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MDO3000 Tracks a DeLorean’s Uneven Idle


Applied Science, the popular YouTube channel showing interesting applications of science and technology in ten-minute videos, has posted a new video using a Tektronix MDO3000 oscilloscope to measure a car’s engine speed by connecting to the cigarette lighter.

The car in this case was host Ben Krasnow’s DeLorean – yes like the one Christopher Lloyd drove in Back to the Future. As the video shows, the inductive kicks from the ignition coil provide a timing signal that can be used to calculate RPM.  What’s interesting about this particular car is that the engine fires unevenly by design, so the inductive kicks are not all regularly spaced. What’s also clear is that a car cigarette lighter may not be the cleanest power source around.

What makes this video worth watching – beyond the quick glimpse of the DeLorean – is the real star of the show, the MDO3000. Krasnow provides a useful walk through of the steps he used to set up the MDO3000, capture the waveforms and then analyze the results, including calculating the RPMs.

Featuring six instruments in one, the MDO3000 offers capable performance for a wide range of test and measurement applications spanning both time and frequency domains. However, as this video confirms, it definitely does not include a flux capacitor, so even at 88 mph it won’t send you back in time. To learn more about what it does include, but sure to check out Applied Science’s video or click here.

Are you doing anything interesting or unusual with Tektronix oscilloscopes or spectrum analyzers? Let us know or post up a video and we’ll spread the word.


Since publishing the above blog, Tektronix is currently offering a free upgrade to 3/6 GHz spectrum analyzers and a free bundle of software applications on mixed-domain oscilloscopes.