy of consideration is the Owon PDS5022T Portable Digital Oscilloscope, a 25 MHz, 2-channel device. The machine will provide a maximum real-time sample rate of 100 Ms/s and a record length of 5 kps per channel. It features an eight-inch TFT-LCD color display, two basic math functions, and twenty auto-measurements for analyzing waveforms. Specific signals can be isolated using video triggers and edge triggers. The device is great for storing waveforms, allowing four to be stored via internal memory. A USB port is provided to allow connectivity to Windows 10 compatible devices.


Keysight Technologies EDUX1002A Oscilloscope

EDUX1002A Oscilloscope

 

The first oscilloscope on our list to be designated exclusively for professional use is the Keysight Technologies EDUX1002A, a 50 MHz device featuring two analog channels. The EDUX1002A allows you to see more details of your signal with a 50,000 wfns. This series of oscilloscopes allows you to capture more of your signal, and see more details of that signal. It also has the advantage of being quite easy to learn to use, with its built-in help and training signals. The scope also utilized segmented memory capability, which maximizes memory depth and aids in better testing.


Hantek DSO5202P 200

Hantek DSO5202P

 

Another option offered by Hanrek is next on the list. The Hantek DSO5202P is another dependable option offered by this corporation. It features 200 MHz bandwidth, dual channels. Its screen is a generous seven inch TFT type LCD, featuring 16 colors. TFT type technology offers the best resolution of all flat panel type displays, and is the most expensive. This Hanrek model also offers multiple auto measurements and four math functions. As well as USB connectivity, which in this day and age means greater flexibility in use. .


Keysight Technologies DSOX1102A

Technologies DSOX1102A

 

Next up is another offering from the product line of Keysight Technologies, the DSOX1102A. This is a 70 MHz device with two channels and recommended for professional use only. An update rate of 50,000 wtms/ses allows you to see your signal in greater detail. The machine comes well-equipped to make professional measurements and allows you to capture more of your signal, and see more detail, than other comparably priced machines. The segmented memory maximizes memory depth while allowing the device to test faster. It is easy to learn to operate as it comes with built-in help and training signals. This is a professional quality oscilloscope that is available to the general public and a very reasonable price.


Keysight Technologies DSOX1102G

Keysight Technologies DSOX1102G

 

Yet another product to consider is, once again, from Keysight Technologies, a company which prides itself on offering professional grade oscilloscopes at more than reasonable prices. Keysight Technologies DSOX1102G is yet again a superior device recommended for professional use., But, as with their other products, more than suitable for a dedicated and serious hobbyist. It has all the basic features of their previously described models, from impressive update rates, to enhanced memory capability, to ease of use and training, but with the added advantage of a 20MHZ wavegen and frequency response analysis, the benefits of this particular machine should be a no brainer. .


Final Words

The ten devices listed above are among the most highly rated devices on the market. Prices range depending on your individual budget, and only you can decide what features are worth what amount to you. But whether you are a hobbyist looking for a more basic, and inexpensive, model, or a professional or student in need of a more sophisticated offering, be sure to do your research.

Look for detailed product descriptions which outline exactly what each device offers, and what it does not. Make sure that the model offered contains what you need out of the box, and does not require more expensive aftermarket add-ons. Be careful not to become mesmerized by all the bells and whistles, and persuade yourself into buying more machine than you need. But, remember, it can be equally frustrating to make a purchase only to realize that it is not sufficient to your needs. Once again – DO YOUR RESEARCH! Read descriptions carefully, and do remember to pay attention to product reviews from satisfied, and sometimes dissatisfied, customers.

Some devices may be recommended for professionals only, but this certainly does not mean that they cannot be suitable for a competent and dedicated amateur. And shop just as much by quality reviews as you do the price. Anyone can tell you that the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” may be true to some extent, but it cannot always be considered a hard and fast rule. It may well be that a less expensive model offers just what you need.  The choice is yours, and it’s up to you to choose wisely.


What is an oscilloscope?

An oscilloscope which at one time was formerly called oscillograph, and is also known as a cathode-ray oscilloscope (CRO), a  digital storage oscilloscope (DSO), scope, or an o-scope – is a form of an electronic test instrument which is meant to allow the user to observe how signal voltages vary.

It can observe several signals at a time, and signals such as vibration and sound can be changed to voltages and will be shown as well.

The changes in electrical signals that happen over time are observed through oscilloscopes. The waveform can be observed and analyzed for properties such as time interval, amplitude, rise time, rise time, frequency, and more. These properties can be directly calculated and shown by modern digital instruments.

However, at one time, before the digital age, old-fashioned oscilloscope could not do that. What users had to do was manually calculate these values. That was the only way that the waveforms could be measured that were going against the scales that were built into the screen of the device.

Oscilloscopes are used in medicine, engineering, sciences, the telecommunication industry, as well as the automotive industry. However, there are plenty of users who use these devices for a hobby. That is why there are also hobbyist oscilloscopes, and let’s now talk about the different types around.

Different types of Digital Oscilloscopes

With technology constantly evolving, many people are looking for the best hobbyist oscilloscope so they can have an enjoyable and simpler time enjoying their hobby! So this is what these people need to look for when they are purchasing their ideal hobbyist oscilloscope.

They need to make sure that the instrument has decent bandwidth and learn about the maximum frequency range that can be accurately measured with a fast rise time. The ideal hobbyist oscilloscope will also have matching probes, has 16 or close to 16 input channels, has a high rate, and can store plenty of records. How, let’s take a good look at the different digital oscilloscopes that are around:

  • Digital storage oscilloscopes (DSO) – This oscilloscope lets you capture and view events that only happen at one time which are referred to as transients. That is because the waveform information is thee in a digital form, and is in a group of stored binary values which can be printed, analyzed, archived, or processed. And that is all done by a computer or within the oscilloscope. The waveform can be displayed even after there is a disappearance of the signal. The great thing about digital storage oscilloscope is that they provide waveform processing and signal storage which the analog or old-fashioned oscilloscope cannot provide. The only issue with the DSO is that they do not provide any intensity grading that is real-time. Therefore, different levels of intensity cannot be shared through the signal that is live.
  • Digital phosphor oscilloscope (DPO) – This oscilloscope is quite modern and more advanced than the DSO. That is because the DPO is made with even more modern digital technology that can deliver high waveform capture rates, and capture waveform images which means the level of signal visualization is higher. With the DPO, you will be able to witness transient events that happen in any digital system such as glitches, transition errors, and runt pulses. Additionally, more of an analysis capability is enabled and possible. The DPO may be more costly than the DSO, but again that all depends on what you are looking for in a hobbyist oscilloscope.
  • Mixed signal oscilloscope (MSO) – This digital oscilloscope is unique and quite advanced because the way it functions is like a combination of a 16-channel logic analyzer and a DPO. The digital channels of an MSO see any digital signal as a logic high or logic low. This is exactly how the signal is viewed by the digital circuit. And, because the MSO is so advanced with its capabilities, it is capable of debugging digital circuits due to the use of its analysis tools. That is how the issues can be determined by pinpointing the cause of any digital problem. And, it can resolve these issues as well, which the other types of digital oscilloscopes cannot so easily.
  • Digital sampling oscilloscope  – This digital oscilloscope is different from the others presented previously. That is because the composition of it is a lot different from the DPO, MSO, and DSO. The position of the amplifier or the attenuator and the sampling bridge is reversed, and this means that the input signal is always sampled before any performance of the amplification or attenuation. That means the amplifier that has a low bandwidth is able to be used following the sampling bridge. That is because the sampling gate has caused the signal conversion to end up at a much lower frequency. This means the device ends up having a much higher bandwidth.

That being said, the catch for this device having a higher bandwidth is that the sampling oscilloscope’s dynamic range has many limitations which is around 1 V peak-to-peak. That is because the sampling gate has no amplifier or the attenuator in front of it, therefore nothing is able to scale the input as it does in the other digital oscilloscopes. That said, the sampling bridge must have the ability to deal with the full dynamic range of any input all of the time.

The other issue that comes with this device is that the sampling bridge cannot have any protection diodes in front of it because the bandwidth would be severely limited, otherwise. The safe input voltage is only at 3 V for any sampling oscilloscope, whereas the safe input voltage for other oscilloscopes is up to 500 V.

That said, if you are looking for a hobbyist oscilloscope, you are going to have to determine what you would want to use it for. Now you know about the functions, capabilities, and limitations of each digital oscilloscope, you have a better idea of which one to get. Whichever one you decide to purchase, have fun with it!


 

2 Comments
  1. Darren says

    Interesting reviews! Which of them is the most useful for technology students? I prefer the one that is most affordable, easy to use and flexible. Keysight Technologies DSOX1102A looks nice and easy to operate. I agree that we should also do our research before finally buying the right products but i am unable to decide which one is right for me.

    1. Harry says

      The Hantek DSO5072P is one of the most affordable digital oscilloscopes in our list. This model is lightweight, easy to use and ideal for the serious hobbyist.

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