Oscilloscope Laboratory

A six hour course over two days.

Oscilloscopes are well known as highly versatile instruments, but some limited observations around TX/RX Labs indicate that many who try to use them do not have sufficient knowledge to use them effectively. This course aims at correcting that. Specific objectives are for students to learn:

  • Safety: potential hazards and how to avoid them.

  • What’s inside: general notions of how an oscilloscope produces a display (most details omitted).

  • Damage prevention: using an oscilloscope without damaging it or its accessories such as probes.

  • Probe adjustment: reducing the distortion of signals by probes.

  • Connection: minimizing the effect of probe attachment to circuits under test.

  • Single waveform display: setting controls for viewing and measuring various waveforms.

  • Multiple waveform display: observing and measuring the differences between two waveforms, including phase shift.

  • Interference reduction: arranging connections and controls to reduce noise, power-line interference and other interfering signals.

  • Oscilloscope limitations: understand signal range limits, bandwidth effects, accuracy, etc.

  • Calibration checking.

  • Something about different types of oscilloscopes. This is mostly a hands-on course, with some short lectures between laboratory sessions. Laboratory exercises are designed to illustrate a range of techniques and applications that is as broad as time permits. Examples are measurements of continuous signals such as sine waves, AM and FM signals, signals with pulses, and signals imbedded in random noise; observation of characteristic curves of two-terminal devices such as diodes; and application of delayed triggering to observe brief signal events. A handout will be available. Students may not be able to perform all of the laboratory exercises in the handout during class time, but should be able to do them at TX/RX Labs outside of class.

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