Another of the most invaluable pieces of equipment when working with radio circuits is the oscilloscope.
An oscilloscope is a piece of equipment allows you to visually see the electrical signal.
The oscilloscope can be thought of as a time machine, in that it allows you to capture very small slices of time and expand them into a waveform on a screen that would otherwise be impossible to view.
Some of the more elaborate ones may have a storage function present to capture the waveform.
An analogue oscilloscope displays the signal as it happens, because it doesn’t need to digitise the signal before displaying it on the screen, an analogue oscilloscope may be very marginally faster than a comparable digital model. This marginal speed difference is not perceptible to the human eye.
Modern instruments are mainly digital, this can be both a blessing or a curse.
The advantages of a digital oscilloscope are that they can capture single waveforms and store them for later analysis. I have a Hantek DSO5102 digital scope.
The downside of a digital instrument is that the response time, and thus the speed at which signals can be accurately measured and displayed, is dependant on the maximum sampling rate of the main processor and available internal sampling memory.
Of course, modern processing power is very fast, therefore in most day to day uses this limitation causes no problems. It is only in the extreme laboratory uses where it could be cause for concern.
The Tektronix TDS 320 is an early (first introduced way back in 1994) digital storage scope.
Because of it’s age, the response time can seem slow when compared to modern machines. However, it does have a very handy “Autoset” function.
The “autoset” function allows you to press a button and the instrument will adjust it’s operating parameters to give the best display of the signal under test.