Basics of Digital Oscilloscope

The oscilloscope is an electronic graph displaying device which plots electrical signals against time. In this article, you'll:

  1. Learn how it works
  2. Be introduced to the parts
  3. Learn to use it for your projects

How Oscilloscope works?

The working of the oscilloscope is very simple. You simply apply the analog input signal. The internal circuitry process it and converts to digital form. It is finally displayed on the screen. All devices come with a probe which connects with electrical components.


Let's start our learning from the model of scope. To avoid complexity and for sake of learning our Engineers have designed a very simple model.
There are three blocks on the oscilloscope. The left one is the display screen where the output is displayed. The upper right block is for time setting, and the bottom left represents two channels.

Before diving next, you should learn at least one basic definition and that is per division.

What is Per Division?

The display screen of the oscilloscope is main output on which the output signals are displayed. The layout screen is divided into number of blocks. Each block is a division whose value is adjusted from the div buttons.
Time/div is used to select the value of horizontal box, whereas volts/div selects the value of the vertical box.

Time/div & Volts/div setting

Once can easily select the value of horizontal and vertical boxes by using the time per div and volts per div setting of the oscilloscope. To understand this let's consider two examples.

Example 1: In the first case, we see that both scales are arranged at one. As previously explained the horizontal box represents the time/div, a setting of 1 represents that each horizontal box has value 1. For example, if the scale is set to µ second, it means one horizontal box represents 1 µ second. Similarly, the value of vertical box can be settled from volts/div button. A value of represents that each vertical box is 1 volt.

Example 2: In the image below the time/div is set at 2. Now on the horizontal side, a box represents 2 seconds (microsecond, milli second) or any other value. On the other hand, volts/div is set at 0.5. Each vertical box is now set for 0.5 V. Now two boxes will contribute to give 1 volt.

What you should know before using Oscilloscope in our projects?

You can simply use the oscilloscope with the knowledge provided here. All you need is to connect the probes and input to the channel. For expanding your knowledge of Oscilloscopes you can check the full tutorial here.

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