What Can You Do With


Oscilloscopes are used by everyone from television repair technicians to physicists. They are indispensable for anyone designing or repairing electronic equipment. The usefulness of an oscilloscope is not limited to the world of electronics. With the proper transducer, an oscilloscope can measure all kinds of phenomena. A transducer is a device that creates an electrical signal in response to physical stimuli, such as sound, mechanical stress, pressure, light, or heat. For e ample, a microphone is a transducer. An automotive engineer uses an oscilloscope to measure engine vibrations. A medical researcher uses an oscilloscope to measure brain waves. The possibilities are endless.

How Does an Oscilloscope Work?
To better understand the oscilloscope controls, you need to know a little more about how oscilloscopes display a signal. Analog oscilloscopes work somewhat differently than digital oscilloscopes. !owever, several of the internal systems are similar. Analog oscilloscopes are somewhat simpler in concept and are described first, followed by a description of digital oscilloscopes.

Analog Oscilloscopes
When you connect an oscilloscope probe to a circuit, the voltage signal travels through the probe to the vertical system of the oscilloscope. Following Figure is a simple block diagram that shows how an analog oscilloscope displays a measured signal.

times each second.. The signal also travels to the trigger system to start or trigger a *hori+ontal sweep.. the hori+ontal sweeping action and the vertical deflection action traces a graph of the signal on the screen. /t ensures that the sweep begins at the same point of a repeating signal.any sweeps in rapid sequence cause the movement of the glowing dot to blend into a solid line. resulting in a clear picture as shown in following figure.% A positive voltage causes the dot to move up while a negative voltage causes the dot to move down.. the signal travels directly to the vertical deflection plates of the cathode ray tube #'(T%.* !ori+ontal sweep is a term referring to the action of the hori+ontal system causing the glowing dot to move across the screen. )oltage applied to these deflection plates causes a glowing dot to move. Together.. . Triggering the hori+ontal system causes the hori+ontal time base to move the glowing dot across the screen from left to right within a specific time interval. . The trigger is necessary to stabili+e a repeating signal. #An electron beam hitting phosphor inside the '(T creates the glowing dot. At higher speeds.Analog Oscilloscope Block Diagram "epending on how you set the vertical scale #volts$div control%. the dot may sweep across the screen up to -. an attenuator reduces the signal voltage or an amplifier increases the signal voltage.. &e t.

2se the volts$div control to ad0ust the amplitude of the signal before it is applied to the vertical deflection plates. as well as triggering on a single event. to use an analog oscilloscope. The hori+ontal system6s sample clock determines how often the A"' takes a sample. digital oscilloscopes contain additional data processing systems. you need to ad0ust three basic settings to accommodate an incoming signal1 • • • The attenuation or amplification of the signal.Triggering Stabilizes a epeating Wa!e"orm /n conclusion. the vertical system ad0usts the amplitude of the signal. ad0usting the focus and intensity controls enables you to create a sharp. 0ust as in the analog oscilloscope. 2se the sec$div control to set the amount of time per division represented hori+ontally across the screen. With the added systems. the digital oscilloscope collects data for the entire waveform and then displays it. 2se the trigger level to stabili+e a repeating signal. The rate at which the clock *ticks* is called the sample rate and is measured in samples per second. Also. The time base. &e t.ore than one . . visible display. Digital Oscilloscopes 3ome of the systems that make up digital oscilloscopes are the same as those in analog oscilloscopes4 however. the analog5to5digital converter #A"'% in the acquisition system samples the signal at discrete points in time and converts the signal6s voltage at these points to digital values called sample points. When you attach a digital oscilloscope probe to a circuit. The triggering of the oscilloscope. The sample points from the A"' are stored in memory as waveform points.

For slowly changing signals. Together. Sampling #etho$s The sampling method tells the digital oscilloscope how to collect sample points. The display receives these record points after being stored in memory. allowing you to see events before the trigger point. 7retrigger may be available. with a digital oscilloscope as with an analog oscilloscope.sample point may make up one waveform point. The trigger system determines the start and stop points of the record. a digital oscilloscope easily collects more than enough sample points to . "epending on the capabilities of your oscilloscope. you need to ad0ust the vertical. hori+ontal. enhancing the display. Digital Oscilloscope Block Diagram Fundamentally. the waveform points make up one waveform record. The number of waveform points used to make a waveform record is called the record length. and trigger settings to take a measurement. additional processing of the sample points may take place.

/n real5time sampling. a signal that is sampled only a few times in each cycle can be accurately displayed or. the oscilloscope collects as many samples as it can as the signal occurs. for faster signals. 3ee following figure for single5shot or transient signals you must use real time sampling. eal%Time Sampling with &nterpolation "igital oscilloscopes use real5time sampling as the standard sampling method. With sine interpolation. #how fast depends on the oscilloscope6s ma imum sample rate% the oscilloscope cannot collect enough samples. /nterpolation is a processing technique to estimate what the waveform looks like based on a few points. in the case of the compact disc player. The digital oscilloscope can do two things1 • /t can collect a few sample points of the signal in a single pass #in real-time sampling mode% and then use interpolation. • /t can build a picture of the waveform over time. as long as the signal repeats itself #equivalent-timesampling mode%.* 8inear interpolation simply connects sample points with straight lines. 2sing this process. #3ee Following Figure% Sin x over x interpolation is a mathematical process similar to the *oversampling* used in compact disc players. eal Time Sampling Diagram "igital oscilloscopes use interpolation to display signals that are so fast that the oscilloscope can only collect a few sample points. . /nterpolation *connects the dots. accurately played back. points are calculated to fill in the time between the real samples.construct an accurate picture. !owever. 3ine interpolation #or sin x over xinterpolation% connects sample points with curves.

'inear an$ Sine &nterpolation Diagram ()ui!alent%Time Sampling 3ome digital oscilloscopes can use equivalent5time sampling to capture very fast repeating signals. #3ee Following Figure% :ou see the waveform slowly build up like a string of lights going on one5by5one. 9quivalent5time sampling constructs a picture of a repetitive signal by capturing a little bit of information from each repetition. ()ui!alent%time Sampling Diagram . With sequential sampling the points appear from left to right in sequence4 withrandom sampling the points appear randomly along the waveform.

although the voltage alternates too. /t has harmonious mathematical p class. The voltage in your wall outlet varies as a sine wave. DC stands for direct c The damped sine wave is a special case you may see in a circuit that oscillates but winds down over Following Figure shows e amples of sine and damped sine waves. Test signals produced by the oscillator ci waves.in Diagram- Oscilloscope T+p T+pes o" Wa!es :ou can classify most waves into these types1 • 3ine waves • 3quare and rectangular waves • Triangle and sawtooth waves • 3tep and pulse shapes Sine Wa!es The sine wave is the fundamental wave shape for several reasons. . Telev The rectangular wave is like the square wave e cept that the high and low time intervals are not of e Following Figure shows e amples of square and rectangular waves. a square wave is a voltage that turns on amplifiers 5 good amplifiers increase the amplitude of a square wave with minimum distortion.asically. #AC stands for alternating current. . Sine an$ Dampe$ Si S)uare an$ ectangular Wa!es The square wave is another common wave shape.Scienti"ic Data *athere$ b+ an Oscilloscope .

A collection of pulses travelling together creates a pulse train. The power switch.ulse/ an$ . These transitions are ca Following Figure shows e amples of sawtooth and triangle waves. Sawtooth an$ Triang Step an$ . Figure < shows e amples of step and pulse shapes and a pulse train.ulse T . Step/ .S)uare an$ ectangu Sawtooth an$ Triangle Wa!es 3awtooth and Triangle waves result from circuits designed to control voltages linearly. The pulse indicates what you would see if you turned a power switch on and then off a might be a glitch #a defect% in a circuit. "igital components in a computer com communications equipment.ulse Shapes 3ignals such as steps and pulses that only occur once are called single-shot or transient signals. such as the h transitions between voltage levels of these waves change at a constant rate.

ost oscilloscope screen. 0ront . &otice the input connectors on your oscilloscope. take a look at the front panel.anel Control Sections o 3ome oscilloscopes have an A2TO39T or 7(939T button that sets up the controls in one step to acco the controls to standard positions before taking measurements. 3tandard positions include the following1 • • • • • 3et the oscilloscope to display channel = 3et the volts$division scale to a mid5range position Turn off the variable volts$division Turn off all magnification settings 3et the channel = input coupling to "' .Setting the Oscillos Setting the Controls After plugging in the oscilloscope. This is where you attach probes. /t is divided into three main section depending on the model and type #analog or digital%. .ultiple channels are handy for comparing waveforms. .

Oscillosco .ost passive probes have some degree of attenuation factor. For more specific measurements or tests. /n contrast. /t is a high5quality connector. 7as troubleshooting. !owe unintentional interaction of the probe and oscilloscope with the circuit being tested is attenuator #passive% probe. magnification factors like >=.robes . =. such as =. carefully designed not to pick up stray radio 7robes are designed not to influence the behavior of the circuit you are testing. have the > firs The =. more interference is introdu probe. 3ome probes have /f your probe has this feature. with more emphasis given to the passive probe s 1sing .> attenuator probe makes it difficult to look a but lacks the attenuation circuitry. . many other types of probe "escriptions of these probes follow. so be sure to use this type of probe when measuring signals abov but it also reduces the amplitude of the signal seen on the screen by a factor of =. /t is important to use a p clip5on tip.> #read as *ten times*% attenuator probe minimi+es circuit loading and is an e higher frequencies.>.. :our oscilloscope probably arrived with a passive probe as a standard accessory. but keep the => probe handy for measuring weak signals.>.assi!e .. make sure you are using the correct setting before tak . /f you are not sure how to do any of The Controls section describes the controls in more detail.• • • • • 3et the trigger mode to auto 3et the trigger source to channel = Turn trigger holdoff to minimum or off 3et the intensity control to a nominal viewing level Ad0ust the focus control for a sharp display These are general instructions for setting up your oscilloscope.ecause it attenuates the signal. the =. Without this circuitry. and have the > after the factor.robes &ow you are ready to connect a probe to your oscilloscope.

robe2Oscilloscop Following Figure shows a typical passive probe and some accessories to use with the . This ad0ustment is called shows a simple diagram of the internal workings of a probe..any oscilloscopes can detect whether you are using a => or =.> attenuator probe works by balancing the probe6s electrical properties agains need to ad0ust this balance for your particular oscilloscope. its ad0ustment. and the T+pical .> marking on the volts$ The =.> probe and ad0ust t type of probe you are using or read from the proper => or =.

any oscilloscopes display on the screen hori+ontal division represents.easuring a signal requires two connections1 the probe tip connection and a ground the circuit under test.A T+pical . sending the re 1sing Current . 8abeling on the oscilloscope con marks on the center hori+ontal and verti .assi!e . Take a look at the oscilloscope display. This makes them unique since they are not the circuit. . & 9ach vertical and hori+ontal line constitu pattern.robes 'urrent probes enable you to directly observe and measure current waveforms.robes Active probes provide their own amplification or perform some other type of operatio can solve problems such as circuit loading or perform tests on signals. They clip around the wire carrying the current. you clip the grounding clip to a known ground in th probe tip to a test point in the circuit.r 1sing Acti!e .any osc below Figure% to help make rise time me . /n practice. Where to Clip the *roun$ Clip .

Another handy form "' signal equals the voltage times the current. . For e ample. The oscilloscope is primarily a voltage5measuring device.Oscilloscope 6oltage #easurem 6oltage #easurements )oltage is the amount of electric potential. )oltages can also be measured from peak5to5peak 5 from the ma minimum point. Ohm6s law states that voltage between two points in a circuit resistance. Once you have measured the voltag calculation away. :ou must be careful to specify which voltage you mean. e pressed in volts. between two points in a circuit #+ero volts% but not always. From any two of these quantities you can calculate the third. 'alculations are more complicated for A' sign measuring the voltage is the first step towards calculating other quantities.

The more screen are can read from the screen.eak%to%peak 6oltage :ou take voltage measurements by counting the number of divisions a waveform spans on th Ad0usting the signal to cover most of the screen vertically. then taking the measurement alon having the smaller divisions. .3B 5 to calculate the power of an A' signal.Following figure shows the voltage of one peak 5 )ApB 5 and the peak5to5peak voltage 5 )Ap5p the (. makes for the best voltage measurements.eak an$ . 6oltage .3 #root5mean5square% voltage 5 )A(.

#easure 6oltage on the Center 6ertical *raticule 'i . #3ee Figure .elow% #easure Time on the Center Horizontal *raticule 'in .any oscilloscopes have on5screen cursors that let you take waveform measurements autom count graticule marks.ulse an$ ise Time #easurements . the 8ike voltage measurements.asically. . Frequency is the reciprocal of the period. hav time measurements. cursors are two hori+ontal lines for voltage measurements a measurements that you can move around the screen. so once you know the period. Time measurements i and timing of pulses. A readout shows the voltage or time at Time 7 0re)uenc+ #easureme Time an$ 0re)uenc+ #easurements :ou take time measurements using the hori+ontal scale of the oscilloscope. Taking time measurement along the center hori+ontal graticule line. time measurements are more accurate when you ad0ust the portion large area of the screen.

. the pulse width is measured at -. 7ulses can become distorted and cause a digital circuit to malfunction. 3tandard pulse measurements are pulse width and pulse rise time.ulse an$ ise Time #easurements /n many applications.hase Shi"t #easurements . the rise time is measured from =. This also e plains why most oscilloscopes have =. ise Time an$ . as described earlier in the 'ontrols section. and the timing of pulses in a pulse train is often significant. To become an e pert at capturing pulses.ulse Wi$th #easurement . 3ee Figure below for these measurement points.y convention.y convention. .oints 7ulse measurements often require fine5tuning the triggering. you should learn how to use trigger holdoff and how to set the digital oscilloscope to capture pretrigger data. This eliminates any irregularities at the pulse6s transition corners. !ori+ontal magnification is another useful feature for measuring pulses. (ise time is the amount of time a pulse takes to go from the low to high voltage. since it allows you to see fine details of a fast pulse. .? of the full voltage of the pulse. the details of a pulse6s shape are important. 7ulse width is the amount of time the pulse takes to go from low to high and back to low again.? of full voltage..hase Shi"t #easurements .? markings on their screen.? and @.? to @.