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Old 15th June 2015, 03:40 PM   #1
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Default PC Oscilloscope...again


Sorry for another oscilloscope thread...

It's been a while that i'm building things following schematics and without looking what I was doing, just listening the final product: No hum? good!

Now I want to bring the hobby to the next level (from dummy to beginner) and for that I'm searching an oscilloscope.

Is just for tube amplifiers, no knowledge at all how digital things work.

I was considering a pc oscilloscope (Picoscope 2205a) for multiple reasons: little (don't have anymore space in my house, my gf will kick me out is she see a big white box with a screen), multifunction, relatively cheap (trying to keep it under 200€).

But I saw that in most of the threads you guys do not recommend that kind of oscilloscope.

Do you think that for the basic works it can be enough or not at all?

Best regards to you all!
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Old 16th June 2015, 12:29 AM   #2
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There is no PC Oscilloscope which can handle tube power supply measurements.
An voltage probe for any oscilloscope, capable for isolated volt and signal measurements comes in a price of 400-500$
An modern Oscilloscope able to really help in power supply troubleshooting, this has a price of 1000-1200$.

There is no words and workarounds to substitute the results which a real tool can offer.
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Old 16th June 2015, 12:44 AM   #3
6L6 is offline 6L6  United States
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If you think you want a scope, you need a scope.

Luckily there's never been better scopes available for such little money.

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Old 16th June 2015, 01:06 AM   #4
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You need a scope for valve circuits.

I would be very wary of connecting anything with hundreds of volts to my valuable PC !
PCBCAD51 pcb design software. http://murtonpikesystems.azurewebsites.net/
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Old 16th June 2015, 02:40 AM   #5
mlise is offline mlise  United States
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I bought a couple of PC scopes for work. I didn't buy them as scopes, but as feedback loop analyzers for power supplies. They knock out gain/phase plots in a couple minutes and super accurately. AND! they're scopes. Cleverscope is the brand. A bit over your budget, but you also get gain/phase plots. We got them loaded at $2000 each, but compare to Ridley for $20,000, Venable at $30,000 and Keysight at $40,000. The plots come out way nicer than the others too.
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Old 16th June 2015, 08:21 AM   #6
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If you don't have the space for a hardware model a "PC scope" is a good alternative. I have one which I use mainly if I need to save measurements.

The Picoscope 2205A looks like a good choice.

You probably should get a 100x (or perhaps 1000x) probe for tube work (I don't think it needs to be isolated, as likely your circuits are grounded anyway. Isolated probes are mainly for switched power supply design, where the primary side is not reference to safety ground). With a bit of searching you should find a decent second-hand model from Tektronix on e-Bay.

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Old 17th June 2015, 09:09 AM   #7
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Thank you for all the answers!

Reading at that I feel kinda demoralized...

I looked up at the Rigol and other entry-level scopes and I more or less understand the advantages.
Then I will need proper probes and then a signal generator... i think there's no way out under 1000€ or so.

For the space I can eventually manage it.
But thing is that will require me a really long time to have that money, and at that point I have the equipement but can't do anything with it (no money for components and projects).

I suppose there's no way out of that unfortunately.

I still have a little confusion: a pc scope will blow up my laptop/project/himself, is not gonna work at all or is just not so precise?
Is a pc scope better than nothing?

Have a nice day and thanks for the help!


Last edited by barbizio; 17th June 2015 at 09:31 AM. Reason: Bad answer
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Old 17th June 2015, 11:17 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by barbizio View Post
I still have a little confusion: a PC scope will blow up my laptop/project/himself, is not gonna work at all or is just not so precise?
A PC scope doesn't blow up anything, will work fine and is not fundamentally less precise than purely hardware-based models (Think about it--if the display is built-in or not doesn't do anything about precision. That's determined by the analog front-end/data converts.). There are certain limitations which stem from the limited USB data rate/PC processing power, but I wouldn't worry about this too much for basic audio work.

Every oscilloscope has an input voltage limitation. Typically this is +/- 20 V. Using a standard 10x probe you can extend this to +/- 200 V. Unfortunately, many tube circuits involve higher voltages than this, so you need a 100x probe, which is a considerably more specialized item. If the projects you're interested in have supply voltages below 200 V (and/or if you can manage either with external AC coupling or not probing high-voltage nodes at all) you should get away with standard 10x probes (which perhaps are included with the Picoscope).

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Old 18th June 2015, 04:49 PM   #9
RNMarsh is offline RNMarsh  United States
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Just go to eBay..... there are many scopes there from TEK and others which are excellent value - low cost for used models. Then find a probe on eBay. You're done.

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Old 18th June 2015, 05:34 PM   #10
waltube is offline waltube  Italy
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Try to buy this one:

is not cheaper but good to use with tubes and picoscope.
the BW is very high and you have two options for voltage.

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