Author Topic: Scope Purchase  (Read 3601 times)

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Offline nealfox

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Scope Purchase
« on: January 11, 2018, 02:18:41 am »
Hi, I am a retired EE that has been away from electronics for over 12 years.  So, to start catching back up, I am setting up a small lab on a very limited budget.  I am getting ready to buy a scope and I am considering a Rigol DS1054Z.   

My question is, is this scope the best choice for a under $400 scope or is there another choice I should consider, as DS1054Z has been out for a couple of years.
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 03:49:07 am »
At the moment, the DS1054Z owns the entry level (less than $400) market.  There's nothing even close.  Assuming, of course, that you plan to unlock the features.

The next interesting scope with 4 channels is the new Siglent SDS 1204X-E which has 200 MHz bandwidth but it is nearly twice as expensive.  There are other scopes in the price range but the issue is features.  Do they have 4 channels, decoding, FFT, suitable bandwidth, etc?  In general, no.

Whether 100 MHz bandwidth is sufficient is the big question.  Given the harmonic nature of square waves, that bandwidth isn't much.

I have a Tek 485 350 MHz scope to handle bandwidth issues and the DS1054Z for features.
 

Offline kelchm

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 04:16:48 am »
Hi, I am a retired EE that has been away from electronics for over 12 years.  So, to start catching back up, I am setting up a small lab on a very limited budget.  I am getting ready to buy a scope and I am considering a Rigol DS1054Z.   

My question is, is this scope the best choice for a under $400 scope or is there another choice I should consider, as DS1054Z has been out for a couple of years.
I spent the last few weeks deciding between the Rigol DS1054Z ($350), Siglent 1202X-E ($379) and Siglent 1104X-E ($500). I ended up settling on getting the 1104X-E. It's a little more expensive than the DS1054Z, but it's also newer, more responsive and offers some features that even a 'hacked' 1054Z does not offer.

I'm happy with mine so far, though I'm just a beginner and this is my first oscilloscope.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 04:18:53 am by kelchm »
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 04:46:21 am »
I am getting ready to buy a scope and I am considering a Rigol DS1054Z.   

My question is, is this scope the best choice for a under $400 scope

For a 4-channel 'scope*, yes. An unlocked DS1054Z is still definitely the one to go for in that price range.

(*) ...and I strongly recommend getting 4 channels

I spent the last few weeks deciding between the Rigol DS1054Z ($350), Siglent 1202X-E ($379) and Siglent 1104X-E ($500). I ended up settling on getting the 1104X-E. It's a little more expensive than the DS1054Z
$500 / $350 = 1.428, ie. 43% more expensive.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 05:07:33 am »
It depends on what you want to use your scope for, unsurprisingly.

Be aware there are significant limitations of entry level DSOs. In particular, look at the ADC resolution (often 8 bit), the capture memory depth, and whether they only process what is visible on the screen (i.e. not the whole capture memory). (Processing could be an FFT or a protocol decode)

One valid strategy is to have an old high bandwidth (>300MHz) scope to assure signal integrity, then a logic analyser and printf statements to capture many (>>4) digits simultaneously.

If you look at the Digilent Analog Discovery, you will find it has a 10MHz/14-bit/2-channel DSO, plus 2 channel function generator, plus 16 bit 100MS/s logic analyser, plus 16 bit pattern generator. You also have software for a spectrum analyser, a network analyser, and control-loop analyser.
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Offline james_s

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 05:13:01 am »
I wouldn't consider 8 bit ADC to be much of a limitation, it's pretty standard even in fairly high end scopes. An oscilloscope isn't intended for precision voltage measurements. Higher ADC resolution just means lower bandwidth and/or fewer samples for the same cost.
 

Offline nealfox

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 06:08:05 am »
Quote
Whether 100 MHz bandwidth is sufficient is the big question.  Given the harmonic nature of square waves, that bandwidth isn't much.

I have a Tek 485 350 MHz scope to handle bandwidth issues and the DS1054Z for features.

In my 40+ year career I specialized in digital and ASIC design.  Thus, I never had the opportunity to do analog design.  So, my emphasis will be analog design plus playing with Arduino etc.  So, I don’t think a lot of bandwidth is necessary.  As aside I used an Tek 485 throughout the 1970s and I would love to have one, but I just do not have the space in my small retirement apartment.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 06:25:06 am »
I think you'll be happy with the Rigol, it's pretty much the defacto "decent" hobbyist DSO. If space is limited then there are not many competitive options, I have older Tek scopes which are great but they're huge in comparison.
 

Offline kelchm

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 06:47:55 am »
$500 / $350 = 1.428, ie. 43% more expensive.
I'll agree that the 1054Z does give you more bang for the buck, but still... it's only a $150 difference and the option is worth at least considering for a tool that will be used for many years to come.

I'm also hopeful that certain aspects of the Siglent will prove to be hackable, much like the Rigol.
 

Offline DDunfield

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 07:29:29 am »
Hi Guys - been lurking for a long time, have seen "whats the best scope to buy" many times, so finally decided to register and post my 2c (ok, more like 2Kc).

I almost always see three answers regarding the DS1054Z (or any other "entry level" scope):

1) It's awesome, just buy it.

2) It's chinese crap, don't buy it.

3) It's too slow even when unlocked to 100Mhz, don't buy it.

I don't find any of these answers to be all that useful.


You really need to consider what you will be using the scope for. A major question is Bandwidth? and the usual response is "get as much as you can".
If you do that, there are two very likely results for most people:

- you will pay more than you need to for your scope.

- you will give up features/capabilities which might be more useful to you on a daily basis.


Bandwidth is the most expensive "feature" of a scope by far - Sample rate also falls into this catagory. it takes real hardware to get high bandwidth and single-shop capture rates and regarding these two things, I classify scopes into into three very broad classes:


1) uber-expensive, ultra-high bandwidth, crazy sampling rates... (>1Ghz)

You need one of these if you are designing VERY fast circuits, which might include:
   - modern CPU/MEMORY systems
   - Modern signal transport (networking, digital video, very high speed specialized bus etc).
   - Radio where you actually need to look at the RF signal shapes, reflections etc.
   - Power systems where you need to see very small/fast glitches etc.
If you are doing this, you should already know what specs. you need for your scope. (if you don't I certainly hope you are not the lead designer on the project).


2) mid-range high-bandwidth/sample rate (200-600Mhz)

Possibly useful to someone who has recently graduated from category 3 below, or has to maintain older fastish equipment, but really today you seem to need "uber-fast" or "entry level" (there are or course exceptions).


3) "entry level" 50-200Mhz general purpose low-cost scope

If you are doing things like:
 - Dabbling in a home lab.
 - Restoring vintage equipment (Computers, Audio, etc.)
 - Building/repairing older embedded systems (Ie: the CPU is a DIP or early SMT)
 - Working with pre-built development systems: Arduino, STM32, PIC and others.
 - Working with a SOC where the fast stuff is inside the chip and only peripheral on the outside.
 - Looking at "normal" serial busses and CPU controlled I/O bits.

You don't need 200Mhz, you don't even need 100Mhz (I know people will argue).
Keep in mind that even though your Raspberry PI may be 1.2Ghz and have 900Mhz RAM, these parts are located in a very small part of the board that you will likely never have to probe. Most of signals of interest in these types of systems will be a few Mhz or slower.


Regarding sample rate.

Keep in mind that the analog bandwidth of the scope is NOT the maximum square wave it can see without degradation. It is the frequency of sine wave that will be diminished 3db by the scope electronics. The scope will see higher frequency components than that, but at an ever reduced amplitude (until it's just noise).

Nyquist says that we only need 2x the bandwidth, however that is to reconstruct a sine wave, and if you already know it's a sine, why not just use a  frequency counter and voltmeter?

I use this "rule of thumb" regarding sample-rate vs analog bandwidth.

>10x is "really good"
10x is "quite good"
5x is "ok"
<5x  is "pretty bad"

Applying this to the DS1054Z, we see that:

1CH 1G/50 is "really good"
2CH 500M/50 is "quite good"
4CH 250M/50 is "ok"

So I would say the 50Mhz DS1054Z is a terrific scope from this viewpoint.

If you apply the bandwidth hack, or have a 100Mhz/1GS scope, then it becomes:

1CH = 1G/100 is "quite good"
2CH = 500M/100 is "ok"
4CH = 250M/100 is "pretty bad"

That's not to say that a 4CH 100M 1GS scope isn't useful, but beware of the limitation if you are trying to use it near max bandwidth with all four channels running. For that matter, be aware of the limitations of any of your tools when doing a particular job.


The next "good thing" to have is memory depth. The more samples you can store, the longer a series of events you can capture and zoom in on to see the details - it really helps.

Channels: 2 channels is 100x better than 1 channel. With 2 channels, you can compare two signals in real-time, or in a single-shot capture. Unless you are doing something really primitive, you probably want at least 2 channels. Four channels is "really really nice" but I wouldn't call it essential. But it can be so much easier to look a things like serial buses when you can see data in, out, select and clock all at once.





Who am I and why do I think I know something about scopes?  I'm primarily a very-low-level software guy, who has built and interfaced a pretty good share of hardware over the 40 years or so that I've been doing this. My 2Kc comes from a professional lifetime of actually using various scopes in a cost-conscious 1-man company (and a fair bit of hobby time too):


My first scope was a home-built analog ( http://www.dunfield.com/oscope.htm ) which probably had only a few Mhz bandwidth and basically no measurement capability (not even a scale on the screen). Being young and too naive to know that it was "useless" I learned more with this scope than I have with probably any other scope since.

After passing through a few low-end commercial analog scopes (which did have scales :-), My first digital/storage was a Gould OS4000, 10Mhz, 1.8Mhz sample rate, 1K samples. Not being aware that it was "too limiting" to be useful, I designed MANY products with this scope, and used it right up until I was working with ARM-7 systems.

Counting on my fingers, I currently have 6 ponies in my scope stable. I find these cover more than my needs (could probably get rid of a few of them - yeah, I really should...  I'll think about that... someday... maybe...):


1) DS1054Z (4ch 50Nhz 1GS-total)

Yes, I have one - I bought it for 4 channels and the deep memory (and good luck prying it from my fingers). I HAVE NOT upgraded it to 100Mhz although I may after the warranty expires. 50Mhz is plenty for almost all of the stuff that I need a 4ch/deep scope for.


2) Tek TDS210 (2ch 60Mhz 1GSx2)

I got it for the portability and simple Tek controls. It was my daily driver and I still use it a fair bit, but the Rigol is taking over.
I keep it because it has separate vertical controls and the UI responds faster than the Rigol.


3) Tek TDS380 (2CH 400Mhz 2GSx2)

My fastest scope - I keep it around in case I ever need to look at something fast-ish ... but it's big and most of the time it sits in the corner.
Has only 1K sample storage, so not great for zooming in on long stream events.


4) Tek 2232 (2CH 100Mhz 100Mx2)

I keep it because it is The only scope I have left that still can operate as a fully analog. I also find it easy to use (and it has to cool Wizard easter egg :-)


5) UNI-T UT81B (1CH 8Mhz 40MS) - SCOPEMETER

Not a fantastic scope or meter but it fits in my portable toolkit and is useful enough that it's handy to have when nothing else is available. Also good for working on non-ground referenced things.


6) JYtech DSO-138 (1CH 1MS)

Bought out of curiosity to see if a  $15 scope actually worked. Answer: Yes, with limitations but the test wasn't valid because I didn't realize till after I bought it that the $15 ones on Ebay are knock-off clones and JYtech gets nothing. I take solace in the fact that I don't actually use it.



If I had to have only one, it would probably be the DS1054Z - I would say that it covers 95+% of what I use a scope for on a day to day basis, and the advantages of 4CH and deep memory outweigh the benefits of my other scopes (for me at least). 2nd keeper would be the TDS380 for the speed, but I really don't use it much these days and probably wouldn't miss it.

Whew... sorry to be so long winded.

Dave

 
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Offline CustomEngineerer

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 02:24:53 pm »
I'm also hopeful that certain aspects of the Siglent will prove to be hackable, much like the Rigol.

I realize their generators and SAs were at one point, but Siglent have actively been trying to close the holes that allowed it, and as far as I'm aware none of their scopes have ever been hackable so I doubt this is something that will happen. I certainly wouldn't base my buying decision on the hope that it might someday be possible.
 

Offline CustomEngineerer

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 02:30:45 pm »
1) DS1054Z (4ch 50Nhz 1GS-total)

Yes, I have one - I bought it for 4 channels and the deep memory (and good luck prying it from my fingers). I HAVE NOT upgraded it to 100Mhz although I may after the warranty expires. 50Mhz is plenty for almost all of the stuff that I need a 4ch/deep scope for.

I've got to ask why not? You do realize the scope can be reset (unhacked) with a single command sent over telnet, in such a way that Rigol won't know that you had ever unlocked the features, and thus wouldn't lose your warranty anyways right? I could understand if you didn't want to liberate it out of some sense of morality I guess, or even if you just didn't need the additional bandwidth and options at this point, but to not do it now because its in warranty just doesn't make sense.
 

Offline kelchm

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 03:13:38 pm »
I'm also hopeful that certain aspects of the Siglent will prove to be hackable, much like the Rigol.

I realize their generators and SAs were at one point, but Siglent have actively been trying to close the holes that allowed it, and as far as I'm aware none of their scopes have ever been hackable so I doubt this is something that will happen. I certainly wouldn't base my buying decision on the hope that it might someday be possible.
If you have physical access, it can be hacked. It’s just a matter of time and motivation.

We already know there are some capabilities that could be unlocked such as the USB AWG. I half think the reason they sell the hardware for the USB AWG separate from the license is that they expect people to hack it.
 

Offline David Hess

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 04:04:33 pm »
I wouldn't consider 8 bit ADC to be much of a limitation, it's pretty standard even in fairly high end scopes. An oscilloscope isn't intended for precision voltage measurements. Higher ADC resolution just means lower bandwidth and/or fewer samples for the same cost.

This does not apply to the Rigol 1000Z series but most DSOs store the 8-bit results in 16-bit memory for processing reasons.  So the resolution of the ADC has no effect on sample memory.
 

Online beanflying

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 05:20:48 pm »
And fast catching up with some nice features is the fully loaded Micsig 1104.

I have just been through the used brand name or cheaper Chinese or .... In the end 100Mhz 4 channel with built in Bus decoding for a reasonable price won me over. I loathe and hate Hantek with a passion (I own one) Rigol is getting old and due for a makeover. Being bent over by some to pay $ after the sale to get upgrades for x,y & z didn't appeal to me at all. Occasionally field use will be handy for me so I have mine coming with the battery option.

Migsig's Ali Express store https://www.aliexpress.com/store/1293611?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.qYVA8I

It still won't be the answer for all situations and I am still looking at something more upmarket to go with it.  :)
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Offline Fungus

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 07:47:50 pm »
In my 40+ year career I specialized in digital and ASIC design.  Thus, I never had the opportunity to do analog design.  So, my emphasis will be analog design plus playing with Arduino etc.  So, I don’t think a lot of bandwidth is necessary.  As aside I used an Tek 485 throughout the 1970s and I would love to have one, but I just do not have the space in my small retirement apartment.

Another option might be an Analog Discovery. It's a little gadget designed for learning electronics and has a built-in oscilloscope with enough bandwidth for "Arduino" work (also for Audio work, where its fancy 14-bit DAC shines).
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 07:51:21 pm »
I'll agree that the 1054Z does give you more bang for the buck, but still... it's only a $150 difference and the option is worth at least considering for a tool that will be used for many years to come.

You've also admitted you've never owned a DS1054Z, so.... how would you know?

A DS1054Z + $150 in your pocket for something else isn't a deal to be sniffed at.

I'm also hopeful that certain aspects of the Siglent will prove to be hackable, much like the Rigol.
It seems unlikely, not without at least some hardware modifications. Siglent is actively against hacking where Rigol uses it as a marketing strategy.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 08:12:03 pm »
I HAVE NOT upgraded it to 100Mhz although I may after the warranty expires.

I've got to ask why not? You do realize the scope can be reset (unhacked) with a single command sent over telnet, in such a way that Rigol won't know that you had ever unlocked the features, and thus wouldn't lose your warranty anyways right? I could understand if you didn't want to liberate it out of some sense of morality I guess, or even if you just didn't need the additional bandwidth and options at this point, but to not do it now because its in warranty just doesn't make sense.

Yep. At the end of the day you're just pressing a sequence of buttons on the front panel. It can be relocked easily and there's no way that could affect a hardware warranty in any civilised country.

There's no reports of Rigol refusing to fix a hacked scope under warranty (I'm sure we'd know if there was a single case in the entire world given the amount of Rigol haters on these forums).


Hi Guys - been lurking for a long time, have seen "whats the best scope to buy" many times, so finally decided to register and post my 2c (ok, more like 2Kc).

I almost always see three answers regarding the DS1054Z (or any other "entry level" scope):

1) It's awesome, just buy it.

For $350 it's more than awesome.

2) It's chinese crap, don't buy it.

I can't believe anybody could complain about the build quality. It's solid as a rock.

At the end of the day the reason we buy Rigols is: they stick out by a mile if we draw a graph of bang vs. buck..

That's it.

PS: Beware,...a lot of the people who spew Rigol hate on these forums are Siglent dealers. Being an official Siglent dealer doesn't require any sort of professionalism (apparently).

 

Offline Helix70

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2018, 08:27:08 pm »
I think the bandwidth part of the hack is the least interesting or important part of the hack. I am rarely, if ever, finding myself needing it if I am being honest. I always laugh hearing about the hobbyists chasing high bandwidth, 10 bit adcs, and fft for use with their Arduino projects. You just don't need it. 4 channels on the other hand, advanced trigger options and serial decoding, all very relevant for the hobbyist.
 

Offline rf-loop

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2018, 08:37:25 pm »


At the end of the day the reason we buy Rigols is: they stick out by a mile if we draw a graph of bang vs. buck.


I have only well over tens of years profession (and also hobby ) with electric and electronics in lab with many kind of oscilloscopes starting with 50 euro shit and ending to price of house state of art ones and truck load other instruments and in field designing and doing real things but somehow I still can not draw this graph. Because it is so difficulty I ask your help.

Is it possible you help all of us and draw this secret graph you told and show it to all of us.

Please.
If practice and theory is not equal it tells that used application of theory  is wrong or the theory itself is wrong.
It is much easier to think an apple fall to the ground than to think that the earth and the apple will begin to move toward each other and collide.
 

Offline jacklee

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2018, 08:49:52 pm »
I have both Rigol DS1054Z(50MHz 4CH) and Micsig TO1104(100MHz 4CH).

In my opinion, the Rigol is Desktop, have nice user interface with Knobs. 
Micsig is tablet, portable, big screen (4:3), WLAN
handling is faster, only some taps then your works are done!
and it is far less noisy with far better FFT and faster X-Y

Micsig TO1104 allows for a different work style. That's the reason I recommend rather than DS1054Z.
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Online beanflying

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2018, 08:59:13 pm »
Being a drum beating Rigol fan boy isn't really a help either. Rigol has it's place as do others and there is NO PERFECT choice for all users. Rehashing the Rigol hack/no hack thing for the hundreth time is surely a WASTE of bandwidth.

The OP's needs are what is important and as he mentioned a wish to play with some Arduinos 4 channel and bus decoding firmware makes good sense.

I have been playing with Arduinos for a while and putting up with a rubbish hantek 20Mhz USB scope. That said it is still way in front of the first Analog CRO's I used well over 30 years ago. The point here is it is not always about bang for buck or bottom line but it is important the product serve the purchaser well!
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Offline Fungus

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2018, 09:12:44 pm »
Being a drum beating Rigol fan boy isn't really a help either.

The OP's needs are what is important and as he mentioned a wish to play with some Arduinos 4 channel and bus decoding firmware makes good sense.

He also mentioned a "very limited budget" but the Siglent pushers have no problem ignoring it.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2018, 09:42:17 pm »
In my 40+ year career I specialized in digital and ASIC design.  Thus, I never had the opportunity to do analog design.  So, my emphasis will be analog design plus playing with Arduino etc.  So, I don’t think a lot of bandwidth is necessary.  As aside I used an Tek 485 throughout the 1970s and I would love to have one, but I just do not have the space in my small retirement apartment.

Another option might be an Analog Discovery. It's a little gadget designed for learning electronics and has a built-in oscilloscope with enough bandwidth for "Arduino" work (also for Audio work, where its fancy 14-bit DAC shines).

IMNSHO the OP would be wise to investigate the Analog Discovery (as I mentioned earlier), especially for audio work for the reason you mention and for its AWG/function generator.

The 10MHz bandwidth isn't quite enough for digital signals from the Arduino, but the 16-bit 100MS/s logic analyser is fast enough - and the 16-bit pattern generator is the digital equivalent of the AWG.

Cheap-ish, small, great for simple projects, not as general purpose as dedicated instruments, limitations w.r.t. input/output voltages.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline lem_ix

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Re: Scope Purchase
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2018, 10:15:53 pm »
I remember reading a thread where a senior member of the forum complained about the font size on the 1054z. Maybe this is something worth considering. I don't have the rigol so I can't really say. I played around with the Micsig and it's a nice scope but it's definitely different from the norm. Scope wise all of these new entry level scopes are great bang for buck, you can't go wrong. They're a far cry from the cheap digital scopes from 10 years back.
 


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