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Oscilloscope and labscope

LAST UPDATED: May 2nd, 2020

If you are wondering which is better between lab scope vs oscilloscope, then maybe you just have come to the right place!

In this guide, you will better understand their key differences so you can choose the tool that best suits your needs.

Both devices are laboratory instruments. While a lab scope generally measures voltage and time, which is crucial when there is a rapid change in signal, an oscilloscope assesses the waveform of electronic signals.
As of now, you may still find it difficult to understand so just read on!

Lab Scope Vs Oscilloscope – Comparison 2020

Lab Scope Vs Oscilloscope

Lab Scope Overview

Lab scope is common equipment that you can find on test benches. In fact, this is widely used upon the invention of the cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology.

Anyway, it is very useful in solving complicated and tough electronic problems, that is why it is widely used in automotive diagnosis.
Here are some of the features of a lab scope:

Rapid Measurement of Voltages

Sometimes, a lab scope is compared to a two-dimensional voltmeter. However, the latter can provide accurate measurements when the level of voltage is steady. With a lab scope, you are capable of analyzing and measuring voltages that are rapidly changing.

So even if the signal changes a lot, you can still measure time and voltage on the display. Specifically, it can show you the current-voltage levels, changes in voltage, and frequency of the change.

More Functionality

Unlike traditional voltmeter, this device can provide not only two channels or input connections. In fact, some products in the market offer more. And in this case, it can manifest more traces of voltage at once.

Simplified Knobs

Switches and knobs may look confusing, especially if you have a general-purpose scope. But with this device, you can get simplified control so it won’t be hard for you to use it. Anyway, in a typical setting, you are only required to use about 3 or 4 knobs.

Recommended Lab Scopes to Buy

Recommended Lab Scopes to Buy

Well, there are lots of lab scopes that you can find in the market. If you want something that is of high-quality and of supreme functionality, then check on some of the best products below!

Autel 5.5mm Maxivideo MV400 Inspection Video Scope

Autel is well known for specializing in automotive inspection and calibration devices, and its expertise is very apparent in this unit.

This device allows you to record videos as well as capture still images and store them in the internal memory. You can also expand its data storage if you wish by inserting an SD card.

With this, you can easily find internal damages like bent valves from a broken timing belt. This can also assess the intake valves found at the back of your car for carbon buildup on direct injection engines. Much more, this comes with a sleek and lightweight design so you can quickly slip it into places that are hard to reach.

Also, it has a high-resolution LCD and a camera probe with a zooming capacity of up to 5 times. The camera probe further features a LED light so you can capture clear images even on dark corners and use the device with ease as well. However, some users would complain that the light emitted is not bright enough.

Anyway, data transfer is made easier via a USB connection. And it has a built-in rechargeable battery that can run up to 4 hours straight so you are sure that it can get the job done.
Well, it has all the features you’ll need to make inspections easier.

PROS

  • Powerful zooming capability
  • Compact design and easy to use
  • High-resolution display
  • Has rechargeable battery
  • Easy data transfer

CONS

  • LED light is not bright enough

Related Guide: Digital Oscilloscopes

Pico Technology TA167 Probe, Current, Oscilloscope

A current probe is important when measuring high-frequency currents that flow on wires and cables. It helps to properly terminate cable for less radiated emissions. Since this device can serve as a current probe, you can easily troubleshoot and fix various electrical as well as automotive problems.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer or an electronics hobbyist, this device will surely come in handy so you can bring this anywhere you go. Without a doubt, it is portable and compact. Also, it is easy to use and is designed to measure data with high accuracy.

Since this device is a dual-range current probe, it is capable of measuring both DC and AC signals with great resolution. This will further lead to improved accuracy in your measurements. Plus, it has a power-down feature to save battery life for longer use.

Well, its design can allow you to measure electric current without the need to break the circuit. And its range reaches up to 2000A, making it ideal for petrol and modern diesel engines with high capacity.

PROS

  • Powerful zooming capability
  • Compact design and easy to use
  • High-resolution display
  • Large current measuring range
  • Gets accurate measurements

CONS

  • Requires a laptop or PC

Steelman Pro SmartEAR 2 Sound and Vibration Detection Auto Diagnostics Tool Kit

This all-in-one kit can detect vibrations and noises and helps you diagnose all sorts of squeaks and clicks coming from your car. It has a lot of functions like detect fuel injector misfires, pinpoint noise in the chassis, and find loose bearing in AC compressor, just to name a few.

Moreover, the device is really simple to use; you can simply download the app and connect the device to your phone. After that, you just have to add the docking station clamps, and you’re ready to go.

It is designed to be lightweight and portable so you can bring this anywhere you go with ease and comfort. All the clamps are color-coded, so you can easily identify them.

Also, it can access an app to ensure that the device works well for free. You can also use this to any of your smartphones because it is compatible with iOS and Android, thus versatile enough for everyone’s use.

Much more, it is equipped with a total of six channels for noise reception, and you can easily name each channel for easier referencing. Well, you have the option to change the display of the sound output on your device from digital to analog.

Given all of its features, perhaps, this holds everything that you need!

PROS

  • Several noise channels
  • Easy to navigate interface
  • Can record tests
  • Isn’t affected by background noise
  • Allows easy data transfer

CONS

  • Requires a tablet or smartphone

PicoScope PP923 Standard Automotive Kit

This kit can easily diagnose problems in your vehicle with speed and accuracy. With this, you’ll be able to perform several functions and test several parts of your car like glow plugs, ignition circuits, fuel pumps, and fuel injectors, to name a few.

The device is very easy to use, and it comes with a free app that you can install on your laptop or PC. Its app has a user-friendly interface and is easy to navigate. This comes in a compact size, too, making it portable enough for everyday use.

It has four channels so that you can analyze and test several signals at the same time. The scope module also consists of a screen that displays your connection status and other necessary data. This will ensure that you get optimum functionality when using the device.

Well, such a tool offers extremely accurate data with a precision of 1 percent and a good resolution of 12 bits. More excitingly, it can also catch large signals. This is made possible by the huge memory buffer, which allows you to zoom in to the signal up to 200 times.

Also, you can always update your device for free, so you can use it for several years without being obsolete.

PROS

  • Great memory buffer
  • Highly accurate data
  • Free updates
  • Has user-friendly interface
  • Compact size and portable

CONS

  • Slightly more expensive

PicoScope PP924 Standard Diesel Kit – 4 Channel

This kit is specially designed for diesel engines and is ideal for measuring currents of starter motors in commercial vehicles. It allows you to measure current without the need to break the circuit.

With this, you can easily diagnose several parts of your car like the alternators, fuel pumps, and injectors. It has a high DC that can range up to 2000A. And, it also comes with four channels that can assess your current signal.

This device is very easy to use, and you can install the app for free on your PC or laptop. Well, it has an easy to navigate interface as well as other options that may be needed for performing several tests. You will be sure that it can give you accurate data to avoid unnecessary parts replacement for your car.

Since you will be using a laptop or PC for viewing the data, you can analyze different signals at the same time and not have the inconvenience of viewing all of it in a cramped screen. All the cables you need for connections to the device are properly color-coded for easier recognition.

It’s an all-in-one device, and it can help you troubleshoot any vehicular problem.

PROS

  • Very accurate data
  • Easy to use application
  • Can diagnose several parts of the car
  • Has free updates
  • High DC range

CONS

  • Limited to diesel engines

Oscilloscope Overview

Before you should opt for a certain oscilloscope, you need to know your purpose as well as where you will be using it. Maybe, you’ll use this at the customer site, beneath your vehicle’s hood, or the bench.

Wherever it may be, you have various options in the market that comes with different costs and specifications. Here are some of the features of an oscilloscope that you should look at:

Number of Channels

Normally, this device can provide you with up to 10 channels. Although a single channel can perform well, you still have to know the number of channels you want to display.

This is especially important if you want to have a faster diagnosis to ensure not only the existence of a signal but also its compliance with the standard range. Well, this factor is dependent upon your purpose.

Probes and Input Ranges

In buying one, you need to opt for a set that already comes complete so you can maximize application gadgets and input ranges. This means that if you want to use it for measuring the current signal or high voltage, you have to increase the input range of your device through a proper input probe.

Ease of use

Of course, just like any other tool, it is convenient to have something that is easy to use. Well, some oscilloscopes offer a memorize setup configurations or one-touch automatic setup so you can use them with ease.

Others already come with help systems, so you won’t have a hard time referring to the manual most of the time. Anyway, it is still advisable to check the manual regularly so that you will be aware of the sensitivity of the gadget.

Recommended Oscilloscope to Buy

Recommended Oscilloscope to Buy

If you’re an electrician or just fond of collecting tools, you probably need to own this device. Why? It has a variety of uses, such as the maintenance of laboratory work electronic equipment — just to name one! And there are more reasons why you should own one. Well, let’s find out which among these devices may suit you best.

Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E 200 MHz Dual Channels

This is designed with the newest technology that has a less noise feature making this an ideal choice to work with comfort. It has a vertical input range of 500 UV/div, a system that can be able to track and capture waveform in sequence mode of 400,000 frames/sec.

With the segmented acquisition (Sequence) mode, you are allowed to record up to 80,000 memory segments as well as playback triggered events through the history function. Its multi-language function and support allow anyone to understand the information indicated in the display.

Also, the record length is up to 14Mpts made possible by the Zoom technologies. With this, you can be able to capture sufficient signal, especially during low probability situations. At the same time, you can just focus on a particular area for monitoring or comparison purposes.

This is a user-friendly device, so you don’t need to be a pro to operate it. All you need is a little knowledge about the device to make accurate calculations and adjustments. Anyway, it has high-frequency support that allows you to repair even the most complex range of devices and at a scope with lower bandwidth.

More importantly, it is hard to find an affordable scope that offers 200MHz bandwidth. The good thing is that this device is not expensive at the same time made of high-quality!

PROS

  • Excellent sampling rate
  • User-friendly
  • Has multiple types of interface
  • 4 Mpts record length
  • Easy to use
  • Good performing dual channels
  • With standard serial bus triggers and decode

CONS

  • Limited only for dual channels
  • No HDMI for a larger display
  • Not suitable for logic analysis

Siglent SDS1104X-E 100Mhz, 4 Channels

This device has 4 channel scopes with 100 MHz bandwidth. Well, it is one of the most recognized products that can provide high-quality performance. Perhaps, this is because it comes with a 14 division signal grid as compared to other products available on the market.

Much more, it offers a sampling rate of 1Gs/sec that manages to see updates of the signal rate on your personal computer faster without any disruption. However, you are required to connect to a LAN. Anyway, it is just easy to set up, and there’s no reason for you to worry about it.

Furthermore, this has the lowest signal noise, so you won’t be annoyed when using this. Also, it can provide you with a solid performance, especially that it comes with great inclusions such as clean menu headings, pre-calibrated probes, and a cable.

This tool is duly powered by the Super Phosphor Oscilloscope technology and packed with more useful features that you will surely love. It can support HDTV, allow software monitoring, and more. Also, this comes with video triggers, “security erase” mode, and for added functionality!

PROS

  • High-quality performance
  • 4 channel scopes
  • Has a sampling rate for both 2 and 4 channels
  • With a built-in web server
  • powered by Super Phosphor Oscilloscope technology
  • Lowest signal noise
  • MSO capable
  • Supports the signal decoding
  • Large screen
  • Bode plot
  • Up to 14 Mpts record length

CONS

  • Fan produces a little noise
  • Be careful you might shift 1x to 10x

Rigol-DS1054Z 50 MHz, 4 channels

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro, this may be the device that you’re looking for especially when you have an interest in electronics. Well, this is not only inexpensive, but it is also designed for use at home or work!

This device is flexible enough to be used in capturing and recording electronic signals. Also, it is equipped with 4 channels display, various intensity, and mathematical functions to help you get the job done with ease.

Much more, the display has 64 shaded levels that provide bright intensity when showing the oscillating waves with a simple yellow block. It has several trigger modes as well as offers more fine details with a higher resolution display at 800 x 480 pixels.

Besides, it can focus on a particular area of the recorded waveform. This is for the comparison of various channel data that has very small details. Its bandwidth is 50 MHz, but you can upgrade it up to 100 MHz. Plus, it has a built-in memory of 24 Mbps.

PROS

  • Durable device
  • Has 4 channels
  • Horizontal and vertical measurement functions
  • Has triggers and storage features
  • Ability to quickly focus on the recorded waveform
  • The bandwidth can be upgraded
  • Highly portable

CONS

  • Requires further explanation especially for newbies
  • May experience UI lags
  • Disturbing noise
  • Low count FFT

Hanmatek DOS1102 110 MHz 2 Channels

This product has a dual-channel with a 110 MHz bandwidth, 1GSa/sec sampling rate. It is packed with U disk USB function, USB device, and host interface that can aid you in using and recording essential data needed in your work.

The 7 inches true color LCD screen with 800×480 pixel resolution allows you to monitor single or multi waveforms. It is designed to ensure a quiet operation so you won’t be bothered by the noise and focus on other tasks as well. Indeed, this is an energy saver device since it only consumes power less than 18W.

Much more, it has a built-in 6-bit hardware frequency meter — meaning to say, this product is capable of measuring 2Hz to 20 Mhz with current measurement function ranging from 100.0mA/V to 1KA/V. It has 30 kinds of automatic measurement functions that are connected with signal generators.

PROS

  • It has a 100 MHz bandwidth
  • USB and host interface
  • Built-in 6-bit hardware frequency meter
  • Ultra-Portable device
  • 2 channel digital oscilloscope
  • 7 inches TFT LCD device at 800 x480 resolution
  • Gsa Sampling rate
  • Supports lab view communication with the host computer

CONS

  • Quiet slow software
  • Scopes are low quality

SainSmart Mini DS0213 Handheld Mini

If you need a portable device so you can bring it anywhere you go at the same time to detect electric waves for work purposes; this product may be the best choice. Well, it is lightweight so it can certainly fit in your bag or even your pocket. You can always have this with you even if your work location changes from time to time.

This digital oscilloscope is the new version of DS0213 that is consists of 4 channels. It has an upgraded bandwidth of 15 MHz with a sampling rate of up to 100Msa/ s. Using this is very easy, in fact, it is made to be user-friendly. It just like using your smartphone!

It has a 3-inch display with a 400×240 screen resolution to monitor data with ease. Also, the results on the waveform are certainly reliable. With this, you are able to measure electronic current and identify malfunctioning devices.

PROS

  • Has 4 channels
  • Portable device
  • With upgraded bandwidth of 15 MHz
  • Sampling rate up to 100Msa/s
  • 400 x240 screen resolution
  • Highly functional
  • Easy to use
  • New version of SainSmart Mini DS0213
  • Lightweight device

CONS

  • Display may be smaller compared to others in the list
  • Has single probe

Lab Scope and Oscilloscope- Which One to Choose?

Both of them have their own unique features that may be ideal in getting your job done. A lab scope has more functionality, simplified knobs, and switches, as well as provide voltage measurements even when the voltage itself is rapidly changing.

On the other hand, an oscilloscope is not only easy to use, but it provides numbers of channels as well as various probes and input ranges. If you’re in doubt about which of the two instruments you’re going to use, the answer still depends on your needs.

In the first place, even if a certain product is of high-quality, there is still no use if you won’t be needing its function. So, in choosing between the two, ask yourself, “What do I need?”

Conclusion

If you are wondering which between the lab scope vs. oscilloscope is a good choice, then you should know where you will be needing the device.

Well, both devices are multi-purpose, so you can always count on them when it comes to automotive, telecommunications, engineering, medicine, and more!

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