A multimeter is an essential tool used to not only measure large measurements of electricity but also analyze and repair electrical circuits. However, for more sophisticated analyses, it is more advantageous to use an oscilloscope. It is a tool that can measure a higher number of characteristics of electrical signals. As with multimeters and other instruments, the advancement of technology has made it easier for users with the advent of the digital oscilloscope. Although there are still some models of the analog oscilloscope on the market, digital is widely used today. But it is essential to master its instructions for use because it requires some precautions.
What is an oscilloscope?
An oscilloscope is an instrument that measures the voltage and allows you to visualize its variations over time. It gives the possibility to observe the changes of tension and to see if it is continuous or alternative. You can also analyze the waveform of a signal that is to say see the evolution of a message in time or response to stimuli. The shape of the wave is represented on the waveform by peaks and troughs of the signal. By visualizing the waveform in real-time, it is easier to calculate its frequency. Also, the oscilloscope has several features for the precise control of the wave size or the isolation of signals interfering with the circuit analyzed. With the oscilloscope, perform real-time analysis with high accuracy.
How to use an oscilloscope
- First of all, what you should do is take a probe. In general, the probe included in your oscilloscope will work well, if you try to measure a very low voltage, select the attenuation of the 1X probe, otherwise select X10.
- Next, connect the probe to “Channel 1” (Channel 1) of your oscilloscope and turn it on.
- In general, oscilloscopes have an internal frequency generator. This generator is usually located in the lower front part and is identified as two metal pieces protruding from the oscilloscope housing.
- Finally, connect the tips of the probe in their corresponding places, and you should see a signal on the screen. Eventually, move the vertical and horizontal system knobs to maneuver the signal around the screen. Try to increase and decrease the scale of time and voltage. Finally, focus the signal, if you need it, use the knob and the “trigger” buttons.
A practical guide of the oscilloscope buttons
As you must know, an oscilloscope consists of a lot of buttons to adjust better and visualize the curve.
To visualize an alternative curve, look for the word “Mode” on the machine and place the cursor (or press it according to the models) on “Alt.” In order not to damage the oscilloscope, immediately reduce the brightness of the spot that runs through the screen by turning the “Focus” button.
The frequency and period can also be changed on the screen. Locate the button with indications such as seconds or microseconds. Change the period by turning this knob to see the tension on the screen, and you will vary the frequency.
The voltage can also oscillate on the screen. For that, locate the button where the mention “DIV / SEC” is inscribed: it makes it possible to reduce or to increase the axis of the ordinates. You must then set the zero to set the maximum voltage at the top of the screen to maximize the curve. This will allow you to calculate the energy on the screen directly.
Some examples of measures
Measuring voltages with the oscilloscope
At first, you have to set the operating mode button to zero. You make sure that the voltage is zero at the input of the oscilloscope and the oscillogram, we observe a horizontal trace. Indeed the adjustment of the zero levels is made by bringing the trace on a line of the screen that can be easily identified. Then you have to choose the vertical sensitivity to get the best accuracy. The observed deviations will be measured relative to the current zero levels.
A measure of the period
To do this, first, make sure that the voltage of the circuit is periodic. To do this, you have to adjust the time base to see patterns and choose the one that comes back the most. After being assured that the voltage is periodic, the time base must be set so that the selected pattern occupies the width of the screen the best. The period is the duration corresponding to the primary motive expressed in seconds.
In conclusion, these were the essential steps to use an oscilloscope, remember to support you from your operation manual. Now it only remains to measure the signals of your circuits.