OK, regardless of what many “old hat” hams think, there is a lot of kit building and homebrew activity going on in our little “geek” subculture. I don’t bother with the discussions with many of my friends, as they don’t go anywhere to see the truly neat projects people are developing.
To that end, many hams have asked me over the past few months about scopes (even a recent topic on “the zed”). Basically, you can go one of four routes.
1: Buy a super expensive scope
2: Buy a decent used scope for a couple hundred
3: Buy a USB/computer based scope
4: Buy a brand you may not be familiar with, hack it, and get double what you paid for (in the $400. range).
I’m a fan of 2 and 4. Both have their merits. A used O’scope (not really Irish either) is a bargain, you can get a name brand and will cover most of what you need in our hobby. Used scopes are also great to learn on as well until you figure out what you really may need.
That leads us to a “no name” brand. The Rigol is truly a neat scope. I used one on my last job for about 9 or so months and it really had some neat features. It is portable, can store images to a USB drive, can connect via USB to a computer, the list goes on, but here’s a few:
|Vertical Sensitivity||2 mV/div – 10V/div|
|Real-time Sample Rate||1 GSa/s?each channel??500 MSa/s?dual channels?|
|Equivalent Sample Rate||10 GSa/s|
|Memory Depth||Mode||capture rate||common||long memory|
|one channel||1 GSa/s||16 kpts||N/A|
|500 MSa/s||16 kpts||1 Mpts|
|dual channels||500 MSa/s|
|Standard Interface||USB Host & Device, RS-232, P/F Out|
|Vertical Resolution||8 bits|
|Math||?, ?, ×, FFT|
|Max Input Voltage||All inputs 1M??15pF 300 V RMS CAT?|
|Cursor Measurements||Manual, Track and Auto Measure modes|
Not a bad scope for the $400. range on ebay.
But…… (think Vince from “Slap Chop”)…… if you act now, because we can’t do this all day………
Dave Jones over at the EEVBlog has a neat video on Youtube on how you can double some of the specs…. for nothing. Be wary of some google searches on the topic, some want you to hack into the scope and do all sorts of nonsense. This is a simple first start and many people have had great results with it.
If you would like to go to the actual Rigol page and look up the specs and download the manual, go here:
Finally, if you’re still not sure what you are looking for, you may be able to try a scope at a few places. Some trade schools, community colleges and such will let you come down and just take a look (or attend a workshop). There is also a growing number of “hackerspaces” around the globe. A “hackerspace” is a place to explore and learn technology in all it’s facets. Some vendors (Tektronix for example) have some really good resources on their websites as well.