LAST UPDATED: May 2nd, 2020
Oscilloscopes are fantastic devices for troubleshooting and fixing a new circuit. Whenever you come up with a new model that needs electrical connections, checking the frequency, power, and voltage is crucial.
However, you do not always need the most sophisticated oscilloscope to deal with small projects. You can purchase the best handheld oscilloscope and be on your merry way.
These products will not only have all the necessary features for analyzing and troubleshooting but also be less expensive and more user-friendly. Besides, since they are handheld, they are bound to have new features that will undoubtedly be intriguing.
So, if you are interested and want to know more about the best portable oscilloscope, then dive right in.
Why You Need the Best Handheld Oscilloscope?
A handheld oscilloscope can ease your deducing work in so many ways; you cannot even imagine. That is why we are going to discuss some of the best benefits this product can offer.
With voltmeters or big oscilloscopes, you need to take your time before the waves pop-up on the screen. However, with these handheld machines, the sampling happens in real-time, and the image will start to appear as soon as you plugin.
Thus you can tweak the voltage and resistance as per need to debug the error. So, handheld oscilloscopes will help you save time and be more efficient.
Since these oscilloscopes are compact and handheld, they have all the necessary functions, but it will not be overbearing. So, whenever a problem occurs, you can immediately fix it with the available button palette.
You can change the shape and size of the wave, isolate signals, read frequency, and do much more with these machines.
Another excellent advantage of this device is its size and shape. It is so compact and portable that you can carry it anywhere. So, if you happen to travel a lot for work, packing and maintaining a handheld oscilloscope will be a breeze.
Know the Noise Floor
After getting used to this product, you will be able to identify each signal noise as it occurs. This skill will take some practice and patience.
But since handheld oscilloscopes have high sensitivity to signals from other circuits, you will be able to isolate that signal. Thus analyzing the wave, whether it be digital or analog, will become easier over time.
Variety of Algorithms
As we mentioned earlier, these handheld oscilloscopes have unique features to make up for their small size. One of those many features is the advanced DSP algorithm. It enables the user to get familiarized with high-frequency abnormalities.
5 Best Handheld Oscilloscope Reviews
The difference between the handheld oscilloscope and regular portable oscilloscope is not much. So, if you were looking for a handheld oscilloscope review specifically, then you have come to the right place. We have gathered the five best handheld oscilloscopes that you should check out.
Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscopes
Have you tried a handheld oscilloscope but got tired of it because it is not versatile? Or, if you are a beginner, do you want to do the most with this device? Worry not, because, with the Rigol DS1054Z, you will not get bored.
This product is not the only handheld, but you can set it up as a bench-top oscilloscope as well. So, whenever you need both your hands on deck, place the device in a stable place, and it will function impeccably.
Moreover, the exterior of the machine has durable plastic components. So, it not only is sturdy but also manages to keep a low-profile in terms of weight. But do not worry, the circuit board and all other metal components are of aluminum and will not interfere with conductivity.
So, when you add all that weight, this machine stands at 6.6 pounds, quite light in our opinion. Besides its handy size, this machine can register 50 MHz bandwidth with the help of 4 different channels.
Thus the chances of buffering while sampling is gone. It effectively increases speed and efficiency. Moreover, the 12 Mpt memory also enables smoother sampling for more extensive data.
If you want, you can even upgrade the memory depth to 24 Mpt with separate software. Getting the software is not that difficult as well. Connecting this model with other devices is also comfortable with the USB cable.
A seven inch 800 X 480 pixels resolution is cherry on top for this tool. So, form waves in real-time and observe them on a crisp screen.
kuman DSO 138 DIY Oscilloscope Kit Opening Source
Having the option to customize hardware can be very handy, especially when it is oscilloscopes. As an engineer or even a hobbyist may not know what kind of data set will come next. So, having versatility makes things very easy.
Hence the brand Kuman took the inventive step to manufacture a partially open oscilloscope. The hardware is exposed to a safe level so that you can add or take away bits and pieces as per your need.
For example, if you want to work with analog signals, you can add an analog stabilizer for the purpose. So, you see how the product becomes immediately customizable? The combinations are endless, and so is its usage.
Besides the customizable feature, this model also has some base features. It has a fixed 2.4-inch TFT display. Although the screen is much smaller than most oscilloscope, it is LCD and has a 320 X 240 dot matrix with 262K colors. So, every inch of the wave will be crystal clear, and you can analyze them accurately.
Another reason why the screen is small is that the product aims to be pocket-sized. So, not only is it handheld, but it is also extremely compact. You can stuff it anywhere. However, you should keep the small parts packaged to reduce the chances of losing them.
It also has cool features such as the waveform freezing option. So, if you want to stop the wave moving while sampling, you can do that. It has excellent sensitivity receptors and can handle the sensitivity of less than 5%.
Since the device is highly customizable, it comes with a step-by-step manual. So, you can assemble comfortably.
Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL
Siglent oscilloscopes are some of the best wave analyzing tools in the market. They offer a variety of functions along with the base features. So, if you are feeling experimental, you can always depend on the SDS1052DL.
Moreover, if you have been looking for unique features for some rare signal combinations, this product is for you. Because this model has advanced triggers that can isolate specific signals, it is thus allowing you to troubleshoot the origin.
It also has several math variables, automatic measurements, and a built-in frequency counter. Plus, the movable cursor can make sure you have your attention on the problematic place.
The SDS105DL has an excellent bandwidth as well. Besides, the two-channel enables the passage of voltage without any restriction. With these features, overall real-time sampling becomes smoother and more accurate.
As for the main selling point, this model is extremely portable and lightweight. Hence it can pass as a handheld oscilloscope. The exterior has an opaque, gritty plastic substance. As a result, it does not feel cheap but does the job of keeping the product portable.
Although the device is quite small, it still has a luxurious seven-inch TFT display. It also registers multiple colors. So, with the 32 Kpt memory and super-fast sampling, you can view the outcome better.
You do not have to worry about carrying an extra product for connection, either. It can support LAN and Ethernet. If those options do not float your boat, you can use the trusty USB cable as well. So, the device is extremely user-friendly.
SainSmart DSO212 Pocket Size Portable Handheld Mini Digital Storage Oscilloscope
Oscilloscopes are fantastic for debugging and setting up circuits with variable frequencies. However, what if you wanted such a device in a pocket form? So, you would be able to carry it around just like a cell phone.
Such devices would be excellent for classrooms and educational purposes as well. Hence SainSmart came out with a genuinely pocket-sized oscilloscope. It is elegant and has a sturdy exterior. No exposed edges, so pieces will not scatter about in your pocket.
It is easy to use and navigate too. So, students will learn without distractions. As for other features, this portable device has a 500 mAh battery. So, unlike many handheld oscilloscopes, this will not die down on you. However, you do need to check the amount of data that the device is processing.
Besides that, this tool also has a spectacular resolution. The 320 X 240 pixel makes up for the 2.4-inch screen, plus it is TFT LCD. So, you are getting all the benefits in a compressed screen.
This tool has three channels to capture and analyze the signals. Two of them deal with analog waves as well. So, you get versatility in a compact instrument. The 8 MB flash disc memory also assists in the sampling process.
As for connectivity, you can use USB cables to feed the oscilloscope with all the data directly. However, it would help if you had a micro USB for this portable device.
The DS0121 can register different math waveforms and also work with various trigger modes. Among the rare modes, you will get ascend/descend and edge on this device. As a result, you can efficiently work with sine, square, and triangle signals.
SainSmart Mini DSO213 Handheld Pocket-Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope
If the previous model from SainSmart was not your cup of tea, we have yet another model to feature from the same brand. Let us assume you liked everything about the other model, but you wanted more power and flexibility?
Well, with the Mini DSO213, you get all of that plus an extra channel and more options. This model is better in every way; hence it will also cost you a few more bucks. But with the output, the cost becomes worth it.
This model also weighs more than the DSO212 as it has a significantly powerful battery. With a 1000 mAh battery, this can last you for quite some time, preferably way after you finish at least one project. The screen on this device is also more sophisticated. It has a 400 X 240-pixel resolution.
So, every graphic will appear very clear on the 3-inch display. Thus it is still compact and weightless. The screen also registers multiple colors and will enable graphs in different formats. As a result, you will be able to identify one signal from the other.
As for an extra channel, this model has two analog channels and two digital channels. So, you do not have to purchase separate tools for working with analog and digital signals. This instrument can analyze both and does it well thanks to its 15 MHz bandwidth.
The memory capacity is 8 MB, and you can store it in a flash disc. You can connect the oscilloscope with other sources through a USB.
What to Look for in a Handheld Oscilloscope
A handheld oscilloscope can be handy in many ways. But to know whether it can fit your needs is a question. So, to know more about each feature of such a device, follow this segment of the review.
Since the portable handheld oscilloscopes are smaller in size, the screen resolution matters a lot. Otherwise, a crappy display will not allow proper visuals, and you will fail to debug and fix the issues.
So, look for oscilloscopes that have LDC TFT screens. It ensures that the device has a higher resolution. 320 X 240 pixel is excellent for handheld oscilloscope, but with extra price, you can get better results as well.
Also, if your screen needs to accommodate more than one wave, make sure the display is color supported.
Memory capacity means how long this tool can hold onto a sample before dumping. So, the bigger the memory, the longer the wave will appear on the screen. Dual or multiple waves need high memory capacity.
Luckily, these portable tools can work with multiple waves. Some brands also have a flash disc memory of 8 MB space. It is more temporary but excellent for on the go projects.
These devices are small, so the only easy way to plug them with the signal source is by USB cables. Some brands also need micro USB cables. However, if you want LAN or Ethernet support, look for handheld oscilloscopes that have the system.
Since you are looking for compact oscilloscopes, do not fall for bulky tools that claim to be handheld. These tools have specific shapes that make them portable. Such as durable plastic exterior and aluminum interior.
Some oscilloscopes can also function as bench-top tools. So, you can use them in two ways whenever you want.
One of the most critical factors about oscilloscope is the bandwidth. Although the smaller size will mean less bandwidth. But do not let that compromise with your needs.
Some excellent models can accommodate higher bandwidth within its small size. The best way to understand your bandwidth need is to multiply the highest frequency by 5. If the model can satisfy that amount, go for it.
This factor will determine how much data can pass through at a time. So, if a device has more than one channel, it means it will be two times faster as well. Typically, handheld oscilloscopes have two channels.
However, if you need to work with both analog and digital waves, choose a device that has both kinds of channels-known as mixed-signal channels. Some brands have four channels, also. So, you will get a faster output.
Before the device forms any wave, it takes multiple samples of the input. So, the speed at which it does the job defines how fast the tool can work. Usually, there are two modes following which a handheld oscilloscope does the sampling.
The specifications of the ETS (equivalent time sampling) and the RTS (Real-time sampling) units are how you will understand which model is for you. If you need to work with real-time data, then undoubtedly choose RTS.
ETS is not useless, either. You can preset, and get ahead in this mode. So, it ultimately depends on personal needs and preferences.
Multiple probes facilitate the bandwidth and allow the frequency transmission to be much smoother. However, most brands need probes, but they do not offer one with the purchase.
So, keep an eye on that. It will not only help in measuring high-voltage but also help you exceed the bandwidth.
Most Common Issues People Have with Portable Handheld Oscilloscopes
Since handheld oscilloscopes are so compact, they are bound to compromise on some other factors. However, it does not mean that the product is defective. With measures, you can look past these issues.
As you already know, these devices are extremely compact and portable. Hence they tend to have a smaller screen. Most brands do offer LCD TFT screens, but if you need the best visuals, you might want to skip on handheld oscilloscopes.
Another common issue that most handheld oscilloscopes face is battery life. With no fault of the machine, the constant sampling can quickly drain out the battery life. Also, to keep up with the portability, the size of the battery is smaller as well.
So, before purchasing, know your battery needs and determine whether a handheld oscilloscope will be worth the cost.
Naturally, a small oscilloscope will be much slower than high-power analyzing tools. This factor can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you have time in hand and portability is what you need, then go ahead and get one of such devices.
But if you are concerned with speed and fast output, then you might want to steer clear from handheld oscilloscopes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have some of the most commonly asked queries regarding oscilloscopes:
Yes, make sure the surface is plane.
You can plugin with USB or micro USB.
Yes, this tool can work with multimeters.
If the memory capacity is low, then the sampling will take time, causing the overall process to be slow.
Yes, using more than one probe helps in exceeding the bandwidth.
Handheld or not, oscilloscopes are a must when dealing with circuits, frequencies, and signals. However, the best handheld oscilloscope will undoubtedly make things easier for you.
You can travel freely and give your wallet a rest while getting all the benefits an oscilloscope can offer. So, we hope you find a handheld scope for your needs.