Posted by: Claudio Carbone | 12 February 2012

“The more you spend, the best you spend”

This post’s title would like to be the translation of an italian motto.

Explained in more detail, the phrase “Chi più spende meglio spende” means that when you are looking for something, paying more is much better than paying less.

That’s not always true, but it is with regards to the recent Owon PDS5022s Impressions post.
I went searching for an oscilloscope at the best price I could find.

I found it but what did I get?
Let me remember the missing features first:

  • FFT
  • Trigger menu incomplete
  • measurements available (only 5 agains the advertised 20+ of more recent versions)

The FFT is just a gimmick in many cases, but may as well give you a simple idea of the frequencies involved in a signal. Can never substitute a Spectrum Analyzer though, and that’s why the SA prices are heavenly!
The trigger menu is a much more serious thing: without access to the holdoff, pre-triggering, etc you are really left with just a basic triggering system. Can’t go searching for spikes, hiccups, or anything else that involves more than a comparator.
The measurements really tell the story about the kind of people who produced this thing. The Tek 3012 I have at work is late 90s technology. Still it has 21 automatic measurements.
To this you should add:

  • the abysmal memory depth (2K I think)
  • the abysmal screen refresh rate (in the range of 1~2 Hz!)
  • the iffy triggering (auto wouldn’t catch things most of the times! needed manual…)
  • the noise on the signals
  • lack of firmware upgrade capability

If you want a more in-depth review of an even far superior model which is still affected by some of these problems (check out the refresh rate in part3), check out this video on youtube (part2 and part3 are accessible from there).

An official reseller here asked me 320€ for a new 5022.
This SDS7102 goes for about 450€.
Now a Tek 1001 (which is very basic) is about 1000€.
Sure Tek adds a lot for its name, but sure enough Chinese manufacturers work on the cheap.
So there MUST be a difference for that price don’t you think?

Having worked for years with a Tek 3012 I can tell you there is: A LOT!
There are so many things in an oscilloscope, all the more when it’s a digital one.

As marmad22 himself said (the author of the video above) I’m going to save money to spend on a much more decent product.
China instruments are 6-feet-under for me from now on.


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