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Oscilloscope Dilemma

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Remember those cartoons where a person has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each telling him what do do? That's how I feel right now.

I'm a retired IT guy and a long-time ham radio operator. I'm not an EE. I'm thinking seriously about buying an oscilloscope. I don't know if I truly need one, but am sure that I want one. I already have a TEK DVM (DMM850) an analog VOM, a NanoVNA, a RigExpert 54 MHz antenna analyzer, and an RSP1A SDR receiver.

The scope would be used for typical ham radio stuff. Checking signal quality, troubleshooting, adjusting and aligning equipment, plus general messing around and learning things. I operate from 3.5 to 144 and 440 MHz, with an emphasis on 3.5 to 28 MHz. I am focusing on digital storage scopes for "hobbyists." I will probably buy new. I've ruled out old analog scopes because I don't have the space, and I don't want to inherit somebody else's problems. I want reliability. I've already read more reviews and watched more YouTube videos than I can process. Models I'm considering are:

Siglent SDS1202X-E
Rigol DS1054Z
Hantek DS05102P

I'm leaning towards the Siglent because it is has 200 MHz bandwidth, and seems to hit the "sweet" spot for price vs. capabilities. The Rigol is the most expensive and probably overkill, as I don't see needing 4 channels. I'm also concerned about possibly needing to "hack" the Rigol to get full capabilities. People here seem to think that Hantek is a cut below the others. But honestly, any of the three could probably do the job.

Then I consider the Owon VDS1022i USB scope and I think, "That's a lot less money, and it would probably be adequate for HF." And then I think "Don't cheap out, get what you really want, and you won't have to buy twice."

I read "Oscilloscopes for Radio Amateurs," by Paul Danzer. He seems to like USB scopes. In one section titled "Don't Overbuy," he mentions that one can get useful qualitative information for frequencies considerably above a scope's official bandwidth, just not precise quantitative information. He also advises not paying for features you can't use while the scope is being used a scope (such as a signal or function generator capability).

Any thoughts? Thanks!


Hi Peter,

--- Quote --- as I don't see needing 4 channels.
--- End quote ---

Sooner or later you could regret this...if not, you´re lucky man.  ;)

USB-scopes...Mhhh...I don´t like them, got several ones but to be honest never the "only ones" from picoscope which would blast away your budget.
Forget the hantek thing...
It leads you to rigol or siglent, last would fit better as you will need more bandwith for your tasks.
Or to say it more correctly, it´s the one which reaches your needs at least.

I have an older USB scope that I never use anymore because it's a hassle, a standalone instrument is so much easier to use. Both the Rigol and Siglent are good scopes, I've personally used the former. Hacking it is no issue at all, it's pretty much trivial to do. There have been a few times in my life where more than 2 channels was useful although I got by for many years with a 2 channel scope and generally find that to be adequate.

Not sure if that is helping or making things worse but let me throw in another contestant: The Hanmatek DOS1102. Thats a pretty affordable 2-Channel 110MHz 1GSa/s scope.

Given the use, I think the Siglent would be the most appropriate choice. For checking signals, a 2 channel scope will do just fine and the higher bandwidth will be more beneficial than having 4 channels. 4 channels is more appropriate when doing electronics development work where you likely want to see the signals at more than 2 places in the circuit.

Not sure about not over-buying though. My advise would be to spend as much money as you can to buy the best tool you can get. It will definitely make whatever you use the equipment for, a more enjoyable experience.


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