Automotive oscilloscopes and 'scopemeters'

philharve

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Hi All

I have been giving some thought to buying myself an automotive oscilloscope. I already have a good quality multimeter but there are times when I prefer to see waveforms for diagnostic purposes, for example, the output from engine sensors.

Do any members own or have used such a tool and have they found a particular make and model particularly useful? I had my sights set on a nice Fluke 97 Scopemeter but lost the auction. However, I haven't given up looking.

Whilst I would prefer a self-contained tool with inbuilt screen, I am not opposed to considering an external waveform capture module that feeds the waveforms information to a PC, via USB, for display purposes. Whichever is best.

For budgetary purposes I am setting a limit of GBP200.00 so that some secondhand tools will fall within my range.

REGARDS

Phil
 

television

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It would need to be a dedicated scope to have the correct or meaningful graph,,you would need some good books to so that you know what you are looking at
 

Number_Cruncher

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Unless you're going to be looking at detail at the digital signals on the CAN bus (an unusual DIY application!), then, you don't need a particularly fast oscilloscope for signals outside of the ECU.

Most electronics oscilloscopes are built to capture these fast signals, and aren't particularly suited for automotive use. But!, you can use them - effectively you're paying for speed you'll never use.

More important is how the scope is powered, and how visible the screen is in different lighting conditions, and how many channels you can acquire / view at once.

Also important is how you're going to condition the signals. While many sensors do output a nice easy voltage, you need to do something a bit more clever to see ignition waveforms for an example.

For my own use, I have a rather old, cheap dual beam oscilloscope. It was so cheap that if I break it during use around a running engine, I won't shed any tears.

For faster, multi channel acquisition, I use an IOtech wavebook. This gives me 8 fast channels, and a dedicated digital channel. However, there isn't the possibility to view data directly - they are written to file, and I can import them in MATLAB for viewing, and in some cases further analysis on a PC.
 

television

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True multi channels scopes are very expensive most are just switched using chopper circuits, this is OK for car use, and number chruncher says fast enough for car use,,a 20meg bandwidth is fine for cars,,I have 3 scopes plus digital scope storage,,good thing about storage is you have the before and after shot
 

Alex Crow

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i believe pico do an automotive application scope for use with a laptop. clamps for ht and all sorts of stuff. very pricey though.
 
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philharve

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"Advanced Automotive Fault Diagnosis"

It would need to be a dedicated scope to have the correct or meaningful graph,,you would need some good books to so that you know what you are looking at

Hi Malcolm

Funny you should say that because earlier this evening I ordered a book from Amazon entitled, "Advanced Automotive Fault Diagnosis" by Tom Denton. You can preview part of this book on Amazon and it is loaded with oscillographs from various engine sensors, actuators, etc.

I also possess Hillier's "Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology" and the Haynes manual of "Engine Management Systems".

As for handling an oscilloscope ... well, I was practically born with one. It is as natural a tool to me as a plane would be to a carpenter. I have a couple 'scopes but both are based on CRT technology and they might best be described as luggable rather than pocketable.

With an ID like "television" would I be right in thinking you can handle a 'scope too?

REGARDS

Phil
 

television

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With an ID like "television" would I be right in thinking you can handle a 'scope too?

REGARDS

Phil


I have been using them since 1950 when I had the Cossor 1030.
I could not fix some things without one:D
 
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philharve

philharve

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Oscilloscopes

Unless you're going to be looking at detail at the digital signals on the CAN bus (an unusual DIY application!), then, you don't need a particularly fast oscilloscope for signals outside of the ECU.

Most electronics oscilloscopes are built to capture these fast signals, and aren't particularly suited for automotive use. But!, you can use them - effectively you're paying for speed you'll never use.

More important is how the scope is powered, and how visible the screen is in different lighting conditions, and how many channels you can acquire / view at once.

Also important is how you're going to condition the signals. While many sensors do output a nice easy voltage, you need to do something a bit more clever to see ignition waveforms for an example.

For my own use, I have a rather old, cheap dual beam oscilloscope. It was so cheap that if I break it during use around a running engine, I won't shed any tears.

For faster, multi channel acquisition, I use an IOtech wavebook. This gives me 8 fast channels, and a dedicated digital channel. However, there isn't the possibility to view data directly - they are written to file, and I can import them in MATLAB for viewing, and in some cases further analysis on a PC.

Hi Number_Cruncher

I wasn't proposing looking inside the ECU so analogue bandwidth isn't a crucial factor. I would have thought 1MHz is more than sufficient for sensors and the like. However, there is always the possibility that I might want to use it on a non-automotive project in which case I will be setting my bandwidth objective somewhat higher.

As for size ... well ... the smaller the better but I wouldn't want a ridiculously small screen.

A battery portable model would be highly desirable.

Signal conditioning! What had you in mind? I could make up a set of adapters to suit most applications although a decent 'scopemeter' would/should come with a full set of automotive probes.

No. of channels! Hmm, I was thinking of at least two!

I have a couple of old CRT 'scopes, one a Sony, a battery portable model (4" x 9" x 12"). It's OK but I would prefer an LCD model that I could slip into a bag or pocket.

I am not familiar with the IOTech Wavebook. Would this be a 'clamshell' oscilloscope that outwardly resembles a modern Netbook but with BNC connectors along the front edge? OK, I gather this may be screenless data capture model that requires a PC screen for viewing waveforms.

I have seen the offerings from Pico but they cost over a GBP1K new. I have set my sights a little lower.

There are literally dozens of mini 'scopes from Hong Kong on eBay but I'm reluctant to go that route.

Velleman make 5 or 6 mini 'scopes that may be worth considering.

The Fluke 97 Scopemaster I had my eyes on would have been perfect. I am not put off by a design which is almost 15 year old. If it works, grab it, use it!

REGARDS

Phil
 
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philharve

philharve

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Pico diagnostic tools

i believe pico do an automotive application scope for use with a laptop. clamps for ht and all sorts of stuff. very pricey though.

Hi Alexander

Yes, I know the kit you are thinking about. I'm afraid even a secondhand one is well outside my budget.

REGARDS

Phil
 
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philharve

philharve

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Age has its benefits

I have been using them since 1950 when I had the Cossor 1030.
I could not fix some things without one:D

Hi Malcolm

You beat me by about 10 years.

I remember the old Cossors and Telequipments. We used to switch them on on a cold day to help warm the Lab where I worked. We weren't allowed electric fires.

REGARDS

Phil
 

television

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Phip,,take a look at CPC
PC based add on for a computer at £317 + vat part number IN04975 and another IN02161 at 150+

www.cpc.co.uk
 
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philharve

philharve

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OWON oscilloscopes

Hi Malcolm

I had a quick look at CPC and spotted an OWON oscilloscope which I've also seen for sale on eBay. The OWON range have the look of the 'traditional' oscilloscope but without the depth and therefore the bulk. I have already added OWON to my list of possible options.

I will scan the remainder of CPC later when I have more time to see what else they have to offer. Thanks.

REGARDS

Phil
 


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