How to Use an Oscilloscope

oscilloscope how to use

An oscilloscope how to use is a powerful tool for makers and a great step beyond a simple multimeter. Basically, it lets you probe a circuit and see how it’s working (or not).

The main purpose of an oscilloscope is to graph the change in a signal over time, with time on the x-axis and voltage on the y-axis. There are controls surrounding the scope’s screen that allow you to adjust the scale of the graph and its vertical and horizontal position, helping you focus on specific aspects of a signal.

Many types of triggers decide when the oscilloscope should start and stop measuring. For example, an edge trigger can be set to catch a rising or falling edge on a waveform. A pulse trigger can catch a short pulse of voltage or can be used to measure a slope over a specified amount of time. A pattern trigger can be used to detect multiple signal conditions.

Mastering Your Oscilloscope: A Beginner’s Guide to Efficient Usage and Troubleshooting

Other measurements a scope can make are frequency and period, which tell how fast or slow a waveform repeats. It can also measure amplitude, which is the difference in voltage between a signal’s maximum and minimum points. It can also identify the shape of a signal, such as a sine wave, square wave, triangle wave or sawtooth wave.

To get started, connect the scope to a power supply and place one of its probes on the input terminals. Adjust the volts/div, time/div and vertical position controls until you can frame a rough mains 50Hz waveform on the screen. If the display looks jittery, check that the probe is compensated. Most probes have a screw-head on the base or near where they attach to the oscilloscope, that can be turned to adjust the compensation.

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