One of the most common pieces of test equipment for any electronics lab is oscilloscopes. Oscilloscopes, or o-scopes for short, are versatile pieces of test equipment that can be used in a multitude of different critical measurements. While oscilloscopes are standard in almost every electronics lab, they come in many different shapes, sizes, and price points.
When trying to select the best oscilloscope for your electronics lab, it's important to understand which features drive the cost of the o-scope the most. For example, one of the biggest cost drivers for oscilloscopes is the device's measurement bandwidth. An o-scope that has a narrow bandwidth of 200 MHz can go for a few hundred dollars; however, a top-of-the-line oscilloscope with a measurement bandwidth of 1 GHz can go for almost $30,000!
We have done all the research and read all the reviews for more oscilloscopes than we'd be willing to admit. We've done all this leg-work so you don't have to. So without further ado, here is our list of the 3 best digital oscilloscopes for any budget.
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3 Best Digital Oscilloscopes for the Engineering Design Lab
Siglent is relatively new and quickly growing in the test equipment market. Their products are feature-rich and their pricing is substantially less than long-time trusted brands like Keysight or Agilent. The Siglent SDS1202X-E 200 MHz is no exception. This digital oscilloscope offers 200 MHz measurement bandwidth, real-time sampling at a rate of 1 GSa/sec, and can store 14 million measurement points. The SDS1202X-E includes all of the standard interfaces you'd expect: Standard serial bus Triggering and Decode, supports IIC, SPI, UART, RS232, CAN, and LIN.
The SDS-1202X-E has an intuitive interface, making it remarkably easy to use. The measurements that are performed most often are easy to accesses through their touchscreen interface. Unlike many other test equipment companies, Siglent unlocks the complete capability of the firmware at initial shipment. Some of Siglent's competitors' business model is one where the firmware disables many features of the devices until an extra fee is paid to enable it. All in all, this o-scope features serial decoding, FFT, enabling the full bandwidth, and a calibration certificate (among others). This is all included in the price and would cost over $250.00 in “Options” from competitors, putting it that the top of our list for best entry-level oscilloscopes.
The Tektronix TBS1102C 100 MHz, 2-Channel Digital Storage Oscilloscope offers affordable performance in a compact design. It is designed to meet the needs of today's educational institutions, embedded design engineers, and maker community. The instrument includes a 7-inch WVGA color display with up to 1 GS/s sample rate, 100 MHz bandwidth, and a five-year warranty. The oscilloscope comes with an innovative courseware system for students that integrates lab exercises with step-by-step instructions. The HelpEverywhere system provides useful tips and hints throughout the user interface, making the instrument more approachable to a new user.
Key features include:
- 100 MHz bandwidth
- 2 analog channels
- 1 GS/s sample rate on all channels
- 20k point record length on all channels
- Advanced triggers include pulse, runt, and line triggers
Look at this beaute of an oscilloscope! The Rigol MSO5000 Series Oscilloscopes combines best-in-class sampling and memory depth with a modern, flexible User Interface enabled by their new UltraVision II architecture and innovative Phoenix Chipset. With 70 to 350 MHz models each with 2 or 4 analog channels, the MSO5000 Series brings innovative flexibility and capability to the engineer’s bench. Analyze your critical signals with zone triggering, 7 instruments in 1, Enhanced FFTs, color grading, and histograms all supported by the high sample rate, deep memory, and full memory measurements.
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