Author Topic: Building my electronics lab, need help choosing a function generator please :)  (Read 8056 times)

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Offline VolvoBrad007

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Hello all,

First post, so I hope this is in the correct place, as well I'll give some background on myself and my needs.

I'm Brad, 37 and live in California (transplant from the East coast)- not new to electronics or their insides, as I have been taking things apart since before I can remember.  I have built a few circuits in the past, and took a few semesters at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as I was thinking of becoming an electrical computer engineer. Medicine found me and I took a different route, never leaving electronics and my fascination of them in general as well as what makes them tick. I also have a ham radio license (general class), and a whole station.  Not the best antenna setup at the moment, but a decent station.

I have recently become fascinated in electronics and s the components and send have gotten and send round to starting to learn more about how they work together,  as well as individually.  I am currently reading some ee textbooks to further my knowledge and learning.  So far, so good, as well as fascinating and fun!

I have some equipment for my electronics lab that I'm working on. I will list what I already have, and then state my intentions.

In advance, I'd like to thank anyone for their help and expertise and pointing me in the correct direction.

Currently I have in the lab:

-Fluke 87V DMM
-Brymen 727 DMM (that I've had for some time) Purchased in New Zealand when I lived there.
-Klein CL2000  DMM/clamp
-Assorted probes (fluke master accessory kit)

-Hakko FX888D Soldering Station
-Desoldering iron with bulb (yes, I know, not the best tool, but she gets the job done most of the time)

-HeathKit IP-2718 Tri-Power Supply (got it for free from electronics recycling, works a treat. Pretty accurate too)
-Korad 3005D Power Supply
-Homemade ATX Power Supply

-Tektronix 7514 Storage Oscilloscope (this thing is a beast!)
-Tektronix OS-245 (P)/U  (AN/USM-28IC) Oscilloscope
-Rigol DS1054Z Oscilloscope

-Assorted test leads (one can never have too many of those lol)

-A few Elenco breadboards
-Jumper wires
-Assorted Components

-Plenty of tools for almost anything.


I've been reading the EE textbooks I have, as well as I have downloaded a few labs (for instance RC circuits and a few other EE labs) so that I may learn and preform them in my own lab :)

I see many experiments and labs as well as real world application into diagnosing and testing as well as for R and D needing a function generator  or an arbitrary function generator.  Now I won't lie and say I understand completely the experiments and what is happening, but that is the goal. As well as to, in the future, apply my knowledge to real world devices as well as create my own!

That being said, it looks as though a function generator is a key piece of lab equipment.  I understand some about function generators, but not all. for instance, I am aware you can use it in your circuit to control the blinking rate of leds by changing frequency and duty cycle.

Some of the experiments call for an arbitrary function generator.  I understand what arbitrary means, but not necessarily how it applies  which I am obviously curious and wanting and willing to learn.

Now I am a person who believes in getting things you can "grow" into. That being said, I'm not made of money and have a limited budget of 250-300. I'd really like to not go above 300 at the moment, but would like the best bang for my buck as I take this long learning roller coaster! I understand you can always upgrade your equipment when the need arises.

Also wanted to add that I have done much research on here as well as google, and youtube about this very subject, and have yet to come to a conclusion without some feedback and discussion with those more informed, and wiser than I.

I arrived at the decision for the Rigol DS1054Z and the Korad 3005D from this forum.  And many thanks to those contributors whom I got lots of useful information from!


Onto my intended needs/uses:

So as you're probably gathering,  I'm no electrical engineer, nor doing R and D, but still enjoy precision, and I am aware that at this price point, I am somewhat limited to precision and accuracy. Again bang for buck. What should I purchase to get the most from my money, and most for my learning?

I would like to use the function generator, be it an analog, dds,  or arbitrary, for my learning of electrical components and circuits, for working on the labs I have downloaded, as well as I'm sure I'll find some new ones to work on also.  I would like to use it to build circuits, learn about them, test them, see what changes when you adjust different parameters,  etc  I also have a love for audio.  A bit of an audiophile, and as well I have a bunch of audio equipment. It would certainly be neat, and I plan on learning how to diagnose as well how audio circuitry works. As well as using it to learn more and more about the oscilloscope  I have a solid understanding of my DMM, but the oscilloscope I'm semi new to, and it has its leaning curves as I'm sure everyone knows.  Having a function generator seems to be a good tool for learning your oscilloscope as well.

Basically I'd like to learn as much as I can!

I have read it's definitely not a good idea to be using your android or iphone device as a function generator, especially for a noobie, as I could easily inject something into my iPhone or Android rendering it useless.  That would be no good. So let's stay away from that. I also am not looking for a usb interface (may be using the wrong term here) but not one where you're limited to the range topping out around 20 kHz output from your sound card. I would like a stand alone unit. (Not that I know what the limit of 20 kHz means on a circuit board (we'll let's not say that, I understand it's 20,000 times/second).

I have been reading here about the Rigol DG1022 as well as the Siglent SDG805, and see there's much love for the instek SFG-1003.  Also was having a look at Instek AFG-2005. I am not limited to these choices, any and all suggestions are welcomed as I make my decision.

Just not sure what to purchase for my required needs. I know sometimes you guys ask for the op to let you know what the max frequency required, max voltage, how much thd, etc.  I am not sure about what I need, and that does not mean that I don't want or need one, it simply means I am unsure which type, analog, digital, or arbutrary, and what the actual differences are under real world application,  not simply looking at the white papers for each. I understand analog must be genrating the signal with analog circuitry and the dds or digital with digital circuitry. (Please correct me if I am wrong).  I also understand that and arbitrary one  would output a changing waveform, as opposed to a periodic waveform. As well as periodic waveforms. (again, correct me if I'm wrong).

So any help in pointing me in the right direction would be splendid.  I'm happy to provide more information about myself for my needs, just let me know!

Also, I may some advice on a few companies besides Tequipment.net, though I understand we get a discount with a code from a pm from someone on the eevblog forums,  and as well I don't have to pay tax, to order equipment from that are trustworthy and have a good reputation. I do like Tequipment, they do have very good customer service. Not to let that limit my decision, as they may not have what is suggested.

Also any other advice on anything else I should be having in the lab that I don't already is much appreciated.

 

Thanks again in advance,

-Brad
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 12:03:06 pm by VolvoBrad007 »
 

Offline jonovid

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a lot depends on the type of projects you plan to do. RF , micro's   :-//
others may have a better ideas than me
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 12:14:59 pm by jonovid »
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Offline VolvoBrad007

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a lot depends on the type of projects you plan to do. RF , micro's   :-//

I suppose that's kind of what I'm asking as well. I'm not sure if there's a "general purpose" generator or if I need to have a specific requirement, as I'm not trying to limit my learning curve. Mabye I'll be interested in RF, or micros,  though maybe not so much SMD components at the moment (if that helps any, even if it's indicating my knowledge level), as I'm in the beginning still of a long journey.

I want to be able to experiment with and learn as much as possible about as many things as I can. :)

I know electrical engineers like to be very specific and stay as close to spec as possible. I also share in this, however I need some genuine advice and maybe an example or two to help push me in a direction or choice (for now, at least).

-Brad
 

Offline nctnico

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IMHO a dual channel generator offers a lot of flexibility. If you want to go cheap then the Feeltech generators offer excellent value for money (see other threads). Otherwise you could look at the Siglent SDG1000X series. The biggest difference between the Siglent generators and the ones from Feeltech is that the Siglent ones show the waveform on screen.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline MrWolf

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If you want to have a play at lightspeed those low speed gens will not cut it. So indeed SDG1000X or SDG2000X. And playing at lightspeed is cool, its like living in future... 5m and 2m unterminated coax screenshots attached (source is SDG2000X). First is 100MHz sine impulse, second is about 16ns single positive pulse. First cursor is signal in, second is reflection arriving.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 01:42:57 pm by MrWolf »
 
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Online tautech

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Welcome to the forum Brad.

We see by your list that your understanding and needs are growing as you're updating equipment that now does not meet your needs. So I'd recommend you expand your budget some and focus on a SDG1000X or 2000X.
Earlier/older models while still quite functional do not have the features or capabilities of these new X series units and a 2042X in particular seems to be a forum favorite ATM, if only for the ability to "improve" it to a 2122X.  ;)

One might suspect the SDG1000 and 800 ranges will both be replaced by these new X series models so there might be "runout" deals that could save you a $ or three in the future.

There's large threads on the forum for the 1000 & 800 plus another for 2042X and a as yet a small one for SDG1000X, all of which have some info that might help you decide.
Personally, 2 channels is must now for me.

TQ no longer handle Siglent but Saelig do and you can ask for their discount code here:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/equipment-discounts-from-saelig/


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Offline VolvoBrad007

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If you want to have a play at lightspeed those low speed gens will not cut it. So indeed SDG1000X or SDG2000X. And playing at lightspeed is cool, its like living in future... 5m and 2m unterminated coax screenshots attached (source is SDG2000X). First is 100MHz sine impulse, second is about 16ns single positive pulse. First cursor is signal in, second is reflection arriving.

Thanks MrWolf! Very cool business! I like it! Playing at lightspeed sounds fun, and something I'm definitely interested in playing around with! Much appreciated on your recommendations! In addition, thanks for the screenshots! A picture speaks a thousand words!

-Brad
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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Welcome to the forum Brad.

We see by your list that your understanding and needs are growing as you're updating equipment that now does not meet your needs. So I'd recommend you expand your budget some and focus on a SDG1000X or 2000X.
Earlier/older models while still quite functional do not have the features or capabilities of these new X series units and a 2042X in particular seems to be a forum favorite ATM, if only for the ability to "improve" it to a 2122X.  ;)

One might suspect the SDG1000 and 800 ranges will both be replaced by these new X series models so there might be "runout" deals that could save you a $ or three in the future.

There's large threads on the forum for the 1000 & 800 plus another for 2042X and a as yet a small one for SDG1000X, all of which have some info that might help you decide.
Personally, 2 channels is must now for me.

TQ no longer handle Siglent but Saelig do and you can ask for their discount code here:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/equipment-discounts-from-saelig/


Thank you tautech! I really appreciate your gracious insight and help into my quest to expand my electronics lab, and helping me with acquiring a function generator! I just had a look at saelig, and the 2000x series seems a bit out of the budget at the moment (and just for information, I'm kinda making a relation to the dollar amount spent on the DS1054Z DSO I recently purchased and is my first digital scope.  It's awesome, and I'm still learning about it. 

As well thanks for the saelig information, didn't know about that company, have seen their website pop up from time to time, never investigated or knew if they were reputable.  Now I know.

Out of curiosity, and to help me understand further, do you think you could kindly explain how the earlier/older models (and maybe a few examples, for instance, are you referring to the 800 series you spoke about?) differ from the newer models, as far as functions and capabilities of the machine are concerned.  Much appreciated!

I'm also curious how, for instance, the SDG805, 810, or 830 might be limiting, though friendlier to the pocket.  And what advantages comes with for instance the SDG1032X that is currently on sale now at Saelig for 359, which is a bit over my budget, but worth considering for sure, though I don't think spending more money at this time would be appropriate.  I can always upgrade in the future when the need arises. I'm not saying no to the SDG1032X, simply making sure I have enough room for test leads and connections from the function generator, as well as I need a few more test leads (as I mentioned earlier, you can never have too many test leads lol). 

Cheers,

-Brad
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 01:36:20 am by VolvoBrad007 »
 

Online tautech

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The SDG800 series are only single channel AWG's and hence somewhat cheaper and if you were to carefully compare them against the SDG1000X or 2000X models there's a lot less inbuilt waveforms in a 800 series.
One customer of mine has nearly 30 SDG810's and the specs suits their requirements. Don't get me wrong, if 1 channel is all you need then fine.............it's your money to spend as you wish.  ;)

There's a good # of threads and datasheets for you to check:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/the-sdg1000-and-sdg800-thread/
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG1000_DataSheet_DS02010-E07C.pdf
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG800_DataSheet_DS02008-E02C.pdf

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/siglent-sdg1000x-waveform-generators/
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG1000X_DataSheet_DS0201X_E01B.pdf

You can also download any of the Siglent products user manuals to get some idea of the UI in each series of models.
Just drill down into the Documents folder for any model on any of the Siglent websites.

I have one or more of all of these series in stock and if there's something you want me to check just yell.
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Offline julian1

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Definitely go for two channel if you can. Super useful - for even the most basic tasks. Take for example prototyping simple op-amp circuits, and basic transistor configurations on a breadboard. Rather than wiring up resistor dividers and pots to generate test input voltages, I just hook up a sig-gen to emit arbitrary DC test voltages. Saves a lot of time, and keeps the breadboard circuits simpler and more manageable.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 12:14:45 pm by julian1 »
 
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Offline MrWolf

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A picture speaks a thousand words!

That old Tektronix video is even better  :-+
 
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Offline rstofer

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I have been thinking about the signal generator issue for quite a while.  Basically, I don't really need one.  But that doesn't keep me from looking
http://www.tequipment.net/rigol/generators-counters/function-generator/

I was thinking about the DG4102 because I wasn't planning to go above 100 MHz.  Except I was planning to build a kit FM receiver and the 160 MHz DG4162 might be better for alignment.  So, I bought a cheap RF generator to deal with that specific issue.  This is just an assembly project for my grandson, accuracy is optional
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/72-585

So, I'm probably back to the DG4102

There are tradeoffs between the Siglent SDG5162 and the Rigol DG4162, here is a very good video.  Watch it all the way through, there will be a test on 'arbitrary waveforms' later.



Suppose I have my analog computer set up to simulate the front suspension of a car, perhaps an off-road car.  I would surely want to see how it might respond to rough terrain but where do I get a signal that looks open country in Baja California?  I make one using the 'arbitrary' feature of the signal generator.  I can make any waveform I want!  And I love analog computing.  Clearly the frequency limits are far, far, beyond what I need for a real-time simulation but it's one of these generators will wind up on my bench, sooner or later. 

Oh, sure, there are probably more practical things to do with the signal generator but I tend to drift...
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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The SDG800 series are only single channel AWG's and hence somewhat cheaper and if you were to carefully compare them against the SDG1000X or 2000X models there's a lot less inbuilt waveforms in a 800 series.
One customer of mine has nearly 30 SDG810's and the specs suits their requirements. Don't get me wrong, if 1 channel is all you need then fine.............it's your money to spend as you wish.  ;)

There's a good # of threads and datasheets for you to check:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/the-sdg1000-and-sdg800-thread/
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG1000_DataSheet_DS02010-E07C.pdf
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG800_DataSheet_DS02008-E02C.pdf

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/siglent-sdg1000x-waveform-generators/
http://www.siglentamerica.com/USA_website_2014/Documents/DataSheet/SDG1000X_DataSheet_DS0201X_E01B.pdf

You can also download any of the Siglent products user manuals to get some idea of the UI in each series of models.
Just drill down into the Documents folder for any model on any of the Siglent websites.

I have one or more of all of these series in stock and if there's something you want me to check just yell.

tautech, I want to thank you again for your help and direction and links to specs and threads discussing these models.

It has greatly helped me to narrow down my choices, and have now been able to do some comparisons of data sheets on several of the units, and have a much better understanding of what I'm looking at.  It looks like I may be down to the 1032x as the 1000X series seems to be the direction you as well as the other contributors have been leading me.

Cheers for all your help and information!
(You have helped me, so that I may, in the future, help others with the same sort of questions as my knowledge expands!)

-Brad
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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Definitely go for two channel if you can. Super useful - for even the most basic tasks. Take for example prototyping simple op-amp circuits, and basic transistor configurations on a breadboard. Rather than wiring up resistor dividers and pots to generate test input voltages, I just hook up a sig-gen to emit arbitrary DC test voltages. Saves a lot of time, and keeps the breadboard circuits simpler and more manageable.

Hey julian1 - I definitely think you're onto something here, just as people are disappointed they bought only a dual channel scope, I'm glad that you mentioned this.  Good info!

Cheers,
-Brad
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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A picture speaks a thousand words!

That old Tektronix video is even better  :-+


That one is great!!!!! Love the old stuff!

Thanks for sharing!!!

Those are some serious boat anchors! LOL

--Brad
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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I have been thinking about the signal generator issue for quite a while.  Basically, I don't really need one.  But that doesn't keep me from looking
http://www.tequipment.net/rigol/generators-counters/function-generator/

I was thinking about the DG4102 because I wasn't planning to go above 100 MHz.  Except I was planning to build a kit FM receiver and the 160 MHz DG4162 might be better for alignment.  So, I bought a cheap RF generator to deal with that specific issue.  This is just an assembly project for my grandson, accuracy is optional
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/72-585

So, I'm probably back to the DG4102

There are tradeoffs between the Siglent SDG5162 and the Rigol DG4162, here is a very good video.  Watch it all the way through, there will be a test on 'arbitrary waveforms' later.



Suppose I have my analog computer set up to simulate the front suspension of a car, perhaps an off-road car.  I would surely want to see how it might respond to rough terrain but where do I get a signal that looks open country in Baja California?  I make one using the 'arbitrary' feature of the signal generator.  I can make any waveform I want!  And I love analog computing.  Clearly the frequency limits are far, far, beyond what I need for a real-time simulation but it's one of these generators will wind up on my bench, sooner or later. 

Oh, sure, there are probably more practical things to do with the signal generator but I tend to drift...

Hey rstofer,

Thanks for sharing your experience and for your real world example (those always help).

I watched your video, and found it pretty interesting! Good stuff! Definitely learned a thing or two I did not know before!

Cheers,
-Brad
 

Offline VolvoBrad007

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Okay,

First off, thank you guys for all your help!!!!!

So I pulled the trigger on the Siglent SDG1032X!  (30 MHz, 2CH) (and two BNC to minigrabber leads, and two BNC to alligator leads) for 373.56.  Seems like a pretty good deal to me considering the unit itself retails for 400!

Let me know what you guys think please!

Also had another question regarding the SDG1032X, I couldn't find any spec as to the protection of the device, as far as short circuit protection goes.  It says in the 800 data sheet "Protection: Short Circuit Protection".  I'm wondering how the 1032X deals with short circuit protection.  I ask, because I'm new to the function generator, and certainly do not want to blow the bloody thing up by accident, as you can with your oscilloscope probes and ground leads if you connect them willy nilly and don't understand what mains earth referenced means!

I'm also asking for the same reasons as for the reason I do not want to use my iphone or android tablet as a function generator (besides it's obvious faults, limitations etc.); because I want to avoid blowing up my iphone (well maybe not literally, but applying my probe to the wrong place in the circuit, or an improperly wired circuit could easily spell disaster as voltage/current finds its way into my headphone jack on my phone.  (and yes, I am aware that you can build a protection circuit for your phone, or I think I may have been reading that, can't relocate that information at the moment, could also be a figment of my imagination lol, though it is up on my whiteboard some diagram about a resistor or capacitor in parallel with signal and ground in a TS phono  plug. 

So same thing goes for the function generator.  Any tips/advice on how to keep it safe or how a bench function generator is "safer" to use in terms of damaging the equipment.  Is it more forgiving?  Is there short circuit protection in case I'm a ding dong (we all have our "oops" moments, even the best of us) and hook it up wrong in the circuit?


I am pretty excited for it to arrive and have a good play with it, learn it, smell it (ahhhhh, that new electronics smell, gotta take it in and love it! :)). Hoping I made a good decision, using all of your guys' awesome help and direction, and reading posts here (though seemed to be a bit limited in the 1000X thread) to point me in and some of my own research to finally narrow it down (as well as we always have to take into account the dollar amount spent).  It seems to be a decent upgrade from the original 805/810 I was originally looking at.  Two channels, and 30 MHz! (and a true 2 channels at that!)   I've never owned one, or used one before, but as I stated in my original post, I'm looking for a unit I can grow into,  and I'm eager to learn and apply; and as I read in my EE textbooks that I have and download EE labs from different universities from the internet, many involve signal generators as well as arbitrary wave generators.  So it looks like it got both in one package with the SDG1032X (please, correct me if I'm wrong here), and a true 2 channels, or so I read from the data sheets after much contemplation and comparison of different models and different companies, as well taking into account the wealth of knowledge on here!

Comments are more than welcome!

As well as any suggestions as to test leads/adapters I may need to purchase in addition to make sure I have what I need to make everything go!

Here's what I have in terms of test leads for the oscilloscope.  I bought an accessory kit from Tequpment.net when I bought the Rigol DS1054Z. Here it is: http://www.tequipment.net/Cal-Test/CT4042/?v=0

Hopefully that can help as to what I may already have.  I have additional banana to minigrabber and alligator, any other suggestions?
(Also keep in mind that I'm a ham, so I may have 50ohm stuff here already (adapters and coax), but would still appreciate advice if certain lengths need to be used, are there oscilloscope grade adapters? coax/cables? connectors? and any other relevant information or materials needed/necessary would be super super awesome and helpful!

Also how does the HI-Z and 50ohm relate in electronics world?  I know how it relates when I'm plugging in a HI-Z microphone into my preamp or HI-Z instrument outputs.  As Z is impedance. 

What is the purpose of the through 50ohm adapter that's in that kit?
Is it the same thing as a 50 ohm terminator? Or should I have these around as well?

This may be a stupid question to ask, but I've been told and always say that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask, so here goes:  is spending 400 (well it would have been 400 if not for the sale and discount) on a signal/waveform generator excessive if my scope only costs 400?  (I'm not saying these things have a direct link, but am curious if that's just silly). Tautech did recommend I expand my budget, to get what I was asking for in my initial post. Which I'm not opposed to or against if it's a piece of test equipment I can grow into.  Not bottom of the barrel, and from a reliable, well liked and much used company by those on the EEVBlog forums, as there seems to be a ton of good people and heaps of information here.  You just have to have the time to read it all! Lol!

One more stupid one, who is Siglent? Are they a decent company? I can read the about us stuff, but any opinions? Maybe where they rank in the whole scheme of things? (I'm kind of new to all this fascinating measurement technology, so again, I really appreciate any input!)

I can, for instance, definitely grow into the Rigol, as I am new to the DSO, and have much to learn still about them. (as well as the oscilloscope in general) Just curious if that seems excessive.  Obviously there are reasons why one would choose one function generator over the other, I just would like a little nudge I did or didn't go out of bounds so to speak.   I appreciate any and all feedback, as long as it's not ignorant. 

I think you guys provided me with sufficient information for me to make an informed decision; but it never hurts to check.

One helpful chap mentioned that 2 channels is helpful even in simple circuits.  Could someone possibly and kindly provide another example? (I understand you can then drive two different things with two different frequencies or the same frequency, or whatever you want, but a real life example.  Not just that you can use two channels to hook up to whatever you want to, obviously lol.

As well any links or suggestions to some basic circuits I can experiment around with using the function generator.  As well as maybe an experiment or two or link or two using the arbitrary wave generator function.

I have also heard that this can be a useful tool for learning the oscilloscope.  Any truth to the matter? Maybe some examples or links or a smoke signal? ;)

I will definitely post some pics and some thoughts on the unit when it arrives!


Thank you all again, I sincerely appreciate all your help and suggestions, comments, links, pictures, youtube videos.  All awesome stuff!

-Brad
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 05:15:25 pm by VolvoBrad007 »
 


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