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Old 1st February 2011, 03:14 AM   #1
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Default Oscilloscope - Which one should I get ? What to look for?

I am looking into getting a oscilloscope.
I don't know how to use one and have no idea what to look for. I simply know that Tektronix is popular.

I will use it for mostly tube audio gear. I don't mind spending a little money for a good scope. I don't really care for fancy stuff.
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Old 1st February 2011, 05:07 AM   #2
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Scopes are of limited value in audio..but are great machines to work with...& you'll probably use it alot once you know how to work it well.
The original scopes were rather large things, giant as a matter of fact in the age of tubes. With transistors they shrunk to tabletop size 18"W, 6"H, 20"D.....and still used cathode ray tubes for the display. These in my opinion are THE best. The current crop of scopes are almost exclusively liquid crystal displays.....I hate those **** things! Now we have computer interfaces & so many bells & whistles....the manuals for running them are hundreds of pages.
Scopes are broken down into how many trace channels you can have..2.3.?? and at what upper frequency they can capture. Myself, I would get a "basic" two channel, 20 Mega-hertz, and Cathode ray tube display.........they aren't cheap new, but the full gizmo versions can get way out there in $$$. Besides if you want to show someone your scope readings a decent D/Camera will get you a scope image for all to share....don't need all that computerized junk.

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Old 1st February 2011, 05:26 AM   #3
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I couldn't agree more with the above post (Richard's). But learn how they work so you can check it out before you cart it home. Particularly check the trigger function. Scopes are difficult and dangerous to work on (you need a scope to fix a scope; 1.6KV power supply). Look at the 400 series from TEK. I have been through several different scopes and I wouldn't part with my TEK 453. There should be plenty of good used scopes around Austin.
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Old 1st February 2011, 06:15 AM   #4
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+1 for the 20mHz dual channel.

Cheap and easy to use (comparatively) and learn on. When you get proficient and/or feel the need, step up to a faster unit.

Get one with a good history - they are not worth fixing at that level so unless the seller can show you it working and explain its functions clearly and tell you its history, steer clear.
"It may not be easy for some to not hear differences, even if they are not there." - Vacuphile,
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Old 1st February 2011, 07:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Richard Ellis View Post
Scopes are of limited value in audio..but are great machines to work with...& you'll probably use it alot once you know how to work it well.
Limited use but you'll use it a lot? I disagree with most everything here - except you'll use it a lot. If I could have a Digital Phosphor O scope at home I'd have it but the price is insane for home use. I hear good things about the Rigol digital scopes (approx $500-600) but I've only used the Tek TDS3054 and the DPO3054. Get used to these and you won't miss CRT scopes. My personal scope is a Tek 475. If I were looking today I'd still consider a Tek 465 (< $100 on eBay) or a Tek 22xx series. If I were limited to one piece of test equipment it would be the best scope I could afford. A good meter if I can have 2 pieces followed by test generators. I read some of the folks problems with amplifiers and my first inclination is what does it look like on a scope. You can find more problems with a scope than any other test unit.

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Old 1st February 2011, 07:15 AM   #6
Mooly is offline Mooly  United Kingdom
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"Of limited use for audio" I am speechless at that statement !

"1.6Kv supply" And the rest You need a 'scope with a high accelerating voltage to ensure a clear crisp bright trace... so it's more like 15Kv.

As to what to get... definitely an analogue 'scope for general purpose work. Dual trace is virtually essential if you do any serious work. Bandwidth as previously mentioned of a minimum of 20mhz.

I use a Hung Chang 5510 dual timebase,

hung chang oscilloscope items - Get great deals on items on eBay UK!
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Old 1st February 2011, 07:16 AM   #7
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Another thumbs up for a dual trace 20MHz!

My dad gave me his old Gould a few weeks ago, and it's been invaluable in helping me track down a number of build problems with a couple of valve guitar amps.
Experience is what teaches us to make a different mistake next time...
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Old 1st February 2011, 07:28 AM   #8
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Thank you guys for the input.

"Of limited use for audio" I am speechless at that statement !
Haha, it's all good.

So it seems like I should get an analog Tektronix scope.
Please make specific model recommendation.
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Old 1st February 2011, 07:31 AM   #9
alexcp is offline alexcp  United States
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Depending on your budget, you may want to opt for a newer Tek scope. You can get 453 for less than $200 on ebay. However, the 400 series is from the late sixties; newer scopes are easier to get serviced and calibrated, and more functional.

My 2246, for example, has four channels and 100Mhz bandwidth (granted, you don't need that much for audio) and can do measurements (voltage and timing) on the signal, which makes work easier and faster. You can get a 2246 on ebay for $400 or so.

The newer scopes, those with LCD screens, are much more expensive, and many people dislike them, esp. for audio work, yet they are very compact and functional - besides the basic scope functionality you get, even in budget models, a wide array of measurements, things like autoranging on voltage and time axes, and even FFT.

Tektronix has some useful tutorials on how to use scopes - check their web site.

For your amusement, attached is a picture of my first scope - my father's Russian instrument from the sixties, with 10MHz B/W, octal tubes and an 80mm round CRT. It was very useful for me to learn electronics.

Last edited by alexcp; 1st February 2011 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 1st February 2011, 07:32 AM   #10
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What about the Tektronix digital scope?
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