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Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget? 172

Posted by timothy
from the not-yet-part-of-every-smartphone dept.
New submitter fffdddooo (3692429) writes I know it's something that people used to ask every few years, but answers get old so quickly. I'm an electronics teacher, and I'm wondering if it's possible to find some oscilloscope (and why not spectrum analyser?) for recommending to my students, to be able to work at home. I'm thinking of something near $50-$70. Two or three years ago, I'm sure the answer was No, but nowadays? The same reader points out two options spotted on Amazon: one that's "very cheap but Khz" (it's also a kit that requires assembly), and another that aims to be capable of 20MHz, 2-channel operation. What's out there, he'd like to know, that's not junk?
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Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget?

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  • http://xoscope.sourceforge.net... [sourceforge.net]
    Needs a or many sound card.

    Have fun!

    • You'll need "http://xoscope.sourceforge.net/hardware/hardware.html" and please note : The sound card will be filtered to somewhere around 20Hz-20kHz. Read a lot and have fun. This will probably not be enough for all your needs, but it's a good start.

      • If you're not too worried about the source having enough power to ruin anything, the hardware can consist of a resistor, a variable resistor (volume knob) and two wires. Just be sure to turn the knob all the way down to 1M ohm before connecting to an unknown source. Then slowly turn it up until you see a sufficient signal.

    • If you are a windows user, Christian Zeitnitz offers a PC based Soundcard Oscilloscope [zeitnitz.de] free for non-commercial use. It also has a frequency spectrum waterfall diagram, x-y plots. Easy to install and run. Fun to speak into your microphone to test it out.

      Only suitable audio speed signals like XOScope. I.e., 20-20000Hz from 44.1kHz sampling and 16-bit resolution. And without external hardware voltage dividers/protection the usual warnings about blowing up your soundcard if you feed in voltage outside of

    • A sound card oscilloscope will have a very limited measurement range; exactly how limited depends on the sample rate of your sound card. At best you'll get a bandwidth of 90KHz or thereabouts if you have a card that does 192KHz sampling and if the analog bandwidth of the interface actually goes that high. But it's free if the signals you want to measure are suitable for direct connection to a sound card, or cheap if you also need to build the interface, and good enough for some purposes.

      Reasonably inexpensi

  • http://www.instructables.com/t... [instructables.com]

    Take your pick.

  • Salae logic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nurd68 (235535)

    We've been using the Saleae Logic 16 - https://www.saleae.com/logic16 [saleae.com] at work.It goes from 2 channels at 100MHz up to 16 channels at 12.5MHz. We use them for debugging all the low speed stuff (serial ports, I2C, SD, etc.) - basically everything but the CPU memory interface.

    Their upcoming "pro" version adds analog sampling, but it is not yet out.

    • Re:Salae logic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Smerta (1855348) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:06PM (#47224781)

      Yes, but "oscilloscope" != "logic analyzer". And the Logic 16 (I have one) is 5x the OP's stated price range.

      I kinda feel like the OP asked where he could find a cheap, sporty little car, and you're telling him he should consider buying a fire truck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mean pun (717227)

        Since the OP asked in parentheses for spectrum analyser suggestions, he seems to be interested in cheap measurement instruments in general. I don't think a logic analyser is too far off topic.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers are for examining analog signals. Logic analyzers are only useful for digital signals. They're in two different domains. You can't use a logic analyzer to debug a power supply design.

        • Since the OP asked in parentheses for spectrum analyser suggestions, he seems to be interested in cheap measurement instruments in general.

          The best option for students needing cheap and versatile measuring equipment. would be the Red Pitaya. http://redpitaya.com/?skip_int... [redpitaya.com]

          It's not as cheap as OP wants, but it's a far better learning tool than a half-assed knock off.

        • Since the OP asked in parentheses for spectrum analyser suggestions, he seems to be interested in cheap measurement instruments in general.

          Maybe, but given he seems to expect something to digitise the signals followed by a PC ased intreface, a spectrum analyser is trivial. All you need to do is include a good FFT library (fftw) in the scope program and the spectrum analyser comes almost for free.

          I'd say that digital signals are further from analog ones than an FFT is in principle.

          That said having I2C and SP

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Click on the 'products' link. https://www.saleae.com/cart

        They have 4 new products coming from $99 to $499.

        The Logic 8 has 8 digital/analog inputs.

      • by nurd68 (235535)

        Sorry, I wasn't clear - the logic 4 DOES add the analog functionality and thus qualifies as an o-scope. It is out of his price range, but he might inquire as to bulk or student discounts. They might knock some $$ off that $100...

    • Salae logic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)

      When recommending test equipment, I tell them the same thing that I tell those needing a PC and ask for recommendations. I ask what are your requirements, and what are your wishlist.

      Start with the essentials. Do you need Microsoft Office, why? Do you need to keep in a budget? If so how much and why? Can you spend extra for extras? If you can get the extra from an alternate for less, would it meet your requirements?

      The PC scope. Define your requirements. Budget is item one listed. This severly limits

    • by vettemph (540399)

      >> Their upcoming "pro" version adds analog sampling, but it is not yet out.

      The pre-order option was due to ship within 90 days
      Now the website claims to ship pre-orders in July.
      I've bought the standard logic 8 a month ago and can't wait for the Pro 8. I've been watching these folks almost every day. The device and interface is just to good to be true. (tested on linux and that evil/stupid windows)
      I've fix several embedded device issues in one night, the first night that this device arrived.

  • Pocket scopes! (Score:5, Informative)

    by EMG at MU (1194965) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:47PM (#47224637)
    • That it still not below $70 USD.

      This is;

      http://www.eevblog.com/forum/t... [eevblog.com]

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Those things are not really very good for learners I think. The screen is very small and there are some fairly big limits on their inputs that can easily result in damaged hardware.

      I'd suggest that the OP looks at buying some second hand CROs (cathode ray oscilloscopes) on eBay. They are incredibly cheap in the US, well under $50 much of the time. You can get really nice, well built equipment from manufacturers like Hitachi, Tek, Kikusui, Hameg, Iwatsu, HP and Philips. Even basic ones will be 20MHz or more

  • Here's one. http://www.instructables.com/i... [instructables.com] There is more stuff in the comments, such as https://github.com/hitchcme/Gi... [github.com] Don't know if they would fit your requirements, but something to look at.
    • I used this Oscilloscope [arduino.cc] based on an Arduino and ATMega328 running with a 16MHz crystal. It's more of a toy/demo scope, not even great for audio frequencies and for lower scales you probably want to add an instrumentation amp front end. The thing I like about it is that it reuses/upcycles all of those pocket NTSC (or PAL) analog TVs obsoleted by the FCC a couple of years ago.
  • by Megane (129182) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:49PM (#47224647) Homepage

    As long as we're talking about cheap PC-based oscilloscopes, let's talk about the other important kind of cheap PC-based test equipment, the digital logic analyzer, such as this one. [mcuoneclipse.com]

    Not everybody needs one of those old HP/Agilent behemoths (you know, the ones that ran Windows 2000), and in my experience they can be a pain in the ass to use, too. (Not to mention how damn heavy and huge their are.)

    • It's maybe not that cheap, but I use an Intronix LogicPort 34-channel logic analyzer [pctestinstruments.com] for professional development. And I do so even though I have a Tek MSO5204 that I could use instead; the Intronix software is really good! It looks like they are $389 now.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Not everybody needs one of those old HP/Agilent behemoths (you know, the ones that ran Windows 2000)

      My HP 1631 (circa 1985) most certainly doesn't run Windows 2000, you insensitive clod.

  • Craigslist (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:53PM (#47224677)

    My local Craigslist has 9 oscilloscopes listed between $50 and $150.

  • scope (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:55PM (#47224687)

    Try the analog discovery from diligent(????)

    Its 99$ for students, 2 channel 14 bit, 100 mhz sample speed, front end is less than this, 100 mhz 2 channel waveform generator and 16 channel digital stuff.

    The buffers are 8k or less, but it seems to work okay...

  • Two options (Score:3, Informative)

    by SanjuroE (131728) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:55PM (#47224695)

    Both are a bit above your price range. But the PicoScope 2200 [picotech.com] is a nice entry level scope. Alternatively some assembly required with OpenADC [newae.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    bitscope --- get one!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That a pretty tough price range but the xminilab kit from atmel is a neat little setup.
    but the analog bandwidth is only 200k if your willing to spend as much as 150 you can get the xminilab-b with Up to 2mhz plus signal generator and spectrum analyzer

  • Take a look at http://www.digilentinc.com/Pro... [digilentinc.com] $99 Student pricing
  • Not exactly what was asked for, since it only plots the output of Android device sensors, but the price is peanuts: SensorScope: https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]
  • I ask as if you can get away with a sound card based O-Scope that's a cheap way, and, you can also find software for spectrum analyzer use as well. Quite possibly, repurpose old PC hardware laying around the school, any laptop will do and would do nicely.

    This could be combined with a auto shop for car audio stuff so now you have a blending of science with a hobby/fascination that is very common to high school students.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx. b c .ca> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:09PM (#47224799) Journal

    This is something I was actually in the market for at one point and had researched as thoroughly as I could a few years back. The bad news as I discovered it was that anything that's cheap is junk, and anything that's not junk is not cheap. Although this was, as I said, a few years ago now, and it's possible that other alternatives have arisen since then.

    One of the best things I found at the time which was modestly inexpensive was some hardware that plugged into an iPad or iPhone. The one that I found was a device called iMSO, and it has a bandwidth in the neighborhood of a few Mhz, which isn't too shabby for an analog oscilloscope that cost under $300.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      *Edit - typo.... (damn, I noticed it as soon as I hit "submit") The iMSO cost *around* $300, not less...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:11PM (#47224811)

    They have ethernet and USB - amazon.com [amazon.com]
    Also, ask these questions on eevblog forums. Slashdot is not great at hardware.
    small review/discussion [eevblog.com]

    ie., over half of the nitwits posting so far are recommending logic analyzers. Please stop. There are also cheap JTAG programming solutions, power supplies, etc. Don't start recommending wrenches when someone asks you for a screwdriver.

    • by vettemph (540399)

      ie., over half of the nitwits posting so far are recommending logic analyzers.

        If you are referring to the Saleae Logic suggestions, the versions due out in July will have up to 50Ms/s 12bit +/-10volt analog
      (plus logic @ 500Ms/s and various bus decode included)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    National Instruments recently released their myRIO devices for education. http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/211694 . They include 10 analog inputs (up to 500 ks/s aggregate), 6 analog outputs, and 40 digital IO. The myRIO's can also be used for FPGA programming, LabVIEW programming, etc... Also see http://www.ni.com/white-paper/14621/en/ .

  • by agupta_25 (468946) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:12PM (#47224823)

    I have been using the Analog Discovery for an embedded systems class I recently completed. The regular price is $239 but the student edition is only $99. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, but powerful enough to replace a stack of lab equipment. It is driven by the free WaveForms software and lets you build and test analog and digital circuits in virtually any environment, in or out of the lab. Here is the link:

    http://www.digilentinc.com/Pro... [digilentinc.com]

    2-Channel Oscilloscope
    2-Channel Waveform Generator
    16-Channel Logic Analyzer
    16-Channel Digital Pattern Generator
    ±5VDC Power Supplies
    Spectrum Analyzer
    Network Analyzer
    Voltmeter
    Digital I/O
    Now supported by MATLAB / MATLAB student edition.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:13PM (#47224829)

    Be aware that you plan to use a sound card in a way it was never intended to be used. So if you hope for anything beyond 10 MHz, you are probably out of luck. And at that range, you already get "real" oscilloscopes for about 100 bucks.

  • I have a Hantek 6022BE and I'm please with it, but my needs were modest, just show a few waveforms to the kids at school
  • http://www.raspberrypi.org/bitscope-micro/

    This seemed like something that while passed your price has oodles of potential for all kinds of teaching uses.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:23PM (#47224887) Homepage

    Look at Ebay, in some cases you may be lucky to find what you are looking for there. Don't hesitate to look at items from Agilent or Rhode&Schwartz.

    Otherwise go for the reasonably priced items at sites like Conrad [conrad-electronic.co.uk].

  • by janoc (699997) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:31PM (#47224941)

    If you are an electronics teacher, you should know better. The PC-based scopes and the various "DSO Nano" clones are universally crap and none fits into your budget anyway.

    Your students would be vastly better served by buying a used analog scope, those could be obtained on eBay and similar places for a song these days. A used Tektronix or Hameg scope will beat the pants off of any PC-based toy and, more importantly, the student will actually learn and understand how the instrument works and what is being measured, because there are no "magic buttons" to push.

    If the student has a bit larger budget, then the Rigol DS1052E or the newer DS1074Z is a really hard to beat value. There are also Siglents or Attens for the budget conscious, but both brands tend to suffer from poor manufacturing quality and the price is not really much lower than the Rigols.

    Forget spectrum analyzer - there is no decent one for less than $1000 on the market. Digital scopes can do FFT, that helps in a pinch, otherwise the student can always record the data from something like the Rigols above and do a proper spectrum analysis on the PC, e.g. using Matlab or some other tool.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      If the student has a bit larger budget, then the Rigol DS1052E or the newer DS1074Z is a really hard to beat value.

      Be careful here. I've seen these at hamfests being sold by dealers, and the small print is that when you "buy" the scope that does all these wonderful things for $1499 (or whatever price) you're getting a six month license for the software that does all those wonderful things. One morning not too long after you buy your magic device you will turn it on to do something important and it will tell you that your demo license has expired and you need to send more money to Rigol.

      I think that kind of marketing i

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Be careful here. I've seen these at hamfests being sold by dealers, and the small print is that when you "buy" the scope that does all these wonderful things for $1499 (or whatever price) you're getting a six month license for the software that does all those wonderful things. One morning not too long after you buy your magic device you will turn it on to do something important and it will tell you that your demo license has expired and you need to send more money to Rigol.

        Well, the modern day scope is soft

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          Well, the modern day scope is software-upgradable, so you buy what you need

          No, I buy the product as it is shown to me. Saying I only "buy what I need" is like buying a Ferrari and then three months later it will no longer go faster than 30MPH because I "didn't need" all that extra speed for the city driving I was doing.

          When a salesman shows me all the great stuff his product will do and tells me the price, I assume, correctly, that when I buy that product at that price it will do all the great stuff he showed me.

          The upshot is you'll get a scope that'll function as a scope with the specs you bought

          For three months. And then it won't.

        • by janoc (699997)

          Actually the new DS1074Z is $500 bucks now (got one recently), the -S version with the built-in sig gen is $800. The old DS1052E is still being sold for about $400 new, but the DS1074Z is a much better deal - 4 channels, much faster waveform update, larger sample memory, intensity graded display, etc. It is more comparable to the 2000 series than the old DS1000 one.

          I think it is pretty comparable with the low end Agilents also (which are actually rebadged Rigols sold for higher price - Rigol is OEM for Agil

      • by janoc (699997)

        I have actually owned DS1052E, that one is not sw upgradable, no hidden surprises there. DS1074Z is on my desk today and you get something like 50 hours of usage from some advanced things like I2C/SPI decoding and triggering or double sample memory. Buying those options is not very expensive neither, but then there is also http://riglol.3owl.com/ [3owl.com] if you want.

      • by janoc (699997)

        Actually, it is being sold in reverse - you buy the DS1074Z for e.g. $500 and you get the basic scope as specced + some 50 hours of demo of extra features that would normally drive the cost to those $1500 if you buy all of them. You try whether you like them and if you do, you pay for the options (or use a keygen - Rigols were hacked long time ago).

        However, if you are buying one of these from a shady dealer somewhere at a hamfest being sold out of a car boot and without doing your homework, you get what you

    • A used Tektronix or Hameg scope will beat the pants off of any PC-based toy

      Looking on eBay, a s/h HAMEG will start at 5 times the budget specified in the original question. Even more once shipping charges are added. So while you may be correct: that a "proper" 'scope will beat one of the PC scopes, your solution fails due to completely missing the price constraints.

      And if you want to provision equipment for a whole class of students, finding s/h gear piecemeal on the internet is not a practical solution, since it doesn't scale beyond one or two "lucky" buyers.

    • If you are a student and working in the analog range, there are some great software audio RTA spectrum analizers out there. With an aftermarket analog interface, 16 bit stereo 96KHZ sample rates are supported for low quanitization error and allising at the high end.

      My super cheap interface cost me $15, supports 16 bit stereo for wide dynamic range (lower noise floor by far over my internal sound card) and 44.1 or 48KHZ sample rates. With free Audacity to generate sweep tones, and JAPA RTA software, I can

  • Digilent's Analog Discovery [digilentinc.com] is a good option if you can get the $99 student pricing.

    2 Channels scope, 100 Msps, 2 channel function generator, 16 digital logic channels, 2 external triggers.

    Software comes with a sdk.
  • The series of Seeed oscilloscopes [seeedstudio.com] are a bit clunky, but otherwise reasonable.

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:47PM (#47225035) Journal
    50-70$ will give your students a good if not excellent used analog scope such as suggested from numerous members in here

    Other than eBay, less obvious sources for getting a scope on the cheap would be your local HAM (radio amateur) club, there is always one in your city, look them up (they're really friendly and love new faces). Another way to get some cheap scopes, is to visit the various electronics repairshops, service dept. etc. Ask nicely, perhaps bring a free pizza to the overworked technicians, and who knows? Maybe you'll end up with a Scope for the price of a decent pizza slice. (I KID YOU NOT, I've heard friends of mine who have done this, and even gotten a free Spectrum Analyzer, albeit old...but working).

    Yet another source is the various tech-schools out there, they have old surplus equipment too, one of my friends also got a serious stash of scopes from them, perfectly legal. You could even look up military surplus sales, they often sell truckloads of much better stuff, some people make a killing buying pallets of Scopes, analyzers, bench multimeters, solder stations and much more from the military auctions, and re-sell them for seriously high prices on eBay.

    A few things you may want to know about old scopes though, is that they are FRAGILE. Scopes around 20mhz are useful for low-end digital experiments and standard old audio & CCTV repair and experimentation (enough to teach you!) A 100 mhz scope throws you into the digital era, you don't need much more than that. When you find one (beggars can't be choosers, but if you pay a little...) then you may want to check that all the knobs are okay (yes, you can lube them yourself, but check for broken plastic bits, if it breaks - stay away), Good strong CRT (no hefty burn-ins or weak display), also look for the famous LOST TRACE (this means loose parts inside, again...stay away unless you know what you're doing).

    A couple of good scope probes can be as expensive as the instrument itself, you may actually want to purchase those from China, they're okay...and cheap. Test leads are the only thing I recommend people to purchase new, because they take the most beating.
  • Tim / fffdddooo (3692429), Not unlike the Digilent Analog Discovery product (2 channels, 5MHz analog BW), the Embedded Artists Labtool offers 2 channels @ 6MHz analog BW and a AWS generator. The cost is $139USD or $99EU. The URL is: http://www.embeddedartists.com... [embeddedartists.com] and it's available from distributors like Mouser.com I think Digilent is ahead with delivered courseware. I'm a community college professor at stcc.edu and I'm looking at the same ideas. One of the milestones for our beginner student is g
    • by aa1ww (3692481)
      Forgot to mention ..... With digital sampling scopes: (1) be they standalone units or PC peripherals, the student get a way to document their screenshots; and (2) they can catch a useful range of single-shot events.
  • Hack A Day has a few options for DIY and sourcing used scopes. http://hackaday.com/?s=oscillo... [hackaday.com]
  • Here's a product review of a handful of small, inexpensive oscilloscopes. http://www.jameco.com/Jameco/w... [jameco.com] They look kind of handy compared to my ancient HP.

  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:57PM (#47225113)

    A number of labs like SLAC have a salvage department that collects old, but sometimes still functional equipment. If you are associated with an educational institution you might be able to get some of this stuff for free. It will be old but probably fine for some types or student experiments .

  • Check out the circuit-gear units. The new "mini" is just $99 http://www.syscompdesign.com/C... [syscompdesign.com] I have the previous generation unit. I've enjoyed it for just hacking around, and it's great for demos, since the computer it's hooked up to can be projected. The GUI software for it is open-source, so that's neat.
  • The price of scopes goes up rapidly with bandwidth. 20MHz is cheap. 100MHz is more expensive. 1GHz and up is very expensive. Tektronix sells a 33GHz scope starting at $30K. That's the first question you have to ask. For kids doing Arduino-level elecronics, 20MHz is fine. None of the I/O goes faster than that. (If you want to look at Ethernet or digital video signals, you need far more bandwith, more than you can afford. Fortunately, today that stuff mostly works.

    (Back in the 1990s, I was trying to build

    • by Mr.CRC (2330444)
      Not a 33GHz real-time scope for $30000, but maybe a sampling scope chassis. Try $230000 for real time scopes with that BW.
  • I wanted to scope a signal that required about 1Mhz of resolution, but do it for $2 using a sound card that only goes to 20Khz. The $2 solution was a much slower crystal for the circuit under test.

  • Somewhat surprised no one has mentioned Xprotolab yet.

    http://www.gabotronics.com/dev... [gabotronics.com]

    8 channel logic analyzer at 2MSPS (3.3V)
    2 channel analog at 2MSPS, 200kHz analog bandwidth, -14 to +20V inputs
    Small OLED display
    1.6" x 1"
    As an extra bonus prize, arbitrary waveform generator!!
    $49

    Never tried one personally-- tempted but I think my Tek would get jealous.

  • The DSO Nano from Seeed Studio [seeedstudio.com] almost fits that bill. The specs aren't amazing, but at $89 with its own screen it's useful for education or light tasks. I keep one in my bag for emergency troubleshooting in the field.

    They have a more capable version [seeedstudio.com], too, for anyone who's interested.

  • by Mr2cents (323101) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:35PM (#47225349)

    Instead of a spectrum analyzer, you can use an RTL-SDR dongle as described here [hansvi.be]. Sure it has a lot of limitations, but it only costs you 10$, and with the scanner software you can get a very wide bandwidth.

  • Dave from eevblog he does a lot of reviews of this type of hardware

    http://www.eevblog.com/2010/05... [eevblog.com]

    or check this search to see a lot of reviews of specific ones old and new
    https://www.youtube.com/user/E... [youtube.com]

    no i'm not affiliated with EEVblog its not click bait its just the best reference material i know to help this in his decision

    tl;dr
    buy a used analog one they're often cheap or free

  • I have a DPScope [pdamusician.com] and rather like it.

    It's not a super advanced scope, and doesn't compare to standalone scopes like the Rigol DS1052E, but for someone on a budget who has fairly basic needs, it's worth a shot. It was developed by a guy who was annoyed at the drawbacks of other PC-based oscilloscopes and their software.

    I use mine for testing homebuilt electronics, and it does well for that. I wouldn't use it for anything significantly more than that sort of stuff, though.

  • Research universities have tons of old junk that they would love to get rid of for very little cost.

  • I know this might be out of your budget but have you looked at the MSO-19? http://linkinstruments.com/mso... [linkinstruments.com] I designed this as the training tool for my high school FIRST Tech Challenge team the Landroids. They used it to develop various custom Arduino & AtTiny based sensor array for their award winning robots http://youtu.be/zRwOx2D7WCw [youtu.be] . I packed enough features in the scope so the students can tackle FPGA based projects when the need arises. It was selected by NASA as the only oscilloscope on the
  • There's this new thing called "Ebay"
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html... [ebay.com]

    In all seriousness though, for what you are looking for they are about $70
    I went with a used bench-top model myself because the analog display looks cool and I don't really need all the features. I'm just a hobbyist and not in need of what your students will be doing.

  • Ive a lot of time for the usbee - analog and logic analysis and basic decoding of serial protocols too. I also love the fact it can do long term signal capture / recording too. Yes you can buy chinese knock offs but really, have some decency and support small companies making Cool Shit.

    For my own money i have an old cathode tek and an old lcd 60mhz tekscope that i bought on fleabay thats damn handy. Also keep an eye out for cheap old fluke scopemeters too...

  • They have a new product for under 150.
    http://www.bitscope.com/produc... [bitscope.com]

    But I've been very happy with my Bitscope 10 + assortment of probes (if you can spring for that). Does everything, s/w is a bit 00's (features), but rock solid and has an API for writing your own software. If you can spring the extra 150, you can just get a real scope+analyzer vs high latency toy. Have used them on both Windows and Linux, no issues.

  • Bitscope Micro - USB , 40MS/s, USD95 in quantities of 10 or more.

    Fairly decent set of software tools for it (including a basic FFT spectrum analyser and a protocol decoder that can do UART / SPI / Canbus.) Software runs on windows/linux and Raspberry Pi - You can download the software and tinker with a few bitscopes that are online to get a feel for it.

    Specs here [bitscope.com]

  • xprotolab or teensy 3.1

    Check out xprotolab (http://www.gabotronics.com/development-boards/xmega-xprotolab.htm) from Gabotronics. Not too fast or too easy to use but it is very capable and Gabo provides very good support. It is self-contained (small oled screen) but can also send info to PC over USB.

    Also, the "arduino" teensy 3.1 could be used to make a USB-based scope for ca. $20 (plus some additional parts) and can have a lot of other cool uses too. Check it out: http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/tee... [pjrc.com] an

  • Back in what has to qualify as the computer stone age, a high school Biology teacher I worked with got a bunch of A/D converters and wired them to his networked C-64s, I wrote the software myself. We were measuring the acceleration of gravity (okay, not a Biology experiment, but he saw it in a magazine and wanted to try it himself) and graphing student's heartbeats and so on - in 1986. So really, the oscilloscope part is trivial. Might even be able to use the existing A/D and DSP from the sound card, if you
  • as others have said, soundcard-based scopes would be the simplest and easiest (if the work you'll be doing will fall within the bandwidth)

    A set of probes will help - this set has some protection circuitry built in: http://www.virtins.com/P601PC-... [virtins.com]

    For extra insurance, use a cheap USB sound-card instead of the line-in on your laptop... much easier to replace the USB one when (not if) you blow the input.

  • I use this in my classes — the myDAQ from National Instruments (DAQ=digital acquisition).

    It's USB plug-and-play, with a few basics like oscilloscope (200 kS/s, 16-bit), DSA (digital signal analyzer), signal generator, and Bode analyzer built-in, through use of it's "ELVISmx Instrument Launcher." Better yet is that it comes with a non-expiring copy of LabView.

    It has:
    * DMM ports (digital multimeter)
    * 8 digital I/O
    * A/D audio I/O, +/-2 V
    * A/D I/O, +/- 10V
    * Power supply +/- 15 V
    * Counter

    Cost
  • Take a look at the sigrok [sigrok.org] project. We have rather a lot of experience with low cost lab gear.

    For a long time the best option for a standalone scope has been the Das Oszi [elinux.org] scopes, sold under the brand names Hantek, Protek and Voltcraft. As a bonus, a guy name tinhead has reverse engineered the schematics. Hopefully we'll have it supported in sigrok very soon.

    There's also the SmartScope [kickstarter.com] for ~$180.

  • I generally recommend against USB test instruments because of their shortcomings but for a USB based oscilloscope, I would at least get one which supports network analysis which may be particularly useful for students:

    http://www.syscompdesign.com/C... [syscompdesign.com]
    http://www.syscompdesign.com/C... [syscompdesign.com]

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