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What is an Oscilloscope and How Does it Work ?

 

 

If you ever watched the hit BBC show Casualty, you’ll have watched a variety of dramatic scenes featuring an oscilloscope.

This crucial piece of equipment is something of an anomaly in the digital age, with its traditional, electronic graph-drawing interface and a surprisingly large monitor that resembles and old portable television.

But what exactly is an oscilloscope, and how does it work? We’ve answered these questions below on your behalf.

What is an Oscilloscope?

In simple terms, an oscilloscope is a vital piece of laboratory and hospital equipment that’s used to display the waveform of various electronic signals.

In effect, the device draws a graph of the signal voltage of a specific function in real-time, providing crucial data to users when it’s needed the most.

We started by discussing the use of an oscilloscope in a typical hospital, with this piece of equipment often sitting beside a hospital bed as it measures and relays a patient’s heartbeat. This is perhaps the most famous application for an oscilloscope, whilst it’s hard to think of an application that’s more important in the modern age.

However, there are different types and sizes of oscilloscope available for an array of alternative applications, with many of these sold by suppliers such as RS Components. This range includes digital storage devices and sampling oscilloscopes, the latter of which is used to analyse high-frequency signals.

How Do Oscilloscopes Work?

Once they’ve drawn data from a specific source, oscilloscopes automatically plots and produces simple charts that relay the information to the user.

This methodology is largely unchanged across different applications, with the primary variables being the source of the signal and size of the device used.

In the field of electronics and similar applications, oscilloscopes are often used to watch how signals change in circuits over a predetermined period of time. Similarly, oscilloscopes can be used to locate faults in broken televisions and other types of electronic device, providing detailed insight that can inform a subsequent repair.

This represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential applications of oscilloscopes. If you utilise this tool in conjunction with a transducer, for example, you can convert energy into different forms and measure almost any conceivable and tangible element.

This includes everything from temperature changes to vibrations, and there’s no doubt that an oscilloscope offers tremendous value in an array of different circumstances.

So, whilst an oscilloscope remains most synonymous with heart monitoring, this technology has a number of different applications in the modern age.