|Joel Probing a High Speed Serial Signal with a Tektronix BERTScope|
Most engineers don’t remember their first network analyzer, but they all remember their first oscilloscope. A first oscilloscope to an engineer is a rite of passage. Most people think of their childhood and remember their first kiss, their first beer, their first car. Engineers remember their first oscilloscope, and it always holds a special place in their heart (not to say we neglect the other firsts….).
Please add to the comments of this post and tell me about your first oscilloscope – even if it’s not Tektronix, I’d love to hear the story!
In the world of oscilloscopes, one company owns more than half the market and is about the oldest name in the industry, Tektronix. That is my company, and though my blog will be technologically focused (and not one big ad for Tektronix), I will often use Tektronix oscilloscopes for illustration due to the fact that they are the industry standard and I do work for Tektronix. Tektronix consistently leads the industry in bandwidth, noise performance, effective number of bits, and sampling rate. It is a technology driven company and that shows in the many products that have come out over the years. Other companies may occasionally beat Tektronix to a performance mile mark, but over the years, Tektronix stays consistently ahead as the market leader. In my humble opinion, Tektronix also understands how an engineer uses an oscilloscope and still has the best user interface in the industry.
|First Trigger Oscilloscope - Tektronix 511|
Rohde is a pretty exciting newcomer to the oscilloscope world. Rohde is a premier RF company based in Germany, and for years the Tektronix sales force established their name in the United States, primarily competing with the Agilent RF portfolio. Their relationship ended several years ago, and Rohde really only participated in the low end of the oscilloscope market through their Hameg oscilloscopes. Last year, Rohde made headlines with a new oscilloscope family going up to 2GHz. Key features they advertise are the digital trigger, fast update rate, rapid FFT processing (spectral analysis), and adjustable display grids. They are still a small player, but that could change in the future.
That’s the world of oscilloscopes, and I hope to blog at least once a week on a topic I find interesting, or one suggested to me by a customer or a reader. In the future, I plan to discuss what to look for in a new scope (bandwidth, sample rate, memory, ENOB, update rate, application support, probing, etc) and what to look for in a low-cost used oscilloscope. I hope to keep my blog applicable to a home hobbyist with a $500 oscilloscope and to a power-user designing PCI-Express Gen 3 interfaces, Wideband Satellite Communication, or Radar systems. I welcome comments as well, but please keep discussions civil.
As I said above, please fill in the comments of this article with some memories of your favorite first oscilloscope.