How often do you use an oscilloscope? Analog? Or digital? Or both?

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lightningbefore

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Hey y’all, I’m a newbie still slowly learning. Through a few successful builds already mics, pres, eq (compressors coming up) and am reading some basic ‘getting started with troubleshooting’ electronics books to learn more. It says an oscilloscope is your best friend, but it’s more a general book than focused on audio.

How often do you yourself use one? What for? Mics, pres, comps, eqs? Tuning circuits, capsules, fets? How do you know when to use one? Only troubleshooting?

Should a newbie invest in one at this stage? I have a good DMM but have not used it much yet either.

Its also confusing if I do get one — should I get an analog one used, or a good quality digital one instead (not looking to skimp, but also don’t want to overbuy - and concerned about the physical space taken up by analog and some digital scopes)? Or do both have their uses and I should just save up for each?

I searched through some old threads looking for details here about oscilloscopes, and while they’re mentioned — not much in detail in relation to beginners (I know most of you aren’t beginners).
 

iampoor1

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If your only building paint by number kits you probably dont need one. If your interested in designing and learning more about the inner workings of analog circuits, then you absolutely need one and will wonder how you lived without it. The way your question is phrased, I get the feeling you are not quite there yet, but if you continue learning and building more you are going to hit a point where you realize that a DMM, while a very valuable tool, really can only get you to a certain point.

I would say a decent digital scope (Like a Rigol DS1054z) is a great place to start...but it also provides lots of additional measurement functionality. Want to see the duty cycle of a square wave, measure the dc offset, and watch it in real time? Easy peasey. :)

Of course, if you dont know that you need it yet, honestly you probably dont, so maybe consider making the purchase when you run into something you cant solve with your DMM :)
 

Majestic12

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I do a lot of repair and maintenance work on audio electronics and my oscilloscope gets used a lot. It's the best tool for tracking signals insidethe circuit.

I have a Rigol digital oscilloscope and I would definately recommend to get a digital one. You get so much value out of a digital oscilloscope nowerdays compared to its price.
 

pucho812

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Scopes are vary useful. A good first scope is one you pick up used for Pennie’s on the dollar. Plenty of good condition analog scopes can be found on eBay.
My apx has a scope function so I can scope there or with my analog scope. I mainly use the analog scope though.
Last week I was given a crown d150A to look at. Using a tone generator and a scope was able to see everything going on with the audio path. Using a dmm confirmed the psu was working. using a scope confirmed low ripple in the psu.
Within minutes I tracked down the shorted cap which caused massive distortion on the output. Once replaced saw my nice clean sine wave on my scope at the output and knew it was fixed.
useful stuff for sure.
 

JohnRoberts

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Scopes are extremely useful for repair/troubleshooting, we can identify faulty parts with other measurement tools but with an oscilloscope we can literally see the signal voltage.

Even more useful for new designs. When repairing existing designs we know that the circuit is correct and was working properly before, with new designs that is not a given so seeing the voltage waveforms shows us what is actually going on.

Whether you need a scope depends on what you plan to do. As others have shared you can buy a cheap used analog scope. These days even used digital scopes are getting cheaper. So that is the best way to see if you need one. No need to buy a premium scope at first.

JR
 

Newmarket

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Been doing this electronics lark for 3+ decades now.
Not sure how you do much without a scope' tbh.
I still like like an analogue scope. No Sampling Rate to think about (obvs there is still analogue BW) and basically a probe hard wired to the display.
Digital is great though in measurement and exporting data.

In a previous company I'd often be talking remotely (globally) to service/repair people who didn't have a 'scope but just a DMM. Total Frustration !
 

lightningbefore

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Thank you all so much for the kind and helpful replies. I definitely am still new and just doing kits with guides most of the time and things have gone well.

I do want to be prepared and ready for fixing the inevitable issue or mistake and to be knowledgeable on when/how to use the scope when I start venturing into my own designs and builds hopefully. I also have a Hairball 1176 A and DIYRE OLA5 comps I’ll need to calibrate soon but I haven’t started building either yet. The pres, eqs, and mics I’ve built haven’t mentioned any scopes being needed yet for calibration , but I feel like it’s right around the corner.

Good news on the digital scope, I was looking at that exact Rigol DS1054z when funds allow, thanks @iampoor1 and @Majestic12 for confirming what y’all use for audio.

For a cheaper used analog scope, would $180 for something like the link below be worth it? Space is at a premium on my bench (this is bigger) so I like that comparatively the Rigol 1054z is smaller and might be all I need, but if this could be useful when I’m ready (or if it could compliment a digital scope), I read on another audio forum this might be a nice eBay analog 2 channel with delay Hitachi scope pickup. Any thoughts on it?

And any recommendations on a good/affordable dedicated signal generator? Or should I just use an output from my computer and a plug-in?
 

iampoor1

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Nah I wouldn't pay anywhere near 180$ for an analog scope unless its a Tektronix. Depending on where you are located there are many places to get analog scopes for practically free (I've ended up with a few of them haha)
 

lightningbefore

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Nice, thank you for the tip! I’m in Austin, TX - but have no idea where to go to look. We have the university here, and I have a community college pass (for my audio electronics course, haha) and some great synth stores…but that’s all that comes to mind.
 

NOON

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I use my scope a lot less than I used to now that PC based test software is readily available and excellent. The main issue is interfacing to your circuits. A decent quality usb audio interface like the Focusrite series is a good start, I ended up buying and building some dedicated test interfaces to give better quality and more robustness. I find navigating with a mouse on a large screen much easier than using a scope for about 95% of jobs.
 

iampoor1

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Nice, thank you for the tip! I’m in Austin, TX - but have no idea where to go to look. We have the university here, and I have a community college pass (for my audio electronics course, haha) and some great synth stores…but that’s all that comes to mind.
I would bet there is an Austin "hamfest" or something similar. Might be worth asking around or contacting amateur radio clubs. :)
 

Brian Roth

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FWIW, a digital scope (at least the inexpensive ones) has a "lag time" that is visible to the eye. For instance, if you switch your signal generator from a sine to a squarewave signal, there is a slight delay as the display updates. An Olde School analog (green screen) scope doesn't exhibit that behavior.

I've had a Tek 2215 analog scope for decades, but it is so much larger and heavier than the Rigol I now use daily. The "lag" is just something I've gotten used to and accept.

Speaking of heavier....at one studio here in my city is a Tek 465 analog scope. It's about the same size as my 2215, but probably twice the weight!

Bri
 

Script

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As for a signal generator could go software, the Visual Analyzer by Alfredo Accattatis comes with one. Also includes continuous bidirectional sweep.
 

Analog_Fan

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this might be usefull to ya

Korg NTS-2

4 CHANNEL OSCILLOSCOPE​

FFT / SPECTRUM ANALYZER​

DUAL WAVEFORM GENERATOR​

TUNER​



featured at the Berlin superbooth 2022.
1652841117023.png


$203
 

Rusan

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I can't imagine designing or servicing audio electronics without a scope; it would be like trying to develop a new recipe while not being able to taste or smell.

My beloved Tek 465 was stolen and I never replaced it, but my trusty old BK Precision backup took up the slack for a few years. It then sat idle for around 10 years, and the electrolytic caps need replaced. The old thing just isn't worth what recapping would cost, not to mention the hours of labor, so I've started looking at both tablet scopes and digital interface scopes.

The PicoScope 2204A for $165 USD especially caught my eye. Can anyone here recommend or not recommend these?
 
Last edited:

Analog_Fan

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I can't imagine designing or servicing audio electronics without a scope; it would be like trying to develop a new recipe while not being able to taste or smell.

My beloved Tek 465 was stolen and I never replaced it, but my trusty old BK Precision backup took up the slack for a few years. It then sat idle for around 10 years, and the electrolytic caps need replaced. The old thing just isn't worth what recapping would cost, not to mention the hours of labor, so I've started looking at both tablet scopes and digital interface scopes.

The PicoScope 2204A for $165 USD especially caught my eye. Can anyone here recommend or not recommend these?
you know this company?
saleae

 

swpaskett

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@Analog_Fan , If you are used to a 465 or even BK I think you will be disappointed by what Pico offers. I considered them some time ago but was disappointed in the feature/cost ratio. Eventually I settled on a BK Precision scope, a decent analog 2 channel 100MHz dual trigger scope for about half what the Pico costs now. Patiently shopping Ebay eventually pays off. It's not Tek, but still a very good scope for the price.
I recommend analog scopes for anyone who has never used a scope before. They are more intuitive, often show artifacts that disappear in the snow on digital scopes, and all the controls are in your face, not hidden under the fourth layer of some menu somewhere.
 
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