Low-cost oscilloscopes have what it takes - Embedded.com

Low-cost oscilloscopes have what it takes

It's been a while since we published the popular USB Oscilloscopes from Pro to Hobbyist, and since then, more models have appeared on the market — some by established companies but many by startups and makers. Here, we'll look at a few — three are wireless, one is wired. One is a standalone unit, while others need a remote display.

At first, “faceless” oscilloscopes were USB-controlled. Today, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth oscilloscopes have entered the game especially at the lowest-cost end. Early wireless oscilloscopes connected to Android devices because they are easier to write apps than iOS devices. One of the earliest wireless oscilloscopes I saw wasn't even for sale. Designed by Aubrey Kagan (a.k.a Antedeluvian) this wireless oscilloscope connected to an Android tablet.

I've had the pleasure of trying out a few of these low-end oscilloscopes such as those from LabNation and Aeroscope. I also tried the original National Instruments VirtualBench, although at $1,999, it's no low-cost instrument.

The two-channel RS Pro 2205A-20 from RS Components (£145) samples at 200 Msamples/s and has a bandwidth of 20 MHz, making it useful for audio and low-frequency applications. In addition to having a USB interface, the 2205A-20 has UART (RS-232), SPI, I2C, LIN, and CAN interfaces, which lets you install it in vehicles, machines, and embedded systems.

RSPro oscilloscope

The RS Pro oscilloscope has 20-MHz bandwidth. Source: RS Components/

The DS212 pocket oscilloscope has its own screen and uses mechanical wheels to adjust vertical and horizontal resolution. The actual manufacturer's name is somewhat unclear. For example, Amazon lists it with two different names and prices: YKEY at $109.98 and KEVWTECH at $178. You'll also find it on a Chinese site called e-design (here's the English translation).

The DS212 has 1-MHz bandwidth and samples at 10 Msamples/s. It can handle input voltages to ±40 V. It's powered by an internal battery that you charge through a micro-USB port. According to this video, the DS212 comes with one probe, even though it's a two-channel unit.

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The Chinese-made DS212 is a standalone pocket oscilloscope with 1-MHz bandwidth. Source: http://www.e-design.com.cn/

In yet another shape, the IkaScope from IkaLogic has 30-MHz bandwidth and samples at 200 Msamples/s. Compare that to Aeroscope, which samples at 100 Msamples/s with a lower bandwidth of 20 MHz. Aeroscope's $199 price tag is almost half of IkaScope's price of €299 (about US$368).

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