New Test Equipment

Posted: February 7, 2018 in Engineering, News

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I recently got a brand new oscilloscope and DC power supply for my home maker lab. These two tools enable me to analyze signals and power prototype circuits. These are also great instruments for any maker. Let me explain why after the break!

The Rigol DS1054Z is a 4-channel oscilloscope with a software-limited 50 MHz bandwidth and can be had for under $500. The hardware inside the instrument can easily handle 100 MHz and it can be unlocked with a code that can be purchased. It has multiple other features, like decoding of various communication signals. It comes with a trial of these, and it can be unlocked with a code. As of this writing, there are several websites that can generate the unlock codes. This scope is most popular due to this “hacking”, enabling additional features for no cost.

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The probes that come with the scope are cheap. You can see the probe in the picture above (black probe). While they work, there are better solutions out there. It does come with 4 probes, that can be set to 1X or 10X, and it is calibrated. I did have a couple of nicer probes from my old single channel scope. These probes (gray probe in photo) are noticeably better build quality and still offer the 1X or 10X. Overall I’m really happy with this scope and recommend it to any maker!

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The Rigol DP832 DC power supply is also a very handy maker tool. The power supply provides 3 isolated power rails: two 30V/3A rails and one 5V/3A rail. The isolated nature of each rail enables you to have a +/- 30V setup for amplifiers and processing other AC signals. Each rail can be programmed and individually controlled. Like the DS1054Z, this instrument also comes software limited. While the locked features of the power supply are less useful for many tasks, the added resolution or IO (including serial) can be helpful for automating some projects.

So far these two instruments only have a few hours on them as I am just getting things setup in my new maker lab/office. Like any tool, it takes some practice to become and expert and while I’ve had lots of experience with oscilloscopes and power supplies while at Rose-Hulman, these have a different user interface and take some time to become comfortable.

What does this mean for my blog? Well with these new tools, expect to see more electronics projects! I already used both the power supply and oscilloscope to try out some projects for an upcoming Arduino book review. Since these scopes are so popular, I’d love to hear tips, especially with the networking and USB control features!

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