Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Oscilloscope! Every engineers dream!

The Why...

For a long time now I have wanted to have my very own oscilloscope. Not just one that I could have access to but one that I could call my own and use on my bench, and use for my stuff. I feel like this is a want of every engineer's at some point,  or at the very least for those in the electrical field. Well I finally cracked down and bought one. The main reason why I could justify it was because I am in the middle of building a BLDC motor controller for my Gator Quad project, and a oscilloscope will be very useful for verification and tuning timings. Other than that, because who doesn't want their own... am I right?!?

I wanted a scope that was digital for two main reasons. The first being that digital scopes come in more compact physical platforms and I don't have that much space and move a lot so I did not want to be lugging it around. Secondly, I wanted to be able to connect my computer and pull wave-forms off of the scope directly, and not do the in between with the flash-drive. Obviously after that, I wanted as many features for as little as possible because I already feel guilty for not trying to salvage an analog scope so I might as well go all out. 2-channels is okay with me... I am sure that there are projects where 4 would be useful but I am sure I can get by on 2 for now. That's the other thing. I am a hobbyist, and will be using this for my own personal projects, I do not need to spend thousands of dollars to capture the waveform when I inevitably blow something up. So for these reasons I selected the following scope.

The What...

The scope that I landed on was a brand I was not too familiar with and was sold on amazon. It ran for $279 when I bought it. More than a lot of people would spend, but I felt it was reasonable for the amount of features I was getting and the reviews it had gotten on Amazon. Way cheaper than a "comparable" Tektronix scope or Rigol. Probably not as high quality but hey... Im just doing this for fun so... Yolo. On the upside I was able to buy it with bitcoin thanks to the services of GYFT allowing me to buy an amazon gift card with bitcoin. It worked quite well as a matter of fact and did not take much time at all to purchase an amazon gift card of $300 dollars from them that I was able to use immediately.

Siligent SDS1052DL 7" TFT- LCD Oscilloscope

  • Up to 200MHz Bandwidth 500MSa/s sample rate
  •  7''TFT-LCD display, 8*18 grids
  • Channels: 2CH+1EXT
  •  500MSa/s samplinge rate, 32Kpts memory depth
  •  6 digits hardware frequency counter, real time counting display
  •  Support SCPI programming command control
  •  Interface: USB Device, USB Host, RS-232, Pass/Fail
  •  Unique digital filter and data recorder function
  •  Embedded 12 languages, online help, one key storing and one key printing


Front View with the test waveform:

I connected a probe to the test output 1kHz square wave on the front of the scope to see how the display looked and controls worked. You can see that the screen is pretty large and gives you plenty to look at!!
Channel 2, test probe from Hantek.

FFT Function:
Here you can see the FFT function in use with the 1kHz square wave function. This was a clean shot of the FFT, it seemed to be bouncing around a lot. Like to the point where there was no recognizable patter. I imagine this is supposed to be a pretty clean signal coming out of the scope so I will see how this function works as I test it out more. It may end up being more frustrating than useful. Below is a picture of a standard FFT on a square wave. 

You can see the similarities to the image i took. So it can work. We will just see how well in the future.

Control Panel Buttons:
A shot of the different buttons. I like that a lot of the buttons glow and some even change from red to green to off.

Back view:
Pretty standard looking oscilloscope. Rs232, USB, etc...

Front USB and prop up leg:

Closer view of prop up leg (left):
Very useful feature as I feel there is a sharp drop off in the viewing angle of the lcd screen.

Main Screen of EasyScopeX
The scope comes with a software suite called EasyScopeX. I could not find a download online so the only copy I had was the one that came on the Software CD with the scope. This was one of the main draws for me as I loved the idea of being able to pull scope data right from my computer and not having to fiddle around with a flash drive. So I spent the 5 minutes to install the software, restart my computer, plug in the scope. and voila! It worked. The software suite itself is not fancy, and it is pretty plane jane. But hey... what else can you expect for a company you haven't heard of and $279.

Waveform feed to EasyScopeX
You can get a real time data snapshot of what is being fed into the scope. You can set this up to auto refresh as well for both channels. Both channels will display at the same time. I saw a setting for auto refresh as low as 3 seconds but it may go lower.

Screen Capture
Not the same exact thing and also not to dissimilar is the screen capture function. This will show the exact replica of what is on the scope screen. This can also be set to autorefresh, save to a file, or copy to the computer clipboard.

Virtual control of the scope
This is a pretty cool function in my opinion. It has all of the same functionality as the physical buttons on the front. There is also a command window where you could send commands or maybe even write scripts. IDK yet but i haven't been able to play around much with it all yet.

Actual saved image of scope screen
Here is an example of the save function of a screen capture straight from the scope to the computer via USB. This is what I wanted!

The Review.....

All in all this scope has everything that I could possibly need from an Oscilloscope at this time. I can't imagine at this point going past 50Mhz, I can get by on 2 channels, Has FFT, I can save data directly to my computer, and more. I also love the HUGE 7" screen, it does not feel that the waveforms are smooshed close together and are hard to read. Finally the build of the scope is really solid. It feels the same as the Tektronix scopes that I used in the school labs. It also has the rubber feet and prop up legs for the added features. I think this scope will be more than enough to satiate my hobbyism for the time being. I would give this product 4/5 stars right now because I haven't been able to put it through the ringer yet. Maybe later It will be 5/5 worthy! Thank you Amazon,, and Siligent for making this purchase possible. 

- Till next time 
Kellen H. Denny

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