I’ve been lucky enough to always work at companies that have been relatively generous in providing nice electronics bench equipment to work with. So, I’ll admit this has spoiled me, and when it comes to setting up my own home workbench, I have little patience for the cheap and crappy stuff. Here’s a run-down of what I like.
|Picoscope 3406D (newer model)PICO TECHNOLOGY PICOSCOPE 3406D OSCILLOSCOPE, 4 CHANNEL, 200MHZ, 1GSPS, WITH AWG (ARBITRARY WAVEFORM GENERATOR)|
|Picoscope 3406B (older model)PICO TECHNOLOGY PICOSCOPE 3406B OSCILLOSCOPE, PC, 4CH, 200MHZ, 1GSPS, WITH AWG (ARBITRARY WAVEFORM GENERATOR)|
My previous experience with some low-end 2-channel USB oscilloscopes was not so good. The Picoscope is completely different. The software interface is excellent, and very responsive with good refresh rate. The scope also has good FFT features so you can do some spectrum analysis (although the scope itself has some spurs). Make sure you connect it to a PC with a USB 3.0 port though. This model has a nice AWG also, and there is another MSO option that adds digital logic analyzer capability.
The small size is great. I put it in my laptop bag and travel with it, and have found that using this scope with a PC and displaying it on a 50″ TV screen to be a terrific tool for demos and training classes.
|Rigol DS1054Z4-channel oscilloscope|
The Rigol DS1054Z is already widely discussed, all I can do is confirm that it’s a good deal. You’re not going to get a better 4-channel scope for the same price.
This website will help you unlock it so it becomes a 100MHz bandwidth scope. http://gotroot.ca/rigol/riglol/
My only additional point is that Ultrascope USB-PC software interface is hard to get working, and it’s pretty poor in terms of refresh time. There are some helpful directions here, but you probably don’t want to use this scope if you want to connect it to a PC.
|Fluke 115 Multimeter
Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital Multimeter
There is nothing more basic, but also nothing more useful. There are a lot of cheaper options, but the Fluke’s are very accurate and very durable. I recently purchased a new one and expect it to last long enough for me to pass it on to my kids. The only reason I had to get a new one is because I lent out my previous one and never got it back.
|Tektronix USB Spectrum Analyzer
Tektronix RSA306 6.2 GHz USB Spectrum Analyzer
OK, so not everyone is going to need this. In fact, I haven’t even thought of a project where I truly need this, but I wanted to share this anyway because I think it’s great that manufacturers are coming out with great USB equipment. The software interface is good, and the noise floor is good enough for most uses. There’s a great review and video here: