Engineers, automotive mechanics, electronics repair technicians, physicists, computer professionals, and medical researchers often need to use the best handheld oscilloscope for various reasons. An oscilloscope is an electrical measuring equipment that is used to analyze a signal’s waveform. Usually, this device draws a graph of the immediate signal voltage as a function of time. There are different types of oscilloscopes, but they all function by displaying the pulsating direct current or alternating current waveforms that have a frequency as low as 1Hz to as high as a couple of megahertz. This device shows the voltage on a vertical scale, while time is displayed on the horizontal scale.
Currently, there are many brands in the market, and finding the right one for your needs can prove to be a little difficult. This is mainly because each device has distinct specification and price alike. Consequently, you need to make a couple of considerations to ensure that you get an oscilloscope that will deliver flawless performance. If your work involves moving from one location to another often, we advise you get yourself a handheld oscilloscope. This article will carry out a comprehensive review of ten pf the best handheld oscilloscopes that you could get yourself.
Advantages Of The Best Handheld Oscilloscope
Below are the numerous advantages of using a handheld oscilloscope to analyze various electrical signals.
• Precision control
An oscilloscope is designed with numerous controls and knobs that allow you to accurately control both the shape and size of the waveform. If you are well conversant with how an oscilloscope operates, you are able to isolate and locate other signals that may be interfering with the specific circuit you are testing. This allows you to produce better readings.
• Allows real-time analysis
One of the major advantages of an oscilloscope is that it displays the waveform in real time. The waveform is displayed on the screen that a handheld oscilloscope is fitted with. This is an effective feature in testing and diagnostics because it allows you to calculate the frequency of a particular signal immediately. What’s more, an oscilloscope displays the waveform immediately you plug it into a power source. This quality not only allows you to assess the resistance but also to establish the voltage.
• Identifying any interference/ signal noise
A device is only as good as its effectiveness. A handheld oscilloscope has a high sensitivity to any interference resulting from other circuits. With vast practice, you are able to filter or isolate any interference using the controls of your oscilloscope. However, you need to know that isolating this interference takes a significant amount of time.
• Has advanced DSP algorithms
A handheld oscilloscope includes advanced DSP algorithms that allow you to analyze high-frequency transients.
How to Choose The Best Handheld Oscilloscope
When looking for the best handheld oscilloscope today, you might be overwhelmed by the many brands available in the market. As a result, you cannot just go to a retailer and select the first product you see. There are a couple of things you have to keep in mind, most of which are related to quality. You want to get an equipment that will deliver optimum functionality at a desirable cost. That said, here is what you need to look for when purchasing an oscilloscope.
One of the major features to look out for in an oscilloscope is its bandwidth. This is the maximum frequency of signal that is able to pass through the front-end amplifiers. It is advisable to buy an oscilloscope whose bandwidth is five times higher than the maximum frequency that you want to measure. This ensures that you get the most accurate results.
Another important feature to look out for is the sampling rate of the oscilloscope. Most oscilloscopes have two distinct sample rates or modes. These are Equivalent-time Sampling (ETS) and real-time sampling (RTS). The sampling rate is normally specified in mega-samples per second (MS/s) or giga-samples per second (GS/s). Ensure to check the specifications on an oscilloscope to know the type of sampling it applies to.
More often than not, manufacturers list the higher specification to give their products better ratings. You need to know that ETS only works when the signal you’re analyzing is stable and repetitive. It works by building up a waveform from successive acquisitions. If the signals you’re measuring are mainly transient or varying, you can only use RTS sampling. Ensure to get an oscilloscope with a sample rate that suits your needs.
It is also imperative to check the memory depth of your oscilloscope.
Memory depth = sample rate × time across display.
Usually, an oscilloscope stores captured sample points in memory. The bigger the memory, the longer the device can store a memory before dumping it. For more effectiveness in your operations, you should settle for an oscilloscope with sufficient memory depth.
Resolution and accuracy
Measuring electronic signals requires precision, which is mostly determined by the resolution of your oscilloscope. Since a handheld oscilloscope is designed to measure digital signals, it should have an 8-bit resolution. An oscilloscope with a high resolution has more accurate measurements of 1 percent or more. Most 8-bit oscilloscopes are designed to deliver 3 to 5 percent accuracy.
The number of channels on the oscilloscope you get should be determined by what you intend to use it for. A 2 or 4-channel oscilloscope can be enough for your applications. However, if you intend to use it for more advanced operations, a mixed-signal oscilloscope (MSO) is better because it has 2 to 4 analog channels plus 16 digital channels for logic timing.
The oscilloscope you get should have probes that match or exceed its bandwidth. Keep in mind that some manufacturers cut corners in regard to oscilloscope probes. If you are measuring high voltages, get a device with a differential isolated probe. For fast signals, however, get an active FET-amplifier probe.
The Ten Best Handheld Oscilloscope Reviews
If you are an electrical engineer who travels a lot, you might consider equipping yourself with the Owon HDS1021M. This is a portable, single-channel, digital oscilloscope with a bandwidth of 20 MHz. You can use it to measure AC & DC voltages of up to 400V and AC & DC currents of up to 20amp.
It has an excellent design with a 3.5-inch TFT-LCD screen that allows you to view different waveforms and measurements easily. The Owon HDS1021M Oscilloscope is also built to meet EN 6010-1:2001 safety standards. It also has a sample rate of 100 MS/s with a record length of 6,000 points. Interestingly, operating it is not as hard because it features control buttons. This oscilloscope is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It measures resistance up to 40 MΩ and measures a maximum capacitance of 100 μF.
• It has a good battery life.
• It includes accessories.
• Its casing is protected with a cover.
• It has a nice color screen.
• It is portable.
• There is no customer support
• The voltmeter is a bit flawed
If you are looking to spend less on a handheld oscilloscope, the Quimat DSO138 might just be the right choice for you. This device comes assembled, implying you can start using it immediately after unboxing it. It has a simple and reliable circuit, which makes it ideal for training. Moreover, it has an analog bandwidth of 0-200KHz, a maximum sampling rate of 1 MS/s, and a record length of 1,024 points. This device is designed with a 2.4” TFT-LCD screen. Some of its most outstanding features are the instructions it comes with and source codes that allow you to add your own features.
• The oscilloscope is affordable.
• It comes fully assembled.
• The device is easy to use.
• It includes a USB port that allows you to update the firmware.
• It is functional and accurate.
• The device doesn’t come with a test pin
• Mostly suitable for beginners
Any technician can rely on this ergonomically designed oscilloscope with an analog bandwidth of 8MHz and a sample rate of 72 MS/s. This device is built with a 3-inch color TFT-LCD screen that has a resolution of 400 x 240 pixels.
It is also designed with buttons to deliver seamless operations, and it has an 8M USB disk that enables it to store upgrade firmware and waveforms. The SainSmart Mini DSO203 is powered by a 1000mAH rechargeable battery, and it includes a USB port for charging. Moreover, it comes fitted with a square/sine/ triangle/sawtooth wave signal generator.
• The device gives you an excellent value for your money.
• It is easy to use.
• The device is small and compact.
• You can improve its operations with user-created applications.
• A bit slow in displaying the events
• Its quality control is poor
• Finding updates is not easy
Engineers and technicians that are looking for a digital oscilloscope might consider settling with this portable equipment that has a stylish and ergonomic design. You can view waveforms on this device through its sizeable LCD display with a resolution of 128 x 64. Usually, it utilizes a high-speed AD sampler to convert the input analog signal into a digital signal.
This single-channel oscilloscope is powered by a 3.7V lithium battery, and it has a bandwidth of 25MHz and a sampling rate of 100 MS/s. Its precision is enhanced by the 6000-count chip. Additionally, it has a high-speed comparator that delivers a good edge trigger to stabilize the display.
• It is portable.
• The device has an excellent battery life.
• It is well priced
• The oscilloscope comes in a sturdy construction.
• It is accurate.
• Functions are a bit hard to reach
• It doesn’t store waveforms
This device has an excellent bandwidth of 200 MHz and a real-time sampling rate of up to 1 GS/s. Fitted with numerous knobs and buttons, you can rely on this tool to perform just about any task. Moreover, it has a record length of up to 1 Mpts, which allows you to record more signals. The Siglent SDS1202X-E is also fitted with a color temperature display with 256-intensity grading that allows you to identify events that occur frequently and those that are less frequent. What’s more, it has a serial bus decoding function, and a history function that allows you to read recently triggered events. The memory depth of this device is also impressive.
• It comes with an excellent bandwidth.
• The device has excellent functionality.
• It has a good memory depth.
• The oscilloscope boasts of a sturdy construction.
• It is pricey
This affordable oscilloscope comes with a 2.4-inch color TFT display to allow you to view waveforms with ease. It has an analog bandwidth of 0-200KHz and a sampling rate of 1 MS/s. It is designed with auto, normal, and single trigger modes, which enable it to capture waveforms easily. Other important features include the ARM Cortex-M3 processor and the protective case. Moreover, it displays waveform parameters like period, frequency, duty ratio, pulse width, and MAX/MIN/AVG/Peak-Peak/virtual values.
• It is affordable
• It includes a protective casing
• The device has a hold function
• It does not include a 9V power supply.
This device is designed for technicians who love stylish designs on his/her equipment. It is small and compact for easier portability, and you can rely on its color display with a resolution of 320 x 240 to view waveforms. Its operation is quite simple as it only has one button with a touch area. It is operated with gestures of one-click, double-click, press, and slide. It also includes an 8M memory card, and it has an analog bandwidth of 1MHz and a sample rate of 10MHz.
• It is portable.
• It’s available at a competitive price.
• Its design is stylish.
• It can be used in a variety of applications.
• It doesn’t include a manual.
Whether you deal with electronics maintenance, academic experiments, or electronic engineering, you can rely on this portable device for all your signal testing needs. Featuring a stylish design, this 2-channel digital oscilloscope is also portable. It has a 320 x240 color display, and it supports SD card and USB flash disk storage. It is powered by chargeable lithium batteries and supports USB charging. Its operation is easy as it includes only one button with a touch area.
• It is priced fairly.
• It features an ergonomic design.
• The device is small and compact for easier portability.
• It is rechargeable.
• Its accuracy is questionable
• It has a poor user interface
The device comes in a large rectangular housing and includes a 2.8-inch display screen for easier visibility. Interestingly, it comes with a built-in flash disk that you can use to read and save waveform images. It comes in an ergonomic design with its buttons on the side. It allows you to store files in different formats – BMP, BUF, DAT, or CSV.
• It has a compact and lightweight design.
• The device can store files in different formats.
• It includes accessories – protective bag, paper manual, and micro USB cable.
• It has a fairly large display screen.
• The oscilloscope has a good battery life.
• The manual is not well written
This device has an 8MHz bandwidth and a sampling rate of up to 40 MS/s. It is an RMS multimeter for current, voltage, resistance, duty cycle, capacitance, and diode test. Moreover, it is double insulated and protected against overcharges.
This oscilloscope is designed with a 60mm mono LCD display with a 160 x 160 resolution to display measurements. It also has a backlight display for better visibility and full icons display. An interesting feature on this device is its automatic mode.
• It is portable.
• The device is easy to use.
• It gives users an exceptional value.
• Its update is a slow.