Need to Know Information on Oscilloscopes

The oscilloscope is a very helpful device that has been in use in a wide range of industries, as well as laboratories, for more than a hundred years now. The scopes are able to measure time varying electrical signals, and they can help to calibrate and find the faults of many pieces of equipment.

A number of different types of these scopes are out there today, and each has particular pros and cons. Some applications may be easier with one type of scope, while others may work better in different situations. Here is some need-to-know information about oscilloscopes that should provide a better understanding of what they offer.

What is an Analogue Oscilloscope?

One of the questions that many often ask when they are starting to learn about oscilloscopes is what might the difference be between the analogue scopes and the CTR, or cathode ray scopes? In fact, they are the same thing. The term cathode ray oscilloscope was simply the first name by which it went after it was invented. Over the years, and after other forms of scope came about, people started to call the traditional scope the analogue scope and it stuck. Essentially, they are the same thing.

This scope, which uses cathode ray tubes similar to what you would find in an older model television, is able to measure the waveform of repetitious electronic signals. They will add a signal and then use it to deflect an electron beam vertically and then horizontally. This will then show on the screen so that the person running the scope is able to see the signal’s shape. Those who use the scope will be able to see where there are issues and make the necessary changes.

What is a Digital Oscilloscope?

A digital oscilloscope is a great tool for those who are repairing electronic equipment, as well as for those who manufacture the electronic devices. With the right scope and the right type of sensor, it is going to be possible for the digital oscilloscope to be able to measure a number of different things. For example, it is possible to change out the sensors so that they measure something other than an electric signal, if you choose. They might measure sound, pressure, heat, or even light. You will find that you have quite a few options when it comes to these types of devices today.

You will find these oscilloscopes in use in a host of different fields today, as well. Mechanics might use the devices to measure issues in vehicle systems. Repair technicians working on large electronic devices may need them, and they can even help many scientists in the lab. Because it is possible to find a number of different types of digital scopes and probes, it is important to make sure that you are working with the right type of scope for your application.

What Is the Difference Between a Digital and an Analogue Oscilloscope?

While they might work slightly differently, you will find that the digital and analogue oscilloscope will do the same thing. The different parts are essentially going to be the same. They even have similar displays, so if you’ve been using one, you should not have much trouble adapting to the other.

The digital oscilloscopes are capable of a much higher sample rate than you will find with any of the analogue scopes. This means that it should be easy for you to make some of the smaller and finer adjustments that you need when you are using digital. Another area where you will see a difference is in terms of memory. The memory is the determining factor when trying to see just how much of a waveform you are going to be able to capture. More memory, naturally, is a good thing. The digital scopes are going to be able to have larger memory than the analogue options.

One of the biggest differences between the two is the fact that the digital scopes will often have a USB 2.0 port. This means that you are going to be able to use the device with your computer and save information. The computer software for oscilloscopes that you can buy will be able to provide you with even more options. Because of these benefits, more and more people today are starting to look into digital choices when it comes to the oscilloscope.

Of course, the analogue scope does have some pros, as well. With the scope, you will find that it is often easier to analyze real time signals because you have the ability to adjust and focus the screen.

Who Invented the Analogue Oscilloscope?

The oscilloscope came right on the heels of the invention of the cathode ray tube. The initial use of the tubes was to study more about the physics of electrons, but Karl Ferdinand Braun created the CRT, or analogue, oscilloscope in 1897. He did so by applying a signal that was oscillating to electrically charged deflector plates in a CRT coated in phosphor. This was the first application of the device, but with the changes that came to it over the next few years, they were suddenly much more useful for those who were making electronics or who were studying physics.

The History of the Analogue Oscilloscope

The scopes underwent some rather big changes over the years, even though they are doing essentially the same thing. They have more refinement today, and that makes them much easier to use. In addition, there was the invention of the triggered sweep oscilloscope in 1946, which provided much more control. Because of the greater control, the oscilloscope was suddenly even more useful. Over the years, different manufacturers put their own spin on the scope, but the basic usage was always the same. They are still quite popular, even with the advent of the other types of oscilloscope on the market.

How Is the Analogue Oscilloscope Used?

You will want to connect your lead from the electrical device or source to the input terminals of the oscilloscope. You will put this into the channel 1 slot since most of the scopes out there have more than one channel. Next, you can turn the oscilloscope on and choose the scale that is going to be correct for the input signal. The scale is the amount of length that you have on the scope. You will be able to see full cycles on the scope, but you must make sure that you set it to show you at least a millisecond of information.

You will then choose the range on the scope that matches your signal. These are going to be the minimum and maximum voltages that the scope is going to show. Next, you will set the threshold. You have to make sure that the signal is higher than the threshold value before you will see the signal displayed. Finally, you will see that signal in the form of a dot that moves up and down on the screen. This is what you will be able to record.

Who Produces Analogue Oscilloscopes?

Quite a few companies today are still making these analog oscilloscopes. One of the most famous and popular companies is Tektronix. They have been in business for a number of years, and they have a host of different choices available when it comes to these scopes and all of the accessories that they need to work properly. Some of the other manufacturers of the oscilloscope today include B&K Precision, EZ Digital, Instek, and Elenco.

Whenever you are choosing an oscilloscope, whether you go the analog route or digital, you are going to want to make sure that you are buying from a high-quality manufacturer. You want the device to work well for many years.

What is the Definition of Bandwidth in Respect to an Oscilloscope?

When talking about bandwidth for an analogue oscilloscope, it is important to make sure that you know what it actually means. The bandwidth is a measurement specification, and this specification is how you define the frequency at which the “measured amplitude of a sine wave is 3db lower than the actual sine wave amplitude”. Thus, the bandwidth is not concerned with time, as many other applications with the oscilloscope are. Instead, they focus on frequency.


Oscilloscopes have a time base, which allows them to raise or lower the time for each value on the Y-axis. This can range from nanoseconds to microseconds in most cases. It is important to set a proper max for this time base so that you can get the most accurate results. It lets you see the signals more clearly when you do. The maximum base is going to be the longest time between signals.


The minimum time base, therefore, would be the opposite. Again, it is important to make sure that you have the range correct with the minimum time base still readable by the scope. Always make sure that you are working within the right settings to get proper results.


The vertical sensitivity with the oscilloscope is how it will indicate just how much the vertical amplifier is able to boost a weak signal. The maximum sensitivity, always measured in mili-volts, or MV, can vary based on the application, as well as the oscilloscope.


The vertical sensitivity with the oscilloscope is how it will indicate just how much the vertical amplifier is able to boost a weak signal. The maximum sensitivity, always measured in mili-volts, or MV, can vary based on the application, as well as the oscilloscope.


In general, you will find that the minimum vertical sensitivity is going to be about 2mV per vertical screen division. Again, this is for a general scope. Depending on the type of scope you are using, this could be different.

What Does RISE TIME Mean?

Rise time is an oscilloscope’s useful frequency range. The rise time selection is going to be similar to the selection for your bandwidth, in most cases. Oscilloscopes that are using faster rise times are generally going to be more capable of capturing signals accurately. This is especially true in today’s world where the speed of signals is so much faster.


The analog oscilloscopes use the CRT monitor to display the information. With some of these, it will be possible to change the look of the signal, which can make it easier to get certain types of information. However, not all of the analog oscilloscopes are able to offer this. The digital scopes, which often use an LCD monitor, are capable of offering much more in terms of display.


When you have a high frequency, you will find that this is going to determine the input capacitance. You do not want to go too high, because you could have issues with the device. One of the methods by which people get around this issue is by using a different probe. Always make sure that you are following the directions and instructions when you are using your oscilloscope, though, so you can be sure it will last a long time.


You need to know the input impedance of the scope because this is going to determine the loading effect on the circuit that you are going to measure. This can help with the safety and accuracy of measurements. Some of the lower-quality scopes on the market today do not have this option.


If the temperature gets too high, the scope could malfunction, or it could cause damage to the device undergoing the testing. One may also find thermal drift, which could affect results, in some cases.


In order for the scope to work properly, it will have to reach the minimum operating temperature. You should let the device power on and warm up before use. As with other parts of the scope, you want to make sure that you are in the goldilocks zone so that you can receive measurements that are going to be just right.

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