DSOs, MSOs, DPOs, oh my! and car repairs

Understanding different scope types is not unlike navigating a forest filled with lions, tigers, and bears. Every week I am asked why there are so many different categories and models of scopes and which one is best for a particular application. Sitting here at the shop waiting for my truck to be worked on, I thought it would be helpful to share with you the fundamental architecture of different scope types to help you determine the one that best meets your application.

Digital storage oscilloscopes

The conventional digital scope most of us are familiar with is known as a digital storage oscilloscope (DSO). Its display relies on a raster-type screen rather than the luminous phosphor found in an older analog oscilloscope. DSOs allow you to capture and view one-time transient events. Because the waveform information exists as stored binary values, it can be stored and analyzed within the oscilloscope. However, DSOs typically cannot express varying levels of intensity in the live signal. DSOs are ideal for single-shot, high-speed applications like high-energy physics phenomena or capturing multiple consecutive low-frequency modulation effects. In digital design, an engineer usually examines four or more signals simultaneously, making the DSO a critical companion.

To read the rest of this article please visit my Scope Guru on Signal Integrity Blog, on EDN’s site.

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