An automotive Oscilloscope is a highly sensitive voltmeter.It is often used to troubleshoot inconsistencies or potential problems in a communication data stream, the ignition system, solenoids, sensors and actuators among others.
In other words, oscilloscopes, in general, allow you to quickly locate any issue in your vehicle’s main systems. If you are looking to own the best automotive oscilloscope in the market, then you need to know a few important details about this device.
A good quality car oscilloscope would be easy to use and accurate in pointing you to where exactly to check in case your car is having some operational hitches.
However, on the other hand, most low-quality scopes may not offer the fine details that are essential in revealing the actual root of the issue, which means you’ll have to double-guess.
There’s a wide range in size, usability,and collection of these devices in the market that it can be extremely hard to tell what brand of vehicle oscilloscopes are the most reliable from those that are not.
We have put in lots of efforts in doing extensive research on the topic to help you make a well-informed decision in this. Have you been on the hunt for a reliable guide to help you choose the most reliable oscilloscope, then you are reading the right post.
Key things to Consider When Choosing the Right Automotive Oscilloscope
The first thing to be conscious of if you are looking forward to owning an automotive oscilloscope is defining how exactly you intend to use it. We have different brands, quality, and sizes of this device; some are better used under the hood, others on a bench and others at a client’s site if you are a mobile mechanic.
Again, these diversities are just part in a list of factors that do dictate the type of device you choose. For more information on that, below are some of the factors that should help you narrow down to the automotive oscilloscope that best meets your need.
Analog vs. Digital Storage Oscilloscope
There are two major categories of scopes, analog which is the old type model.Now, despite being as effective as basically required,non-digital scopes have limited functionality. The second category as you can already tell is called the digital storage oscilloscope.Technically this is the improved version of the oscilloscopes technology.
Digital scopes are replacing the analog and constitute most of the latest gadgets in the market. Experts across board find the new gadgets better in terms of improved functionality and ease of use, and accuracy in detecting signal faults.
How Many Channels Suite Your Need
The other key feature to look into, which also affects functionality is the number of channels the product has. This can vary from a single channel up to ten channels, all of them with different unique uses. From the general point of view, a single channel oscilloscope can do most of the basic tests for people who want to do a quick signal check.
However, for ideal readings from say, crankshaft/camshaft association, checking voltage outage from sensors, thermistor, and examining throttle position, a two-channel scope going up would work prettier.
Technically, the more channels the device has, the more precise the details it gives. For instance, if you are facing a crank no start issue and want to diagnose the ignition system into details, you will find oscilloscopes that have four channels going up to ten more helpful.
Ease of Use
For detailed results, you will have to be able to do some set-ups to help target certain parameters that you want to check with your scope. As such, always pick the device that provides ease of use without forcing you to constantly refer to the manual guide. Some brands of oscilloscopes have tried to simplify this with a single automatic touch setup from previously memorized configurations.
Still, on the same, some brands have a special adjustable knob that automatically detects changes in trigger level, position, time-base speed, and vertical sensitivity. The point here is, to be able to save on time and eliminate hustle. So be sure to hunt for an automotive oscilloscope that is easy to use.
What amount of signal frequency do you expect would be during the tests? Once you are conversant with the bandwidth range, the general advice is that your scope’s front-end amplifier should have a much superior capacity to accommodate the signal passing through it.
That is, search out to get the bandwidth specifications about the product you intent to consider. The universal advice on that again is, you require a five times bandwidth capacity to successfully and accurately measure most signals in a car.
Does the Oscilloscope Brand Allow Range Extensions?
You can easily identify a good scope option by looking at what the manufacturer offers as additional product accessories. With more choices of probes and input ranges provided by a brand, you will be able to increase the usability of the application gadget by increasing the input ranges.
That allows you to be able to perform higher current and voltage diagnosis in car parts such as the injectors; and the two levels of ignition – both the secondary and primary ignition with guaranteed and more accurate outcomes.
Consider Functionality Triggering
To be able to have full control of the signal, go with an automotive oscilloscope with functional triggering. With this type you will be able to practically view the signals as well as be able to set broader boundaries on the monitoring scream if you want to achieve a better response.
Top 5 Best Automotive Oscilloscope
After considering all the key factors that narrow to the most reliable oscilloscope and from our compare and contract research experience, we have managed to pick the 5 best scopes that the market has to offer. However, each product has its special strengths that make it unique from the rest, check them below:
This series of Rigol oscilloscope is in the category of digital scopes,but it comes with4 analog channels which makes it compatible with different car models. It captures upto 30,000 wfms per second, which is one of the functionalities that gives it an upper hand over its counterparts.
Looking at its shape and size it is easy to tell that this device was created to deliver multiple results in a compacted high-resolution 7-inch display screen.Its visibility is loveable, and most folks in the reviews agree that reading doesn’t get distorted even if looked from different angles.
The maker of this device makes it easy to transfer generated data through a provided USB port. It’s complex but that is what makes it give high-end results.Its quality of being long-lasting is not questionable as it is covered by a heavy-duty case, making it scratch and damage-resistant. No information gets lost in the process of saving.Nonetheless to avoid the stress of having to reset the device afresh, it is good that you are careful not to drop it as that may trigger the need to configure it afresh.Below is summary of both negative and positive feedbacks given related to this scope.
- A high portent and reliable meter
- Has a stable capture rate of 30,000wfms
- Allows memory upgrade from 12-24mpts
- Easy to use and transfer data through USB
- The four channels are a plus to its functionality
- Has a clear 7-inch display that most people comment to like
- Some people claim it is slow when saving files.
- First-time users may find it complicated to use.
Also digitally powered, this scope by Siglent technologies features two channels that are multi functional, in that, you can use the product not only for current wavelength tests but many other things. It can be used to check assembly lines, sample rate testing at 500MS/s per channel, electrical servicing, and repair and as an educational tool in electrical engineering field.
It is used to generate detailed wave forms, offers good quality resolution display and triggers Isolation specific signals. The device has been upgraded and now supports LAN interfaces, USB input and output. It doesn’t have an HDMI port, but does have a highly visible screen. It is multipurpose, can be used in electrical debugging and design, product quality check, and inspecting instantaneous signals. Top on that, besides the menu you can always refer to the manual for other settings.
Another key feature is it supports USB-TMC and SCPI protocol and programming languages, which makes it easy to use during application. In my research for the oscilloscope, I must say this product, despite being a two channeled scope has a lot one can do with. A summary of customer reviews:
- Has a wide range of application
- It is lightweight and super portable
- Has a high-resolution LCD display
- Responds quickly to a refresh command
- Functions come unlocked and the producer offer follow-up support.
- You may find it hard to locate some functions.
- It does not facilitate very large screen viewing.
This model of Rigol automotive oscilloscope features a high-quality 5.7-inch TFT LCD display that is backlit. Has a wide range of trigger modes in display including, pulse width, pattern, alternate, slop, video mode and edge among others.
The two analog channels are more than enough to allow over 20types of automatic wave measuring from various parameters. It is also easy to use in cursor mode, and in measuring it offers a manual, tract and auto options that you can configure your cursor, which in another perspective enhances its compatibility
Other important features users can take advantage of include a built-in menu, adjustable waveform intensity and, record able waveform, display function and match operation. It is also easy to interpret the results because the screen comes well-calibrated.
- Easy to read and interpret results
- Guides with pop-up menus to ease use
- Has a standard configuration interface
- Comes with inbuilt help menu thus convenient
- Supports U disk storage for extra memory and Pict Bridge print standards
- Allows wide range reading of parameters from different readings
- Has a small screen compared to others
- It uses analog channels instead of digital ones.
This series of the automotive oscilloscope by Siglent supports multiple triggering modes including serial bus. It features a maximum sample rate of 1GSa/second and a universally acceptable record length of 14 Mpts, which are properties that widen its usability. Its front panel is designed in a way that makes it super easy to use with ordinary and most common applications.
From feedback, most users claim to like the SDS1202X-E series because it has lower system noise than most similar products. Its digital trigger system is innovative enough and supports the device’s property in being super sensitive to wavelength and but definitely relays the intended results accurately.
Another key feature from this oscilloscope that makes it standout is the fact it has a hardware co-processor that supports fast and accurate measurement exercises.It support sspi, decode, lin and more which makes it widely compatible for various applications.
With a black screen you will have to color-mark each reading graph that you want to focus on to the color you most prefer, thank goodness it allows that. In summary, some of its notable advantages and downsides are as below:
- It’s relatively easy to use.
- Has noise reduction qualities
- It allows multiple triggering modes
- It supports serial and standard bus triggering.
- Has an IRecord capacity of up to 14 Mpts
- Supports real-time rate up sampling of up to 1 gsa per use
- The color temperature display is not super clear.
- The screen’s background color is mostly black.
This Hantek series of digital oscilloscope comes with a relatedly large color display screen, 7.0-inch, which of cause is more than enough to help analyze all your graphs. It offers a wide compatibility scope with a bandwidths range of 200/100/70MHz, records wavelength of up to 40K and has two multipurpose channels.
In helping to interpret the readings, this Hantek DSO5072P series has four easy to use math functions. It comes with an auto measurement function for frequency, Rise and Fall Time, positive and negative Pulse Width and delay reading and so on.
Based on our research,we can conclude that, although this automotive oscilloscope is somewhat cheap, it is one of those options that has all the major qualities in a single device. With high responsive customer care you call at any time for guide, Hantek is the real deal of an oscilloscope. In overview, below is a summary of both negative and positive customer feedback given, about this scope
- Has a wide 7-inch inbuilt display
- Supports up to four math functions
- It allows multiple automatic measurements
- Comes with software for PC display and real-time analysis
- It supports external device connectivity through a standard USB host.
- Has an accuracy of plus or minus 50ppm, which is universally acceptable.
- It has a rather detailed and complicated menu.
- A user complained saying the product had a bad NVRAM chip.
How we Picked the Best Automotive Oscilloscope
It has not been a walk in the park to research and trims down to the list of these best car oscilloscopes we’ve given here.Just to mention I compared and contrasted different brands of the scopes, and the five we have featured here are definitely the best picks. The key points we’ve considered, which also most experts approve of are things such as:
- The actual application or what you’ll be using the scope for – in this case, we narrowed to automotive oscilloscopes only.
- The minimum and maximum breadths of signal suited for automotive-related tasks.
- The number of signals you are most likely to use the device to get
- Frequency range and what suits your needs, basically the highest signal you should measure.
- Whether you need to view the signals on time domain or frequency domain
- The type of signal whether single-shot or repetitive and so on.
That is, you have to be super specific to pick a device that mostly works best for vehicles and not something general.From either of the above options that we have listed, you can rest assured you will have the best automotive oscilloscope currently available in the market. Below are other important factors to know about these devices that were really helpful to us in helping to compare and validating car oscilloscope, to be precise.
All You Need to Know About the Automotive Oscilloscope
Not all oscilloscopes are equal, the purpose maters
In the actual sense, oscilloscopes are not only used for car diagnosis,but these gadgets are also extensively used in other crucial fields such as in medicine, telecommunication and in research engineering.
Certain features will influence the purpose you intend to use the scope on i.e. whether on a mechanical bench, below the car or at a clients’ place.
For instance, the number of channels you choose with an oscilloscope dictates what it can do for you and the things you want to measure. So if you want various signals to be displayed you want a scope with more multiple channels. For quick diagnosis meant just to confirm the manifestation of a signal and that it falls within a range a single-channel signal is enough.
To test correlating amplitudes from engine parts like the crankshaft or from sensors, coil wave forms, injector and, sensor output and watching the voltage in a thermistor, a good option will be choosing an oscilloscope with more than one conduit.
Oscilloscopes with four channels going up to ten are best if your intent to have a simultaneous view of wavelengths from major inputs and outputs on the same display. A perfect example here is when you are analyzing an ignition issue related to the crank.
Most car technicians prefer dealing with a scope they can fully operate and control to help them get the information they want. As such, I have analyzed each of these scopes against other competing product and I can tell they are better off. Well of cause among the five there is that which I found best when it comes to being user-friendly which is #1- The Rigol DS1054Z Oscilloscope. Reason being,it has an automatic option that can set up the scope so that it becomes instantly usable.
Next in line on what you must know about oscilloscopes and why we’ve listed the above options is the sampling rate. In a simple definition, when talking of the sampling rate, this points to the number of times an oscilloscope does sample or picks up the circuit per second.
Most brands of car diagnosis scopes come with two distinct sampling modes (or rate as most people understand). These include real-time sampling and repetitive sample, best referred to as equivalent-time sampling. For automotive use only, what you need is the real-time sampling option because the latter is not recommended.
As such a much reasonable choice (that you will get with all the scopes we’ve listed above,) is a device with 20 Million sr/s, which is what is ideal for all diagnostic applications.
It is good to admit that first, the market is filled if not littered with different choices of oscilloscopes one can choose. However, the truth is, it is not wise to depend on mere adverts that hit your screen every time you go online, or even a five-second commercial on your TV to decide on a professional item like a car oscilloscope. Reason being, there is a lot to look for in such a complex device.
The good thing is that we have done the hard part; researching, analyzing and comparing to get the best scope that would suit your automotive-related use. You you’d save a lot of time choosing from fewer options, like the five above; or simply go with best car oscilloscope that we would boldly recommend -“theRigol DS1054Z Automotive Oscilloscope.