Let's Make Robots!

Get an oscilloscope

You may think this is a strange tip, but I am very serious; Someone should have tipped me: Get an oscilloscope!

I am sorry if this seams like a strange tip. But the point with the tips are to let other know what you have ecperienced / learned / would have wished someone would have told you.

About a week ago I got my very first oscilloscope, and I have realized that I should have done this when I started with robotics. Both because it would have saved me hours and hours, but also because it would have made me understand things so much better, and I would have had more fun.

I never understood any electronics, but after getting a DSO Nano, I was even inspired to buy a breadboard, and I have made little circuits with transistors and caps! Not much for many of you, but a giant step for me :)

If you get the DSO Nano, here is a short review:

This little sexy thing can be bought for USD85 when I write this. It is open source, and it is easy to upgrade to a nev SW version , which makes it a totally different tool.

There are many "beta-feelings" over the tool, and the support pages are absolutely crap. It turns out that it is Chinese originally, and the English versions are badly translated, crap to navigate, badly updated, and .. well.. crap :) I ended up using Google translate on some sites, where I found better SW for the tool.

However, after getting annoied over that, I found a SW version, named "Paul".. and boy, that is good! Get that! It is full of spelling errors, but who cares, I spell crap myself :)

It makes the DSO Nano an extremely cool little toy. I cannot recommend it enough, if you do not have an oscilloscope already, and if you like me can be aided by visuals on wht is going on inside the little circuits.

It is very funny and extremely inspiring and I have learned so much! Get one :)

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I am considering getting the new nano but I don't know exactly how would I use it, can some one please provide an example or a project that would need an oscilloscope and how would you use it?

Thank you

Ok so ive had one of these for a while now, and i gotta say i'm glad i do.
i was doubting getting one myself, but then my mom got me one for my birthday :D

indeed it is limited in what it can measure, but what it can do is perfect for robotics and similar stuff.
i imagine for someone accustomed to bench scopes this will be like reverting to windows 311, but
then for a beginning robot doctor in pre-med, this is like going from DOS to windows98.

kewl thxz :)

ill add it to my shopping list.


Do you ever run out of bandwith with the nano?
according to the specs and some youtube videos it only goes up
to about 100khz, do you ever find yourself needing more?


Short answer; No.

This is an old post, and there is a new Nano out - but my advice is still the same; Get one :) If I had to loose my multimeter or this, I'd loose my multimeter. This one has saved me so many times, and it can tell voltage as well ;)

I'm sure that if I paid a ton of money for one that could do higher frequencies, I'd argue that this is limited. But when this is price tagged as it is, and if you have none, I tell you; get one, and the world will never be the same :)

PS: Remember to use the ALABTU code, and you get it even cheaper ;)

Not to mention it is small and portable!

For logic analyzer i would recommend DIY Scanalogic - easy to make, just atmega16 and rs232ttl communication. If you don have comport on your computer, then you add just one atmega8 (avr-cdc232) and you get an usb logic analyzer with sample rate of 4MHz :D For less than 25$ :] But its disadvantage is that you can only 'measure' logic signals, no analog noise or something.

I happened upon this last night, but I don't have a desktop and I don't think my lappy's soundcard would support it. The notion is that using the inputs on your soundcard, the software analyzes your signal. It is a great idea, but I wonder how practical it really is.




I use IR light to send info to my laptops sound card. I soldered a photodiode to a 3.5mm headphone jack on the computer end and a IR LED with a small (180 ohm) current limiting resistor for the microcontroller. Then, I attach that to whatever I'm trying to debug and record everything using WavePad. It works pretty good and you don't have to worry about frying your sound card.

On a seperate note, if you want a nice scope just ask around. I was helping friend of mine that works as an airplane mechanic to fix some electronic part on a 210 and as we were wandering around the storage shed looking for parts I found a big old scope lying on a shelf. He said I could have it (for free!). So, make friends that work in places like airports and computer repair shops and chances are, if the place has been around for at least 20 years, there will be an old scope lying around somewhere.

Dont know that one, but in general there are many USB-scopes out there. And other portables like the DSO Nano that I got. Just to let you know; There are many options.

I used to just use my soundcart direcly, as a logic analyser, but getting a scope is just so much more - it tells you all sorts of info, I just love it :D