How Much Does an Oscilloscope Cost?
An oscilloscope, previously known as an oscillograph, is an electronic test instrument used to observe the precise wave shape of an electrical signal. Its oldest form, which still exists in a few laboratories today, is called the cathode-ray oscilloscope, or CRO. It generates a representation by making a focused electron beam to move, or sweep, in patterns across the surface of a cathode ray tube (CRT).
With the use of technology, however, the most state-of-the-art oscilloscope is now able to replicate the action of the CRT with its liquid crystal display, which is much like those you find in notebook computers.
How much does it cost?
- Depending on the model and the bandwidth, the costs of an oscilloscope are going to be anywhere from $100 for a basic model to as much as $40,000 or more for a premium model with more than 4 GHz in bandwidth. However, some may cost more than $100,000.
- While there are some that a very expensive, most newer units today should cost less than $1,000.
- For example on Amazon, most hobby models range anywhere from $50 to as much as $500.
- Tek.com, for example, offers a wide range of oscilloscopes with varied bandwidths and prices. Their Advanced Signal Analysis Oscilloscope ranges from $12,000 to as much as $45,000 while the Mixed Signal Oscilloscope can cost $1,200 to $29,000. A Basic Oscilloscope, on the other hand, can cost $500 to $1,600.
What is going to be included?
- A typical oscilloscope is a rectangular box with a small screen, numerous input connectors and control knobs and buttons on the front panel.
- The Oscilloscope is an electronic test instrument that observes varying signal voltages. Using a 2-D graph, signals are used to observe the wave shape of an electrical signal. The following are some of the things that can be done and observed with an oscilloscope:
- You can determine the time and voltage values of a signal.
- You can calculate the frequency of an oscillating signal.
- You can see the “moving parts” of a circuit represented by the signal.
- You can tell if a malfunctioning component is distorting the signal.
- You can find out how much of a signal is direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC).
- You can tell how much of the signal is noise and whether the noise is changing with time.
- These machines are used in medicine, engineering and the telecommunications industry. They are able to measure things such as the peak to peak of a waveform, frequency of periodic signals, time between pulses, the time it takes to rise to full amplitude, and timing of several related signals. For example, a doctor may use an oscilloscope to measure a person’s brain waves or a mechanic can measure engine vibrations.
- Basic oscilloscopes will have a display, vertical and horizontal controls and a trigger control portion. The display is either going to be in LCD or CRT form. The three basic controls can include a focus, intensity and beam finder knob.
- Most machines are small enough for one person to carry.
- Oscilloscopes will often come with a probe that connects to the instrument.
- Bandwidth ranges can anywhere from as little as 70 MHz to 33 GHz.
- Channels, while optional, can go up to 16.
- Many of the newer models today can hook straight up to a PC by using a USB cord.
What are the extra costs?
- Adapters, battery packs, chargers, cables, cases, modules, holding devices and probes are all accessories to consider.
- Aside from accessories, Oscilloscopes that are connected to a computer may required additional software.
- Some local governments may require sales tax on the product you purchase.
- The shipping fee can be an additional fee to consider if you purchase the oscilloscope online.
Questions to ask:
- How many channels are you going to need?
- How much bandwidth is needed?
- What trigger capabilities are required?
- What kind of sample rate?
- How much memory is needed?
- What kind of display is needed?
Tips to know:
- An oscilloscope is very complex and functional piece of electronic test instrument. But it needs to be precisely calibrated to be useful.
- When planning to buy an oscilloscope, determine first your primary reason for doing so. Do not be tempted by what advertisements say. Consider what you are going to use the oscilloscope for and where you are going to use it to see if it is worth the cost.
How can I save money?
- When planning to buy an oscilloscope, do not immediately jump at the lowest price offered. Make sure that the instrument is properly working, because the item might have a subtle problem which can be beyond repair or it may be in poor condition.
- Determine which type of oscilloscope, number of channels, sample rate, memory depth, and bandwidth you want because costs differ from one model to another.
- If you do not mind a reconditioned or used unit, this can save you upwards of 50%.