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Thread: Recommendation for PC-based O-scope

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Recommendation for PC-based O-scope

    Hi all. So, the specs for this Hantek unit on Amazon seem reasonable for my use case. And, it's about the price point I'm willing to pay. There are few negative comments about the software / driver hanging. Anyone have experience with it?

    Any other recommended units with similar specs / price?


  2. #2
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Germany NRW
    Oh no.
    I have a simpler one, the 6020BE - its software is horrible, unusable. I can give it to you (just pay me the postage).

    But an other Hantek, which is good is a non-PC based scope: Hantek DSO5102P
    I use it almost daily, and I'm very happy that I bought it.
    I've updated it (just a software-update) to 200Mhz (did not do much with 200MHz so far - needs better probes, too).
    Sometimes I miss a 3rd channel.

  3. #3
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    I believe you should save your money and buy at least a Rigol 1054.

    When comparing oscilloscopes, pay attention to specs which well respected scopes have but cheap scopes omit (and hope you won't notice that spec is missing). The waveforms/sec rendering speed is the spec that matters most. The high-end Keysight scopes can render one million waveforms per second, which is awesome but honestly overkill for most people. Rigol's low-end scopes are pretty decent, giving you 30,000 waveforms/sec rendering speed. When a scope is missing this spec, you can assume it renders no faster than the screen's refresh rate, and perhaps even slower.

    The rendering speed is critically important when you're using a scope as a tool to hunt for strange or infrequent problems you do not yet fully understand. Imagine you've got your scope set to trigger on the rising edge of some pin you pulse from an interrupt routine. Something unknown is crashing, but only in a strange situation you don't know yet. That's why you're using a scope to investigate! You don't know if the wrong behavior begins before or after the trigger, and you're not even sure this is the interrupt rated to the issue. But you know it usually doesn't crash, so you're looking around for something that's out of the ordinary. If your interrupt happens ~5000 times per second, a good quality scope that updates its screen at 60 Hz will show you a composite image of the ~83 waveforms which occurred during that 1/60th of a second. If the strange thing happens just once from those 83 times, you'll see it as a faint blip or anomalous flicker or "ghost" image. That is an oscilloscope's main job, to show you what really happened, not just what normally happens, but the thing that happens differently which might be related to the problem you're debugging.

    A cheap scope that only renders the most recent data as it updates its screen will give you a 1-in-83 chance of seeing that anomalous waveform, and that's if it manages 60 Hz refresh. Many of the very cheap products on the market refresh at 10 Hz or less! Buyer beware. The companies making these products advertise high bandwidth and other good specs, and hope you won't notice things like waveform/sec render speed are absent.

    Of course, if you only intend to use your scope for analyzing things you already fully understand, then maybe this doesn't matter. Another way to use a scope is similar to a logic analyzer, where you capture a single shot of data and they scroll through it carefully looking at what happened during that 1 event. Cheap scopes with fast acquisition and buffer memory or fast transfer work pretty well in this logic analyzer style of usage. They also work well for simpler analog stuff, where the waveforms are always the same and complex behavior isn't an issue.

    But if you use your scope like I use mine, and how most people use oscilloscopes to experiment with modern electronics, a better quality scope is a valuable tool which can make all the difference between figuring out why something doesn't work versus giving up in frustration. I highly recommend saving up enough money to invest in a good quality tool.
    Last edited by PaulStoffregen; 03-09-2020 at 11:12 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Thanks for the recommendations. At work we by the high-end Keysight units without thinking twice about it. Guess I've gotten spoiled. Good to know what to look for when I'm spending my own money.

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