White Paper: Test & Measurement

Oscilloscope Fundamentals Primer


As with all electronic test equipment, digital oscilloscopes have an array of key specifications. Some are basic and easy to understand. Other specifications (which may have a greater impact on the accuracy of your measurements) are not as clear and are often dependent on the manufacturer.

This primer gives insight into the most important specifications to consider when using an oscilloscope — beyond the banner specs. It reviews the evolution of the instrument, from its origins, to its transition from analog to digital and describes the many different oscilloscopes to select from, depending on your design needs. Whether analog or digital, the oscilloscope’s capabilities are vastly greater than just measuring and displaying voltage.

Basic elements of oscilloscopes are reviewed such as vertical, horizontal, and display systems plus the different modes of this instrument and types of measurements. Also presented is insight on probes – the goal of which is more than just serving as an oscilloscope accessory. Rather, probes serve as the point of contact between the instrument and the device or circuit being measured, so their interaction with the oscilloscope has significant impact on the measurement.

Definitions of common key terms round out the scope of the white paper.

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