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Virtual Oscilloscope vs Digital Oscilloscope

watchnerd

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#1
Ahhh, the joys of moving to moving from California to Washington....

I went to my shed to get my boxed-up classic ancient HP oscilloscope (used to store it in the garage in CA just fine), only to find that (after only 9 months of storage), the box was covered in mildew and there was rust all around the outside. Plugged it in to turn it on and *POOF* *SMOKE*, plus circuit breaker tripped....the old girl is dead. Well, it was probably time, anyway.

So, for a replacement, should I get an inexpensive digital oscilloscope, like:



https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SXVUET...colid=WSMLAWVB9DA5&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Or a virtual oscilloscope like:


(I'd get the Mac version)

https://www.amazon.com/Pico-PicoScope-2204A/dp/B00GZMRZ3M

This would be only for home audio use.

Alternative recommendations welcome, too.
 

amirm

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#2
Ah yes, we don't keep anything in the shed. :)

As to your question, you want a Rigol digital scope. It is much, much easier to use with buttons and such rather than messing with keyboard and mouse. And performance is far, far better than the pocket one. Picoscopes are OK but still not easy to use for everyday work.

The 4 channel Rigol Scope is the standard for hobbyists and very reasonably priced: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B012938...e-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp



There should be tons and tons of videos and reviews on it.

If you want to spend a lot more money, then there are other options but really, for 99% of work the above is just dandy for just $375.
 

amirm

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#3
I should add that the Rigols have been hacked and you can unlock all the options, higher bandwidth, etc. on them. eevblog forum has all the details. Of course if you run a commercial operation you should buy the licensed version. But for hobbyist use, you can look the other way if you choose. :)
 

tomelex

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#4
I would tend to agree with Amir, having an actual dedicated scope vs dinking around with keypad inputs etc is just easier, I mean you have to connect the probe and then with auto ranging etc you pretty much just instantly look at your signal as far as simple audio goes. I am still amazed every time I turn on my old Hitachi V-212 scope that was purchased 30 years ago (I have the receipt) still keeps rocking. Japanese made some superb stuff, just as good probably as HP, which is the old time undeniable leader IMO. Mind though, it has always been indoors.
 

cjfrbw

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#5
I had a Velleman handheld, one channel, that I got years ago intending to learn how to use it. Never did, but reading around here, I got interested again. It's one channel. I finally also got a cheap signal generator 40Mhz recently. Both oscilloscope and signal generator cost a total of about $170 for both. The oscilloscope actually works, and from the signal generator, it looks like it can do sine at least to 2Mhz and square to 1 Mhz with nice shaped waves. That should be plenty for audio. I have been watching you tube vids, and have gotten an idea of the basics. Now, just learning to apply them at a low level.

When I get around to it, I will attempt (also with multi meter) to trace the circuit on a broken tube headphone amp and see where the problem is and see if I can fix it. Totally rinky dink, but that is the level of my endeavors at this point.
 

restorer-john

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#6
I bought a DS-1054Z a few years back just for fun and it is an amazing piece of gear for the money. That said, it's no substitute for my old Cros. I'm just old-fashioned I think. My old Trio, Tek and Goldstar Cros are my companions and they always get turned on for quick tests.

Where the Rigol is excellent, is the huge memory depth 24M, 4 channels, LAN and USB connectivity for screen captures, operation etc and the measurement options. If you like a snappy response to encoder dials, forget the Rigol, it can be frustrating. If you have it across your bench, you'll need glasses to see some of the small text- it's fine closer up. Pretty display and bargain priced. Fan is too loud, but that's about it. Mine is permanently connected to my LAN and/or USB and I can access the unit via my PC using the Rigol (free) Ultra Sigma software.

Absolutely fully unlock all the features and take it to 100MHz. I did that, after I'd had it a week.
 

Cosmik

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#7
I use a Picoscope these days because someone seems to have permanently borrowed my Tektronix scope.

Advantages are the bigger display (i.e. laptop or desktop screen) and the ease of getting screenshots into the PC (they're there already). It's also small and can be carried about easily with your laptop.

It gives you some intuitive advantages in the user interface such as being able to grab trigger points and measurement cursors and place them in time and level with the mouse. Math channels can be created which would be very difficult to program using a conventional scope with its knobs and buttons but are easy using a mouse and keyboard. If you're a software person you can even develop your own applications e.g. for automating some testing function.

However, some operations may not be as convenient as turning a knob on a conventional scope.

Given a choice, I might actually go for the Picoscope option these days, simply because of its complete integration with the world of software, documents, etc. If you don't use a hardware scope for a month or two, there's always a mini learning curve I find, whereas the Picoscope is already working in the user interface you're used to (a PC GUI with drop-down menus) and has detailed online help etc.
 

March Audio

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#8
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amirm

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#9
Yes, fan noise is an issue with a lot of these asian scopes like Rigol and Siglent. My Agilent/Keysight and Tek digital scopes are near silent. People open them up and put quieter fans in them.
 

watchnerd

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#10
Ah yes, we don't keep anything in the shed. :)

As to your question, you want a Rigol digital scope. It is much, much easier to use with buttons and such rather than messing with keyboard and mouse. And performance is far, far better than the pocket one. Picoscopes are OK but still not easy to use for everyday work.

The 4 channel Rigol Scope is the standard for hobbyists and very reasonably priced: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B012938...e-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp



There should be tons and tons of videos and reviews on it.

If you want to spend a lot more money, then there are other options but really, for 99% of work the above is just dandy for just $375.
For home stereo use (I don't have home theater), wouldn't the 2-channel version be enough?



https://smile.amazon.com/Rigol-DS10...ing/dp/B003MYND5A?ref_=bl_dp_s_web_2599649011

It's slightly cheaper ($100 less), but more importantly, smaller and simpler...
 

cjfrbw

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#11
Here's one you can attach to an android tablet/phone (or I suppose anything that has the software including desk top). With touch pad, allows you to use your fingers to change parameters. It includes a built in signal generator but don't know the utility of that. Around $250 for usb connected osci-dongle.


 

amirm

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#12
For home stereo use (I don't have home theater), wouldn't the 2-channel version be enough?
It would be but you want fast update rate and the one you are listing is ancient and super slow. Without fast refresh you just can't capture much or have analog-like intensity grading. We are talking 100 to 1000X difference in refresh rate between the two.

One application of four channels is using two of them in subtracting mode as differential probe. There, your four channels become two.
 

watchnerd

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#13
Given a choice, I might actually go for the Picoscope option these days, simply because of its complete integration with the world of software, documents, etc. If you don't use a hardware scope for a month or two, there's always a mini learning curve I find, whereas the Picoscope is already working in the user interface you're used to (a PC GUI with drop-down menus) and has detailed online help etc.
This is a very good point....I usually go several months between scope using sessions, whereas I use a laptop every day.
 

amirm

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#14
Digital scopes have a single button "auto" mode that you press that sets everything for you. This makes them pretty easy to use. You hit that button and then change amplitude, etc. for fine tuning. No different really than analog scopes.
 

solderdude

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#15
Using a Picoscope Handyscope HS4 at home. Works well enough for me.
At work I have Tektronix scopes..... Never could bring myself to buying me a Rigol.
 
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Cosmik

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#16
Digital scopes have a single button "auto" mode that you press that sets everything for you.
The Picoscope has that too.
 

solderdude

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#18
I am using Handyscope HS4 ...not Picoscope... sorry for that.



Windows XP in the past, W7 now.
 
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