Hantek DSO5102P Digital Oscilloscope

15May19

I mentioned in my RC2014 post that I’d got myself a new oscilloscope, so this is the blog post to complement my review on Amazon.co.uk.

Background

The ancient single trace Telequipment S51E that I saved from a skip a 6th form college as they upgraded to shiny new dual trace scopes has served me well over the years, but at 1MHz it doesn’t have the bandwidth for retro computing projects. I’d briefly looked at what was available a few years ago, and knew that I could pick up something modern and effective for a few hundred pounds.

At around the same time I was saving the S51E I came across my first digital storage scope, which was probably from HP. I recall that it had cost something staggering like £50,000, and even at that price had less memory than my Amiga. Oh my have things changed as the digital revolution and commodification have reached the arena of test equipment.

Standalone vs PC peripheral

My expectation was that it would be cheaper to get a USB scope that uses a PC as its display, but that wasn’t the case – at least not at the bandwidth I wanted. Hantek do a 20MHz 2 channel PC-Based unit (the 6022BE) for £57.99, or 70MHz with 4 channels (the 6074BE) for £165.99, but I wanted 100MHz and although there is a 6102BE that would have fitted the bill I wasn’t finding them for sale.

The PicoScope 2000 series appeared to come highly recommended, and the lower bandwidth models come in at under £100, but unfortunately the 100MHz version starts at £479 for two channels.

So I picked the standalone DSO5102P as it had the right features (2 channels and 100MHz) at a very attractive price of £227.99. I also quite like the idea that I can use it without a PC or laptop, but I can connect it to a PC or laptop should I want to.

It’s very easy to use

The first task I had was to check the clock on my RC2014, so I plugged in, switched on, hooked up a probe and dialled in V/div and time base. I needn’t have bothered, as there’s an Auto Set button that would have got me straight to where I needed to be.

Like the scopes I grew up with it can display a live picture, but because it’s a digital storage scope it just takes a press of the Run/Stop button to pause time, at which point it’s possible to then scroll backwards and forwards along the time base.

Fancy features, and easy help

There’s stuff like Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT) that turn it into a spectrum analyser, and there’s no need to memorise the manual on how that stuff works, because the not quite so obvious features are documented in help pages that can be reached right there on the device.

It’s not quite as fancy as the PicoScope – so no serial port decoding, but my expectations are still calibrated to a 90s electronics lab rather than Star Trek.

There’s an app

The DSO5102P has a USB interface (Type A) on the front for copying to storage (which I haven’t tried yet) and another (Type B) on the back for connection to a PC. Once connected to a PC there’s an app that essentially provides a copy of what’s on the scope’s screen, and the ability to manipulate and save that. It’s functional rather than amazing, but if I ever need to put some traces into blog posts, it will let me do that. Like this:

Conclusion

The just over £200 mark seems to be about as cheap as standalone scopes get, but that buys a LOT of functionality. Given that I grew up in an environment where dual trace was considered high end it’s remarkable how much things have improved. It’s possible to drive the price even lower when buying a PC peripheral rather than standalone, but (surprisingly) only for low end specs with less bandwidth.



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