What to look for when buying Automotive Oscilloscope

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Are you an electrical engineer who doesn’t want to fuss around with electronics test results? 

Or do you want your oscilloscope to do everything on your behalf so you can chill all the time? Okay nevermind, that was nothing but a bootless endeavor at humor. 

Jokes apart, are you someone who just got started with electronic engineering and don’t know what to look for when buying an automotive oscilloscope? A good automotive oscilloscope can investigate all the problems of an electronic product in an electronics laboratory. 

Well, warriors, it’s fine if you don’t know what to consider before buying an oscillograph. don’t you worry because as usual, we got you covered? There are a few criteria to consider before buying this electronic test equipment. 

Pico 2205A PicoScope 2 channel + AWG, 25MHz, Includes probes
Let’s jump right in.. 

What To Look For When Buying An Automotive Oscilloscope 

It could be very daunting in choosing an automotive oscilloscope for new engineers. There’s a lot of things to observe before choosing any. 

  • Analog Vs Digital: If you are an engineer, you definitely have come in touch with an analog automotive oscilloscope. So you know about its features and operations. Most engineers want to replace analog oscilloscopes with a digital one. 

That’s because a digital automotive oscilloscope has the highest bandwidths. These come in small sizes which makes it easier to carry. They also provide higher storage and printing advantage. 

  • Bandwidth: This is a very important factor to consider while buying an automotive oscilloscope. Bandwidth is the highest frequency of the oscilloscope which can pass through front-end amplifiers. The sine wave input signal has to be attenuated to 71% of the sine wave’s true amplitude. 
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Another thing to remember is, if the input signal of the oscilloscope you are going to buy carries harmonics of higher frequency then that’s not a genuine sine wave. As an example, a 20 MHz of ethical square wave that is viewed on a 20 MHz bandwidth oscilloscope should be shown as a distorted and attenuated waveform. You should buy a scope that has a bandwidth minimum 5x higher than the highest frequency signal you plan to measure. The problem with such an oscilloscope is its high price. But again, you are getting what you pay for.

  • Memory Depth: The memory depth probably is the most ignored criteria of a DSO, though it’s a very important thing to consider. A DSO stores the captured samples inside a buffer memory. The memory depth or how much signal it can capture depends on how big the buffer memory is. 

A big memory will provide you the freedom to zoom in onto small infrequent glitches. So the bigger, the better! 

  • Triggering Abilities: The trigger functions by synchronizing the parallel sweep at the accurate point of the signal which helps signal characterization to be clear. Trigger controls let you settle repetitive waveforms. This also captures single-shot waveforms. A manufacturer offers different trigger options which you have to choose considering what type of signals you will investigate. Almost all digital oscilloscopes provide the same basic trigger options. You have to check the advanced trigger options because this is where the differences are. 
  • Upgradability: Check out the upgrade abilities of a scope which will allow you to add more features later in the future. Software unlock keys will be helpful in upgrading your scope functions. But hardware-driven specs can’t be changed in the future so make sure you choose the right functions for the first time. 
  • Number Of Channels: Almost all scopes are designed with two channels. But there are some scopes that come with four or even eight channels. Four channels are great to work on cars or stepper motors. Pc based scopes have eight channels available which can be synchronized in numerous cases. 
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Conclusion: There are a lot of big brands who manufacture good quality automotive oscilloscopes which can make you spend around $1000. Consider the criteria mentioned above and choose your scope according to your needs. If you don’t know whom to trust while choosing an automotive oscilloscope then you may think of watching some youtube reviews on oscilloscopes.