Oscilloscope Suggestions

Can anyone suggest a good oscilloscope to purchase, new? Is 4 channels a good number? What is a good frequency range to get?

I do understand this is not exactly a BeagleBoard question, but it is heavily related to it. I figure at least a few folks out there are very experienced scope users.


Bob Cochran
Greenbelt, Maryland, USA

Well, it depends. Let’s start with two questions.

What is your budget?
What are you planning to use it for?


Hi Gerald,

I'm not sure yet about the budget. I don't know a thing about scopes except they are needed for troubleshooting electronics, and that I want to learn how to use one. So my main use use for now is education, and I'll always be fascinated enough with circuits to keep buying parts and books and wanting to take electrical engineering classes (or electrical engineering technology.)

My idea is to right now is to buy a scope, and learn to use it. I have plenty of stuff here to use it on.


What sort of signals do you need to inspect? DDR memory transactions
or GPIO stuff controlling some LEDs and buttons? There is a HUGE
difference in speed between some of the signals on the Beagle and some
of the other ones. A 4-channel 1 GHz bandwidth digital scope will
cost over $10K.

I have a used Tektronix 2465 (300 MHz bandwidth analog 4-channel
scope) I got for $500 on eBay.
There is a 2465A (350 MHz) and 2465B (400 MHz) version, too. Avoid
the 2467-series, the microchannel plate is a total pain. Great if you
really need it, but a digital scope is much
better. I happened to have a set of good probes. 400 MHz probes will
likely cost you more than a used scope.

If you really plan on spending $10K, check out Tektronix, Agilent
(formerly HP) and LeCroy.
All great products. Some of the far east competitors have some decent
stuff, but most of it has REAL deficiencies that won't show up in the
spec sheet.

If you don't need the high bandwidth, then there are a lot of other
options, USB digital scope pods, and many off-brand scopes. Still, I
really like Tek gear.


OK. I think a dual channel is a good place to start. I have a GWINSTEK Model GDS-1102. It is a nice scope at a great price. I have one at home and I have another model at the office. They do everything I need. They are a great value for the dollar.


Thanks, Jon! I'll give your suggestions and Gerald's some thought.


Thanks Gerald! I'll give your suggestions and Jon's some thought, and look at both Gwinstek and Tek.

I apologize for my atrocious grammar. I suspect that at my age (52) I ought to go to bed earlier in the evening....


Well, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I’m not far behind you on the calendar!


for budget friendly digital scopes and less than 200Mhz bandwidth, you
can also look at rigol, owon, atten etc..


I can throw in Rigol DS11052E. It's a really nice low-budget entry
level DSO. Although it has only 50MHz bandwidth, through a simple
tweak in the configuration can be converted into a more expensive,
100MHz version.
If you don't mind an analog scope in this price range, you will not
regret getting a Tek.


Take a look at the Rigol DSO range.
They are extremely good value and
they make scopes for Agilent nee HP.



Bob Cochran wrote:

Hi, I am focusing on the Rigol DS1052E. It is the 50Mhz model that
some are successfully
modifying to 100Mhz. The DS1102E is the 100Mhz model. Ideally I
would like the
DS1052D for its additional 16 channel logic analyzer add on. But alas,
$1k US is more
than I can put into one.
  So for the going sale price of less than $400US shipped DS1052E I
might use a separate
USB logic analyser in the less than $150US range.

Don Lewis

Hi Don,

The Rigol DS1052E is a great scope, i personally purchased one its on par with the Tektronix of the same level and its affordable for a University Student like myself.

If you are also looking for a Logic Analyzer have a look at http://dangerousprototypes.com/docs/Open_Bench_Logic_Sniffer its much cheaper then some of the others (eg Salae, USBee) and it can double up as a Spartan-3E FPGA dev board.

Just keep in mind that OpenBench Logic Sniffer uses slow serial
connection and the trace length is limited to the depth of the
on-board memory. OTOH Saleae takes advantage of USB2.0 bandwith and
stores the trace in the host's RAM. As the advantage of OBLS I have to
mention bigger number of inputs (32 total, but only 16 buffered OOTB),
while Saleae is limited to only 8 input lines.


I liked the sugestion so much that I just ordered one from Dealextreme.
yeah, Amazon don't send those to Brazil :confused:



Yep, placed my order with tequipment.net today. Now I eagerly await
replacement for my old 20Mhz dual trace Tektronix 5440 with broken
and poor sync.

Don Lewis