oscilloscope

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oscilloscope

(əsĭl`əskōp'), electronic device used to produce visual displays corresponding to electrical signals. Displays of such nonelectrical phenomena as the variations of a sound's intensity can be made if the phenomena are converted into electrical signals. Originally, the display was formed by a moving dot on the screen of a cathode-ray tubecathode-ray tube
(CRT), special-purpose electron tube in which electrons are accelerated by high-voltage anodes, formed into a beam by focusing electrodes, and projected toward a phosphorescent screen that forms one face of the tube.
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. For most applications horizontal deflecting circuits move the dot in a repetitive cycle from left to right, and then, very quickly, back to its starting position to begin the next sweep. If during this process the vertical deflecting circuits move the dot up and down in response to the variations of the signal to be observed, a wavelike picture of the signal appears on the screen. Liquid crystalliquid crystal,
liquid whose component particles, atoms or molecules, tend to arrange themselves with a degree of order far exceeding that found in ordinary liquids and approaching that of solid crystals.
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 display screens are now also used, and the image is produced digitally. An oscilloscope is one of the most valuable tools of an engineer or electronics technician.

Oscilloscope

An electronic measuring instrument which produces a display showing the relationship of two or more variables. In most cases it is an orthogonal (x,y) plot with the horizontal axis being a linear function of time. The vertical axis is normally a linear function of voltage at the signal input terminal of the instrument. Because transducers of many types are available to convert almost any physical phenomenon into a corresponding voltage, the oscilloscope is a very versatile tool that is useful for many forms of physical investigation.

The oscillograph is an instrument that performs a similar function but provides a permanent record. The light-beam oscillograph used a beam of light reflected from a mirror galvanometer which was focused onto a moving light-sensitive paper. These instruments are obsolete. The mechanical version, in which the galvanometer drives a pen which writes on a moving paper chart, is still in use, particularly for process control. See Galvanometer

Oscilloscopes are one of the most widely used electronic instruments because they provide easily understood displays of electrical waveforms and are capable of making measurements over an extremely wide range of voltage and time. Although a very large number of analog oscilloscopes are in use, digitizing oscilloscopes (also known as digital oscilloscopes or digital storage oscilloscopes) are preferred, and analog instruments are likely to be superseded.

An analog oscilloscope, in its simplest form, uses a linear vertical amplifier and a time base to display a replica of the input signal waveform on the screen of a cathode-ray tube (CRT). The screen is typically divided into 8 vertical divisions and 10 horizontal divisions. Analog oscilloscopes may be classified into nonstorage oscilloscopes, storage oscilloscopes, and sampling oscilloscopes.

Analog nonstorage oscilloscopes are the oldest and most widely used type. Except for the cathode-ray tube, the circuit descriptions also apply to analog storage oscilloscopes. A typical oscilloscope might have a bandwidth of 150 MHz, two main vertical channels plus two auxiliary channels, two time bases (one usable for delay), and a cathode-ray-tube display area; and it might include on-screen readout of some control settings and measurement results. A typical oscilloscope is composed of five basic elements: (1) the cathode-ray tube and associated controls; (2) the vertical or signal amplifier system with input terminal and controls; (3) the time base, which includes sweep generator, triggering circuit, horizontal or x-amplifier, and unblanking circuit; (4) auxiliary facilities such as a calibrator and on-screen readout; and (5) power supplies.

Digital techniques are applied to both timing and voltage measurement in digitizing oscilloscopes. A digital clock determines sampling instants at which analog-to-digital converters obtain digital values for the input signals. The resulting data can be stored indefinitely or transferred to other equipment for analysis or plotting. See Voltage measurement, Waveform determination

In its simplest form a digitizing oscilloscope comprises six basic elements: (1) analog vertical input amplifier; (2) high-speed analog-to-digital converter and digital waveform memory; (3) time base, including triggering and clock drive for the analog-to-digital converter and waveform memory; (4) waveform reconstruction and display circuits; (5) display, generally, but not restricted to, a cathode-ray tube; (6) power supplies and ancillary functions. In addition, most digitizing oscilloscopes provide facilities for further manipulation of waveforms prior to display, for direct measurements of waveform parameters, and for connection to external devices such as computers and hard-copy units.

Higher measurement accuracy is available from digitizing oscilloscopes. The first decision to be made in choosing an oscilloscope is whether this or any of the other properties exclusive to the digitizing type are essential. If not, the option of an analog design remains. The selected instrument must be appropriate for the signal under examination. It must have enough sensitivity to give an adequate deflection from the applied signal, sufficient bandwidth, adequately short rise time, and time-base facilities capable of providing a steady display of the waveform. An analog oscilloscope needs to be able to produce a visible trace at the sweep speed and repetition rate likely. A digitizing oscilloscope must have an adequate maximum digitizing rate and a sufficiently long waveform memory.

Oscilloscope

 

a synonym for “oscillograph”. The term “oscilloscope” is chiefly used when the instrument is only employed for visual observation of electrical processes that vary rapidly with time.

oscilloscope

[ə′sil·ə‚skōp]
(electronics)

Oscilloscope

An electronic measuring instrument which produces a display showing the relationship of two or more variables. In most cases it is an orthogonal (x,y) plot with the horizontal axis being a linear function of time. The vertical axis is normally a linear function of voltage at the signal input terminal of the instrument. Because transducers of many types are available to convert almost any physical phenomenon into a corresponding voltage, the oscilloscope is a very versatile tool that is useful for many forms of physical investigation. See Transducer

The oscillograph is an instrument that performs a similar function but provides a permanent record. The light-beam oscillograph used a beam of light reflected from a mirror galvanometer which was focused onto a moving light-sensitive paper. These instruments are obsolete. The mechanical version, in which the galvanometer drives a pen which writes on a moving paper chart, is still in use, particularly for process control.

Oscilloscopes are one of the most widely used electronic instruments because they provide easily understood displays of electrical waveforms and are capable of making measurements over an extremely wide range of voltage and time. Although a very large number of analog oscilloscopes are in use, digitizing oscilloscopes (also known as digital oscilloscopes or digital storage oscilloscopes) are preferred, and analog instruments are likely to be superseded.

An analog oscilloscope, in its simplest form, uses a linear vertical amplifier and a time base to display a replica of the input signal waveform on the screen of a cathode-ray tube (CRT). The screen is typically divided into 8 vertical divisions and 10 horizontal divisions. Analog oscilloscopes may be classified into nonstorage oscilloscopes, storage oscilloscopes, and sampling oscilloscopes.

Analog nonstorage oscilloscopes are the oldest and most widely used type. Except for the cathode-ray tube, the circuit descriptions also apply to analog storage oscilloscopes. A typical oscilloscope might have a bandwidth of 150 MHz, two main vertical channels plus two auxiliary channels, two time bases (one usable for delay), and a cathode-ray-tube display area; and it might include on-screen readout of some control settings and measurement results. A typical oscilloscope is composed of five basic elements: (1) the cathode-ray tube and associated controls; (2) the vertical or signal amplifier system with input terminal and controls; (3) the time base, which includes sweep generator, triggering circuit, horizontal or x-amplifier, and unblanking circuit; (4) auxiliary facilities such as a calibrator and on-screen readout; and (5) power supplies.

Digital techniques are applied to both timing and voltage measurement in digitizing oscilloscopes. A digital clock determines sampling instants at which analog-to-digital converters obtain digital values for the input signals. The resulting data can be stored indefinitely or transferred to other equipment for analysis or plotting. See Voltage measurement

In its simplest form a digitizing oscilloscope comprises six basic elements: (1) analog vertical input amplifier; (2) high-speed analog-to-digital converter and digital waveform memory; (3) time base, including triggering and clock drive for the analog-to-digital converter and waveform memory; (4) waveform reconstruction and display circuits; (5) display, generally, but not restricted to, a cathode-ray tube; (6) power supplies and ancillary functions. In addition, most digitizing oscilloscopes provide facilities for further manipulation of waveforms prior to display, for direct measurements of waveform parameters, and for connection to external devices such as computers and hard-copy units.

Higher measurement accuracy is available from digitizing oscilloscopes. The first decision to be made in choosing an oscilloscope is whether this or any of the other properties exclusive to the digitizing type are essential. If not, the option of an analog design remains. The selected instrument must be appropriate for the signal under examination. It must have enough sensitivity to give an adequate deflection from the applied signal, sufficient bandwidth, adequately short rise time, and time-base facilities capable of providing a steady display of the waveform. An analog oscilloscope needs to be able to produce a visible trace at the sweep speed and repetition rate likely. A digitizing oscilloscope must have an adequate maximum digitizing rate and a sufficiently long waveform memory.

oscilloscope

an instrument for producing a representation of a quantity that rapidly changes with time on the screen of a cathode-ray tube. The changes are converted into electric signals, which are applied to plates in the cathode-ray tube. Changes in the magnitude of the potential across the plates deflect the electron beam and thus produce a trace on the screen

oscilloscope

A test instrument that is used to measure and analyze electronic signals (waves and pulses) displayed on its screen. The x-axis represents time, and the y-axis represents an instantaneous view of the voltage of the input signal. To allow viewing signals across a wide frequency range, the rate and speed at which the sweep of the x-axis occurs is configurable. The sensitivity of the inputs can also be configured to accept signals from microvolts peak-to-peak to many thousands of volts peak-to-peak.

Both analog and digital oscilloscopes are available. In an analog scope, the x-axis is controlled by an internal time base, and the y-axis is directly controlled by the input signal. In a digital model, the input voltage is sampled at a preset frequency. The x-axis represents the samples along a timeline, and the y-axis shows the voltage levels of each sample. See spectrum analyzer.


Using an Oscilloscope
Oscilloscopes are used to examine the voltages on circuit boards, radios, TVs and countless electronic devices. This one is being used to test chips after manufacture. (Image courtesy of VLSI Technology, Inc.)
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