Oscilloscope Test Measurements You Can Count On

Whether you design, debug, or perform compliance tests, you need proven measurement technology to be successful. Our oscilloscope hardware, with industry-leading signal integrity, high effective number of bits (ENOB), and the fastest waveform update rates, captures the true performance of your device under test. Couple this with superior protocol decoding, analysis, and compliance software, and you’re guaranteed to get measurements you can trust.

Which Oscilloscope Test Probe Do You Need?

Keysight offers a broad range of voltage, current, and optical probing solutions for InfiniiVision and Infiniium Series oscilloscopes. Check out this guide to see which probe is right for your testing needs.

Understanding common probing mistakes is crucial to making accurate measurements. Probes can introduce loading, noise, and jitter into your system. The electrical behavior of your probes greatly affects your measurement results and potentially even the operation of your device. Learn how to avoid common oscilloscope probing pitfalls in this eBook.

Oscilloscope Probing on a Circuit

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Featured Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions - Oscilloscopes

An oscilloscope, sometimes shortened to “scope” or “o-scope”, is a test instrument that captures and displays the behavior of electrical signal over time. . For example, it can plot a graph of voltage (y-axis) versus time (x-axis) on its display.

Oscilloscopes are powerful tools that engineers use for designing and testing electronic devices. They are vital in determining which components of a system are behaving correctly and which are malfunctioning. They can also help you determine whether or not a newly designed component behaves the way you intended. This can be done by analyzing signal properties such as amplitude, period, frequency, rise time, pulse width, and more. Modern digital oscilloscopes can also perform mathematical functions on waveforms, such as a Fourier transform, making analysis quicker.

Real-Time Oscilloscope, Sampling Oscilloscope, Modular Oscilloscope

All modern oscilloscopes are digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs), which use digital signal processing to capture and display the analog signal. If the scope has the ability to accept digital signals, it is a mixed-signal oscilloscope (MSO). If the scope has a spectrum analyzer feature built into it, it is a mixed-domain oscilloscope (MDO), though this terminology is less common.

Test engineers and developers use oscilloscopes to display, graph and analyze electrical signals during research and development, validation, quality assurance, and troubleshooting or debugging of electronic systems, circuit boards, and integrated circuits. Oscilloscopes play a key role across all industries for a variety of applications and technologies, including high-speed digital electronics, optical communication, RF, power electronics, automotive, and aerospace and defense. 

An oscilloscope is a critical test instrument for observing, analyzing, or recording the behavior of an electrical signal. Some specific use cases for oscilloscopes in an electronics laboratory include measuring voltage waveforms, analyzing electronic signals, detecting unwanted noise and crosstalk, and evaluating harmful transients in power systems. 

In high-speed signal analysis, oscilloscopes can measure signal integrity by displaying and measuring eye diagrams, including eye height and width. Mixed-signal oscilloscopes can help debug digital circuits by displaying the logic status and timing of measured digital signals. Advanced oscilloscopes can even help emulate ideal reference receivers for transmitter testing, use optical-to-electrical transceivers for measuring fiber optic signals, and analyze RF signals. 
 
Due to their versatility, oscilloscopes have many different performance levels and software features depending on the application. They are indispensable tools for electronic development, troubleshooting, and analysis.

An oscilloscope uses a probe to connect to a test point in a circuit and amplifies or attenuates the voltage at that point. The signal path after that depends on the scope, but in general analog circuitry conditions the signal and an analog-to-digital converter digitizes it for further evaluation, processing, and analysis.

An oscilloscope captures and displays a signal in the time domain, while a spectrum analyze captures and displays a signal in the frequency domain. Sometimes an oscilloscope will have a spectrum analyzer feature built into it for convenience of analyzing the signal in the time and frequency domain.

With so many brands and types of oscilloscopes available, they might look different from one another, but most have the same basic steps to get started. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an oscilloscope:

  1. Connect the Probe: Attach the probe to the oscilloscope's input channel. Make sure it’s securely connected. If you have an attenuated probe, you may need to compensate your probe until you have a perfect square waveform.
  2. Probe the DUT: Connect the probe to your device under test (DUT) by attaching the probe tip to the point of interest on the circuit and connecting the ground clip to a common ground point on the DUT.
  3. Adjust Vertical and Horizontal Scales: Use the oscilloscope controls to adjust the vertical (voltage) and horizontal (time) scales. This ensures that the waveform is displayed correctly on the screen.
  4. Set the Trigger: Use the trigger setting to stabilize the waveform. The trigger helps ensure that the signal is consistently displayed. Adjust the trigger level and type as needed.
  5. Interpret the Waveform: Look at the waveform on the screen. The x-axis represents time, and the y-axis represents voltage. Observe the shape, frequency, and amplitude of the signal.
  6. Analyze the Waveform: Identify any issues or anomalies. Is the signal behaving as expected? Are there noise spikes or irregularities? Troubleshoot any detected problems to ensure accurate signal performance. You may use the oscilloscope's features, like cursors and automated measurements, to assist in your analysis.

More information:

Keysight offers a wide range of free technical resources for engineers to learn about essential oscilloscope functions and how to get started.

Histogram measurement of jitter and noise on Keysight InfiniiVision 3000G X-Series Oscilloscope

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