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NiHaoMike 08-11-2009 11:29 PM

oscilloscope for automotive use
 
I'm looking to buy a used oscilloscope mainly for electronics and automotive use. I work mainly with power electronics and as such, I have decided that 100MHz would be enough. But I'm not very familiar with oscilloscopes in automotive use. What bandwidth would I need? I'm under the impression that about the only things in automobiles that operate above 50MHz are the radio circuits for remote control, entertainment, and radar cruise control (none of which I would likely have to work on), but are there any others? Are there any other things to keep in mind about oscilloscopes for automotive use apart from the high voltage probe for ignition testing and magnetic sensor for measuring current?

As of current, I can get a Philips PM3365 (2 channel, 100MHz, does not include probes, works great but has signs of wear) for $80 or a Tektronix 2465 (4 channel, 300MHz, includes 4 probes, excellent condition) for $350. Are either of these good deals? Which one should I go with? I'm thinking about the $80 Philips since it is cheap and is enough for what I'm currently using it for. But would the $350 Tektronix be a better choice in the long term?

jamesqf 08-12-2009 02:38 PM

Not an expert, but for automotive use I would think you could manage just fine with one of the various PC oscilloscopes.

mwebb 08-12-2009 05:16 PM

imho
your choices begin and end with the Pico scope OR ATS scopes , but for nonprofessional use the ATS scopes are higher priced and do not have the resolution of the Pico scopes .
for automotive use those are really the only two choices.
imho

Pico has higher resolution and costs less to purchase

you can view screen caps and discussion at the ACE MISFIRE Forums or
autonerdz.com

for viewing various hi speed signals in great resolution , the scopes you mention are not going to do it , mostly because they do not have large buffers ,
i tend to record at 500ms per division on about 2 or 5 MS per second and then zoom in on blips in the captures , Pico will fill buffers until your hard drive runs out of space if you need ... i never do , but the option is there .
you can use the trigger functions but you will miss a lot .

pico has built in software adjustable configurable low pass filters for each channel which allow the use of the cheaper inductive current probes , otherwise RFi will fill the screen with hash.
on a cheaper scope , you could purchase a low pass filter set for a certain frequency ...

secondary spark
is one example of something you will need high resolution to view , even old cars have secondary and primary spark and that is one of the more useful thing to connect to to reveal how the engine is running .
there are limitations.
pressure transducers will help to fill the void left by the limitations of secondary spark .
sounds more complicated than it is , but there is a very steep learning curve - if you have a foundation in electronics and scope use , you will be a few steps ahead on the learning curve .

if your car should develop a CAN or Network problem and you want to chase it with a scope , ATS or Pico scopes would be a good choice .

if you watch craigslist
or ebay
sometimes early versions of the snapon vantage or fluke 98 or the little sun automotive scope are available for a pittance - but they are all very low resolution .
of the three , the sun scope has the best resolution .

they would give you something to start with and learn on.

i can email examples of Pico and ATS if desired , i have posted many examples of the Pico scopes in the Ace Misfire Forums

NiHaoMike 08-16-2009 02:13 AM

I found that the Philips was already sold. However, I also found a Tektronix 7834 (2 channel with memory, 400MHz, no probes but has 2 input and 2 timing modules, works but controls need cleaning) for $150 (negotiable). Is $150 a good deal for that? (I think so, but I wasn't able to buy it on the spot since the seller was away at the time and it was someone else at the site who showed me it.)

When I initially read the specs, I thought it was going to be too heavy for automotive use, but when I actually looked at it today, it really isn't that heavy. Turns out the 100lb weight cited on one site was *including* the steel cart! (I have to admit that it'd be pretty funny to say that your oscilloscope weighs more than Hannah Tucker...) The scope itself is only about 20lb.

mwebb 08-17-2009 12:26 AM

i would browse through this site AESwave.com Store, lab scopes, scan tools, accessories and training for automotive diagnostic equipment!

and see what they have for automotive types of probes .

i have no experience with the scope that you mention but it seems to me that if it needs a cart that weighs 80 lbs to operate , it may be difficult to put it in the passengers seat and take it for a ride connected to various components in the car .....

something that i like to do relatively frequently ...

NiHaoMike 08-17-2009 11:35 AM

Looks like just about any good 2 channel scope would work for automotive use. But I'll more frequently be working with power electronics, which requires a bandwidth of at least 100MHz in order to capture the details.


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