If you work in a lab, engineering workshop or industry, you may find that you very much need an oscilloscope. The question is what type of oscilloscope would suit your working environment best?
One type of oscilloscope that many situations would benefit from is the use of a USB oscilloscope. An external interface (or bus) such as a serial port, Ethernet, GBIP or USB is provided for remote instrument control. No longer just a self contained instrument that comes in a box, watch out for the new types of oscilloscope made up of a signal acquisition board (specialised) which has the advantage of being external and in the form of a parallel port device or USB (Universal Serial Bus).
But in simple terms, what is an oscilloscope?
The O-scope or merely ‘scope’ is used in a variety of testing environments from a science laboratory to an engineering workshop for the purpose of testing functions. They are additionally used in the fields of medicine (as electrocardiograms), telecommunications and education.
Why use a USB Oscilloscope over a ‘stand alone’ instrument? There are many advantages and disadvantages of operating test functions through a personal computer. First of all a PC or USB oscilloscope is cheaper to get off the ground as opposed to the stand alone unit. Many work environments now feature computers, so all you need to do is purchase the relevant compatible software. No expensive hardware equipment needed so no considerable financial commitment necessary. A disadvantage of this of course is with finding compatible software as it is not always as straightforward as at first it seems. Many computers have updated operating systems that fail to recognize scope software.
A stand alone scope is less portable than a USB and PC scope. Should mobility be intrinsic to testing environments then picking the latter of the pair will be easier all round.
Computer screens have high resolutions so PC and USB Oscilloscopes provide more efficient results although PC circuit noise can prove something of an issue. Shielding is required to avoid the disadvantages of electromagnetic and power supply circuit noise in order to achieve an effective low level signal.
The self-containing oscilloscope contains to hold its own even in the face of technological advancement. Where certain working environments suit PC and USB oscilloscopes, others do not but if it boils down to money, modern technology rules.