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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.




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.