Poll

Buying a scope. Budgeting $150 to $200 per month for "toys". Do you...?

Save for 2 months (assuming $350-400 US) and buy a DS1052E and potentially outgrow it in a year or five. Or potentially lose interest in the hobby.
32 (37.6%)
Save for 4-6 months and buy a DS2072E (assuming ~$830 US) and potentially never use anything beyond what the DS1052e would have done.
53 (62.4%)

Total Members Voted: 74

Author Topic: First scope, lost in the reviews  (Read 35386 times)

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Offline staze

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First scope, lost in the reviews
« on: April 03, 2013, 06:28:15 am »
Okay, there are a lot of reviews (on this site, as well as others) of scopes between $300 and $600 US. The ones that jump out are the classic Rigol DS1102E (and it's little brother), the Hantek DSO5102B (and it's siblings), and the Owon SDS7102. Then, of course, there are the other ones that are the same scope, just a different brand name. But it seems, being in the states, that these are the big 3 in the ~$600 or less arena.

From what I can gather, the Rigol is pretty solid, but at this point, a bit dated (small screen, no real standout features, etc). The Hantek is extremely hackable (as per the 100 page thread on it here). And the Owon is similar to the Hantek with a few more bells and whistles, but is also missing some things (which I guess the company is adding now with newer firmwares). Also, I note that all these units are from at least 2011 and older. Coming from computers, 2 year old models are pretty old. How often are scope models updated?

I don't really have a list of things the scope MUST do, since it's my first, and I'm really teaching myself this stuff. I'm a Systems Admin by profession (which is one thing that really draws me to the Hantek), but I've always dabbled, poorly, in electronics and would like to get into it more. Having a usable and inexpensive scope seems like it would be a good tool and would probably be all I would need for years.

Anyone have any thoughts? And before it comes up, I really can't justify the Rigol 2000 series (DS2072) unless there is something REALLY compelling (for a beginner) about it that these others don't have. The price point is twice what I was otherwise looking at. =(

Thanks for your time.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 06:43:35 am by staze »
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Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 07:09:06 am »
I'm in the same unfortunate position as you are; except I have actually just played with a Rigol.  You are right, it's pretty solid but I *have* to warn you against the horrible noise the DS1000/1100 serie produces... also, the screen is pretty small.

In spite of it's mixed reviews, the Owon SDS serie is my current favorite candidate, due to it being quiet, having a large screen and 10M sample memory (good for capturing serial data). I am not in a hurry though, will monitor these threads for a few weeks before committing. In the perfect world, tomorow Rigol would introduce a revamped DS1000/1100 serie with bigger screens and more sample memory, which would make the choice much simpler. :D
 

Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 07:54:41 am »
Update to my previous comment about the screen size: Mark's (marmad's) review of the Owon device includes screenshots which quite clearly demonstrates the difference between a larger screen + resolution (yes I know the waveform resolution is the same 8 bit).
 

Offline staze

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 09:09:31 am »
Yeah, I have a month or more to make the jump.

Looking at the 2000 series Rigol, it seems like it pretty much brings the Rigol up to par (if not beyond) the Owon and Hantek. But again, it's nearly twice the price of those units. Maybe their name has earned them that cachet.

The Owon does seem very capable... I just keep looking back at the 100+ page thread about the Hantek and how hackable it is. Do we know if you can hack to get better bandwidth? Sounds like a big advantage is there's a single ADC which I guess produces less noise?

But all that just makes me think, the Owon is the newest of these three... so it's grown off the previous two. I also kind of dig the fact it can run off battery (though I don't see myself using that a lot (but then, maybe I would)).

Good to know about the Rigol. While I'm thinking about moving my bench to the garage, until that time, a loud fan would be kind of annoying. Wonder if the Rigol 2k has that issue.

Any thoughts people have would be awesome.
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Offline staze

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 09:17:15 am »
Oh, and I guess there's Instek too, which sounds like it might have really been the catalyst in the inexpensive scope market.

Interestingly, I noted a couple sub $1500 Tek scopes that looked a LOT like Rigol.
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 11:14:46 am »
Don't get caught up in the trap of buying anything above what you know you need.

Are you buying a scope because hacking it is interesting? If not, then don't consider that as a differentiator. Does the higher screen resolution really matter for you? If not, then that feature isn't mandatory either. What do you intend to do with this scope? Do you even need anything more than 50MHz bandwidth at this point? Etc.

At that point then you can really compare apples to apples. Keep in mind that if you are a beginner then you *probably* don't really know what your needs will be a year or two from now (heck - you might not even really know what they are today). So don't assume you need to blow money on features you might not ever care about. From what I can tell, most folks outgrow their "starter scope" after a couple of years, and by then they really know what they want/need. And well-kept scopes seem to hold their value reasonably well (though you may end up just keeping two or more around).


I recently picked up a Rigol 1052E because it was the cheapest starter digital unit with the features I care about for now, in a device small enough to fit on my current (cramped) workbench. Maybe in a couple of years I will feel a need for higher bandwidth, more channels, more features, or even just a bigger screen. By then the technology will have advanced and I will be able to get more value for my money. And maybe I won't need anything better than this - in which case I saved a ton of money by not buying features I don't need.


If you end up getting a Rigol, don't forget to do the quiz in the checkout process to get an extra $30 off the price.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 11:19:08 am »
I'm in the same unfortunate position as you are; except I have actually just played with a Rigol.  You are right, it's pretty solid but I *have* to warn you against the horrible noise the DS1000/1100 serie produces... also, the screen is pretty small.

I have heard this before from a few sources, but mine doesn't seem very noisy (less than three weeks old). My bench PS is much louder. My old laptop was louder too. Perhaps there is variability in the fan quality?
 

Online SLJ

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 01:56:13 pm »
I purchased the Rigol DS1102E a couple weeks ago.  The fan is pretty quiet.  They might have fixed the noise problem.
The waveform display is not that great but I bought it more as a waveform analyzer since I have a couple of Tek analog scopes for viewing distortion and signal tracing.
The frequency function is accurate within .002%  :-+ of my good counters and the measurements display works well which is what I purchased it for.  I can't justify spending a thousand+ dollars on a digital scope when this 100 MHz scope gives me the info I want and a good vintage analog Tek scope still has a better display for under $150.


Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 06:09:19 pm »
I have heard this before from a few sources, but mine doesn't seem very noisy (less than three weeks old). My bench PS is much louder. My old laptop was louder too. Perhaps there is variability in the fan quality?

Interesting! There must be, because I also haven't heard Dave Jones complain. However, Mark Madel's mentioned the Rigol's fan noise @8:40 into his Owon review:

Owon review



...as does this guy here at @6:32:

another reviewer

I also just shot a small video with my phone to demonstrate what I mean:




This kind of noise is completely unacceptable to me and is pretty much the single largest reason for why I disqualified the Rigol. I'd love to hear it's fixed in latest generation, but it's definitely not a great marketing aspect of the scope.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 08:35:57 pm by casper.bang »
 

Online SLJ

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 11:08:43 pm »
I have to put my ear next to mine to hear the fan.  It is moving air through the unit.  If I have any other equipment on I can't hear it at all. Either I got lucky or Rigol fixed the problem.

I have no noise at all compared to that last video.  The lights and screen are really the only way to know mine is on.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 11:19:12 pm by SLJ »
 

Offline StevenB

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2013, 11:36:13 pm »
I have purchased two DS1102E's recently and haven't noticed a fan noise issue.
 

Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2013, 11:48:13 pm »
Great to hear guys; I assume Rigol fixed this issue then. Sorry staze for hijacking your thread, I'll shut up now. :)
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2013, 12:57:23 am »
Just for reference, I have purchased a DS1102E for almost a year now and mine does the fan sound shown at the two videos below. Therefore Rigol probably heard the complaints on the web and replaced the fan.

For me personally it is not loud enough to justify replacing it.

When I was trying to decide on the oscilloscope, I looked at the offerings from Owon and Siglent, but since I tend to keep equipment for long periods of time (I still have a 15+ year old Kenwood CS4025 bought brand new), I chose Rigol because of their excellent reviews on the web regarding build quality.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 12:59:28 am by rsjsouza »
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Offline ivan747

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First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2013, 01:08:22 am »
Casper, tell us more about that new DS1000 series you mentioned please.
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Offline Salas

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2013, 01:34:29 am »
I have to put my ear next to mine to hear the fan.  It is moving air through the unit.  If I have any other equipment on I can't hear it at all. Either I got lucky or Rigol fixed the problem.

I have no noise at all compared to that last video.  The lights and screen are really the only way to know mine is on.

Is there a possibility you got a fan modded unit through some customer return and resale or something?
 

Online SLJ

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2013, 01:41:46 am »
I have to put my ear next to mine to hear the fan.  It is moving air through the unit.  If I have any other equipment on I can't hear it at all. Either I got lucky or Rigol fixed the problem.

I have no noise at all compared to that last video.  The lights and screen are really the only way to know mine is on.

Is there a possibility you got a fan modded unit through some customer return and resale or something?

Don't think so.  Bought new from a major supplier.  No signs of previously being opened, used, or repackaging and warranty sticker is untouched.

Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2013, 02:33:58 am »
Casper, tell us more about that new DS1000 series you mentioned please.
Ehh it's not new. Rigol calls it the DS1000E series, I just didn't bother to add the E part since I noticed these usually just designate extra features like logic analyzer, long memory etc.: http://www.rigolna.com/products/digital-oscilloscopes/ds1000e/
 

Offline saturation

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2013, 02:46:55 am »
A test instrument should measure reliably and perform exactly as the spec sheet says, so you know its has no unknowns and is fully predictable when you are probing unknown circuits.  i spend my time on my circuits not troubleshooting or hacking my scope's reliability, unless that's what I want to do.

The 1052e has been around since 2007? and while not the latest and greatest, its also been tested for a longer period, to know its a reliable DSO design, with the occasional assembly defect that is usually found early in the scope's life and is easily fixable under warranty.

As a started scope, the 1052e will help you appreciate what a better DSO will do if and when you are ready for it as MacAttak says, particularly in the USA with Rigol USA here to honor the 3 year warranty.

Outside the USA buyers are left with the sellers warranty, as many countries do not have a local Rigol head office.  Also the price differences may not be so marked, so competitors are more attractive as if a glitch occurs, and its past warranty, you are left shipping it back to China, which is probably a futile effort.  So local hackers are your source for service, and if they know Owon or Hantek more, it may be better off to use those scopes rather than Rigol.


« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 02:48:56 am by saturation »
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Offline staze

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2013, 03:29:15 am »
Don't get caught up in the trap of buying anything above what you know you need.

Are you buying a scope because hacking it is interesting? If not, then don't consider that as a differentiator. Does the higher screen resolution really matter for you? If not, then that feature isn't mandatory either. What do you intend to do with this scope? Do you even need anything more than 50MHz bandwidth at this point? Etc.

Good points. Yes, hacking is interesting since I spend my days working with Linux and Unix. The fact the Hantek runs these is interesting to me. =) And really, I don't KNOW if I need more than 50mhz, but it seems that even the Rigol 1052 can be "hacked" into a 1102. Is there a good reference for what I would need those extra 50mhz for?


At that point then you can really compare apples to apples. Keep in mind that if you are a beginner then you *probably* don't really know what your needs will be a year or two from now (heck - you might not even really know what they are today). So don't assume you need to blow money on features you might not ever care about. From what I can tell, most folks outgrow their "starter scope" after a couple of years, and by then they really know what they want/need. And well-kept scopes seem to hold their value reasonably well (though you may end up just keeping two or more around).


I recently picked up a Rigol 1052E because it was the cheapest starter digital unit with the features I care about for now, in a device small enough to fit on my current (cramped) workbench. Maybe in a couple of years I will feel a need for higher bandwidth, more channels, more features, or even just a bigger screen. By then the technology will have advanced and I will be able to get more value for my money. And maybe I won't need anything better than this - in which case I saved a ton of money by not buying features I don't need.


If you end up getting a Rigol, don't forget to do the quiz in the checkout process to get an extra $30 off the price.

Yes, again, totally makes sense. I'm a bit confused on the quiz thing though. Which reseller has that?
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Offline staze

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2013, 03:38:47 am »
A test instrument should measure reliably and perform exactly as the spec sheet says, so you know its has no unknowns and is fully predictable when you are probing unknown circuits.  i spend my time on my circuits not troubleshooting or hacking my scope's reliability, unless that's what I want to do.

The 1052e has been around since 2007? and while not the latest and greatest, its also been tested for a longer period, to know its a reliable DSO design, with the occasional assembly defect that is usually found early in the scope's life and is easily fixable under warranty.

As a started scope, the 1052e will help you appreciate what a better DSO will do if and when you are ready for it as MacAttak says, particularly in the USA with Rigol USA here to honor the 3 year warranty.

Outside the USA buyers are left with the sellers warranty, as many countries do not have a local Rigol head office.  Also the price differences may not be so marked, so competitors are more attractive as if a glitch occurs, and its past warranty, you are left shipping it back to China, which is probably a futile effort.  So local hackers are your source for service, and if they know Owon or Hantek more, it may be better off to use those scopes rather than Rigol.

Makes sense. Which I suppose is why everything really keeps pointing back to that scope. Part of me just loathes the idea of buying something from A. 2007, and B. With a 320x240 screen. =/ On the other hand, looking at their site, I see there's a rackmount option, which is something I can't see the Owon doing (it's just a bad form factor for this), and I don't know about the Hantek.

Anyone still have their Rigol from 2007 in service? I mean, is there any reason one of these DSOs wouldn't last 10+ years?

Thanks!
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2013, 04:13:44 am »
The "quiz" is in the order checkout process at the Rigol NA site. In the shopping cart there is a button that says "Earn an extra discount" right above the total. I am not sure how long they are doing this, but the button is still there. Even without the discount, the pricing directly from the manufacturer is competitive with resellers (or better). Their shipping rates are also competitive, and very fast.

The quiz is really just a gimmick to get you to look at the spec sheets of their more expensive models. Things like "which of these advanced features are supported by the 4000 series models?". And you would just go look at the product page for the answer. If you miss a question then just start it over. Worth the few minutes to save $30 though.
 

Offline casper.bang

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2013, 04:23:17 am »
The "quiz" is in the order checkout process at the Rigol NA site.

Unfortunately it's not on the UK site, which uses Google checkout. Bummer, with a fixed fan design and a £20 discount I might have been tempted as well.
 

Offline TangentAudio

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2013, 04:39:21 am »
...as does this guy here at @6:32:

another reviewer

I am that other reviewer.  At the time of that review, I didn't think the fan noise was that bad.  I was mostly using it in my noisy shop, and it was drowned out by the drone of some server fans which are near my bench.

Several months ago, I brought the scope up to my home office to use it while I was writing some firmware.  I found the fan noise to be OK for the first few minutes, but it got awful after that.  I ended up replacing the fan with a Noctua 60mmx25mm fan and used one of the speed-reducer adapters that came with it.  It's not silent, but it seems to be a good compromise between noise and airflow.  I tried it on the slowest speed, but it cut the air flow down too much for my comfort level.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 05:08:49 am by TangentAudio »
 

Offline saturation

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2013, 05:05:09 am »
I think Dave's is from 2009, mine is 2010; I use it mostly every weekend.  The only thing wrong with these has been the rotary encoder for the time base is dirty, but I work with it regardless.  Its not something I would ship back to Rigol because I think the older units with firmware 2.2 -2.4 ?? were made better and I fear instead of servicing it they'll swap a board or the entire scope for a newer model. 

I easily think the scope will last far over 10 years.  IIRC in ~2011, scores of Rigol built Agilent versions, DSO3000 series, were dumped for $150-200 on eBay all working, the seller was offering a batch of them 10-20 at a time for almost a month; they were built in 2005 or so and were dumped by a school. 



Anyone still have their Rigol from 2007 in service? I mean, is there any reason one of these DSOs wouldn't last 10+ years?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 05:27:44 am by saturation »
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Offline staze

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Re: First scope, lost in the reviews
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2013, 05:29:47 am »
Awesome.

Okay, I just realized another "feature" I would like. It looks like they make software for running the scope (and I'd guess acquiring data) from a Windows computer. I mainly use a Mac myself. Anyone know if something like LabView or any 3rd party software will talk to this scope on the Mac? It does look like it'll write out CSV to a thumbdrive, which a mac should read.

Any thoughts? I know there was a guy in Germany, I think, that wrote a Mac application to access the Hantek.

Thanks so much for the help. Now I'm leaning back toward the Rigol.
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