How to Use an Oscilloscope to Measure DC Voltage

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HOW TO USE AN OSCILLOSCOPE TO MEASURE DC VOLTAGE

If you have ever wondered why oscilloscope is the best choice of equipment when it comes to measuring voltage, both AC and DC, then this is the place for you to be.

Oscilloscopes are instruments used in the laboratory which is used to analyze waves of electronic signals.
It has a small screen that displays the results in the form of graphs of instantaneous signal voltage as a function of time.

In simple words, it’s a voltage versus time graph, and they are usually called waveforms. This article tells you how to use an oscilloscope to measure DC voltage.

Why Oscilloscope instead of the Voltmeter?

Why Oscilloscope instead of the Voltmeter

Voltmeters have an analog display and can be considered as old fashioned. It is quite hard to pinpoint the voltage at short intervals, so it is difficult to monitor the voltage using a voltmeter.

On the other hand, oscilloscopes have a digital display, and it shows us the instantaneous voltage per second.

These instant responses are moreover displayed in a graphical manner, which makes it very easy to follow or find a trend.

Some oscilloscopes have more than one channel so you can connect two or more devices at the same time and compare the results.

Click here to check budget oscilloscope review guide.

How to Measure DC Voltage Using the Oscilloscope

Below is the detailed procedure of how you can measure the DC voltage using an oscilloscope.

  • Turn the machine on.
  • In the front panel, there is a trigger section and switches labeled AUTO, NORM, etc. You have to switch on AUTO.
  • There is a horizontal section in the front panel. Among the many switches, there is a MAIN TIME/DIV knob. You have to set this to 0.1mS.
  • There is also a vertical section in the front panel with switches labeled as CH1, CH2, DUAL, ADD. Turn the switch to DUAL.
  • Around the CH1 (channel 1) area of the front panel, there are more switches labeled AC, GND, DC. You have to switch on the switch labeled DC.
  • Turn the CH1 VOLT/DIC knob to 1V.
  • Adjust the CH1 POSITION KNOB so that the trace is lined up at the bottom on the grid. You can see this happening on the screen as the green line will be moving as you adjust the knob. When it is at the bottom, we can say that it is the zero point for CH1.
  • Repeat the above steps for the CH2 (channel 2) area.
  • Finds the switches on the oscilloscope’s probes and set them to x1.
  • Connect the alligator clips on your circuit.
  • Decide the points on your circuit you want to measure the voltage from and connect probes there.
  • Measure the voltage fluctuations from the display.

Conclusion

You must remember that each square on the grid is 1cm, so it represents 1V as you have set it with CH1 VOLT/DIV knob.

So inside the square, the divisions will be 0.2V. If the voltage you are measuring is more than 8 volts, then the screen will go blank.

In that case, you have to set a larger voltage using the VOLT/DIV knob. You can work with negative and positive voltages by setting the zero points in a different way, one at the center and one at the bottom.

Matthew

Matthew

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