2008

Oscilloscope Fundamentals

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The oscilloscope is arguably one of the most useful tools ever created for use by electronic engineers. In the more than five decades since the modern analog oscilloscope was created, hundreds of useful documents and thousands of articles have been written about what it is, how it works, how to use it, and application-specific examples of the “oscilloscope” in action. It is the purpose of this primer to instead describe digital oscilloscopes, which have for practical purposes replaced their analog predecessors in the vast majority of applications. Covered here is a short description of the oscilloscope’s origins, its transition from analog to digital, types of digital oscilloscopes and their major subsystems, key benchmark specifications, and measurements.

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