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Oscilloscope Fundamentals: Capturing Your Signal

Oscilloscopes Fundamentals Poster

What is an oscilloscope anyway ?

An oscilloscope is a diagnostic instrument that plots the amplitude of an electrical signal as it changes over time. Picture below shows the block diagram of an oscilloscope.

flow
instrument
steps

Avoiding Pitfalls

No Signal:

  1. Is the channel / DUT turned on?
  2. Is the waveform off the screen? Try adjusting the vertical position / scale.
  3. Is the instrument waiting for trigger? (Is it displaying “Ready”?) Verify trigger source; try adjusting the trigger level, forcing a trigger or switching to auto mode.

Aliasing: If the frequency of the signal on the screen seems too low, or it is difficult to get a stable waveform on the screen, adjust horizontal scale to increase the sample rate.

Unexpected measurement results: Verify that probe is compensated, verify measurement settings such as ref levels and gating, verify the probe attenuation.

No stable signal: Verify trigger source, trigger level.