An oscilloscope can be an invaluable tool in electronics projects. It is a device that displays signal waveforms from electronic circuits. Oscilloscopes have many different features and capabilities, so it’s important to know what you need before buying one.
This blog post will be discussing the best oscilloscopes for hobbyists. Besides this, it will also include other information on which oscilloscopes are not recommended and how to choose the best oscilloscope that has all of the features you need.
The following list has been made with reviews of the six hobbyist oscilloscopes, no matter how experienced or serious you are.
Here we’ve not only mentioned the names and features but also included a detailed review along with all the minute details for getting just what you want. So what’re you waiting for? Read through and get the one you need.
Best Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists Comparison in 2021
Last update on 2021-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists Reviews in 2021
You’ll be spending quite a bit of getting a new oscilloscope, and naturally, you’ll have some expectations. To make sure the product doesn’t disappoint you afterward, we’ve compiled this review list that you can easily check out the best oscilloscope for hobbyist.
Bear in mind that to be forewarned is definitely being forearmed when buying a new gadget.
1. Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope – Best Oscilloscope for Experienced Hobbyist
- Body Style: Benchtop
- Brand Name: Rigol
- Color: Grey
- Power Source Type: corded-electric
- Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 5 inches; 6.6 Pounds
Remember when experts used to suggest getting a digital oscilloscope with two input channels? Well, the sky is the limit now. Because this scope actually has 16 different channels to let you read and compare waveforms.
- Excellent use of technology: Besides being versatile, this device has mixed-signal technology with high performance installed in it. The memory software in this device can be updated to waveform capture rate of 30,000 wfms per second.
- High bandwidth: This digital oscilloscope bandwidth is between the range of 100 to 500 MHz. And if power is what you need in terms of trigger functions, this might as well be your best match. These are the best oscilloscope for hobbyist working in small or medium-sized labs.
- Problem detection facilities: You can find out small errors using this as it provides high resolution and proper signal details thanks to its amazing build. It can give record length up to 24 Mpts and detects issues from multiple digital wave streams. This digital oscilloscope can pinpoint various sections of a waveform data very easily and quickly.
- Durable structure and upgradeable memory depth: This grey colored digital oscilloscope weighs 6.6 pounds and is mostly built with plastic material. But that is never an issue or reason to undermine this item since it’s been one of the most loved products for the past four years. The Ultra Vision feature gives it a memory depth of 12 Mpts that is upgradeable to 24 using a software key.
And the best thing is, the software bundle is included now with the whole unit. It comes with 2 to 4 sets of probes. If you’re an experienced hobbyist, you’ll soon realize while using this that it’s very intuitive.
The screen’s great due to its size and brightness. You’ll get several trigger modes to play around with as well. Overall, it’s a pretty good gadget, given the price point and size.
- Digital Oscilloscope with 4 Analog Channels and 50 MHz Analog Bandwidth.
- An impressive 30,000 wfms/s waveform capture rate
- Enhanced Triggering Option
- Possible to record and relay real-time waveforms
2. Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E – Best Bandwidth Oscilloscope
- Brand Name: Siglent Technologies
- Color: Grey
- Display Type: 7 inch TFT-LCD (800×480)
- Power Source Type: Corded-electric
- Dimensions: 10 x 15 x 17 inches; 5.51 Pounds
- Massive bandwidth: This o-scope is perfect for any tech enthusiast looking for something with a wider bandwidth. It has a bandwidth of 200 MHz and can record anything with a record length of 14 Mpts. Not only is this good for accuracy, but also it’s suitable for identifying complicated problems on devices.
- High tech display: The display for this product is 7-inch and LCD. It has a zoom-in function that allows closer inspection of specific areas for better evaluation. Since there’s the color temperature measuring technology installed in this, it can detect events in two different colors depending on how frequent they are.
- Best oscilloscope for hobbyist, students and amateurs: It’s not a portable device. In fact, this weighs 7.2 pounds, and it’s definitely not lightweight. But on the bright side, it’s awesome for students, amateurs, and hobbyists as they endeavor in collecting data and tweaking with circuits and sensors.
- User-friendly: There are more than 38 automated patterns in the control panel for your ease of use. And if you’re worried about navigating your way on figuring out how this works, it has 10 types of shortcuts that are useable with one button.
On the downside, users do complain about the calibration and probes for this o-scope. So it’s better to keep this in mind if you’re just starting out with oscilloscopes. All the features come unlocked, and it’s super simple to use.
Being able to record waveform capture rate up to 400,000 wfms per second, it can save low-probability events as well. The layout of dials for this machine is easy to learn for a newbie. Its math functions are quite good. And apart from the probes limitations, there aren’t any major issues with this item.
- With a bandwidth of 200 Mhz.
- The waveform data record length is up to 14 mpts.
- Math coprocessor boosts front panel performance.
- In normal mode, the waveform capture rate is up to 100,000 wfm/s, and in sequence mode, up to 400,000 wfm/s.
- Voltage scales between 10 V and 500 *V / div with low background noise.
Related Review: Handheld oscilloscope buying guide.
3. Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL – Best Oscilloscope for Beginners
- Brand Name: Siglent
- Measurement System: US
- Display: 7″ TFT-LCD color display
- Dimensions: 15.3 x 10.7 x 9 inches; 7.5 Pounds
Having two different input channels and a high-resolution screen, making it to the third of our list, is this product by Siglent. This is a product weighing almost 7 pounds. It’s small and suitable for both experts and newer users.
- User-friendly: If you want something for general experiments and work procedures, this is the one best oscilloscopes. When you use the horizontal axis as a reference in reading on channel 2, you can easily perform the function of a sweep generator. If you feed the device from an audio generator, its calibration is spot on. You can save a recorded waveform in this device by connecting it to a USB. It’s also possible to save the files into a comma-separated value spreadsheet.
- Lots of automatic measurement function: This new and improved version of an old model has 32 different types of auto measurements for the user’s convenience. It has a five parameter display along with a zoom function. After all, what’s the point in using an oscilloscope if you can’t focus on a particular wave the way you want? There’s even a pass or fail function meant to test readings.
- Accurate playback capacity: The key features for this o-scope are its playback capacity, waveform record, and the real-time counting display. Since there’s six-digit hardware for counting frequency, it’s quite accurate and precise.
- Overall quite impressive: Also, the length of this item is 12.7 inches, and the height is 6.2 inches. It comes in whitish-grey colors and a color display. Advanced triggers are present in the menu for isolating certain signals as well. The maximum sample rate of real-time sampling is 500MS per second for channel 1.
Moreover, the same channel has a record length of 32 Kpts for getting a detailed reading of the waves. And as for pros and cons, the basics are mentioned here.
- With oscilloscope bandwidth 50MHz, two-channel digital oscilloscope for electronics applications.
- The maximum real-time sampling rate per channel is 500 MS/s.
- For acquiring detailed waveforms, record length 32kPts per channel.
- Displays waveforms on an 8 x 18 division internal TFT-LCD of 7″ in color.
4. Hantek HT6022BE 20Mhz – Best Lightweight Oscilloscope
- Body: Style Benchtop
- Brand Name: Hantek
- Item Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 8.07 x 1.38 x 4.72 inches
Coming in next on our list is this benchtop style best oscilloscope from Hantek. It comes in black color and weighs just 1.54 pounds making it a pretty good hobbyist oscilloscope. So, if you’re here for a portable device, go ahead and grab it.
- Durable with multiple trigger modes: This is an extremely durable item meant for both the pros and the newbies. It has 3 different trigger modes. These are normal, auto, and single triggers. The types for the triggering include both rising and falling edge.
- Sampling rate and accuracy are quite good: You have options for sampling selection as well. The rate is 48 MS, and the accuracy is almost spot on. And the error percentage is only 3% and that too at exceptional times.
- User-friendly: You’ll get this item packed in a box with an invisible layer containing the probes and the CD with instructions. It comes with a user manual, clip probes, and a USB cord. This product has quite good math functions installed in it. It includes FFT, addition, division, multiplying, and subtracting features. Moreover, you can easily connect and run this with Windows 7, Linux, NT, XP, or VISTA. With this, it’s possible to save the waveform images in the JPG or BMP format as well as keep the record in an MS Word or Excel file.
- High bandwidth: As for bandwidth, this little device has a pretty good one of 20 MHzShot. Since it’s so lightweight, you’ll not only save shipping costs but also save time since it’s a pretty quick operating gadget. There’s a high refresh rate and high sampling rate and amazing software support.
Furthermore, it’s the most suitable for using notebook computers. You can use it for business purposes as well. There’s no external power source for this, and it’s super easy to utilize. Not only is this going to save you money, but it’s also going to meet your expectations quite easily too.
- With a bandwidth of 20MHz and a sampling rate of 48MSa/s, this best oscilloscope provides 2 channels.
- Waveforms saved in Microsoft Word, Excel, JPG, BMP, and TXT.
- Windows 2000, NT, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10 are compatible with this oscilloscope.
- It features a standard USBXITM interface and USB 2.0 port
5. SainSmart DSO212 – Best Portable Oscilloscope
- Brand Name: SainSmart
- Color: Black
- Battery: 500 mAh
- Screen Type: 2.8″ TFT LCD
- Dimension: 100 x 56.5 x 10.7 mm
- Weight: 90 g
In the case of portability, another recommended best cheap oscilloscope is this one from SainSmart. It’s versatile and easy to use. Whether you are using it for electrical engineering or educational purposes or just some weird experimentation to meet your curiosity, this will do the job.
- Portable with a stylish look: It’s affordable and comes in a stylish black color. The display is quite big and almost covers the entire surface of the device. One might even mistake it for a smartphone of sorts. The coupling in this portable machine is DC/AC. Its screen resolution is 320 x 240, and the built is spectacular.
- Good sampling speed and memory depth: With this, you’ll get three different input channels, of which two are analog, and one is an operation channel. Its analog signals bandwidth is 1MHz. In terms of maximum sampling, the memory depth is 8K.
- Quite small device: While this isn’t much compared to many other devices, keep in mind that this is a rather small device meant for the hobbyist. The price point is also a factor. If you want something with more memory depth, it’s advisable to spend a bit more and get a bigger o-scope.
- Good battery backup with many modes: It has a micro USB port and two apps installed into it. The battery you’ll need for running this is a 500 mAh that you can easily find in hardware stores. There are about six synchronous modes – auto, single, normal, none, scan value, and average. Counting the weight of the battery, this device weighs only 90 grams.
- A compact device: So well befitting its name, it is possible to carry this in your pocket. The maximum sample rate for this product is 10 MSa per second. Its screen type is TFT LCD, and the size of the display is 2.8 inches.
The trigger modes are two – ascending and descending edge trigger modes. This is why, despite the small size, this gadget is so handy and fun to use.
- Using one of these will ensure that you don’t have to worry about taking up much space on your workbench.
- Two digital channels and a max sampling rate of 10 MSa/s are available.
- With taps and swipes, it works like any smartphone.
- 8 MB of storage space makes it easier to save and transfer waveforms.
- Because of its compact size, it’s easy to put into a pocket.
6. Hantek DSO5072P – Best Oscilloscope for Lengthy Waveforms
- Brand Name: Hantek
- Display Type: 7″ TFT 16K LCD color display
- Bandwidth: 70MHz
- Dimensions: 14.96 x 7.87 x 11.02 inches;
- Weight: 7.72 Pounds
Don’t go mistaking this for microwave or radio though it looks a bit like one. It’s just an oscilloscope for measuring waves. This product from Hantek is one of the most unique-looking ones out there. It has an LCD display and weighs just 7.72 pounds.
- Impressive record length and math functions: As for the basic features, this has all the usual ones, along with some specialties. It provides software for PC real-time analysis and has a record length of up to 40K. Four math functions, including standard FFT, is quite good for accuracy.
- Excellent display and trigger mode: The bandwidth is 70 MHz, and it has two channels. And the 7-inch color display can give readings with an accuracy of 3-4% in the normal and acquisition modes. There are multiple trigger types available in this device. Those include the video, pulse, slope, alternative, edge, and overtime triggers.
- Best accuracy: Input impedance for this is 1 M Ohm. Since the time base accuracy is 50 ppm, it’s very precise and able to diagnose minute errors. If you’re looking for an alternative to a DMM in the form of a scope, you’ll find this one pleasantly surprising.
- Advantage of the large display: Moreover, as this is a multi-tester, you can do real-time readouts of many measurements right next to the waveform display. The display is super easy to read and very clear. One of the most intriguing things about this gadget is that it’s possible to set the trigger on pulse width.
It’ll get readings by being triggered for both smaller and larger pulses within the range of 5% of what you set up. We won’t lie – there are some issues with this product.
The memory doesn’t work sometimes, and the chip it comes with is somewhat lacking. But if you’re careful about getting it from a good source and check beforehand, it’s going to serve you well.
Again, there are times when even after connecting it to the PC, the scope doesn’t quite recognize it. The software is at fault here. But since the GUI for this is super intuitive, there’s really no urgency of controlling the device from your PC.
- With a bandwidth of 70MHz, 1GSa/s Real-Time sampling rate is available
- Wide (7.0 inch) color display with WVGA (800×480) resolution
- A record length of up to 40K is available for waveforms
- Different types of trigger modes are available, including edge, pulse width, overtime, slop, etc.
- Real-time analysis software for PC.
What to Look for in an Best Oscilloscopes for Hobbyists
There are some things you should keep in mind when you go get your o-scope from the store. The list can be endless, but we’ve mentioned just the most important points any top quality best oscilloscope for hobbyists must possess.
While many think the more the bandwidth, the better the performance of the device, it’s not necessarily true. A gadget with more bandwidth is most likely to pick up false signals and unwanted waveforms while testing.
So, it’s better to get what you actually need. For the average hobbyist, the bandwidth should be at least twice the maximum frequency of the signal transmitted. Of course, if you want to work with high-frequency sounds, you need something of a larger bandwidth than the average.
Application Support and Operation
Before you go and grab the most popular scope in the market, ask yourself one thing. For what purpose do you need the o-scope? What are you actually going to measure? The answer to this question will determine which one you should buy.
Some manufacturers provide extra applications as support for a specific function. They even give software packages that specialize in measurements, analysis, or reporting. This makes things quite easy and simple for someone who has little experience with these gadgets.
Does the item have Bluetooth? Is it compatible with the PC you have or the version of Windows you use? Check out the graphics card connector of the device and see whether it is suitable for an external monitor.
Some manufacturers provide options for transferring waveform data to make MS Excel or Word files or even printing directly by connecting data to your printer. Many of these gadgets nowadays have slots for memory cards as well.
While it may seem trivial at first, once you get to work, you’ll realize just how important a clear bug screen really is. Look for ones with an LCD color display.
Unless you have really sharp eyes and don’t need to focus on minute details of readings for your work, you won’t need a larger size of a display. But for serious hobbyists who always like to push the limits and get to the nitty-gritty details, a 7 to 8-inch display is a must.
Although some people tend to ignore the display of an oscilloscope, it is one of the necessary features you need to consider. A display allows you to view the information shown on it. You also need to choose an oscilloscope with a higher resolution to avoid detecting inaccurate results which might affect your work.
Since it’s your pocket, you need to be conscious of what’s worth it and what’s not. Don’t go spending thousands for something you might get on sale for half the price. Also, good name brands might cost more, but their products do last a lot more than your average ones.
So, decide what you want first. If budget is your priority, then there are lots of portable digital oscilloscopes in the market. We’ve enlisted some super budget-friendly cheap oscilloscope devices here as well. So pick one best oscilloscope for hobbyist out and have fun.
The first thing to consider is the durability of the device. The Hantek oscilloscope you choose should work fast and without any trouble. Make sure it can withstand fall and weather conditions; hence avoid replacing it from time to time. Additionally, you can look if the tool comes with a warranty thus can replace or fix the device when required.
Bandwidth and sampling rate
You need to ensure that you choose a device with higher bandwidth since it shows you the highest frequency that the oscilloscope can measure. On the other hand, the sample rate needs to be at least five times the current frequency. The sample rate determines how the waveform is displayed.
It is necessary to consider an oscilloscope that is lightweight and compact to carry around if you have various workplaces. In terms of storage, avoid large devices since you may find them difficult to store in your bag. However, lightweight devices don’t mean you select one that is too weak hence breaking.
You can either choose an oscilloscope with 2- channels or 4 channels. 2 channels allow you to compare the input and output. In comparison, 4 channels will enable you to match more signals, and you can combine different channels to achieve greater flexibility.
Choose an oscilloscope that comes with extra features since it can be used for various tasks. These features include a USB port, cable to connect to the computer, trigger functions, math functions, trigger functions, recording waveforms, power supplies, and many more. The more features you choose, the more convenient the device will be.
Differences between Portable and Bench-Top Oscilloscopes
If we were to list all the various categories of oscilloscopes, we could go on for days. But since you don’t have all day and there’s no point in stating information that won’t be useful, we’ve stuck to the main ones.
Benchtops and portable types of oscilloscopes are what we’re going to discuss about. And while the name says it all, there’s a lot more to the types than meets the eye.
Firstly, portable devices are, obviously, perfect for all the busy-bodies out there that love to be on the go at all times. Since they’re small, they can be carried around in pockets or backpacks without worry. Hobbyists usually prefer these over bench tops merely for their size and weight.
Portable products in the market cost lesser than bigger ones. Companies like SainSmart and Hantek make amazing portable digital oscilloscope that are handy and easily utilized.
In contrast, the benchtop devices are perfect for the ones looking to experiment in class or do small projects. While portable devices are usually battery-powered, the benchtop ones tend to require an external power outlet.
They have USB ports and interfaces for connecting to electricity. When using this, you’ll need proper access to electricity in your location.
The ones who are professionals and quite serious about this hobby use these more often. Some of the benchtop oscilloscopes are quite bulky, but there are a few lightweight ones out there. They are suitable for sensing higher frequency waveforms and sensitive data recording.
Best Oscilloscope Brands
Here’s a list of the top brands for oscilloscopes in the market now.
You’ve probably guessed it by now. Rigol is the most popular brand of today and quite justly on the top of our list. This Chinese-based company has been serving customers with efficiency since 1998. They have produced various high-quality devices for testing and sampling ever since their establishment.
Today they have outlets in the US and Europe. So you can easily get your hands on one of their coveted products from your home state. They are a leading name in the research and development arena of the globe and always encourage users to provide feedback and give performance reports after checking out their gadgets like analog and digital oscilloscope.
While many people talk about Rigol, this brand has its own definite fan base. Decent value, high quality, and modern multidimensional features – Siglent makes sure to give you all of it. This brand started out in its first o-scope market in 2002. And while their products lacked variation at the time, it’s not the case today.
They have a wide range of testing devices to choose from now, providing some of the best budget oscilloscopes out in stores. Handheld, portable, benchtop, arbitrary waveform generators to digital multimeters – you name it. They have it all.
As their main target audience are the students, amateurs, and tech-geeks, they launch various competitive oscilloscopes every now and then.
So for anyone looking to get a reliable sampler for their science experiments at a good price, this one’s the brand to choose.
If you’ve been in the tech industry for some time, you’ve probably heard about the Hantek brand. This brand began experimenting with USB oscilloscopes in the late 90s and has broken the boundaries of labs quite a few times.
Their gadgets have made it possible for the hobbyists and pros to step out of their comfort zone of labs and try reading waves and circuits anywhere they go.
Paying attention to what their customers need, they’ve produced plug-and-play USB oscilloscopes in 2001 and have set up sources in Europe and the States.
Not only are their devices well known for being high quality, but these have some unique features out there.
While this brand doesn’t exclusively produce measurement scopes, their gadgets are all top-notch. They produce everything from sensors to 3D printers and oscilloscopes.
The brand is best known for its portable and handheld gadgets. If you’re a sucker for DIY crafting and projects, you’ll love them.
They have amazing DIY kits that are super affordable and allow people to experiment and test their own inventions easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the best oscilloscopes:
How many types of oscilloscopes are there?
There are mainly two types – digital oscilloscope and analog oscilloscope. But there are 5-6 other types like cathode, anode, portable, benchtop, etc.
Can I use an oscilloscope to measure high-frequency signals?
Yes, you can. But you’ll need one that has a large bandwidth for doing so.
What does ‘Triggering” mean for an oscilloscope?
It’s basically exactly what it sounds like. Triggering an o-scope means having it catch up and pick up signals from a certain point in a certain situation. That gets displayed on the screen.
There are many trigger types for the devices available nowadays, and many allow the user to control what triggers the device and what doesn’t.
What bandwidth do I need as a hobbyist?
As a hobbyist who probably isn’t looking for tampering with technology for serious work purposes, you can settle on an average bandwidth. That’s anywhere with at least twice more than the frequency of the signal transmitted.
Take a look at the maximum frequency range of the signals involved in your project and choose a scope with a bandwidth that’s five times higher than that.
Are Hantek oscilloscopes any good?
Hantek brand is gaining popularity because of its latest technologies. It provides a good experience while using it. What makes Hantek oscilloscopes suitable is their lightweight and compact design, enabling both beginners and professionals to use them for multiple places and measure waves anywhere. The models are equipped with plug and play USB ports to allow you to transfer data freely. You need this handheld oscilloscope to measure various waves and currency.
What is a good oscilloscope for a hobbyist?
Hantek DSO5102P is the best oscilloscope for the hobbyist because of its compact design. It has easy-to-operate buttons; hence no need to check the menu. The two-channel device has a bandwidth of 100MHz and a 7″ LCD screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 making it easy to read the results. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about power since the unit comes with batteries. With this unit, you can work in multiple places due to its lightweight and compact design.
What is the best cheap oscilloscope?
If you are looking for a good cheap unit, then the Hantek DSO5072P will suit you best. It comes equipped with a large 7-inch screen. It has 200/100/70 MHz bandwidths and 1 GSa/s real Time sample rate making it great for your work. Plus, it can record up to 40K of data at the same time. Its price is moderate and affordable. Thanks to its multiple automatic measurements, which allows you to be diverse in different fields. You can connect the device to a USB host to transfer data to other devices. Finally, it has a manual to assist in operating it.
What is a good beginner oscilloscope?
Hantek DS05202P is one of the best beginner oscilloscope models as it has 2 channels with 200 MHz bandwidth. The unit features a 7″ display for easy reading, navigating, and manipulating of graphs. Additionally, it has a memory depth of 40k. The trigger mode has slop, line selectable video, edge, pulse width, and overtime. Furthermore, the device has four math functions, including the FFTs standard. You can efficiently operate it since it comes equipped with a menu.
How fast does an oscilloscope need?
You can determine how fast an oscilloscope is by the sample rate. The sample rate of a device should be 5x your circuit’s highest frequency component. The units come in various sample rates, from 1 to 200 GS/s to meet your tasks. The faster the sample, the more accurate the data, the better the scope will represent the signal under test. Quick sampling will help you fill your memory quickly hence limiting the capture time.
As exciting as reading signals can get, the perfect measuring device can take that to a whole new level. So with our buying guide and the 6 best oscilloscopes for hobbyists that we’ve mentioned here, you’ll be pretty much set to go and discover whatever your machine waves have to offer.