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Technical and scientific discussion of amps, cables and other topics.

RE: What to do with an Oscilloscope

"I mean, could I look at waveform distortion and really tell something about the circuit?"

Damn, that's a good question.

I can for sure and couldn't imagine being without one. BUT... transferring your question into another field, how about: "If I buy the $500 Craftsman tool set will I be able to fix the fuel injection on my car?"

The answer is the same for both: They are but tools. If you have the tools and know how to use them and understand the operational principles of what you are working on, then you can do stuff, if you lack any of the three, then probably not. That's just the way of it...

Nowadays most digital scopes also do FFT's (act like spectrum analyzers) and you will likely find that handy. As far as performance goes sample rate is the key issue. I recommend at least a GS/s which may seem over the top for audio but lot of things that matter are out-of-band. You will also need a stimulus so pick up a function generator at the same time.

IMHO an oscilloscope is absolutely the single most valuable and versatile piece of electronic test equipment extant. A DVM is number two, especially if you want to measure resistance and a spectrum analyzer usually third, except sometimes it's first...

Ultimately you really want all three, but if I could only have one, it would be a scope.

Unfortunately learning how to really effectively use them just isn't an intuitive joy for some folks, it sort-of depends on the bend of your mind whether they will seem intuitive or alien. For me it was love at first sight. On the other hand I built and fixed a lot of stuff as a kid with a 1000 ohms/volt meter, and a grid-dip meter, and a communications receiver...


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