Would you rather have a real oscilloscope?

October 21, 2016 | 06:00
Would you rather have a real oscilloscope?
Would you rather have a real oscilloscope?
Anyone who works with electronics needs an oscilloscope. In recent years it looks like stand-alone oscilloscopes have been displaced by the countless USB oscilloscope modules. They certainly have their advantages: you can connect them to a desktop, laptop or tablet computer so you have a nice big screen to work with, most of the oscilloscope modules are very compact, and the accompanying software often includes lots of extra functions and features.

I try out a lot of test equipment here at Elektor, and by now I have had my hands on quite a few oscilloscopes. Recently I was working with a Siglent oscilloscope, and I realized once again how much I enjoy having an instrument where everything you need is in a single package and you have the pleasure of turning real knobs. Please don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against USB oscilloscope modules, and I even use one at home. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it.

However, there is something about a “real” oscilloscope that makes it a bit nicer in everyday use. You put the instrument on your bench and you always have the screen in front of you, the controls and indicators are very well organized (in most cases), and particularly for an old hand in the electronics trade, you can find most of the knobs by feel. What’s more, you don’t need to have the computer on your bench, or you can use it for other things. I admit that it’s not all sweetness and light with stand-alone oscilloscopes, since a lot of them have menu structures that are not especially user friendly. However, I don’t mind putting up with that. I’m curious what other electronics professionals and hobbyists think about this.
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