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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oscilloscope - Owon SDS7102 DSO

I just received my new toy : a Digital Storage Oscilloscope

I am not an expert in oscilloscopes, I know how to use them for the basic functions (which is what I need), I never owned one  until today even if I used a few in some labs.
I bought an Owon 100MHz double channel 1G/s, the SDS7102, after comparing a few models.



I cannot provide an in-depth review here because I received it about two hours ago (will record a quick review video soon for this), instead I want to talk a bit about the user interface.
I am extremely happy with the user interface of this toy, that's the main reason I chose it.

The key spec that made me chose this model is it's screen.
That might sound silly to you, but you probably can understand better my choice if I tell you that my eyes have serious troubles.
A big, highly readable screen is for me the difference between being able or not to use an instrument.

The SDS7102 features a 8" TFT screen 800x600  while most of its competitors (in the same price-range) feature a 5.7" 320x400 or 7" widescreen with a slightly higher resolution (still lower than 800x600).

Unfortunately my eyes are doomed to get worse and worse in the next years, at a point where even a 8" screen might prove to be "small".
And this is where this DSO helps me out a lot : it has a (S)VGA output, I can connect it to a 37" TV set!
How cool is that?!
I did not see any other scope (but they might exist even in this price-range) with this feature.

I have been reading, before my purchase, some reviews from experienced users, comparing this model mainly to Atten or Rigol scopes.
There seems to be a consensus on the fact that regarding the screen there is no match : the Owon wins.

About the firmware and especially how it handles the user interface, some were not really happy with the Owon.
I cannot argue as they are way more experienced than myself, plus I never used a Rigol or Atten, I can only say that, despite being a total noob, I immediately figured out how to work with the two channels, how to do measurements, zoom, pan, operate the trigger, activate the FFT mode, enable the external VGA etc... took me about 5 minutes without reading the manual (still sealed :) ).

I can agree that the look and feel of the graphical interface may not look really "elegant", but it  feels really snappy with no fancy "slow transitions".
That actually works a treat for me : there is a lot of space on the screen and each item has its proper space around.

"Elegant" interfaces use "smoother" colors and typically pack a lot of information in small spaces.
This one really reminds the good old CGA colors (although it is not THAT ugly:) ) , if you are old enough to remember that technology, you probably remember the cyan/magenta "bird sized" pixels.
I hate elegant interfaces for that exact reason : too many colors and poor spacing mess up with my eyes a lot.
High contrasting colors make it easier to take precise measurements I believe, on that I think the Owon is a real winner.
On the 37" TV set it is amazing, probably an overkill, but still does not pixelate too much thanks to the 800x600 resolution.
Plus, I guess nobody can get geekier than hooking the DSO to the stereo output in the living room and outputting the two channels on the TV, maybe in a PIP rectangle :)

Anyhow, a few general specs can be found here : http://www.owon.com.cn/eng/smartDS.asp

Will probably post a video in the next days.

update : you can see it in action here :


2 comments:

akis said...

There is a very good chance that your OWON is broken, it cannot display low amplitude signals. The problem is contamination with noise coming from the internal PSU mains or powered, does not matter. A year later I am awaiting to receive a replacement PSU and adapter board from the manufacturer, or a replacement scope if lucky.

Francesco Agosti said...

Uhm, mine seems to work fine actually, did not notice any issue with low amplitude signals (did you set the probe properly? I sometimes touched the probe 10x switch by mistake...)