Last updated on November 28th, 2018 at 10:09 pm
Well, it hasn’t been long since people started using oscilloscopes more as a hobby tool instead of doing something related to their job. Even though they are the most essential tools in electronics, users want to debug, test, and troubleshoot a wide variety of problems for fun.
What are they exactly? So to say, they are primarily the amplitude over time, however it can change depending of the type of probe. Let’s say that a voltage probe allows users to measure the voltage over time, while current probes allow the measurement of current over time. Common sense, right?
Best Digital Oscilloscope For Hobbyist Comparison Table
- 50 MHz
- 200 MHz
- 10 kHz
- 20 MHz
- 70 MHz
- 1 MHz
- 50 MHz
- 60 MHz
Quick tip before purchasing an oscilloscope
Since this article is targeting mostly hobbyists or new-starters in this field, we want to say that before making up your mind you need to ask yourself a few questions. Getting a complex device might not be the best decision as you need to get used to the basics first.
At the same time, it is not worth spending a horrendous amount if you get the change of playing with it only couple of times per week. Take your time and read the article because it might help. We have also listed a few FAQs at the end, so why not check them?
Does the oscilloscope model really matter?
To be fair the competition in this field has grown big time, and that’s based on the interest people share in digital oscilloscopes nowadays. Even though a lot of manufacturers focus on less-performant scopes, they are still problem-solvers for hobbyists.
Not to stall and to answer the question in an easier way, the model matters only if you are doing complex reports instead of just playing with the signals.
The user-interface of an oscilloscope
At the first glance the user-interface of a scope might be hard or weird to understand, however, it’s quite plain and simple. Any digital scope will have a display available where the waveform and any other relevant information will be drawn.
The next thing we can see at an oscilloscope will be the ports marked with color bands. You can use BNC connectors to apply probes in the channels available. Some will come with two channels, some with three or even four. That’s where the price changes as well.
As expected, on the scope we can also find three buttons – single, run, and stop – that will be used quite often in order to start and stop the measuring.
Top 10 BEST Digital Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists
Now that we went through a short introduction to bring up to speed everyone that needs a refresher or they are new in this field, it’s time to discuss about what we want to show you.
It has always been tough to choose the right product, therefore we thought that helping our readers will be a great thing. That is why we made up a list of 10 products have been tested and rated by us.
Before we start to mention what we call the best hobbyist oscilloscope 2018, our review is based on the features and benefits the product offers. Obviously, we can find hundreds of models on the market, but what matters at the end is the one that will satisfy our needs and won’t cost too much.
No matter if you are an entry level user that is new to this hobby (we can say) or a guru, Rigol DS1054Z does its job properly and that is shown in its features as well.
- The capture rate of the waveform measures up to 30.000 wfms/s.
- This digital scope has got 4 channels available plus 12 Mpts (Std.) and 24 Mpts (Opt.) memory. It also features an USB connectivity along with a 1GSa/sec sampling rate.
- As previously mentioned, it has got a bandwidth of 50 MHz
- It shows an Ultra Vision technology with 7-inch WVGA (also known as 800×480).
- The oscilloscope includes a waveform display featuring multiple intensity levels.
As a new person in this field, at first it might be overwhelming to see the entire panel of buttons, but it doesn’t take that long to learn everything. With patience and a bit of training (watch tutorials) you will realize that you can get well with it. This is the best oscilloscope for audio.
It has also got a true measurement that goes up to 14M sample points. This is a big pro as it is more accurate and might look more user-friendly then other products on the market.
- The sampling rate is real-time and is goes up to 1GSa/s.
- It comes with multiple interface types such as USB Host, Device, Pass/Fail, Trigger Out and also LAN (VXI-11).
- It features a zooming option that will allow us to easily see some areas that might be a bit harder to read.
- The display provides quick refresh rates as well as a color temperature measuring technology. That will deliver red colors representing the more frequent events, while blue marks represent the less frequent ones.
- It’s got a recording technology that allows to playback previous recordings through the history function.
This model was created by Siglent to provide a user-friendly and practical machine perfect for newbies, but not only. It’s very easy to use and the features available make the life easier for people that have an electronics lab as a hobby.
We find this model one of the best budget oscilloscopes on the market, especially for the fact that it’s one of the less accessible 200 MHz out there. It is a powerful unit that does its job very well. At the same time it is also a long-lasting scope that ensures durability.
Even though they do almost the same thing, the way it displays the result is not that accurate as it cannot depict waveforms to provide the stats.
This all-in-one product might make a great choice for people that are looking for something that will measure waveforms, but that will not bring a damage to their budget.
- Suitable for field-testing processes, it uses a dedicated chip that allows us to view the signal 10 KHz within.
- It includes DC/AC voltage/current, frequency, capacitance, resistance and diode/continuity test as well.
- The display is a 128 * 64 graphic LCD.
- It weighs 370g stand-alone.
LIUMY has always focused on providing affordable pieces that will be useful especially for new starters that are still trying to understand how it works. No one will spend a lot of money unless they get along in this field and become real passionate.
After we tested it for a while we got to the point when we rated it as the best cheap oscilloscope on the market. That is mainly because the performance is decent, it comes with loads of features/functions and it is portable at the same time.
It is perfect for laptops or product line maintenance ensuring a high refresh rate with 48 MS/s in real-time sampling.
- It is a 200 (L) x 100 (W) x 35 (H) mm portable oscilloscope.
- It supports most Microsoft versions (tested on Windows 10) while the FFT saves the waveform on screen in different formats.
- The sample rate is for vertical resolution (48 MS/s).
- The scope has also got two channels with a bandwidth of 20 MHz
- The trigger mode is by default set on Auto, Normal.
This USB Digital Storage Oscilloscope is one of the most accessible on the market and can be easily carried pretty much wherever you go. The channels bandwidth is decent so it’s the perfect model for new starters.
Due to its size dimensions we are thrilled to say that this is one of the best USB oscilloscope 2018 out there. The accessibility in price and the way it works makes it more than suitable for new starters even though experts use it as well.
- The unit has two built-in channels.
- Provides real-time sampling at 1GSa/s and an equivalent sample at 25 GSa/s.
- The memory depth is up to 40.000.
- The trigger types include Video, Pulse, Edge, Slope and over time.
- Can be easily used for both square and triangle wave.
We gave this scope a try and we learned that it’s actually a professional scope but at a hobbyist price. That’s not bad, especially that professional oscilloscopes are way over budget for most hobbyists, so this might make a nice present. We have also gathered a few PROs and CONs for better understanding.
Based on what we witnessed while using it for a while, we agree that this is one of the best oscilloscope for hobbyist available on the market. As mentioned above, it acts exactly like other professional scopes, but the price is amazingly good – especially for people that consider this a hobby.
In terms of features we the model comes with two analog channels and one operation channel. The analog bandwidth measures 1 MHz at a maximum sample rate of only 10 MSa/s. The Memory depth is up to 8.000. More features are displayed below:
- The USB port fits Micro USB only.
- It comes with an 8 MB flash disk memory as storage.
- The trigger mode on this one is AC/DC edge.
- Features a battery of 500 mAh.
- The screen is TFT LCD of 2.8 inches size with a resolution of 320 x 240.
- It weighs only 90 grams at a dimension of 100 x 56.5 x 10.7 mm.
SainSmart have been on the market for a while now, however people consider them more like a low to mid-range manufacturer. Well, either way, it’s a very powerful competitor on the budget market.
The DSO Note II is from our point of view one of the best entry level oscilloscope out there, so if you are thinking about joining this field as a new starter it ensures proper quality for trainings. At the same time, it is reliable and a long-lasting unit.
In terms of features:
- Provides a 7-inch HQ resolution TFT display that will ensure a clear view of the information listed on the screen.
- It includes two channels measuring up to 50 MHz bandwidth.
- The maximum sample rate is at 2 GS/s with a 3% vertical measurement accuracy. It also ensures real-time sampling on both channels with at least of 10X oversampling.
- It provides the right tools to calculate waveforms to make it easier for users to evaluate the signal quality.
- The limit test feature offers an easier way to determine if the signal is good or not.
- -The zoom function is also provided by TBS1052B.
Tektronix TBS1052B is one of the best oscilloscopes we have managed to play with for this particular review, and we are thrilled to say that it is an amazingly good device perfect for both professional and hobby usage. We have also gathered a few PROs and CONs for you:
We have played with it for long enough to understand that it is one of the best scopes we reviewed for this article. We truly recommend testing it out for a better understanding of the benefits that come with it.
This model includes 10 Voltage and 10 Time parameters for automatically measuring and three types of cursor measurement – Manual, Track and Auto. Other features are displayed below:
- The Rigol model has got a real time sample rate of 1GSa/s and an equivalent one of 25GSa/s.
- It comes with two probes featuring two more hook tips as spare.
- The math function easily helps users add or subtract signals.
The manufacturer focused on developing this unit for better resulting purposes, as it is an accurate scope. At the same time it comes with several features that most of the scopes presented above do not include.
Compared to our other oscilloscope reviews we find this product suitable for any type of users (professional / hobbyist) as it ensure accurate results. Even though the screen might seem a bit smaller than other scopes available around the same price, this Rigol is still a very reliable unit.
Similar to the previous Siglent we reviewed, this is a two-channel digital storage scope with a frequency of only 100 MHz this time.
It ensures a 1GS/s sample rate at a 1Mpts record length per channel.
This model has been created by Siglent to ensure a reliable unit that provides accurate signal results to both professional and hobbyist users.
It comes with plenty of other features that can be read below:
- The display is a 7” color TFT-LCD perfect for reading waveforms.
- The triggers available are Edge, Video, Slope, Pulse and Alternative. At the same time, the functions include FFT.
- The packaging includes two voltage probes, a power cord, a user manual, one USB cable, software and calibration certificate.
- The dimensions are 157 (H) x 323 (W) x 136 (D) mm.
Siglent SDS1102CML is another budget oscilloscope recommended for entry level users or hobbyists that are trying to learn more and more about scopes. To give a better understanding of how good the unit is we listed a few PROs and CONs below:
After extensive research we find this Siglent oscilloscope the right choice every new starter can make. Compared to other scopes on the market in a similar price-range it does its job very well which makes it a reliable unit.
It brings a wide range precision in pulse width and rise/fall times adjustment.
- – The sampling rate available is 150 MSa/s with a 14-bit vertical resolution.
- – The waveform length is 16 kpts.
- – The square wave function can generate waves up to 30 MHz.
- – It comes with AM, DSB-AM, FM, PM, FSK, ASK, PSK and PWM analog and digital modulation types.
Siglent spent time to create one of the best hobby oscilloscope so users can have an accessible model they can choose. The features that this scope includes are one of a kind compared to similar products in the same price class.
What We Care actually before suggesting you to select a high quality Best Digital Oscilloscope
The reason we focused on providing a relevant review is that choosing a product was never easy, and with the way the market evolves it is getting even harder. We have always taken our time to do the proper research for our readers so this way you can make the right purchase.
We have mentioned at the beginning of the article that scopes are quite technical so they require a lot of research before choosing the proper one. Yes, features are very important but let’s not forget the benefits as they play the most important role.
Which one is better? Analog vs Digital?
Answer : Our review is focused on digital scopes as nowadays most electronics engineers say that they represent the majority on the market. Even people that are used to analog scopes look for digital ones as they are more performant and the market on analog units is quite small now.
Is the bandwidth important?
Answer : From our point of view this has to be the first thing we look at before purchasing a scope. This represents the maximum frequency of signal going through the frontend amps. The bigger it is, the easier will be to achieve a specific type of response.
Why is the memory depth important?
Answer : Even though most people don’t understand the importance of the memory depth, what we need to know is that the way the sampling rate works. If we have a small memory depth, even if the scope is capable of reaching a sampling rate at 50 MS/s, it will only use ~2.5 MS/s as its being limited by the memory depth.
7 Reasons every hobbyist must have the Best oscilloscope in 2018
Here are the seven reasons that justify why it is worth to spend on the O-scopes if you are a scope hobbyist. There are tons of not so professional experiments, debugging tasks which, the simplest of the O-scopes can perform. We have picked up seven of the basic reasons for you below.
Reason No. 1 : To debug the Analog outputs- Well, an O-scope is much like a multimeter with the difference that it has more features than a multi-meter including real-time analysis. Hobbyists connect the sensors to the O-scope before sticking them to a circuit for debugging the Analog outputs of sensors.
Reason No. 2 : To debug PWM signals-The hobbyists also use the scope for debugging of PWM signals and find it really worth it. This is useful for projects having PWN square wave. O-scope can easily be used for looking up the PWM outputs which further can be signaled the reason for not having a constant PWM wave.
Reason No. 3 : As a tool to catch errors-O-scopes are considered to be excellent at catching simplest errors like issues in getting the sketches to flash the lights correctly. The errors caught can be anything like adding an extra zero to the code or other code related errors. You may do so by measuring the period of flashes in the above example.
Reason No. 4 :They are great for collecting data-Most common feature amongst the O-scopes is the option to export data of few seconds in CSV format. The USB disk interface is the means to do that. You can pull out data in CSV format which can be further transferred into spreadsheets, excels to be used in waveform analysis and such analysis.
Reason No. 5 : They can be used as the educational tool- This one features a noble cause of making a student learn about waveforms, electric waves, capturing, functioning through the oscilloscope. The theoretical analysis of such electric signals cannot enlighten the students as much as a practical device like an o-scope can do. Thus, you may keep an o-scope with basic functionalities as a device to improvise your teaching techniques.
Reason No. 6 : Waveforms help to perform complex math analysis- Developing circuits for the specific frequency of sounds is not a big task with O-scope. However, you may even add up waves using the cope by attaching your O-scope with one channel output and with the sound wave to other port. This will add up the waves. Now, wondering how to check if the circuit is working fine? You will see a flat line on the screen that will signify that circuit developed is just fine. There are thousands of other scenarios you may use an O-scope for.
Reason No. 7 : Because “you want it”- The last but not the least reason for having the best hobby oscilloscope is because you want it. You don’t need any other reason, right? A hobbyist having the reason to have a perfect O-scope for hobby explains enough the need!
Frequently Asked Question about oscilloscope
Are the oscilloscope with higher bandwidth a better choice?
Answer : Answer to this totally depends upon the application you want to use your o-scope for. The question states the most falsifying statement you can hear about the o-scopes. Not all applications require the major role of bandwidth and thus even the scope with a basic bandwidth range can be sufficient in such a case.
How to ensure the accurate results from my O-scope?
Answer : There are few things to consider to ensure you get maximum possible accuracy in results from your o-scope. The factors are- enough bandwidth to measure the frequencies, effective triggering and pairing up with perfect probes.
Why do I need to research about the o-scope before buying?
Answer : This is crucial to ensure you are investing your money and time rightly. A hobbyist o-scope can be a complete waste of money if it is not up-to your expectations. You must first identify your buying intent behind the o-scope to explore the right product under your budget.[/su_spoiler]
We know how hard it is to decide between all the brands available out there. That is why we just recommend that you look at the features first, try to understand each one of them, then see how they will benefit you. That includes the price, the performance, the accessories and much more.
Hopefully, our review is good enough to give you a hand in choosing the right product. Good luck!Related Reviews