Oscilloscope Software

Written by Patty Yu
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All types of electronic equipment can be categorized as either analog or digital, which means oscilloscope kits are categorized in the same way. Analog devices work with continuously variable voltage signals, while digital devices utilize binary numbers that represent voltages. Both analog and digital oscilloscopes read voltage waves and describe the waveform by drawing a graph.

Digital Oscilloscopes

The digital oscilloscope is categorized further as digital storage oscilloscopes, digital phosphor oscilloscopes, and sampling oscilloscopes. The digital storage oscilloscope is the most conventional digital oscilloscope, which uses a raster screen instead of a phosphor screen (used by analog and digital phosphor oscilloscopes).

With digital oscilloscopes, voltage is measured and converted into digital information via an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Information about the waveform is collected as a series of samples and stored until there is enough information to describe the waveform on the oscilloscope's screen. Digital oscilloscopes are able to capture transients on record, which analog oscilloscopes cannot do.

Since digital oscilloscopes are able to store information about a waveform as a series of binary values, the information can be examined and processed after the the signal disappears. The data can be archived, printed, and analyzed either on the oscilloscope or with an external computer. Further processing and examination is often performed on an external personal computer (PC) with special software. Different software may allow designers to perform applications that reveal important information about how signals interact.

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