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How To Make An Oscilloscope

Making an oscilloscope is not as hard as it sounds. With the right mind and necessary apparatus, it is doable. We are going to make our oscilloscope from home. We will take every detail into considerations and define every stage for a better understanding.

Oscilloscopes are important, especially for people who are in the electrical field. Yet, you find that it is a bit expensive to own one. In that case, you need to learn how to make yours and save the day.

Let’s do this;

What is an oscilloscope?

It has many names, which are scope, O-scope, or CRO. How does it work? By detecting signals, thus giving you information on whether the system is working or not. The oscilloscope has a cathode ray tube on its screen. It’s something like what we have on our television, though they are different in their capacity. It allows us to see the signal in a graph form.

Making an oscilloscope is doable through various methods. You can use things that are accessible or at your disposal. These include; laptops, mobile phones, TVs, etc. In this article, we will make our oscilloscope using the CRT TV and a computer/laptop.

Come on, and let’s do it;

Before we start using the television, note only the CRT TVs that you can use.

1. How to make it using CRT TV

Things you need             

  • A wire that has 20 or 22 gauge
  • Wire cutters
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Electrical tube
  • Multimeter
  • Soldering gun and a solder

Steps to follow:

  1. The first thing is to unplug the television from the socket and keep it on a flat surface. It can be at the top of the table or anywhere you are comfortable. The reason for doing this is to take care of our safety. When handling electronics, you should be careful to avoid shocks and anything related to that. Make sure there are no wires that are left bare.
  2. The next step is to remove the back cover of the TV. When you turn around your TV, you will see where it has been joined using screws. Use your screwdriver and remove the screws.
  3. After opening,  try to look for the yoke. The yoke has a copper wire around it. ( a yoke is used in cathode ray tubes. It scans the electron beam vertically and horizontal in the screen).
  4. On that yoke, you will realize there are four wires. Try to trace them and see whether they are connected to the mainboard. You will discover that two are on the mainboard and the rest to the other connector.
  5. Remove two wires from one connector and leave the rest intact. Then turn on the tv, and you will see a vertical line. In case you don’t see the line do the reverse. Remove the other two and exchange. If you do that, you should see the vertical line.
  6. Now unplug the tv.
  7. After that, you need to mount the two TRS input jacks and toggle switch. Let’s mount them on the back of the tv. Ensure that you do it well to allow the back of the tv to fit back. Don’t leave anything messy. Next, take your drill bit and drill three holes. The holes should be big enough to fit the jacks and toggle switch.
  8. Do you remember the wires we left unplugged? I guess you do. Cut the connector and disconnect it completely. You can opt to discard it. Then take those wires and solder them from the yoke to one of the ¼ of TRS jacks.
  9. Here, take the other two wires that were plugged into the mainboard. Unplug them, cut the connector. Make sure the connector is not too short because we will use it later. Take the multimeter and put it on the continuity. On the toggle switch, identify the center pins. The wires from the yoke solder them, and each wire should go to each pin.
  10. After that, you can now cut some wires which should be of the same length. Solder one end of them to the remaining ¼ TRS jack. The other end solder to the other four pins of the toggle switch.
  11. Next, cut some other two wires that also are of the same length. Join them (one end)  to the other remaining pins of the toggle switch. Remember, only two pins are remaining. The other remaining ends join them to the connector that we cut. Remember I told you that you should leave the wires long. That is to allow the soldering to take place quickly. After that, plug the connector back from its original position.
  12. Now it’s time to fasten the TRS. Place the ¼ TRS jack and toggle switch in the other two holes and attach them.

If you follow those steps, you will be able to use your oscilloscope. You can plugin and enjoy.

2. How to make using a laptop

Things you will need

  • A laptop
  • Probes
  • PicoScope 3000
  • USB cable

In this case, we are going to make a PC Oscilloscope. We are using the laptop as the screen, and it will still store data. The good thing about using an oscilloscope through your laptop is that you can carry it anywhere. So even if you need to do your work on the go, it is possible.

Follow these steps:

  1. First, you will need to buy a PicoScope 3000, and once you have it download the software. The software is found on the website, and it is free. Some information about the PicoScope 3000 is that it is compact. It is described as an excellent real-time digital storage oscilloscope. Further, it communicates well with a PC, and it has all functions of a desktop scope.
  2. The next thing is to switch on the laptop. At this time, you should use a USB 2.2 cable. Ensure that it is well fitted to the PicoScope. Once you do that, the laptop will automatically detect it and show it on the screen.
  3. Now, interface your PicoScope to your laptop. If you made your connection well, it should give you instructions. Follow the installation instructions and install the software
  4. Next is to connect the probes. The probes come with the Picoscope 3000. Connect them to the PicoScope. That is one end of the scope. On the other end, you can connect to the circuit.

You are through making your oscilloscope. You can do your measurements the way you do with a standard oscilloscope. If you want to save the waveforms, you can open a file on your laptop and save it there. You can analyze the waveform immediately or later. That is the beauty of using a laptop.

Our wrap up

It is not hard to make an oscilloscope if you put your heart to it. But as we have discussed, it’s a process that needs you to be extra careful. Make sure before you start handling any electrical apparatus, you are safe enough. It doesn’t take much to protect yourself. Meanwhile, use the two methods that we have discussed and make your oscilloscope. It is fun and enjoyable.