Equipment used to display and analyse electronic signals as waveforms on a graph


The Oscilloscope is a fundamental piece of teaching equipment for teachers and technicians to digitally display and analyse electronic signals as waveforms on a graph, and with many Oscilloscopes available on the market, it is important that you choose the right one for your school. We understand that every science department’s requirements will differ and there is a range of features and benefits to choose from. Whether replacing your existing kit, adding a new model, or using an Oscilloscope for the first time, Timstar has worked with our expert technician to put together this guide to help you select your next model.

The graph shows how the signal changes over time. The vertical (Y) axis represents voltage, and the horizontal (X) axis represents time.

The vertical (Y) voltage scale can be adjusted using the VOLTS/DIV controls

Figure 1. Vertical control zone

The horizontal (X) time scale can be adjusted using the SEC/DIV (time base) controls

Figure 2. Horizontal control zone


The SDS5032E is a general-purpose two-channel digital oscilloscope with a large 200 mm colour display. Each channel has an independent vertical menu, and each item is set respectively based on channel.

Switch on the oscilloscope

If you cannot see a waveform press CH1 MENU
Connect one 1.5 V cell to the Y input CH1
The line moves up
Adjust the Y gain, VOLTS/DIV if necessary, so that the line moves up 1.5 divisions.
Now connect two cells and observe the line deflection.


This oscilloscope comes with an Autoset function, which will measure the input signals that are fed into the oscilloscope and will find some range that the signal falls into and then display it on the screen. If you cannot see a signal, Press Autoset.

Figure 3. One 1.5 V cell connected
Figure 4. Two 1.5 V cells connected

Reverse the leads and observe what happens:

Figure 5. One 1.5 V cell with reversed connections
Figure 6. Two 1.5 V cells with reversed connections

Now connect a 1 V A.C. supply to the Y inputs from an extra-low voltage supply such as the Westminster Power Supply, (Timstar MA18796).

Observe the size and shape of the trace. Repeat with 2 V A.C. input:

Figure 6. 1 V A.C supply (1 V/DIV & 10 ms/DIV)
Figure 7. 2 V A.C supply (1 V/DIV & 10 ms/DIV)

With the 2 V A.C connected increase and decrease the Y gain VOLTS/DIV, observe the size and shape of the trace. Now try varying the X gain SEC/DIV (time base) controls.

Figure 8. 2 V A.C supply (2 V/DIV & 10 ms/DIV)
Figure 9. 2 V A.C supply (2 V/DIV & 50 ms/DIV)


Technical Specifications & Features:

• Bandwidth: 30 MHz
• Sample Rate (real time): 250 MS/s
• Horizontal Scale (s/div) 4 ns/div~100s/div, step by 1~2~4
• Rise Time (at input, typical) ≤11 ns
• Channels: 2 + 1 (external)
• Display: 20 cm (8 “) colour LCD, TFT display, 800 x 600 pixels, 65535 colours
• Input Impedance: 1 MΩ ± 2 %, in parallel with 15 pF±5 pF
• Channel Isolation: 50 Hz: 100: 1, 10 MHz: 40: 1
• Max Input Voltage: 400 V (PK – PK) (DC+AC, PK – PK)
• DC Gain Accuracy: ±3 %
• Record Length: 10 K
• DC Accuracy (average): Average ≥16: ± (3 % reading + 0.05 div) for △V
• Probe Attenuation Factor: 1X, 10X, 100X, 1000X
• Sample Rate / Relay Time Accuracy: ±100ppm
• Input Coupling: DC, AC, and GND
• Vertical Resolution (A/D): 8 bits resolution (2 Channels simultaneously)
• Vertical Sensitivity: 5 mV/div~10 V/div (at input)
• Trigger Type: Edge, Pulse, Video, Slope
• Trigger Mode: Auto, Normal, Single
• Trigger Level: ±6 divisions from screen centre
• Line / Field Frequency (video): NTSC, PAL, and SECAM standard
• Waveform Math: +, -, x, ÷, FFT
• Waveform Storage: 15 waveforms
• Lissajous Figure Bandwidth: Full bandwidth
• Lissajous Figure Phase Difference: ±3 degrees
• Communication Interface: USB, USB flash disk storage, Pass / Fail, LAN, VGA (optional)
• Power Supply 10 0V – 240 V AC, 50/6 0Hz, CAT II
• Power Consumption <18 W
• Fuse 2 A, T class, 250 V
• Battery not supported
• Dimension (WxHxD) 348 x 170 x 78 (mm)
• Weight: 1.50 kg

Also available is the more economical SD1022 model with a 20 MHz bandwidth

Technical Specifications & Features:

• A digital storage oscilloscope designed with simplicity in mind. The vast array of advanced measuring options found in most digital oscilloscopes is mostly omitted, leaving only the essential features required in schools. This means the unit is very accessible for students and teachers alike.

• 7” colour screen (800 x 600)
• 20 MHz Bandwidth
• Sample rate: 100 MS/s
• Dual channel
• Automatic measurement
• Dimensions: 301 x 152 x 70 mm


USB PC Oscilloscopes

– the modern alternative to the traditional benchtop oscilloscope
– use with PC or laptop and link to a projector

Pico Technology offer a range of affordable oscilloscopes ideal for use in education and training.

They have an extensive Library of Educational Experiments for use with their oscilloscopes and data loggers, which includes:

  • Biology experiments
  • Chemistry experiments
  • Physics experiments
  • Electronics experiments
  • General experiments


Find out more

How to determine the speed of sound in air using a 2-beam PC PicoScope oscilloscope, signal generator, speaker, and microphone

EDEXCEL A Level Physics Core Practical 6.

  • The oscilloscope will display on two traces – the signal fed to the loudspeaker and the signal received by the microphone. As the distance between the microphone and the speaker is increased, the phase of the signals varies and the traces on the screen move past each other.
  • The microphone is positioned about 50 cm away, facing the speaker. Turn on the signal generator and set it to about 4 kHz. Adjust the oscilloscope (PicoScope) to show the microphone signal with about four cycles on the screen.


  • Connect the signal generator output to the second PicoScope input (as well as the speaker) and adjust the controls to display four cycles of this signal.


  • Setting Trigger Mode to AUTO displays a stable waveform for channel 2.


  • Adjust the spacing on the screen and the distance between the speaker and microphone so that the bottom of one trace is just level with the top of the other.


  • Adjust the separation so that a trough on the top trace coincides exactly with a peak on the lower trace. Place the metre ruler alongside the microphone and speaker and record the distance between the microphone and speaker.
  • Position the speaker away from the microphone and observe one trace sliding over the other. Move the speaker so that the trace has moved exactly one cycle. The troughs and peaks should just touch again. Record the new distance between the microphone and the speaker. The difference between the two distances is one wavelength.


  • Continue to move the speaker away from the microphone and record each successive distance, where the peaks of one trace coincide with the troughs of the other.


  • Calculate a mean value for the wavelength of the sound.


  • Use one of the traces to determine the frequency of the sound.
Equipment setup for calculating the speed of sound in air with the PicoScope 2204A

The same experimental setup can be used to calculate the speed of sound in air with the OWON range of digital oscilloscopes. SDS5023E (Timstar EL101460) and SD1022 (Timstar OS180100)

Equipment setup for calculating the speed of sound in air with the OWON digital oscilloscope

Dual Channel PicoScopes

PicoScope 2204 (Timstar EL81422)

Picoscope 2205 (Timstar EL81424)

Technical Specifications & Features:

This range of PicoScopes are extremely versatile, with an Oscilloscope, spectrum analyser and arbitrary waveform generator in each model. Their compact size makes them extremely portable and the cases are very robust. Connections are simple, comprising, channel A, channel B, signal out and USB socket. Dimensions (L x W x H): 100 x 135 x 45mm.
The USB (2.0) provides power, eliminating the need for an external power supply. The USB connection facilitates high speed data transmission.
The Windows software supplied with each PicoScope is very simple to use. It features an auto setup function which reduces setup time to a few minutes. Updates to the software are provided free of charge.
Both models have input ranges of: ±50 mV, ±100 mV, ±500 mV, ±1 V, ±2 V, ±5 V, ±10 V ±20 V.

Model: PicoScope 2204

• Bandwidth (MHz): 10
• ETS (GS/s): 5.0
• Sampling rate (MS/s): 100
• Scale (ns-s/div): 2-50


Signal Generator Output:
• Buffer Size: 4 k words
• Vertical Resolution: 8 bits
• Output Range: ±125 mV to ±2 V pk-pk with ±1 V offset
• Output Resistance: 600 Ω
• Clock Frequency: 2 MHz
• Bandwidth: DC to 1 MHz

Model: PicoScope 2205

• Bandwidth (MHz): 20
• ETS (GS/s): 10.0
• Sampling rate (MS/s): 200
• Scale (ns-s/div): 1-50


A PC based oscilloscope with all the features of a standard oscilloscope plus the benefits of compact size, and inclusive software, which is simple and intuitive to use.
• Minimum PC Requirements: Pentium (R) 4 2.4 GHz processor; 1GB memory; 1GB minimum disc space; Display Resolution: 1024 x 768; USB 2.0 port
• Operating system: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Figure 10 Owon PC software – changing the distance
Figure 11 Owon PC software – customising the display settings

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