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'[EE:] choosing a scope'
2003\10\31@062020 by Hulatt, Jon

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I've only recently got started with PIC. I'm a computer programmer by trade,
and a consultancy/contract job i had recently caused me to dip my hands into
pic development for a simple project- basically sampling A/D at precisely
25Hz and chucking the data out to a PC on the USART. I've got an A-Level in
electronics, but my experience ends there. Safe to say i'm not a complete
monkey, more of an educated baboon.
Anyway, despite that project having finished, i'm still playing with pics
but now on a hobbyist level. It's good fun and i'm enjoying it. There are
lots of things in the pipeline for me, mainly projects for my car.
But i'm coming to the realisation that I could really do with an
oscilloscope. But, on my hobby budget, I can't afford to spend very much. I
could possibly stretch as far as £200, but i'd prefer not to go past £150.
The problem is, beyond the usage of scopes at college, I don't really know
enough about what i'm going to use it for to be able to spec out what I
realistically need.
I've seen that I can get a new Kenwood CS1010 for £160, but it's bandwidth
is 10MHz and it's single trace. Am I going to want more bandwidth than that
for PIC related work?
Then there is the option of the elektor gameboy scope, or the PICO pc-based
scopes. These appeal less- i'd rather have a standalone unit. But are they
going to be suitable for my usage?
Are there any other options i've not considered?
It's kind of a funny question really. I'm asking for some of you guys to
tell me what I want, if you know what i mean!!!
Thanks in advance for your comments and info.
Jon

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2003\10\31@063719 by Marcel van Lieshout

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Due to fairly low budget and limited workspace, I have chosen a PC-based
scope. As I intended to use pic18f's at 40 Mhz, a bandwidth of minimal 50
Mhz was what I went for. Having a highly portable solution apealed, too. I
figured that a dual channel scope would be usefull (and it is!).

I now have a Velleman PCS500 pc-scope for a few months now. Combined with a
pic programmer/icd and a notebook, I have all I need in a limited workspace,
at a fair price and highly portable.

Don't forget: A PC-based scope often gives you additional possibilities like
using it as a spectrum-analyzer. The options to store histories on your
harddrive might be important, too. Making screendumps to use in
documentation might be handy as well.

Marcel

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2003\10\31@065006 by George Smith

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On 31 Oct 2003, at 11:17, Hulatt, Jon wrote:

> But, on my hobby budget, I can't afford to spend very much. I
> could possibly stretch as far as #200, but i'd prefer not to go past #150. The
> problem is, beyond the usage of scopes at college, I don't really know
enough
> about what i'm going to use it for to be able to spec out what I realistically
> need.

There have recently been some good bargains on Ebay (UK) e.g a 50MHz
Solartron CD1740 went for #16.50 (dual beam with delayed timebase and
12kV PDA) - I know cos I have one upstairs.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2565455557&category
=1504&rd=1

Others here (who are familiar with other makes) will probably recommend e.g
Tektronix

> I've seen that I can get a new Kenwood CS1010 for #160, but it's bandwidth
> is 10MHz and it's single trace. Am I going to want more bandwidth than that
for
> PIC related work?
Yes - You will need 2 beams for (probably) 50% of the jobs.
In order to see fast edges (for looking at timing issues) a reasonable
frequency response (40MHz+) and a good PDA voltage - otherwise the
vertical edges are invisible.

> Then there is the option of the elektor gameboy scope, or the PICO pc-
based
> scopes. These appeal less- i'd rather have a standalone unit. But are they
going
> to be suitable for my usage?
Nope. Not in my opinion....

luck,
George Smith

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2003\10\31@065420 by Dave Dilatush

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Jon wrote...

>...I've seen that I can get a new Kenwood CS1010 for #160, but it's bandwidth
>is 10MHz and it's single trace. Am I going to want more bandwidth than that
>for PIC related work?

ANY scope is infinitely better than no scope at all.

A 10 MHz, single-trace scope is pretty limited, sure; but I've
found that most of the times when I've reached for my scope
probe, what I was after was just to see "what the heck is going
on" in a circuit- and for that, my old 20 MHz B&K is more than
adequate.

If 10 MHz/single trace is all you can find at an affordable
price, grab it.

Dave D.

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2003\10\31@070214 by Mike Poulton

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Mike Poulton Wrote:

> I've seen that I can get a new Kenwood CS1010 for £160, but it's bandwidth
> is 10MHz and it's single trace. Am I going to want more bandwidth than that
> for PIC related work?

You will definitely want dual trace, if not even more channels. The
ability to see multiple waveforms at once more than doubles the
usefulness of the scope, and is worth way more than the additional
cost. Pretty much any features you can get, you should. I have a Fluke
Scopemeter 199C, and I thought it was total overkill when I got it. I
presently use almost all of the features, especially data capture and
real-time mathematical operations on the waveforms (real power,
apparent power, and power factor traces!). You will quickly learn to
max out the features of any scope you get.

You will need bandwidth of at least 40MHz to use it comfortably for
microcontroller work at 40MHz clock frequency. I'd recommend at least
60 or 100MHz, so you can comfortably view rise and fall times of
digital signals. You should be able to find used analog scopes at
pretty good prices. Ebay presently has over a dozen pages of scopes,
many with buy-it-now options and international sales. Tektronix scopes
work super-money are going for a few hundred US$. Some digital storage
scopes are going for marginally more than that. If you can possibly
swing it, get a digital stoage scope. For digital electronics work
where waveforms do not repeat and capture of one-time events is
critcal, storage capability is super handy.

-------------------------------------------------
Mike Poulton
MTP Technologies
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KC0LLX (70cm AM ATV, 33cm/12cm FM ATV, Omaha, NE)

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2003\10\31@071459 by Denny Esterline

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For the real "cheapskate" in all of us it's hard to resist a sound
card scope. Basically they use the stereo ADC in a sound card to
record two channels. The software is freely downloadable. Until last
week I would have pointed out the caveat of a sound card's AGC
(automatic gain control) and AC coupling preventing the measurement of
absolute voltages (even tough it can display relative waveforms). But
recently I came across a web site where they had modified the sound
card to bypass those circuits. (if you're interested let me know and
I'll dig up some links)

But it does still have the other drawback of topping out at audio
frequencies ~44Khz sampling. (still can be useful at the price)

I have to agree with others, when you're ready for a "real" scope look
to the used market. I picked up an Instek OS-622B 20Mhz dual trace
analog for $70 USD a few months back. One thing to watch out for, if
they don't include probes and manuals. I haven't been able to find a
manual (if anybody has one, I'd like to here from you) , and although
I recently found some less expensive probes, better probes can easily
cost more than I paid for the scope.

If at all possible I'd avoid anything single channel. Most of the time
the interesting thing to watch is how one signal relates to another.
And watch out for some of the PC based products, may of them cost
nearly as much as a "real" scope (or more!) but some of them have very
limited bandwidth.

-Denny


{Original Message removed}

2003\10\31@071917 by Hulatt, Jon

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What's with probes anyway? Evidently a probe is more than just a wire with a
spike on the end? Why are they sometimes so expensive/

Jon

> 20Mhz dual trace analog for $70 USD a few months back. One
> thing to watch out for, if they don't include probes and
> manuals. I haven't been able to find a manual (if anybody has
> one, I'd like to here from you) , and although I recently
> found some less expensive probes, better probes can easily
> cost more than I paid for the scope.
>

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2003\10\31@073121 by Denny Esterline

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I don't pretend to know everything, but a good probe has controlled
impedance and capacitance, and a trimmer of some sort to they can be
adjusted. the issue is with fast signals the impedance and capacitance
of the probe lead will distort your signals. What you get on the scope
isn't what's actually happening.

Also probes are 1x 10x (I think 100X too). Using those modes places
less loading on the circuit under test. Hook a 1x to a crystal
oscillator on a PIC and the oscillator will likely stop (to much
load), but a 10x won't (shouldn't?) cause that.

Even higher end probes are available with things like differential
inputs (not ground referenced) and built in FET amplifiers (extremely
low circuit loading) probably other I don't know about too.

-Denny

{Original Message removed}

2003\10\31@073744 by Michael J. Pawlowsky

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I also looked on  E-Bay for a while, but anything decent always went past  my budget.
I ended up buying a very inexpensive software scope called the OPTAScope http://www.optascope.com

At times it can be a bit frustrating since it only has 200khz of bandwidth, however it has also been extremely useful very often and I can't imagine NOT having any scope any more. I can also carry it around in my laptop case with me, which has been useful when installing a project in a remote location.

It's under $200.

There are also all kinds of tutorials etc for it from different companies (i.e. Decoding IR from a Sony remote control)

I know this sounds like a toy almost, but for someone who had never touches a scope in his life,
I found it to be pretty good and at least did not break the bank.


Mike

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2003\10\31@074614 by Denny Esterline

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I agree, to get a good deal on e-bay takes quite a lot of work. When I
bought mine I spent about a month just watching to get a feel for
prices. I bid on at least 20 of them (not all at the same time) got
one for ~$45 usd, hated it, resold it for $25 usd, and bid on a dozen
more before I got one I liked.

Sometimes you can find a deal on e-bay, but if it's not a hobby, the
value of time spent in the pursuit can easily exceed what is saved.

BTW there are other sellers of use equipment out there. You can avoid
the complications of e-bay and still save a few bucks.

-Denny


{Original Message removed}

2003\10\31@093728 by John Ferrell

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The last couple of years I have been using a Tektronix 475A. It has a
bandwidthof 350mhz. Before that, I was using a Tektronix 453 (50mhz). It may
be just the difference in individual scopes but I really have not seen any
advantage with PICs. Both scopes have dual trace, delayed sweep, etc.

I have been considering getting one modern (digital) scope that requires
less room in the shop and sending the scope collection to EBAY. That is how
good equipment gets to EBAY at good prices.
If that happens, they will be offerred here first at below average EBAY
prices.

After a while, the physical size of shop equipment becomes a significant
factor.

John Ferrell
6241 Phillippi Rd
Julian NC 27283
Phone: (336)685-9606
.....johnferrellKILLspamspam@spam@earthlink.net
Dixie Competition Products
NSRCA 479 AMA 4190  W8CCW
"My Competition is Not My Enemy"


{Original Message removed}

2003\10\31@095029 by John Pearson

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What ever happened to Heathkit?

I built my first Heathkit scope 20 years ago. It cost $200 and was a single
trace, 5mHz. Big too.

Then I built the PC storage scope about 10 years ago (4802). It cost $200
also, dual trace and I believe 20mHz. Maybe 10.

Both still work great.

I don't think Heathkits are made anymore, are they?

John

> {Original Message removed}

2003\10\31@100859 by Jack Smith

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-----Original Message-----
From: pic microcontroller discussion list
[PICLISTspamKILLspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of John Ferrell
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2003 9:38 AM
To: .....PICLISTKILLspamspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: [EE:] choosing a scope


The last couple of years I have been using a Tektronix 475A. It has a
bandwidthof 350mhz. Before that, I was using a Tektronix 453 (50mhz). It may
be just the difference in individual scopes but I really have not seen any
advantage with PICs. Both scopes have dual trace, delayed sweep, etc.

<stuff snipped>

I wouldn't be so quick to sell the analog scope. I have a TEK TDS430,
2-channel 400 MHz digital 'scope as well as an old analog TEK 465, 2-channel
100 MHz 'scope.

There are some cases where the analog 'scope is easier to use. XY mode being
one, and a second being running on auto trigger when you are probing around
not quite sure of what you are looking for. I can make the TDS430 work in
both these cases, but the 465 is preferable.

I'll grant you that the TDS430 runs 10 hours for every hour I put on the
465, but then again I have a couple large toolboxes with specialty tools
that I use once a year at most but without which doing a particular job
would be difficult.

Jack

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2003\10\31@104706 by Herbert Graf

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> Jon wrote...
>
> >...I've seen that I can get a new Kenwood CS1010 for #160, but
> it's bandwidth
> >is 10MHz and it's single trace. Am I going to want more
> bandwidth than that
> >for PIC related work?
>
> ANY scope is infinitely better than no scope at all.
>
> A 10 MHz, single-trace scope is pretty limited, sure; but I've
> found that most of the times when I've reached for my scope
> probe, what I was after was just to see "what the heck is going
> on" in a circuit- and for that, my old 20 MHz B&K is more than
> adequate.
>
> If 10 MHz/single trace is all you can find at an affordable
> price, grab it.

       I agree completely. I've got a 10MHz single trace hand held LCD scope (the
velleman one) and while it is pretty limited I've found it has almost always
sufficed. As Jon mentioned most of the time you need a scope is to "just see
what's going on". I've pulled out my 100Mhz dual trace with delay a few
times but I probably could have survived without it.

       Of course, PICs being mostly digital, a logic analyzer is definitely
something else one should consider. Even a scope with DSO capabilities can
become VERY useful, for things like debugging I2C problems. Personally I
built my own logic analyzer, and even though I haven't used it that many
times it has been a savior when I DID need it. TTYL

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2003\10\31@104913 by Alan B. Pearce

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>There are some cases where the analog 'scope is easier to use.
>XY mode being one, and a second being running on auto trigger
>when you are probing around not quite sure of what you are
>looking for. I can make the TDS430 work in both these cases,
>but the 465 is preferable.

I would go along with attitude as well. I have a couple of Tek DSO's
available to me, but there are cases where an analogue scope gives you a
better picture of what is actually going on. There are times where
interpreting what you see on the DSO is a bit of a "black art" ("there has
to be a glitch there") which you would see a sign of on an analogue one. I
have also had examples where the waveform changed the extraneous noise on it
as the timebase was changed, affecting the sampling rate, which affected how
the noise was displayed. It made it quite annoying setting out to determine
what the actual noise was.

The DSO is great for capturing very slow repetition rate signals, or
triggering on a known signal, and wanting to see something that happened
just before on another waveform. But for most things an analogue scope will
do most everything you want.

At the end of the day it would still be possible to build a digital front
end to go on an analogue scope that gave the digital storage and pre-trigger
capture features of a DSO, but using the analogue scope as the display
device. For someone setting out to bootstrap themselves up like you are, I
would suggest that one of the tek 400 series already mentioned, or a 2200
series, would be a great way to start. In the HP line the standard machine
used to be the 1740, but these are now somewhat too old and heavy to
consider unless you got it extremely cheap.

cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2567276184&category=150
4 - just the scope, get some probes from RS or farnell.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2568222190&category=450
14 - somewhat more expensive, but an alternative.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2568999613&category=150
4 - has reserve, will probably be outside your budget.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2569004610&category=150
4 - another worthwhile contender.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2568417406&category=450
14 - has a buy-it-now at £150, was a BT unit, so may have had a hard life,
but again could well be OK.
cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2569347112&category=150
4 - probes, don't know what the normal RS price is, but these could be
contenders.

I would not recommend Telequipment or Philips units. Others may be happy
with them, but I find the Philips units do not suit me, and the Telequipment
ones were not really well made. Some of the Japanese made units may do you
alright, but for similar money I would prefer to see a "name" unit.

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2003\10\31@112158 by John Ferrell

face picon face
RE:
What ever happened to Heathkit?
As I Recall:   They were bought by Zenith who was acquired by Honeywell-Bull
(France). They were an insignificant business to the conglomerate and were
liquidated.

They are back in a small way in education & security products. Nearly all of
there old products trade on EBAY and there are lots of people who service
the products. It is scary sometimes. Unbuilt kit on EBAY get a big price.
Some pretty neat stuff goes for cheap.

Another area I should clean out of my shop!

BTW, I think I built my first Heath in 1955....


John Ferrell
6241 Phillippi Rd
Julian NC 27283
Phone: (336)685-9606
EraseMEjohnferrellspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTearthlink.net
Dixie Competition Products
NSRCA 479 AMA 4190  W8CCW
"My Competition is Not My Enemy"


{Original Message removed}


'[EE:] choosing a scope'
2003\11\01@015609 by William Chops Westfield
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Not all costs are immediately apparent.  I like my Tek TDS210 (which
has an LCD display, is about the size of small shoebox, and weighs in
at maybe 5lbs.  It doesn't take up SPACE that is in short supply, and
get get tossed in a closet or up on a shelf when I'm not using it...
It was not cheap, though...

Billw

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2003\11\01@041247 by SM Ling

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I miss field-scope ease-of-use (size, portability, weight) more often than
lab-scope power.  If I would start, I would get a field-scope first, for
lab-scope wait until I am really really forced to.  Incidentally lab-scope
depreciate fast.

cheers, ling sm

> Not all costs are immediately apparent.  I like my Tek TDS210 (which
> has an LCD display, is about the size of small shoebox, and weighs in
> at maybe 5lbs.  It doesn't take up SPACE that is in short supply, and
> get get tossed in a closet or up on a shelf when I'm not using it...
> It was not cheap, though...
>
> Billw

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2003\11\01@103552 by Peter L. Peres

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>what's with probes anyway? Evidently a probe is more than just a wire
>with a spike on the end? Why are they sometimes so expensive/

A probe has to have a number of contradicting features such as:
1 - high impedance
2 - low capacitance (conflicts with 4)
3 - low radiation/susceptance (good shield) (conflicts with 1 and 4)
4 - light and thin wire (conflicts with 2 and 3)
5 - no reflexions (i.e. enough losses to prevent pulse ringing even when
totally lacking impedance matching at both ends)
6 - high bandwidth (conflicts 1,4,5)
7 - good insulation (500Vpk or more ac)
8 - durability

As you can see it is not so simple. By the time you produce something like
this that works for 1 year or more in a lab environment day by day use
(probably more than 30000 uses and 60000 flexures) it tends to cost money.

Peter

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2003\11\02@235138 by Mike Hord

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> >what's with probes anyway? Evidently a probe is more than just a wire
> >with a spike on the end? Why are they sometimes so expensive/
>
>A probe has to have a number of contradicting features such as:
>1 - high impedance
>2 - low capacitance (conflicts with 4)
>3 - low radiation/susceptance (good shield) (conflicts with 1 and 4)
>4 - light and thin wire (conflicts with 2 and 3)
>5 - no reflexions (i.e. enough losses to prevent pulse ringing even when
>totally lacking impedance matching at both ends)
>6 - high bandwidth (conflicts 1,4,5)
>7 - good insulation (500Vpk or more ac)
>8 - durability
>
>As you can see it is not so simple. By the time you produce something like
>this that works for 1 year or more in a lab environment day by day use
>(probably more than 30000 uses and 60000 flexures) it tends to cost money.

Even with a real probe, it can be dicey.  We have some older probes around
the lab that just will not work with our new Tektronix 2000 series scopes.
Fortunately, the Tek's each came with four new probes.  Unfortunately, many
of those were "lost" long before I appeared, so occasionally people come to
me
with "problems" caused solely by using these older probes.

That's one good reason to try for new, factory refurbished, or a very
reputable
dealer...

Mike H.

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2003\11\03@100904 by llile

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I've used many a scope that had a piece of coax cable crudely soldered
into a connector with alligator clips on the ends.  I can really recommend
them for DC and audio work (he said sarcastically).  We would typically
make a new one every 6 months when it broke.   This was in a high school
electronics lab where money was scarce and no small children would die if
we made a measurement error.

Yes you can use a piece of wire for a probe, just don't expect to see
anything accurate at frequencies over 1Mhz or so or expect it to last.


-- Lawrence Lile





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11/01/2003 06:39 AM
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       Subject:        Re: [EE:] choosing a scope


>what's with probes anyway? Evidently a probe is more than just a wire
>with a spike on the end? Why are they sometimes so expensive/

A probe has to have a number of contradicting features such as:
1 - high impedance
2 - low capacitance (conflicts with 4)
3 - low radiation/susceptance (good shield) (conflicts with 1 and 4)
4 - light and thin wire (conflicts with 2 and 3)
5 - no reflexions (i.e. enough losses to prevent pulse ringing even when
totally lacking impedance matching at both ends)
6 - high bandwidth (conflicts 1,4,5)
7 - good insulation (500Vpk or more ac)
8 - durability

As you can see it is not so simple. By the time you produce something like
this that works for 1 year or more in a lab environment day by day use
(probably more than 30000 uses and 60000 flexures) it tends to cost money.

Peter

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