Next to a best oscilloscope¬†, the is probably one of the most useful tools on an electronics enthusiast’s bench. However, there are many options on the market and it can be difficult to determine which is best for you. This article will explore a few key factors to help you make your selection.

Channels

There are two, four, six or even eight analog channels that an oscilloscope can provide. More channels allow you to view a component’s input and output simultaneously, or compare voltage type signals (for power related work) and current type signals (for digital circuits). A wide range of models come with either 2 or 4 channels; the decision should be based on your specific application.

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An oscilloscope’s bandwidth defines the range of frequencies it can measure, with higher numbers allowing for more accurate measurements. It is important to note that a scope’s bandwidth is only as good as the quality of its probes, with resistance, capacitive and inductive loading altering the measurement substantially. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to use probes that have at least a five times wider bandwidth than the highest frequency digital signal that you will be measuring.

Sample Rate

A sample rate is the number of analog samples that are captured per second and displayed on the screen. A lower sample rate will lead to a blurry display, while a high one will enable you to see more detail. A high sampling rate is essential for capturing fast rise time signals such as digital data.

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