By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Oscilloscope kits - any recommendations?

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Robin Graham09/05/2020 22:11:31
709 forum posts
167 photos

OK, a bit of a 'what lathe should I buy' question I know. It depends on what you want to do...

The reason this has cropped up that I would like to be able to look at the data output from various capacitive DRO scales I have. From what I've been able to discover these are likely to have a 10kHz clock - so I guess I don't need anything too fancy.

I'm pretty much at sea here, so any practical advice would be welcome.


Mike Poole09/05/2020 23:02:58
2575 forum posts
60 photos

Pico technology make useful interface units for laptops or PCs if that would suit your purpose, no doubt there are Chinese versions at keen prices but I have not used one. My Tektronix is still going well but the price of probes is frightening.


harold09/05/2020 23:15:49
34 forum posts

DSO shell from JYE tech. It's saved me so much hasssle setting up CNC and doing amp repairs, because it's small, compact and 'good enough'.

Maurice Taylor09/05/2020 23:18:05
86 forum posts
9 photos

I would also suggest a Picoscope,they start at £99 ,you can download the software from their website free , and play with it in demo mode .I use one myself.

duncan webster09/05/2020 23:19:48
2590 forum posts
33 photos

if your computer has a parallel port I've got an old PicoScope thing you can have, but it will be a pretty ancient computer!

not done it yet09/05/2020 23:23:17
4645 forum posts
16 photos

I would be surprised if there was not an app, of some description, for a smartphone. Might be good enough for your application?

Stuart Smith 509/05/2020 23:28:44
95 forum posts
25 photos

It depends how much you want to spend and what you want to get from it. As has been said, Pico make a range.

I have a PoScope basic usb oscilloscope which is a few years old now. The later version to mine is sold as the PoScope Mega1 bundle with usb scope and leads **LINK** . It is 109 euro from the makers. Robot advertise it at £91.42 but awaiting stock.

I also have a Rigol DS1054z but at £350 it is probably more than you want to spend.

A cheap option if you just want to analyse digital 0 to 5 volt signals is a diy usb scope using an Arduino. This is a link to a site showing how to use an Arduino uno. **LINK** . I have made one using an Arduino nano which is a bit cheaper than a uno. The last one I bought was only about £5 from inc p&p


Stuart Smith 509/05/2020 23:35:03
95 forum posts
25 photos

Re my previous post

The instructions for programming the Arduino and the software to run on your pc are here **LINK**

This is a screenshot of the sort of display you get


Stuart Smith 509/05/2020 23:41:30
95 forum posts
25 photos

Velleman also make a Range of kits or complete scopes. They do a kit with a black and white lcd screen for £49.

I have a self contained Velleman scope which is handy as it is battery powered but it has quite a small screen with poor contrast, so I only use it for portable uses.


mike barrett10/05/2020 10:09:01
3 forum posts

Picoscope are very good with excellent software and support.

Be careful if you buy an old one off Ebay as some of the drivers (particularly for the data loggers) are no longer supported on Win 10. Just check on there web site before buying! Guess how I know... ;(


Russell Eberhardt10/05/2020 10:46:24
2577 forum posts
85 photos

Have a look at BitScope. It is both a dual channel analogue scope and a simple logic analyser for use with a computer via USB.



Oven Man10/05/2020 11:03:56
42 forum posts
6 photos
Posted by harold on 09/05/2020 23:15:49:

DSO shell from JYE tech. It's saved me so much hasssle setting up CNC and doing amp repairs, because it's small, compact and 'good enough'.

I got one of these, or a clone, ready built for just over a tenner. It has only got 200kHz bandwidth but for working with audio or stepper motor drives its is perfectly adequate. If you only want it for a one off job then it's a cheap almost disposable route. For the real stuff my old Telequipment valve scope still does sirling service.


Joseph Noci 110/05/2020 11:21:39
671 forum posts
890 photos


Your post implies a 'kit' - ie, are you looking to build up a parts kits or do you mean 'kit' as in a working bit of kit..??

The picoscope type units are good, some even very capable and overkill for most home applications. Once you have an oscilloscope you begin to easily reach for it to measure things -car servicing, home electrics, lathe/mill motor controls, etc, etc, and you learn as you go. A basic scope-in-the-hand soon become like a multimeter.

However, for irregular, basic use, that's where I feel the Picoscope type units fall down. You end up NOT using it for quick checks, because you have to not only get it and its probes out of the cupboard, but have to get the computer up, and if its a desktop you have to bring the problem to the computer, etc...

Something you can treat like a mulitimeter is just so much more convenient for casual use!

If you only want to look at low speed signals - sub200KHz, the one Harold mentions is great - works well, but single channel. I would suggest is to try go for a dual channel scope - your DRO outputs will be two channels and its useful to see the phase relationships.

If you take a look at some of the oriental offerings, eg on Banggood, search Oscilloscopes, the one Harold mentions goes for $17.00 as a kit, $21.00 assembled in a box..A 2 channel version is around $65.00 complete with probes, assembled, etc ( jyetech15801 - also 200KHz)

A very nice one is the JDS6052s - 2 channel at 25MHz each or 1 @ 50MHz - plus a 1Hz - 5MHz signal generator for $100.00 - I have a half dozen of these out in field service vehicles - used by Wildlife rangers to help me debug RF logging towers in remote locations! The units survive the bundu well.


SillyOldDuffer10/05/2020 11:49:05
5772 forum posts
1230 photos

How brave are you? There are several free PC software oscilloscopes available. The main problem is input volts are connected directly to your computer with no protection against mistakes. The user has to make certain he won't fry his expensive sound-card, either by measuring the input with a multi-meter first, and/or by providing a resistive divider to control maximum levels. Easy enough to condition a 0 to 5V TTL logic signal, much trickier when negative or higher voltages are involved. Simple software oscilloscopes don't measure amplitude accurately, may not matter - the time and shape of the waveform are often more interesting.

Devices like the Picoscope provide all the necessary protection plus accuracy and lots of extra functionality. Easy to use, but prices start at about £100 for basic 10MHz dual-channel capability. 10MHz is more than adequate for checking a DRO. (Although most ordinary work can be done with 5MHz or less, 20MHz is nice.)

Under £100, there are several useful kits available. They either display on a computer like a Picoscope, or come with a small screen. The latter type are more limited, but still useful for basic electronic work. Check the bandwidth: 200kHz is common, but some only do 20kHz, which isn't much use. Buying a kit saves money because considerably less tax is levied on kits. Aimed at chaps who own a soldering iron, but very often the 'kit' is 99% finished. Or it might be a box of parts, because lots of people want that. It will probably need some soldering.

Also under £100, multimeters with a tiny built-in oscilloscope; as far as I know these are all very limited. (Not very capable electrically, and they have tiny hard to see screens. )

More than £250 gets into out-of-the-box Digital Storage Oscilloscope territory, mine does 100MHz. Over the last 10 years or so they've revolutionised inexpensive oscilloscopes - very functional, high-performance, and affordable. When I was a lad oscilloscope performance this good cost as much as a new family car, or more! Very easy to use, but a lot of money just to explore a DRO scale. Well worth the money if electronics are more than a passing interest.


Bazyle10/05/2020 12:10:47
5215 forum posts
201 photos

SOD mentions accuracy of amplitude but what about timebase.. Has anyone for example tried some sort of detector on their lathe spindle and then looked at the speed variations - if variations are seen are they the lathe or the scope?

If not leading the thread off topic too far is there a low frequency spectrum analyser? I'm thinking in terms of analysing lathe vibrations so low frequency like audio range.

Forty years ago I built the Watford Electronics 'scope kit based on the 3 inch wartime radar tube 3BP1.

Robert Atkinson 210/05/2020 12:26:56
644 forum posts
16 photos

Plus 1 for Picoscope. Been a happy customer personally and for work for over twenty years. For beginers 'scopes are a bit like welders, it's easier to get good results with a better model. There are two problems with the low end models, low bandwith (maximum frequency you can measure) and limited input voltage, often only 5V maximum. The latter can be made worse by non-standard input impedance which means standard 10:1 probes can't be used. A 200kHz 5V unit is just about good enough for looking at a caliper based DRO. A mid level range between the low end stuff and Pico Technology is sold by Hantek but I've never used one. If you have space a "proper" conventional oscilloscope could be a good option. Hameg, Philips and Farnell are brands to look at as well as the obvious Tektronix and HP.
Ebay may not be the best place to buy a 'scope. A bit of a "sleeper" is the HP 54600A/B range. These are digital 'scopes with a CRT display. The are more compact than a conventional CRT 'scope because the TV type CRT is much shorter. You can get a 54600B 2 channel 100MHz (2MHz single shot) model from Stuart of Reading for £75 (plus VAT). The 54600 cost over £2000 new in 1993. Stuarts are a well respected dealer. The higher specification 546xx models especially the "MegaZoom" models are even better. The 546xx gets a lot of bad press on the web mostly from Tektronix snobs. My 54645D is my favorite non PC based 'scope even above much more modern and expenive ones at work.The user interface is excellent. For PC use I have 3 Picosopes.

Robert G8RPI.

Andrew Johnston10/05/2020 12:40:27
5499 forum posts
647 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 10/05/2020 12:10:47:

If not leading the thread off topic too far is there a low frequency spectrum analyser? I'm thinking in terms of analysing lathe vibrations so low frequency like audio range.

Don't know if one is available for the amateur, but they exist for the professional. They're called signal or waveform analysers. They're part spectrum analyser, part oscilloscope and part network analyser. Generally they will perform Fourier transforms, measure the response of a filter or amplifier and allow waveforms to be shown over time. The latter is often called a waterfall display. Successive scans in time are displayed offset in two dimensions so you get a 'waterfall' showing how the signal changes over time.

In the past I've used them for measuring filters with arbitrary pole/zero locations, for assessing the performance of active noise systems (*) and the performance of a 30Hz radio.


(*) Being stuck 150ft up on an electro-precipitation stack at a cement works, at midnight, trying to work out why an active noise controller isn't working doesn't rate highly in my list of fun things to do.

Michael Gilligan10/05/2020 13:02:26
15712 forum posts
687 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 10/05/2020 12:10:47:


If not leading the thread off topic too far is there a low frequency spectrum analyser? I'm thinking in terms of analysing lathe vibrations so low frequency like audio range.


There are several candidates on the iOS AppStore ... but this was my first choice, and it does everything one could reasonably expect : **LINK**


Neil Wyatt10/05/2020 13:43:53
17893 forum posts
706 photos
77 articles

As you just want an inexpensive tool to get a job done rather than something capable of handling limitless possibilities Google KKmoon 2.4" digital oscilloscope

(Edit this is the same thing as the JYE Tech scope)

For £20-30 you will have a pocket scope more than capable (200kHz max frequency) of doing what you need.

I'd add that having used scopes of all sorts these are actually very good within their limitations -its fantastic being able to take a scope to the job rather than the other way around. I've used it with a microphone to compare the frequency responses of loudspeakers. I've 3D printed a cradle for it that takes an old phone battery, charger and voltage booster.

scope 1.jpg

scope 2.jpg

I would suggest ordering a set of X10 probes at the same time. Cheap ones will be fine.


Edited By Neil Wyatt on 10/05/2020 13:48:51

Les Jones 110/05/2020 14:21:22
2130 forum posts
146 photos

Hi Robin,
This information on scale protocols may help you.

Scale protocol information.

2 * 24 bit scales

Data is sent as two groups of 24 bits.
Each group is a 24 bit binary number. The first bit received is the least significant bit.

are transferred LSB first! Also, data is 2's complement. (ie inverted Data signal at 0 volts = 1 at +1.5 volts = 0)

Static state of clock signal between frames Low
Time between start of frames 330 mS Normal mode 25 mS fast mode
Length of data frame 860 uS
Length of clock cycle about 14 uS
Time clock pulse is negative about 7 uS
Time clock pulse is positive about 7 uS
Initial high at start of frame about 52 uS
High in the middle of frame about 110 uS
High at end of frame about 80 uS

Clock in the data on the negative going edge.

The first group is the absolute position. It has some arbitary value at power on.
The second group is the relative position. This will be zero after the zero button is pressed.
Its value will be the difference between the absolute value when the zero button was pressed and
and the current absolute value.

48 bits in a frame of data

CPI 20480


HF (Bin 6 scales)
LSB Sent first.

Static state of clock line between frames High
Time between start of frames 180 mS (I measured about 210 mS)
(I have seen 133 mS quoted elsewhare.)
Time of gap between nibbles about 700 uS
Length of data frame 13 mS
Interrecord gap 167 mS
Time between start of nibbles within frame 2.2 mS
Clock cycle time about 450 uS
Time clock pulse is negative about 320 us (Logic 1)
Time clock pulse is positive about 130 us (Logic 0)

Clock in the data on the positive going edge.

The data output is the number displayed on the LCD display.
Set scales to metric mode and this will corespond to 2540 CPI ( 0.01 mm) per count)

24 bits of data (6 bytes) Least significant comes out first. Bits 0 to 19 is the reading in binary (The same value as that displayed in decimal on the scale display. Bit 20 is the sign bit set for negative Bits 0 to 19 are always a positive number.
Bit 23 is set when in inch mode.

24 bits in a frame of data

CPI 2540 (Metric) (2000 in imperial mode.)

This is only half of it as it would not let me include it all in 1 post. The rest is in my next post.


All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Allendale Electronics
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest