Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist – Buying Guide

An oscilloscope is one of the fundamental and incredible instruments you can own or invest in if you are a hobbyist. It is a device you can use to measure or analyze changes in any electrical signal or study the behavior of a system with a bandwidth limit. You will easily display an electrical signal for time and get to see every detail of the signal, including its amplitude, shape, distortion, and frequency. It’s easy to check analog signals, electronics circuit operation, PWM signals, and debugging circuits.

The demand for oscilloscopes has surged over the years, and the number of manufacturers has increased tremendously. To get the best oscilloscope for hobbyists, it means you have to work with the best dealers, research, and consult widely. The whole process of choosing the best oscilloscopes can be daunting, but you have to do your level best.

Our Favorite Oscilloscope for Hobbyist

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Product Name

Specifications

Price

Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes - Bandwidth: 50 MHz, Channels: 4 Serial Decode Included

1. Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes

  • Brand: Rigol

  • Display: 7 inch TFT LCD

  • Bandwidth: 50 MHz

  • Channels: 4 Analog Channels

  • Memory Depth: 24 Mpts

  • Waveform Capture Rate: 30,000 wfms/s

  • Dimensions: ‎13 x 7 x 5 inches

Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E 100Mhz digital oscilloscope 4 channels standard decoder, Grey

2. Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E 100Mhz Digital Oscilloscope

  • Brand: Siglent Technologies

  • Display: 7-inch TFT -LCD

  • Bandwidth: 100Mhz

  • Channels: 4 Channels

  • Memory Depth: 14 Mpts

  • Waveform Capture Rate: 100,000 wfm/s

  • Dimensions: 10 x 17 x 15 inches

Best Overall

Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 mhz Digital Oscilloscope 2 Channels, Grey

3. Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 mhz Digital Oscilloscope

  • Brand: Siglent Technologies

  • Display: 7-inch TFT -LCD

  • Bandwidth: 200Mhz

  • Channels: 2+EXT Channels

  • Memory Depth: 14 Mpts

  • Waveform Capture Rate: 100,000 wfm/s 

  • Dimensions: 10 x 15 x 17 inches

Hantek DSO5102P Digital Storage Oscilloscope USB 100MHz 1GSa/s 40K,2 Channel,2CH

4. Hantek DSO5102P Digital Storage Oscilloscope

  • Brand: Hantek

  • Display: 7-inch 64K color TFT LCD

  • Bandwidth: 100MHz

  • Channels: 2 Channels

  • Memory Depth: 40K

  • Dimensions: 15.12 x 9.29 x 7.91 inches

SainSmart Mini DS213 Handheld Pocket-Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope 4 Channels

5. SainSmart Mini DS213 Handheld Pocket-Sized Oscilloscope

  • Brand: SainSmart

  • Display: 3"

  • Bandwidth: 15MHz

  • Channels: 4 Channels

  • Memory Depth: 4K

  • Dimensions: 7.44 x 4.45 x 1.85 inches

What Is An Oscilloscope?

An oscilloscope is a graphical tool for observing the behavior of processes in electronic circuits. It serves to record and measures the electrical signal’s time parameters and amplitude, which is fed to the device’s input. Measures distortion caused by a faulty circuit component detects noise changes and other parameters. The data is displayed on the screen or in the recording. Any natural phenomena can be monitored by using a measuring transducer of the appropriate type.

Oscilloscopes are digital and analog, and according to the registration method, they are accurate and equivalent time instruments.

Analog oscilloscopes perform a signal sweep; work with changing physical quantities, for example, voltage.

Digital oscilloscopes sample the characteristics of signals; work with discrete binary numbers that represent the voltage value. The concept of a trigger system is based on the detection of events occurring in the observed process.

To pick the best oscilloscope, especially for the first time, you need to know the signals to measure. Hence, you will determine the specifications to look for in the models you come across in the market. With this in mind, here are our top 8 best oscilloscopes for the money.

8 Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist- Buying Guide

1. Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope

Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes - Bandwidth: 50 MHz, Channels: 4 Serial Decode Included

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Rigol is a standout brand that has changed how many people view measurement tools. Its oscilloscopes are distinctive and come with incredible features you will, without a doubt, fall in love with.

For instance, our Rigol DS1054Z digital oscilloscope has four channels and offers a 50MHz bandwidth, making it easy to determine the frequency range it accurately measures in the display. The large 7″ display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution makes it easy and convenient to view all the channels.

Hence, you can use it and make measurement analyses efficiently. The innovative UltraVision technology used by the manufacturers of this oscilloscope provides a deeper memory depth of around 12Mpts, and you can upgrade it to 24Mpts. The model can also quickly capture up to 30,000 waveforms per second, making it great for diverse applications.

The model also has an integrated and advanced system of formulas that help efficiently and quickly resolve complex signal calculations. Meaning you don’t have to struggle or waste time measuring your signals, and the results are fulfilling.

Key Features:

  • A large color liquid crystal display provides a bright and clear display of measurements.
  • Thanks to the proprietary UltraVision technology, waveforms are displayed on an analog device – the brightness of the signal changes depending on the intensity.
  • Due to its great functionality, the model is suitable for any research laboratory, including facilities located at industrial facilities.

Pros:

  • Optimal dimensions do not take up much space
  • Easy to operate
  • Extended functionality

Cons:

  • One encoder block for all channels,
  • It doesn’t have external synchronization input.

2. Siglent SDS1104X-E 100MHz Digital Oscilloscope

Siglent Technologies SDS1104X-E 100Mhz digital oscilloscope 4 channels standard decoder, Grey

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When you go through the digital oscilloscope, you will like what other customers or users say about the Siglent oscilloscopes. It is a four-channel series that can easily control the USB AWG module or control a solitary instrument.

With this model, it’s efficient to scan devices’ amplitude and frequency responses and then display the data as a bode plot. It also provides incredible remote monitoring and troubleshooting. You will also enjoy measuring all sampled data up to 14Mpts, and rest assured of accurate data.

The bus decoding function of the Siglent SDS1104X-E 100MHz digital oscilloscope easily displays the information recorded in a tabular format. Users will also find it easy to specify an arbitrary interval of waveform data statistics and analysis.

This Siglent model utilizes a hardware-based high-speed fail function of up to 40,000 passes. Hence, it’s a suitable choice for long-term signal monitoring. Thanks to the math co-processor, users can analyze incoming signals for 1Mpt samples per waveform hassle-free. 

Key Features:

  • Performance: The sampling rate is 1 Gbit/s with two channels. In addition, the SDS1104X-E significantly outperforms some variants in terms of the four-channel sampling rate.
  • It also has a powerful built-in web server that provides a decent refresh rate so you can easily view the signals on your computer.
  • Easy setup: Although you may need a local network connection, the setup process is very simple. It will take you no more than a minute to set it up.

Pros:

  • Built-in webserver
  • Wide color display with zoom capability for more accurate recording
  • Fast speed
  • Works with the latest SPO technology
  • Trigger features help establish links to signal memory

Cons:

  • Additional accessories are needed 1x/10x switch easily to adjust accidentally
  • Multiple functions can confuse new users

3. Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 MHz Digital Oscilloscope

Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 mhz Digital Oscilloscope 2 Channels, Grey

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If you search for the, you can also settle for the Siglent SDS1202X-E 200 MHz digital oscilloscope. It is the best hobby oscilloscope and presents users with an excellent opportunity to undertake different signal measurement tasks.

You will have a four-channel model on standard only you can use to control a USB WIFI adapter. This means the oscilloscope provides fantastic remote monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities.

Via the event list, you will undoubtedly see all the decoding, and you don’t have to worry about the bus protocol information being poorly displayed. The SDS1202X-E model can easily measure all sampled data and ensure expected accuracy, while the math co-processor helps increase ease of use and decrease the measurement time.

It’s easy using this type of oscilloscope to control the USB AWG, and it’s exceptional for signal pairing and controlling the entire system. Scanning a device’s phase frequency and amplitude is hard and then displaying the data as a Bode Plot. In essence, the features of this series are unparalleled, and you can get it at budget-friendly rates.

Key Features:

  • It has an input range of 500UV/div and a rather innovative digital trigger system that allows you to maintain higher sensitivity levels with lower jitter levels.
  • The knob layout and display readings are pretty simple, making it easy for beginners.
  • It features a user-friendly color display and innovative fluorescence technology for high performance and positive signal fidelity.

Pros:

  • Low noise level
  • Large 7-inch display (18 cm)
  •  Accuracy of 14 million dots
  •  Powerful history system

Cons:

  •  No HDMI port to connect a larger screen
  •  No Wi-Fi
  •  The menu is a little confusing

4. Hantek DSO5102P Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Hantek DSO5102P Digital Storage Oscilloscope USB 100MHz 1GSa/s 40K,2 Channel,2CH

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The Hantek brand makes one of the best digital oscilloscopes you can get from many stores near you. The DSO5102P digital storage oscilloscope is the go-to choice for beginners with great menus that are intuitive to use and provide a matchless user interface.

It offers incredible features that include remote control and U disk storage. This means you can store more than 1000 waveforms data, easily upgrade the whole system via the USB port, and communicate with other devices.

You can rely on the automatic measurement function to capture more than 32 different kinds of waveform limits. The large 7 inch TFT LCD with an 800 x 480 resolution shows any measured alternating signal within the stipulated period. Standard signals will include triangular waves, sine, and square waves.

The Hantek oscilloscope is also portable and easy to use. It comes with a multi-function button design clear enough to improve work efficiency, fold the handle and make everything convenient. In essence, you have a standout oscilloscope model you can use with much ease every day.

Key Features:

  • The dual-channel instrument has a sampling rate of 1 GHz/s and a bandwidth of 100 MHz, which can see on the seven-inch LCD.
  • Hantek has various trigger modes and can record up to 49K samples. It also has a USB host that can connect to a computer for real-time analysis. It also has many automatic features that make working with the DSO5102P even more convenient.
  • Both channels can use to record samples simultaneously. The DSO5102P is also equipped with two oscilloscope cables to provide detailed and realistic technical results.

Pros:

  • Convenient carry handle
  • Professional feature set
  • The good viewing angle of the screen
  • Rubberized and soft-touch buttons

Cons

  • The microcircuit is very hot
  • High battery consumption
  • When approaching 0 Hz, the frequency response falls

5. SainSmart Mini DSO213 Handheld Pocket-Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope

SainSmart Mini DS213 Handheld Pocket-Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope 4 Channels

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If you are looking for an upgraded version of the best oscilloscope for the money, the SainSmart Mini DSO213 is the go for model. It offers more than you can imagine, or thought oscilloscopes guarantee their users.

An upgrade in analog bandwidth to 15MHz from 8MHz makes it a great model that guarantees unparalleled performance. The 3-inch display is incredible and makes it easy to study and read the captured information.

The bright display design comes with a one-click operation and simple swipe, just like you use your smartphone. The DSO213 model comes with various waveforms and four digital channels, making it an excellent choice for hobbyists like you. This feature helps come up with reliable results of waveforms regardless of their size and type.

You can use it as a diagnostic tool to detect all electronic malfunctions and measure electric currents. This oscilloscope is also lightweight and compact enough to fit into your backpack or pocket. Hence, you can carry it around anywhere, anytime, and without any misgivings.

Key Features:

  • Color display: The bright color display shows any measured AC, including sine, square, and triangular waveforms.
  • Easy to Operate: The unit is simple and easy to operate with touch and swipe, similar to a smartphone.
  • Portable: The small form factor fits comfortably in any pocket, so it’s always ready to use when you need it.
  • Convenient storage: The built-in 8MB flash memory makes storing and transferring oscillogram images more accessible than ever.

Pros:

  • Two analogs and two digital input connections
  • Maximum sampling rate 100MSa/s
  • Touch screen control
  • The built-in flash memory of 8MB

Cons:

  • Factory settings are restored every time the unit is turned off

6. HANMATEK 110 MHz Bandwidth DOS1102 Digital Oscilloscope

HANMATEK 110mhz Bandwidth DOS1102 Digital Oscilloscope with 2 Channels and Screen 7 inch / 18 cm, TFT-LCD Display, Portable Professional Oscilloscope Kit with 1GS/s Sampling Rate (Not for Medical Use)

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Digital oscilloscopes are the in-thing for hobbyists, but you will get the most out of these devices if you pick the best model in the market. This will involve settling for a standout design like the Hanmatek 110MHZ DOS1102.

It is the go-to model that offers matchless features that you will fall in love with. One standout feature you will fall in love with is the Labview communication function, as it makes it easy to communicate remotely with a computer via USB cable.

All the content will be displayed on your computer and easy to access. In addition, a one-click show displays all measured values that can be viewed simultaneously. You will quickly find measurement limits without having to add them manually on your device.

This high-performance oscilloscope can measure 110MHz square wave, sine wave signal, and other signals or electric currents. The oscilloscope will support multi-language from English, Chinese, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish to Japanese. Intrinsically, it’s a great model that will meet all users’ needs and requirements from different countries.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use: With the click, you get measurement results, and the 7-inch True Colour LCD screen shows the data clearly – even if you are some distance away from the instrument.
  • Portable and lightweight: the unit is compact and weighs just under 5 pounds with a built-in carrying handle, making traveling great.
  • It has two adjustable channels and a more than 10K memory depth, making it a high-performance automotive oscilloscope.

Pros:

  • It has several useful functions
  • Reliable and accurate function
  • Very quiet
  • Low learning curve

Cons:

  • No warranty

7. Aiteme 2 Channel Oscilloscope ADS1014D

2 Channel Oscilloscope ADS1014D, 2in1 Oscilloscope and Signal Generator, 100MHz, Built-in 1GB Storage Space, ANA-Log Bandwidth, 1GSA/S Sampling Rate Intelligent Anti-Burn

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You may already be well acquainted with diverse types of oscilloscopes, but the Aiteme 2 channel oscilloscope ADS1014D is a one-of-a-kind model that comes with great features. For example, it features a 7″ display and color LCD screen supported by 800 x 480 resolutions and guarantees high contrast.

It’s easy also to adjust the screen brightness and background. The oscilloscope has a built-in DDS signal generator and will support 12 kinds of functional signals. It also comes with a cursor management function, and you will enjoy a convenient manual measurement period, voltage, and frequency the device can easily capture.

This oscilloscope is equipped with an efficient one-button automatic that makes it easy to adjust and display the measured waveform. It comes with a built-in 1GB storage space, and you can store more than 1000 screenshots and 1000 groups of waveform data.

The USB interface is also unique, and you can connect the device to your computer and enjoy the smooth secondary analysis. With the FFT display, it’s easy to analyze signal spectrum characteristics. Without mentioning, you will have a great piece to use in the research, development, and maintenance industry. 

Key Features:

  • The portable device is equipped with a high-performance 6000 mAh lithium-ion battery that lasts 4 hours on a single charge.
  • The color TFT LCD monitor is a fantastic 7-inch display with a high-contrast 800×480 resolution.
  • This tablet even has a USB port so you can connect it to other computers or devices.

Pros:

  • The battery lasts up to 4 hours;
  • High-resolution color LCD;
  • Small and lightweight;

Cons:

  • Battery charge time is 5 hours;
  • Accuracy issues;

8. GW Instek GDS-1102A-U Digital Storage Oscilloscope

GW Instek GDS-1102A-U 5.7' LCD Color Display Digital Storage Oscilloscope with USB Port, 100MHz Bandwidth, 2-Channel, 3.5ns Rise Time

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Your list for the go for digital oscilloscopes for hobbyists shouldn’t be complete or stand out if you don’t include GW Instek GDS-1102A-U 5. It is a cheap oscilloscope in the market that will satisfy your needs. Every feature it exhibits stands out, and it is a worthwhile investment.

A two-channel portable oscilloscope is great if you are a hobbyist who fancies product designs, repair and servicing, electrical engineering activities, and assembly lines. This oscilloscope guarantees a maximum real-time sample rate of record length of 2 Mpts per channel at a rate of 1GS/s.

Hence, you will get detailed waveforms and accurate data. With the auto-set function, you can automatically select the favorable settings for displaying waveforms. And to further analyze your waveforms, it is easy and quick to add, subtract and multiply measurement limits using the FFT math functions.

Significantly, you will enjoy the 5.7″ color TFT/LCD when viewing two stored and live waveforms and other related data. Feel free to get all these oscilloscopes at budget-friendly rates.

Key Features:

  • It has 256 gradient display functions and detects waveforms with a sense of transparency and gradient or scale.
  • The oscilloscope has two adjustment knobs: a horizontal time scale knob and a trigger level knob, allowing engineers to work more efficiently and engineers to easily understand electrical circuits when calculating unexpected and rapidly changing signals.
  • With a memory depth of 10 megabytes, users can easily see details of the oscillogram while controlling basic evaluation applications.

Pros:

  • Excellent performance
  • Extremely durable
  • Great LED display

Cons

  • Difficult to install

Best Oscilloscope for Hobbyist Buying Guide

best oscilloscope for hobbyist

Depending on the intended application, check that the device meets the required specifications before purchasing. These include:

Bandwidth

This is one of the main factors you should consider when buying. The oscilloscope measures variable signals that have their maximum values.

A high-quality device should have a bandwidth that is significantly higher than the frequency of the measured signal. If it is insufficient, measurement distortions will appear.

Therefore, the value of 25 MHz is quite enough for simple work when you need to check digital circuits or find a malfunction in the operation of audio-frequency amplifiers.

To work with RF circuits, you will need a 100-200 MHz oscilloscope for professional use.

Sampling Frequency

The sampling rate must also be many times higher than the signal input to the oscilloscope.

The speed of signal processing depends on this and the quality of the picture on its screen. The display improves as the number of input points increases. This must be borne in mind when choosing a device.

A device with a high sampling rate also has a better indication. Accordingly, the cost is higher. Manufacturers usually provide values ​​for a single channel or a sample rate common to all channels.

Power

If the device is intended for stationary use, it must be designed to connect to the electrical network.

If the device is transferred from one room to another or used on the go, it must be a battery cell.

There are models with 8-hour battery life. All these features of operation must be taken into account when choosing a device.

Number of Channels

The number of individual signals induced on the device’s screen is determined depending on the number of channels.

Simultaneous tracking of several graphs makes it possible to compare and quickly analyze their values. Usually, two to four channels are sufficient for simple jobs.

Oscilloscope Type

The division of devices into digital and analog is based on the principle of signal reflection.

Digital Instrument

This control and measuring device is designed to take readings from the sensors of the equipment being examined. A digital oscilloscope makes it possible to detect impulse noise.

The processing results are sent to the liquid crystal display. The memory block of the device is capable of storing up to 10 thousand waveforms.

The device has diagnostic, and calibration functions, the selection of settings is automatic. The device gives high-quality readings since the errors in its operations are minimal.

If you need accurate diagnostics when servicing automotive or other equipment, such a device is indispensable.

Analog Instrument

An analog oscilloscope has a simple design. It is equipped with a CRT that receives electrostatic vibrations. Signal changes are read in real-time. This eliminates the possibility of signal distortion during processing.

When connected to the equipment under test, any changes in readings are instantly displayed on display.

Types of The Oscilloscope

All oscilloscopes that manufacturers now produce are divided into:

  • Analog. They are considered classic models of measuring devices. An analog oscilloscope is an instrument for measuring average signals. The main advantage of analog models is the least distortion of the observed signal. Otherwise, they are very much behind digital technology.
  • Digital Storage. The devices offer more research and measurement capabilities, so their price is much higher than analog models. Analyzing ability is the main advantage of memory devices.
  • Digital Phosphor. Devices of this type operate on a digital phosphor and are considered the most expensive of all types of oscilloscopes. They can simulate the change in the intensity of the output data.
  • Digital Stroboscopic. These models use a sequential signal gating effect. They are used to analyze high-frequency repetitive signals that are higher than the sample rate of the device.
  • Portable. Measurement technology is developing rapidly, which is why compact equipment for conducting signal research has appeared. The advantage of such devices is low power consumption and small dimensions

FAQ:

What Is An Oscilloscope Used For?

The oscilloscope measure the amplitude and time parameters of an electrical signal supplied to its input and visually displayed (visualized) directly on the screen or recorded on a photographic tape.

What Does An Oscilloscope Measure?

It is used to measure:

  • The amplitude of the electrical signal is the ratio of voltage and time
  • Analyze the phase shift;
  • See the distortion of the electrical signal;
  • Calculate the frequency of the current based on the results.

How Does An Oscilloscope Work?

The principle of operation of an oscilloscope is based on the conversion of an electrical signal to analog or digital. In the latter case, the algorithm will be as follows: The input voltage passes through an amplifier with a divider and is converted by an ADC into a discrete sequence of codes. The waveform pattern starts to appear on the screen.

Why is Oscilloscope Expensive?

These devices are produced in the millions, while there is no such market for digital oscilloscopes. Second, oscilloscopes are precision instruments. They have to be subjected to rigorous quality control to meet expected standards hence increasing the cost.

How Do You Calculate An Oscilloscope?

Count the number of horizontal divisions of your vibration signal from one high point to the next (i.e., peak to peak). Then multiply the number of horizontal divisions by the time/division to find the signal period. You can calculate the frequency of the signal using this equation: Frequency=1/period.

Final Verdict

Oscilloscopes are designed to observe and analyze electronic waveforms, which is impossible with a standard multimeter. The most important thing is always the bandwidth. Price comes later.

If you’re looking for a tester to analyze the frequency of a sampled signal, a spectrum analyzer or logic analyzer is the way to go.

Based on our research, the Siglent SDS1202X-E is the best choice we can recommend you buy. It is superior in both features and performance. As for price, compared to its competitor, the Rigol DS1054Z, it justifies its price.

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About Tom

Tom is a blogger and artist who also loves technology. He spends his days blogging about the latest developments in the world of art, and he enjoys sharing his thoughts with readers on what it means to be an artist today. Tom has always been interested in technology - but it wasn't until he was 13 years old that he discovered how much fun making websites could be! Tom is a fun-loving, adventure seeking creative type. He enjoys reviewing art products and technology gadgets on his blog and has been doing so for over 5 years now! He spends most of his time in the studio, at the beach, or out exploring new places.

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