Rigol DS1102E Unboxing & Mini Review

It’s been a week of new toys for the electronics lab here at the world headquarters of Tangent Audio.  Yesterday brought the affordable hot air reflow tool, and today brings my first personally owned digital storage oscilloscope.

The low-end Rigol scopes can be had in 50Mhz and 100Mhz versions (both 2-channel) for about $325 and $375 respectively.  At that kind of price point, there really was no longer any excuse for me to be suffering with an ailing analog ‘scope from the 1980s (though, I’m not ditching it – it’s always good to have an analog scope available on the bench).  I spent a lot of time fretting over whether I should spend significantly more money to purchase a “real” oscilloscope, but I think I probably made a more sane choice.  If I stay involved with electronics during my free time as much as I used to be over a decade ago, then I can think about an upgrade.  In the mean time, I always have access to equipment at work if I’m really stuck debugging a circuit.

I put together an unboxing video, with a very brief section where I power it up and get some basic waveforms on the screen.  I also cover the fan noise issue a bit.  Perhaps after I’ve spent some time using the unit, I’ll do a more in-depth review of the features.

In short, the unit has good solid feeling build quality (though there have been some complaints online about rotary encoder failures and the like).  The user interface is not fancy, but it seems to be well organized and quick to navigate.  The included probes are mediocre quality, but as I mentioned in the video – you can easily spend as much on a single probe as this whole oscilloscope cost.  And, lastly, the fan noise is louder than I’d hoped, but within tolerable limits, especially if I’m working in my lab in the basement.  It would probably drive me nuts in short order if I were working in a quieter space like my office.

And, hey, I can now insert scope screen captures into blog posts!  Hooray?

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