An oscilloscope is a standard tool for the measurement of many electrical and electronic parameters like voltage and frequency in relation to time. Contrary to a digital multimeter, which only gives a quantitative value of the measured parameter, an oscilloscope shows the change of the parameter as a sequence in time. By observing the parameter curve it is very comfortable to detect error signals or disturbances. The selection of the right oscilloscope depends on the price, requirements, quality and sensitivity. Most types of oscilloscopes are able to measure more than one signal. This fact allows the comparison of signals and shows dependencies between signals. This helps to understand existing failures and false actions or conditions.
The above figureshows a Hameg oscilloscope, which shows several signals at the same time (here with special functions - several digital signals in combination with a communication bus interpreter). This combination allows to measure analog and digital signals together. Using the integrated logic analysis tool together with the bus interpreter it helps to understand the communication between different devices, control loops, control processes or problems and failures in a system. Some oscilloscopes are equipped with more features like interfaces to computers, memory and storage interfaces, signal processors and others. All this add-ons support the analysis of the developed system. Often digital oscilloscopes support FFT-analyses which enable to show the frequency composition and the proportions of a signal. This can be used to detect harmful external and internal influences. Modern oscilloscopes have an autosensing function in order to find the correct settings resulting in a useful signal on the screen. Usage An oscilloscope will be connected to the points of interest in an electronic circuit with a probe head. This probe head has a high resistance, so that the signal will not be disturbed. The point(s) where the probe head(s) will be connected depend on the parameter(s) to measure.