What is a Oscilloscope?

An oscilloscope is a very handy item in the electrical and electronic engineers toolbox. An oscilloscope is used to measure and visualize electrical signals. In its most common application, an oscilloscope measures the electrical potential difference, or voltage, at a given point to which the probe is connected. An oscilloscope is also capable of measuring electro-magnetic fields and non-electrical signals, such as sound intensity, by converting a signal into electrical form.

In order to capture a signal the oscilloscope’s probe must be put into contact with the electric circuit. An important aspect of acquiring an accurate signal is ensuring that the oscilloscope is adequately connected to a ground. Not only can this provide safety when in contact with electrical signals but also it will allow interference to be distributed away from the signal that we are interested in measuring. Here are two visualizations of the same signal; the first signal is not grounded while the second is grounded and is somewhat clearer.

In relation to digital electronic devices, an oscilloscope can be an invaluable tool in the testing of signals that are produced by a given device. In doing this testing, an engineer can determine whether or not a device is producing the appropriate or expected signal.