Author Topic: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under  (Read 7215 times)

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Offline nmmbeginer

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ok so i am fairly new to electronics and i am completely new to Oscilloscopes. so as you can imagine i don't know what im looking for in an Oscilloscope or even how to use one. so i don't want anything expensive but i also don't want a cheap pile of crap. i basically want something that i can get an idea as to how to use an Oscilloscope and then later if i want to i can upgrade. i have a budget of $50.
so to give you an idea as to what i might use it for here is a list of things i like to do. i like rc cars planes and quadcopters. i am learning arduino. i like to tear thing apart and see how they work. i do some things with 555 timers and other simple circuits. 
i am not interested in dealing with used ebay deals and other things like that. i do buy from amazon so that is fine.


thanks
nmmbeginner
 

Offline AF6LJ

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 07:37:36 pm »
I don't know where you are at in the US; most large cities have electronic surplus outlets.
I actually bought a 100MHZ military surplus scope for twenty dollars at one of these places.
I still have that scope, it is my backup, and it works rather wall.
Granted picking up a dual trace, dual timebase, 100MHZ scope for the cost of five cups of Starbucks coffee is unusual, but you could find a scope of that caliber in your price range.
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Offline nmmbeginer

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 08:01:39 pm »
that would be great but unfortunately i don't live near a city so it would have to be something online that can be shipped to me.
 

Offline eas

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2015, 08:04:24 pm »
There are very few choices for new scopes in your price range. Have you actually looked them over?

If so, do you have any specific questions?  If not, I suggest you do, because you should start to acquaint yourself with the limitations of your limited choices so you'll understand that people who encourage you to instead look for used deals on eBay aren't (all) being jerks.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 08:06:16 pm by eas »
 

Offline AF6LJ

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2015, 08:08:23 pm »
There are very few choices for new scopes in your price range. Have you actually looked them over?

If so, do you have any specific questions?  If not, I suggest you do, because you should start to acquaint yourself with the limitations of your limited choices so you'll understand that people who encourage you to instead look for used deals on eBay aren't (all) being jerks.
This is good advice.
Here you can find test equipment at surplus stores, flea markets and on Craig's list.
Thinking about when I lived in central Oregon nothing was available except for chain saw parts and sheer pins for outboard motors.
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Offline markce

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2015, 08:48:40 pm »
Please don't buy that cheap if you don't know what to look for.
I'd rather buy one 2nd hand that keeps value, an entry level Tek
from 80's or so. tek2225 is a nice one as Dave showed here.
 

Offline AF6LJ

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2015, 09:16:55 pm »
Please don't buy that cheap if you don't know what to look for.
I'd rather buy one 2nd hand that keeps value, an entry level Tek
from 80's or so. tek2225 is a nice one as Dave showed here.

Agreed; you can even get a Tek 465 for just a little more.
My Tek-466 cost me a C-Note ($100.00 US), I knew where it came from and even used it years before when I worked in two way radio. These things are like the Timex watch of of the electronics industry, they take a licking and keep on ticking. 
Sue AF6LJ
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Offline AG6QR

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2015, 10:50:31 pm »
that would be great but unfortunately i don't live near a city so it would have to be something online that can be shipped to me.

Unfortunately, older used analog scopes are the ones that are likely to be within your budget, but those things are so big and heavy that the shipping alone will eat up much of your budget.  And they probably won't come with probes -- probes will also eat up your budget.   I wish I had a better solution than "increase your budget", but I don't.  Keep looking around, though.
 

Offline PaulAm

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2015, 11:55:08 pm »
See if you can find a local ham radio operator or club.  There's a club in almost every county.  Approach them, tell them about your interests and your budget.  Probably wouldn't hurt to show a little interest in radio too  ;D

Tap into that network and you'll find a working scope within your budget in no time.  Heck, somebody might give you one for free, particularly if you're not looking for a handout.

The biggest problem with older analog scopes is shipping.  You can easily look at $40-50 in shipping.  I just shipped out a 2u server and it cost $75.  Best if you can find something local.
 

Offline AF6LJ

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2015, 12:03:31 am »
Here Ya go..
http://www.theoscilloscopeshop.com/bk-precision-oscilloscopes.html

I have an old B&K 1431 sitting here collecting dust but it would most likely cost $50.00 to ship it. Keep in mind this is most likely a 5MHZ scope.
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Online tautech

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2015, 12:05:25 am »
It's a shame the OP hasn't disclosed his location in either this thread or in their profile.  :palm:

You'd never know what then might be offered.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2015, 12:09:36 am »
I'd get one of the cheap nano/pocket scopes from Amazon (or Ebay, Aliexpress, Dealextreme) instead of an old boat anchor. Within budget and likely to offer more features (like taking screenshots, some memory) than an old analog scope. I can't seem to get Amazon to sort by price but I mean something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/SainSmart-Portable-Handheld-Digital-Oscilloscope/dp/B00SXVUETU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1441584280&sr=8-3&keywords=oscilloscope
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline ez24

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2015, 12:25:09 am »
If you can stretch your budget by $7.00 I suggest this

http://www.amazon.com/Pocket-oscilloscope-color-display-battery/dp/B00LYM9XFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441583934&sr=8-1&keywords=dso112

I have one and a Rigol DS1054Z and it compares favorably within the 5 Mhz limit of the DSO112

If you get one make sure it has a battery - you cannot just buy a battery for it.  I also find it fun to use.  Remember this is a $57 scope and it cannot compare with a $1,000,000 scope nor with a $400 scope.  So if you can stretch you budget another $325, a Rigol DS1054Z is a good deal at about $375

 
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Offline forrestc

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2015, 12:41:20 am »
I'm going to give you a recommendation which comes with lots of qualifications...

The primary one is that that these are *not* ideal for most electronics... let me explain:

Pretty quickly in electronics you run into signals digital which are quite fast.   Anymore a 20Mhz oscilloscope is about as slow as you'd want to go.   A used 1Mhz scope would be useful, but also you'd bump into it's limitations fairly quickly.  The tektronix 2225 is a good analog scope and looks like there's lots of them on ebay for around $150 or so, plus shipping.   

The recommendations I'm going to mention are in the 10's of Khz range, maybe 100kz  (Aka 0.1 Mhz at most).... But, they can be almost free.   

If you search for "sound card oscilloscope", there are a lot of software and plans to use about anything which has a sound card (computer, smartphone, etc) into a oscilloscope.  This consists of plugging your signal into a sound input on the computer/phone/tablet/etc, and running a piece of software.  The main limitations are:

1) Rather slow frequency.  If you're just looking at analog signals this isn't probably a problem.
2) Usually AC coupled - that is, your signal goes through a capacitor which means you see the AC component, and not necessarily the DC.
     (This can sometimes be fixed if you are able to modify the device, aka an old sound card/computer)
3) You are at the mercy of the input circuitry into the sound card, which was designed for good sounding audio, not accurate oscilloscope readings.

But, it might be a good start if you're just wanting to play with an oscilloscope and see if you find it useful. 

The only reason I mention this is that there is a good chance that this is going to be a *almost free* option for you.

Beyond that, getting a used one is probably a best bet for you.   

There are some cheap LCD based ones, but to see what they typically behave like, let Dave explain: See

Personally, I'd probably play with a sound card scope, scrounge for a used, better scope, and then save your pennies for an entry level DSO.  Rigol and others make good entry level DSO scopes for around $250.





 

Offline retrolefty

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2015, 01:15:35 am »
Please don't buy that cheap if you don't know what to look for.
I'd rather buy one 2nd hand that keeps value, an entry level Tek
from 80's or so. tek2225 is a nice one as Dave showed here.

Agreed; you can even get a Tek 465 for just a little more.
My Tek-466 cost me a C-Note ($100.00 US), I knew where it came from and even used it years before when I worked in two way radio. These things are like the Timex watch of of the electronics industry, they take a licking and keep on ticking.

 You got that one right. I drove around 700 miles a week in a VW bug with a Tec 465 bouncing in the trunk in the 70s. Once I had to take an 'emergency' call outside my normal area with little time so the Tec 465 was just checked as simple luggage at the airport with just a little tape to help keep the cover snapped on. I witnessed the Tec come tumbling down the luggage ramp head over heels at least 3 times! No problem found. Now if  it had been my scope rather then the companies I probably wouldn't have subjected the scope to such treatment, but they were designed by pros for use by pros. It indeed was a Timex of scopes.  :-+
 

Offline nmmbeginer

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2015, 01:21:59 am »
 
It's a shame the OP hasn't disclosed his location in either this thread or in their profile.  :palm:

You'd never know what then might be offered.
 :popcorn:

i have updated my profile to include my area.
also thanks for all the advice guys. i will try to find someone in the area that dose some things with radios and stuff and hope they have one or know of one.
 
 

Offline ez24

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2015, 01:54:10 am »
If you buy new stuff, be sure to check out TEquipment because they offer members a discount - I think 6% and maybe no tax and no shipping.  I think I got my Rigol for $374 total from them and I think it would have been $436 on Amazon.  Sometimes a $50 budget becomes a $374 budget.  :-DD
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Offline AF6LJ

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Re: Oscilloscope suggestions for a beginner that is 50 dollars and under
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2015, 02:19:46 am »
Please don't buy that cheap if you don't know what to look for.
I'd rather buy one 2nd hand that keeps value, an entry level Tek
from 80's or so. tek2225 is a nice one as Dave showed here.

Agreed; you can even get a Tek 465 for just a little more.
My Tek-466 cost me a C-Note ($100.00 US), I knew where it came from and even used it years before when I worked in two way radio. These things are like the Timex watch of of the electronics industry, they take a licking and keep on ticking.

 You got that one right. I drove around 700 miles a week in a VW bug with a Tec 465 bouncing in the trunk in the 70s. Once I had to take an 'emergency' call outside my normal area with little time so the Tec 465 was just checked as simple luggage at the airport with just a little tape to help keep the cover snapped on. I witnessed the Tec come tumbling down the luggage ramp head over heels at least 3 times! No problem found. Now if  it had been my scope rather then the companies I probably wouldn't have subjected the scope to such treatment, but they were designed by pros for use by pros. It indeed was a Timex of scopes.  :-+
And that is why I rerecorded them, I have used Tek 465, 75's etc since the mid 70s, one shop I worked at the owner had a Tek 485, it was his pride and joy. This stuff is reliable and can still be repaired.

My Tek 466 was the mainstay in a two way radio shop I worked in, a coworker bought it when the company was bought by another company and a bunch of gear was liquidated. (That is how I also got my IFR 100S).
Ten years later I bought both pieces from my friend for a quite reasonable price. The 465 worked and was in decent physical shape.  I paid a hundred dollars for it with everything that was in the pouch when I last used it. The IFR was a different story, One hundred fifty dollars and another three hundred or so to fix it, still a good deal. Anybody who has ever used a Real Specturm Analyzer laughs at the built in SA in the IFR. :)



Sue AF6LJ
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