Research: Value Oscilloscopes

So basically, this entire series of tool research posts is the result of me searching for an Oscilloscope, and then discovering my existing workflow was bad.

I’ve lost count at how many hours I’ve spent doing homework on low cost high value scopes. I’ve explored a variety of offerings from Siglent, Rigol, Owon, Uni-T, Hantek, and others, trying to find the best value. I don’t have the desk space for an old analog scope (which is a way to get a good scope for under $100). So I need a smaller digital scope to fit my setup.

I’ve tried to give each brand a fair shake, but in the end, all signs point to one.

Rigol DS1054Z

Cost: $399 US

rigol

Pros
– 4 Channels (Bonus!)
– 50 MHz (software upgradable to 100 MHz)
– Integrated Help
– Pretty much everything you want
– Small
– Low price (given what it can do)

Cons
– One set of knobs shared amongst each channel (versus separate knobs per channel)
– Fan could be quieter
– Not-so-great FFT (no substitute for a spectrum analyser)
– Many built-in features cost extra *

I’ve mentioned EEVblog several times, a very picky experienced EE, and this is his recommended scope.

After much fuss, too much reading, I can’t seem to find a scope in this price range that does everything as well as this one, and that even ignores the fact that it has 4 channels. You get 4 channels! Everything else in the price range has 2. Madness!

Summary

I’ve accepted there’s no other scope that even comes close. The only reason I haven’t purchased it, is that buying one will cost me about $650 CAD… which is a lot of money. Every non-oscilloscope device I’ve been researching costs under (or around) $100. $650 is a lot.

I’ve actually found cheaper scopes. Amazon.ca has a few Siglent scopes for just over $400 CAD, no tax (roughly $300 USD). I got real close to buying one, but ultimately stopped myself once I realized it wasn’t the latest Siglent model (those cost about $800 base). Then I learned about some of scopes that, for whatever reason, can be hacked to become better scopes.

Actually, I do have an Oscilloscope. A really basic one I picked up in 2009 called the DSO Nano.

crapmeter

I’ve never really used it seriously, but it’s not exactly the most useful oscilloscope. You can buy a DIY kit for about $20 that does basically the same thing.

So yeah, scopes. I know what I want, but now comes convincing myself to spend the money.