EEVblog #207 – CleverScope USB Oscilloscope (2 of 3)

Dave caught up with the designer of the Cleverscope, Bart Schroder at the Electronex show. He gives us some history on the company (from New Zealand) , the scope, a quick on the spot teardown, and what latest scope design he’s working on.

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    • hpux735

      Hi Dave!

      Thanks for the videos. I’ve been watching for a long time, and I’ve seen ’em all. I have one piece of advice, now that you’re doing this full-time and doing more interviewing. Try not to say “yep” when you’re doing an interview. Also, when someone is talking about some item or something you know about don’t cut them off saying that you know about it. Remember that you’re not talking to the person just for yourself, maybe we would like them to explain it! :) By the way, this isn’t just about this interview…

      Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    • Tom

      Wasn’t Cleverscope a Circuit Cellar contest winner years ago? I thought Bart would mention that but maybe I got my memories mixed up.

      • EEVblog

        You are probably thinking of the Australian BitScope. That started out as a CC contest entry.

        • therian

          BitScopes are awful

          • Erl

            Would you care to expand on what’s awful about the Bitscopes?

            I’ve been interested in them, and I’d like to hear all opinions.


    • pete

      What is the economics of a scope like CleverScope? I look at the price and well, seems like one might as well buy a regular scope. I thought the idea was to use PC hardware to reduce cost but, at those prices, the benefit is not immediately obvious to me.

      • pete

        Just to be more concrete, compare the PicoScope 2204 to the Rigol 1052E. The PicoScope is $371 to the Rigol’s $399. 10Mhz bandwidth to 50Mhz respectively. Now, the PicoScope has an AWG but, meh, if your primary need is a scope.

        The PicoScope 2205 is $486 but still only has 25Mhz bandwidth (same AWG). So I don’t know. The video laments about “cheap chinese scopes flooding the market” but can PC scopes really be significantly cheaper than regular scopes for comparable specs? Seems like it should but not seeing it. Maybe I’m just not Googling hard enough.

      • EEVblog

        Correct, they are not economical nor can they match the bang-per-buck of the low cost bench scopes.
        They are an entirely different type of instrument, so you are not comparing apples to apples.
        They should be used for different things. PC based scopes are good at higher resolution (try buying a >8bit bench scope) and data logging, and the power that a PC brings you for logging and analysis.
        See my video on PC based scopes:

    • Grant Anderson

      I think a pc scope (if it’s quality) is really an ideal tool for those who are working with imbedded electronics, programming microcontrollers and things of that nature. A pc scope just works so well because the data is right on your computer screen (perhaps you’re secondary screen). If you’re a C++ programmer working with many of these great new Arm Cortex development boards, it only makes sense to have your oscilloscope data available in real time on your screen.

      One of the great features of the Picoscope 2207A (100mhz 1gsample – similar device to say an entry level Owon SDS7102V – same price range) is the fact that it has an AWG arbitrary waveform generator. You can capture a waveform and play it back. Instantly! The whole function generator is text based and you can import and export and even just write your own functions. You can code to friends, you can upload it, download it, etc. Some companies make their own software which is compatible.
      An interesting piece of software titled “Chip Whisperer,” which is compatible with Pico scope, allows you to analyse various spectrums of a variety of chips in real time directly from your scope. You could capture data from a satellite and examine it in real time on your computer screen. Software is really the key to how useful one of these scopes can be. with a bench top, your limited to the fiddly code they’ve reasoned out and there is no more you can do.

      People often put a piece of Velcro on the top of a picoscope and attach it to the underside of their desk just to the left of their work space so it’s always very handy to plug in your probes and get to work. Also a really good feature I’ve found is that Picoscope only make one software package for all their scopes. So new software is constantly being released to improve functions and fix bugs. How many entry level scopes have you seen that are buggy and you have to wait 8 months for a firmware update?
      I’m still getting used to picoscope software, but it’s looking pretty nice. If you doubt me, I suggest you download for free and take a look. it will let you test it without a scope plugged in. I’ve also found dozens of extremely helpful reviews and tutorials on youtube for the software.

      I’m looking to get the picoscope 2107A 100mhz soon. I was all set on the Owon SDS7202V bench top and I’ve watched many youtube tutorials and it looks pretty good. However, all you can do is pretty much look at the screen and fiddle about with badly engineered knobs (described by some as feeling a little like a child’s toy.) How do I get that data into my computer? Yes I know they have a basic interface and SD cards, but seriously. I want that data in my computer in real time and I really don’t want to become a hunch back gazing at a tiny little 8″ lcd screen.

      I feel that the pro’s of the picoscope software have convinced me that I’m making the right decision. Correct me if I’m wrong! To have complete and total access right inside my computer is just the right thing for me. To be able to instantly zoom in with a mouse and look at something. You have some speed here. A bench scope is just slow to work with. I forget what which damn button does what all the time. It’s like using an abacus.
      I feel the purists out there may have an unhealthy attachment to bench top scopes. They don’t want the oscilloscope to fade away and become a little black box with a usb port on it. I remember Dave saying that he didn’t even have a pc in his lab. However, I feel that entry and mid range bench top scopes are going the way of the typewriter or the 77rpm LP, the cassette or the 8 track. Even the cd and dvd are on their way out.
      My prediction is that in the next couple of years, you’ll start to see all entry and mid-level bench top scopes arriving with usb ports and software for the desktop. Companies will put a greater focus on writing pc software rather than firmware. Designs will improve greatly! Simply because their is a growing demand for usb based oscilloscopes and there is a much broader marketplace these days. People who have no idea what a capacitor is or how a transistor works, want to learn to use an oscilloscope for all kinds of reasons. Companies are catching on to this new trend! there is no technical reason that usb scopes can’t produce the same fine high quality results as a bench scope. Plus usb scopes are not limited to just a pc. Android tablets have usb. your cell phone has usb.
      I think I have a reasonable valid point.