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Automotive Osciliscope Recommendations

Old 02-12-2019, 10:31 PM
Michael Benno
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Default Automotive Osciliscope Recommendations

As I am troubleshooting my NO SPARK condition and I am thinking it would be a good idea to buy an automotive osciliscope and I thought if any of you have any recommendations in the under $200 range. Based on my research we probably only need a 1-channel or 2-channel at most. I am not sure if data logging is needed.

I did some research and found these, not sure. Any suggestions are welcome.

DSO Nano v3 - Pocket-size color digital oscilloscope - v3.0

Signstek UNI-T UT81B Handheld LCD Digital Scopemeter Oscilloscope Multimeter

:$205.99 :$205.99
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:39 AM
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Scope isn't a tool that includes the skill to use it well.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:03 AM
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A 'scope is a handy tool to have in the once-every-nn years. Mine has been gathering dust in the storage bin for at least ten years since it was last used for an automotive application. Moral -- think carefully before you decide that you need one to diagnose a CPS for the no-spark. My "main" one is a technologically-ancient Tektronics digital storage scope with a real CRT and an assortment of plug in modules, plus an external data recorder that uses 1" magnetic tape. I have a smaller all analog one that runs on batteries, still a CRT scope, no storage. I'd have to find and purchase a battery for it. Uses a sealed lead-acid 12V battery similar to what's sometimes seen in alarm systems as a backup battery. Last duty for that one was probably a dozen years ago when I dropped it off with Tony in Las Vegas on my way through to somewhere else. Oh yeah, couldn't live without one...

Instead, walk back through exactly what you changed since you last had spark. For lifting and replacing the intake, that includes pinching or kinking the CPS cable someplace in the process. There isn't much else really. Remove and inspect the sensor, cable, and connectors completely out of the car. Leave a string on the end of the cable as you extract the sensor, and use that string to guide the cable routing when you reinstall or replace. Virtually every other wire you touched is related to fuel.

After that, FredR went through the oscilloscope module selection process before the holidays, mostly to get the transport logistics worked out so his daughter could carry it from GB to Oman for the holidays. He was focused on a USB module and software to run on a Windows PC. Hopefully he'll chime in with the results of his research, and some hands-on info on how well it meets his needs. His choices were interesting enough that I was thinking for a minute or so about getting one. Then I thought back through the many years since I'd last even opened the storage bin.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:19 AM
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Data logging or trace 'memory' is a pretty nice feature to have. When troubleshooting, sometimes you don't get a lot of time to capture the trace as you test. Being able to back up and view a pulse or waveform generated from a triggered signal is a good way to compare to the book images. I don't have any specific suggestions, I'd get the trace memory feature.

BTW, I use a good old Tektronix 475 dual trace from the 1980s. No memory, bulky, old, and hard to handle. But it has a fantastic CRT display trace, with very high speed timebase.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:43 AM
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My mission was to find something that was reasonably idiot proof and thus easy to use at a price point such that if I did not use it much [as seems highly likely] I would not regret my purchase. Initially I was looking for handheld units and quickly concluded they were very limited at the price point [$100] I had in mind. I quickly reasoned that a laptop scope was probably a better bet because I had no need for mobility and a key part of the scope, is already paid for in the form of the display which is also larger on the laptop. The other desirability factor was that the scope should be designed specifically for automotive use with preset programmes that are configured for specific tests and thus should eliminate the need to dick around with this setting and that setting in order to get a graphic that makes sense- rather essential for electronics morons like myself.

My "go to" utility for such searches is invariably Amazon and their customer feedback. This quickly seemed to narrow the search to Hantek who had a range of laptop scopes and then I spotted their latest model [PC1008 C] that is specifically configured for automotive use. and had just been released in its current version. The Amazon reviews contained the usual ******** reviews stating how it was not this or that but what do these characters expect for 100 bucks or so- something that NASA would use? There were two very positive reviews that made sense and both stated that in fit for purpose terms the model was more than adequate with some limitations and that was good enough for me. The most negative part of the reviews was that the included leads were not up to much so I purchased a pair of highly recommended test leads. I also concluded it would be useful to have a clamp on amp meter to help analyse current flow in real time and the same make does a neat unit for about 50 bucks that looks more than adequate- the Hantek model number CC650 that I intend to order shortly. The sample rate is adequate at 20M samples per second and of the 8 channels available those not needed can be switched off

The kit comes in a rather smart case with 8 very basic leads, one for each of the 8 channels built into the unit- whether or not such is ever going to be needed I have no idea but 8 channels one for each cylinder? You can also find some basic reviews on Youtube. If one allows 100 bucks for the kit and another 100 for leads and accessories I suspect it probably represents excellent value for the money. The instructions look usable but not too friendly but I can live with that.

My only real concern is that it should not fry my rather expensive laptop but I also have a windows 7 equipped basic notebook that I use with Sharktuner- I will probably use that in the garage but I still have to check whether it runs ok on that version. .

Edit- forgot to add that the kit comes with a clamp on adapter Hantek part number HT-25 that as I understand measures the HT voltage when clamped over a HT lead - a standalone $25 item if purchased separately. I also concluded that one probably needs the HT-201 which is a 20:1 attenuator and can be had for around 10 bucks and HT30 leads- again about 10 bucks or so

Last edited by FredR; 02-13-2019 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:44 PM
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All you need is a multimeter.
Did you check to see if the injector harness is shorted?
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:13 PM
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I have an AESWave uScope, have used it for looking at plug wire waveforms and tach signals from the digidash. Expensive for what it is but I'm happy with it.

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Old 02-13-2019, 05:32 PM
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If you are not going to use it professionally, don't spend a lot of money on it. I got one of these and consider it money well spent. Used it to troubleshoot ABS sensors initially:

Actual output from actual 928 ABS sensors:
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:00 PM
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For whatever it's worth, I have an old 5MHz analog scope that I bought from a used electronics salvage store for $20.
It's not as nice as some, and you have to be watching since there isn't any storage, but it works.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:42 PM
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I've been thinking about the Hantek, but the cost of decent small displays is so low that stand alone devices may be more practical choices. Interesting things around $100 or less with the price constantly dropping. Most of the time I think money is better spent on something like a Power Probe which will show pulses on a LED or as tones.
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