NerdKits - electronics education for a digital generation

You are not logged in. [log in]

NEW: Learning electronics? Ask your questions on the new Electronics Questions & Answers site hosted by CircuitLab.

Basic Electronics » Hardware/software oscilloscope?

October 01, 2011
by cyberion
cyberion's Avatar


I was wondering what some of my fellow NerdKit members thought about this product:

I just got my NerdKit earlier this week and completed the first project; I'm really looking forward to learning about electronics and embedded programming and already have a multi-meter but after reading alot of forum posts here decided that a 'scope would be a good thing to have to aid in my studying. I've always loved tinkering/fiddling/messing with stuff ever since I was a kid and have taken the plunge into electronics with the NerdKit and love it!!! (Thanks Mike & Humberto for making the NerdKit!!!)

Now of course I do realize that the biggest argument against it is that you need to connect it to a computer running the software provided to actually use it, but I'm going to be working on projects at my desk, and if need be, I can go portable with my laptop, so no problem there.

Thanks for any input on the product I linked here - I especially like the interfacing and logging capabilities to the computer - looks very nice, and the fact that it supports GNU/Linux, my preferred OS.

October 01, 2011
by dgikuljot
dgikuljot's Avatar

So i checked that link out and noticed that scope is $730!!!!!!!. I am not pro at electronics yet, but I think for 730 you could get a pretty good digitial scope

October 02, 2011
by cyberion
cyberion's Avatar

Hi gdikuljot - thanks for the response; I'm still looking into 'scopes, but what I really like about the BitScope is all of the software that you get with it and the fact that the software runs under Windows, Mac, and Linux. I have various laptops/desktops, with a mix of WinXP, Win7, Snow Leopard, and Arch Linux running so I really love the versatility and being able to choose what I need at the moment. As an example, I installed Fritzing on my Arch desktop last week after I got my NerdKit, and if I decide to work on some designs out at a friend's house, I can bring my MacBook Pro with me with Fritzing installed and just copy over the Fritzing project files to it and continue working on it, which is so handy. I'm trying as best as possible to use software which supports all three OS's so that I can have that versatility (with Linux being the most preferred OS for it's hobby-friendly virtues :).


October 11, 2011
by Vern
Vern's Avatar

My personal feelings are that a stand alone, portable, analog or digital scope would be preferred. Learn how to use a scope first. The more buttons and do-dads you have on a unit the less likely you will be to understand what you are seeing. Go to eBay and for $125 to $200 you will be able to get one hell of a scope!

Watch the max input on the computer scope. Exceed it and the $700 scope is toast or probably has to go back to the manufacturer to have the smoke put back in.

The Bitscope has all all of what is below and more. But this is what is essential.

Manufacturer: Tektronix (there is no substitute) HP ok. No Heathkit, Eico...

Dual trace

100Mhz (60 Mhz if you are on a budget)

Delayed sweep



Probes and manuals can be bought separately but its nice if they come with the unit.

Good luck. You can email me at


October 11, 2011
by cyberion
cyberion's Avatar

Thanks Vern for the tips.

I decided not to get a 'scope that requires a PC to 'see' the data since after some more researching, realized I might fry my computer so forget that. Plus I do see other less-costly 'scopes out there so I'll keep looking; I'll probably end up just getting something really cheap and basic to start out with for now, and get something better next year after I get more electrical/electronics knowledge and experience.

Thanks again,


October 11, 2011
by BobaMosfet
BobaMosfet's Avatar


Vern is on the right track. Here are two important things to keep in mind-

Try to get a scope that is atleast 5 times faster than the fastest signal you believe you will need it for- This is because the scope must slice time- if it isn't fast enough to slice the leading and trailing edges of analog signals (so you see them rise and fall), you won't see wave-forms accurately.

Secondly, The scope isn't everything- ultimately, it is the probe that comes between you and your work. The quality of the probe impacts what the scope sees, and how much of an impact the probe has on the circuit being measured (I won't bore you with the calculations).

Like vern, you will find a dual trace scope (at a minimum) exceedingly valuable. Again, like vern, I recommend Tektronix. An older scope is fine as long as it's still in calibration- the phosphor on the screen does not show a pattern when the scope is off, all the knobs and buttons are there and work, and it comes with 2 calibrated probes made for the scope.

Scopes measure voltage, nothing else. Bare that in mind. They are nonetheless invaluable, and a requirement if you are truly serious.

Don't be impatient, take your time. Expect to spend $300 to $700 (even used) for a quality scope that will last you. You won't regret it.

Best of luck to you,


October 19, 2011
by cyberion
cyberion's Avatar

Okay - I ended up getting an OWON PDS 5022S from Seemed like a decent deal, good to start out with - I am happy with it so far after learning how to use it over the weekend.

After LOTS of researching/reading/youtubing :-D (starting with the entire manual first before I even turned it on), I figured out how to use it, so I guess I'll post some pics of the waveforms.

This one shows the 14.75 Mhz crystal supplied with the NerdKit:


and here is an ASCII '1' being sent out the TXD pin of the ATMega 168:


So I'm happy to say I am learning, and glad that it does what I need for now. I know it's a low-end cheap 'scope at only 25 Mhz, but hopefully I'll get some good use out of it for a bit on the NerdKit (and Radio Shack Learning Lab, which I've actually had for several years now, but didn't stick with it - just seemed too much to learn at the time...) before I definitely upgrade (probably next year) to a better, pricier one. Thanks guys for the advice and tips!!


Post a Reply

Please log in to post a reply.

Did you know that you can connect a pushbutton to a microcontroller with only one wire? Learn more...