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Explains what an oscilloscope is and how one is used.

What is an oscilloscope?

An oscilloscope is a device that measures and displays voltages as a time versus voltage graph. The voltage difference between the positive and negative probe leads is measured, buffered, and displayed on the screen as a continuous curve.Because the quality of the scope affects how finely it can resolve changes in time and voltage, very sensitive or small signals may not be measurable with all oscilloscopes.For most educational purposes, however, an average oscilloscope will display the signal well enough.

Oscilloscopes are generally used to see if a circuit is performing as expected, but oscilloscopes are also useful for comparing different signals to each other.Comparisons and absolute measurements are made by comparing the signal to the graph on the display.

Oscilloscope controls

The most common oscilloscope controls are for amplitude, frequency, triggering, and signal comparison.

The amplitude adjustment of an oscilloscope controls how tall a given voltage will appear on the screen. Usually the screen will be marked off with horizontal lines to indicate the signal's voltage.The absolute voltage per horizontal line is adjustable. Thus, if the amplitude is set to 1V/ then each block a signal is tall is 1 V.The purpose of this adjustment is that you can see a very large or a very small signal on the same screen.

The time adjustment of an oscilloscope is how much time will a certain distance across the screen represent. The vertical lines most oscilloscopes have are the standard distanceand the knob or screen indicator will describe how time that distance represents. The purpose of this adjustment is to be able to see a very quickly changing or a slowly changing signal on the same screen.

Triggering refers to the means by which the oscilloscope selects the exact moment to display on the screen. Because electrical signals often change far faster than a human being could observe them, it is necessary to onlydisplay a small sampling of the signal. If a signal has a repeating pattern, then the pattern will be repeatedly shown on the screen so that it can be viewed continuously.If the signal does not have a regular pattern then the oscilloscope will have trouble choosing the best moment to refresh the display. In this case, you will need to set up a trigger so that the oscilloscope can freeze the screen at the right time.Trigger controls allow for conditions such as an upward edge of a signal, a voltage glitch, or a voltage threshold. Trigger controls can also allow for the display refresh to occur after a time delay from the time of the trigger event.You should adjust thee triggering of an oscilloscope if the signal seems to be sliding left and right on the display or changing too fast to be seen.

Because many oscilloscopes allow multiple signals to be compared at the same time, it is necessary to have controls to handle the display of these signals. The most basic control is the ability to turn off the channels that are not in use to avoid useless cluttering of the display screen.Oscilloscopes also allow for two different channels to be compared by displaying the additive difference between them instead of the signals individually. Usually different signals can also be displayed with different amplitude adjustments, but they require the same frequency adjustment.Finally, if special triggering conditions are used, the trigger system will ask for which channel should trigger the display.

Hazards to avoid

Triggering is probably the trickiest skill to acquire. Generally, adjusting the voltage level for the default trigger will fix most triggering problems on analog signals.For more complicated observations, the most useful tool in triggering is a time delay. While exact moment of the signal that is interesting to you may not be easy to trigger on,often this moment occurs at a fixed time offset from an event that is easy to trigger on. Try finding a signal transition or voltage threshold that stabilizes the display,then adjusting the time delay to observe your signal.

It is important to ensure that both probes the positive and negative leads of the probe are attached to the device. Usually the negative lead can attach to the ground plane of the device,

Oscilloscope probes must be attached to the signal being measured and to the ground plane of the circuit too.Noise is introduced if both probes are not properly attached to the device.

It is also important to note that the probe itself has a 1M ohm resistance. This means that from most digital circuits, the probe will not draw any significant power.However if you are trying to measure voltage from a node between two 10M ohm resistors, it would drop the voltage by about half! The lesson is that you will sometimes need to be aware of how the probe affects what you are measuring. Finally the capacitance and inductance of the probe itself can affect finely tuned analog signals.Very high speed signals (approaching 100MHz) can be very difficult to measure with an oscilloscope.

Questions & Answers

How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
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Source:  OpenStax, Microcontroller and embedded systems laboratory. OpenStax CNX. Feb 11, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10215/1.29
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