Products > Test Equipment

Scope: Instek GDS-1102A-U, Rigol DS1102E, Owon SDS7102, Hantek DSO5102B, Other?

(1/9) > >>

Update May 10, 2013

I fell prey to the very same "dangerous progression" I was trying to avoid by sticking to the sub $500 range.  Several months have gone by since I first posted this thread and I've ended up with the idea that a scope is a long-term tool, and it wouldn't be wise to buy one the same way I'd buy an TV or other electronic gizmo (heavy preference towards the bare minimum and compromising on features for the sake of price).

My desired specs crept all the way up to the 4-channel, 200MHz range and my budget crept with them - up to the $1k to $2k range.  My leading option today is a used Agilent MSOX2024A for about $2k.

As a result it doesn't make sense to keep posting here when this thread's title and contents no longer match.  I'll write a summary post ("Reply #40") and start a new thread.

Thank you to everyone for your input.  I'm absolutely positive I'll be happier with the purchase I make as a result of your contributions, and I hope they've helped other people too.

Hi everyone.  I have been “lurking” around this site silently for a few months now, having come across it when looking for reviews of the Owon SDS7102.  Since then I have found this to be a very helpful site with lots of bright and friendly people (some of which have their quirks).  I am hoping some of you will share your current thoughts, even though there have been dozens of threads on this topic over the past few years.

Background info:

I have wanted to get an oscilloscope for a couple years now but couldn’t spend the money.  I still can’t spend much money, unfortunately, since it would be for personal use - and therefore must be justifiable to my wonderful but non-technical wife ("Maybe you can just rent one?" haha).

I am trying to stay in the sub-500 USD range if possible, because there are several attractive options in the $800-$1000 range.  If I was convinced to consider spending $700 I'd risk being lured to spend "only a couple hundred more" to get some of the very nice features (higher waveforms/sec, greater memory depth (and higher sampling rate at those depths), better zooming, larger screen, etc).  From there, again I could spend only a couple hundred more to get a much more useful scope with 4 channels or even more nice features.  It's a dangerous progression common to most electronics purchases these days.  I'm hoping to avoid it in this case by nipping it in the bud and I couldn’t really afford it anyways.

On the other hand, I also can’t afford to waste my money by spending *too little*, getting a scope that won’t meet my intended purpose, and either being stuck with it or having to spend even more money to replace it.  Still, it seems like the very low end scopes may have enough functionality to be worth buying one.

Capabilities I think I can get by with:

I've decided 2 channels, 100 MHz bandwidth, and 1 GS/s sampling rate are my minimum requirements as I plan to be working with digital and analog signals up to 20 MHz.

Applications/reasoning for minimum requirements:

One specific project is the MSP430 $4.30 kit and associated DIP uC’s.  I’ve made a system to monitor and control my saltwater aquarium’s water levels but it has a few intermittent bugs and I feel so blind without a scope.  These uC’s have a 16MHz clock.  I’m sure I will want to work with other uC’s too hence the rounding to 20MHz.  I’m also interested in learning how to design simple PCBs so that will undoubtedly open up all kinds of new possibilities (I’ve heard breadboards are only good up to certain frequencies).  If you’re curious I’m looking at seeedstudio’s PCB service.  It starts at 9.90 USD total for 10 small boards which I can actually afford.

Finally, possible product options:

GW Instek GDS-1102A-U (~$500 delivered with case)

Rigol DS1102E (~$400 delivered with case)
(deliberately chosen as I don’t want to hack it)

Owon SDS7102 (~$430 delivered with case)
(discontinued at interestingly)

Hantek DSO5102B (~$420 delivered)

And, any other scope a forum member feels like should be on this list.

(Note:  I’m posting this here, including links, because the forum description says “talk about or ask questions for a specific product”.  I’m not necessarily looking for the best deal or where to buy as that might fit better in the Buy/Sell/Wanted forum once I know which scope I want.)

What I am looking for from EEVblog members (and visitors) reading this:

I have scoured the site and read many (though I’m sure not all) of the threads relevant to these scopes.  Like others, though, I’m still having a very hard time deciding.  Further, it seems like as years go by the hardware and firmware have changed – making some older threads less useful.

I think what might be most helpful is if anyone familiar with a *recent* release of any of these scopes (say, purchased July 2012 or later) could share their comments.  Specific things I’m thinking about are screen size/resolution, memory depth, ease of “zooming”, split screen etc.  Firmware usefulness but also more importantly stability.  I want something that will not be prone to locking up (hence I’m hesitant on the Hantek which might otherwise be one of my top choices).

What do you love about the scope?  What makes you wish you could return it and buy a different one?  Which features do you wish it had?  Which features did you think you needed but have actually not been a big deal to have or not have?

Thank you so much for your input!  I hope an updated/recent discussion is useful not only for me but also for the 100’s or 1000’s of people that browse but never write.


Personally I like the Hantek DSO5102B as I think it is overall the most balanced of the mentioned scope. In my opinion is the most feature rich of the these in terms of the firmware with a decent size screen. With just the screen size factor alone that puts the rigol and the gw-instek out of the question. What lacks the most in this scope is the poor deep memory feature but its fast waveform/s refresh rate kinda makes up for it, although not the fastest but it is very good for this price range.

I've like the Owon as well, but it lacks some of the features that would make my work easier so I opted for the Hantek.


--- Quote from: tlu on October 17, 2012, 04:05:14 pm ---Personally I like the Hantek DSO5102B as I think it is overall the most balanced of the mentioned scope....
--- End quote ---

Thanks tlu!  Absolutely right about the screen but I've heard the persistant menu on the right can get a little annoying.  Has it bothered you at all?  I've also heard the firmware is "buggy" though very functional.  Has it locked up much on you?  Would you please let me know how long ago you got the scope?

Thanks again!!!

I'd go with the Rigol >>> Instek.  You'll get local warranty service with CSI for Hantek or Saelig for Owon but as you read on eevblog, they've had their share of production defects ontop of firmware issues.  It could already be fixed as of this writing, but such events haven't happened even once to the Rigol 1000 series.  There is a risk of more unknown failures/glitches still down the road.

With a Rigol USA presence, you have higher likelihood in the long term of honoring a warranty, or at least access to factory level repair in the USA.

With Agilent having another set of Rigol's rebadged with Agilent's name, its suggests to me Rigol's quality is rated high enough for Agilent to again put their name on this product line. 

What you read on the Rigol spec sheet will most likely happen and build quality is proven [ discussed since 2009, scopes are now 4+years old, with hardly, if not any, complaints.]  It isn't the most ergonomic among the competitors listed, but its proven reliable as a measuring instrument.  The only other scope with such a reputation is Instek, but at higher cost.

The only one I have any experience with is the Instek.  We have two of them that we use in production, but like I've said elsewhere, I steal them all the time to use for engineering when I need another channel or something.  Since I can't really compare it against the others, I guess this isn't very useful to you, but I've been really happy with the Instek performance.  The deep memory is nice and allows me to window zoom into the 25ns level when I'm triggering on an edge 12ms away.  The screen is about the same size at the 10 year old Tek on the other bench, so it's not bad at all to work with.  There are a lot of preset slots for settings, which I find really useful when you need to have a complex setup for some test to just be able to recall that from a list.  I also spent some time writing a python script that interfaces with the scope through USB.  It takes a couple seconds to dump the full memory, but other than that it's a pretty good remote measurement tool.  Pretty much anything you can do on the front panel you can do through the USB including dumping all the measurements.
I haven't had to send the scopes back for warranty repair, but I did have an Instek function gen die on me and the warranty process wasn't too painful.  They have good presence in the USA at least.  While you are paying a bit more, you are buying the support.  If you know Chinese, you are probably all set, else you might be out of luck.  That probably isn't an issue with the Rigol anymore, but who knows about the others.
That's all I got. 


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

There was an error while thanking
Go to full version
Powered by SMFPacks Advanced Attachments Uploader Mod