USB Oscilloscopes

USB PC-based oscilloscopes offer real cost savings over benchtop oscilloscopes. You can use the large color display, fast processor and large disk storage that comes with your PC instead of paying for it in a stand-alone oscilloscope.

External PC oscilloscopes. An external PC-based oscilloscope is a small module that connects to a computer via the USB port or parallel port. In this way, the noise problem with internal PC-card scopes is minimized. Also, you can take the scope module with you and plug it into any computer, including your mobile laptop.

Internal PC oscilloscopes. Internal PC-based oscilloscopes come on a circuit card that slips into an unused PCI slot in your computer. The main disadvantage of this type of oscilloscope is noise - the inside of your computer can be a noisy electrical environment. In addition, you are tied to using the scope with a single PC.

A low-cost (and low performance) variation is the soundcard oscilloscope, which is software that you install that takes advantage of your computer sound card's built-in analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to measure and display waveforms.