KB08: The Digital Oscilloscope


To become familiar with the oscilloscope, a ubiquitous instrument for observing and measuring electronic signals.

Required Reading Material

  • Agilent 1000 Series Oscilloscopes: Uers's Guide
  • Agilent 33120A 15 MHz Function / Arbitrary Waveform Generator: User's Guide

Required Components List

Agilent DSO1012A1 128x64 Agilent DSO1012A Oscilloscope (100 MHz, 2 GSa/S) × 1
HP 33120A 146x64 Agilent 33120A 15 MHz Function/Arbitrary Waveform Generator × 1
7SegDisplay 64 Cable, BNC to Alligator Clip × 2
PomonaBNC2BNC 99x64 Cable, Pomona, BNC to BNC × 1


Agilent DSO1012A Oscilloscope

Oscilloscope Cartoon tb s

The Agilent DSO1012A oscilloscope unlocks a powerful world of electronic measurements. Beyond just voltages, it can analyze frequencies, timings, phase shifts, and even signal distortions. Mastering this tool can be a game-changer in various scientific disciplines.

This guide focuses on the oscilloscope's essential functions:

Visualizing Signals:

  • Time windows: Imagine capturing tiny slices of time, each starting at the same "trigger point" on the signal. These slices are then stacked on top of each other to create the familiar waveform on the screen.
  • Timebase: This controls how much time each horizontal division on the screen represents. Think of it as zooming in or out on the timeline.
  • Triggering: This tells the oscilloscope when to start capturing each time window. Proper triggering ensures you see the desired part of the signal clearly.
  • Vertical controls: These adjust how much voltage each vertical division represents, essentially setting the "height" of the displayed signal.

Understanding Key Measurements:

  • Voltage: Measure DC (steady) or AC (changing) voltages on both channels.
  • Frequency: Determine how often a signal repeats itself (e.g., cycles per second).
  • Time: Measure the duration of pulses or gaps in the signal.
  • Phase: Compare the timing of two signals relative to each other.
  • Harmonic distortion: Analyze the presence of unwanted "harmonics" that distort the original signal.

Additional Features:

  • Automatic Measurements: Quickly get readings for common parameters like voltage and frequency.
  • Waveform Math: Add, subtract, or even perform Fourier analysis on captured signals.
  • Mask Testing: Verify if your signal falls within predefined limits.
  • Data Storage and Connectivity: Save waveforms and measurements for later analysis or share them via USB.


Agilent 33120A 15 MHz Function/Arbitrary Waveform Generator

The Agilent 33120A is more than just a function generator; it's a versatile tool for creating and manipulating electronic signals with impressive accuracy and control. Whether you're an experienced engineer or a curious student, this 15 MHz powerhouse can elevate your projects to new levels.

Key Features:

  • Precision waveforms: Generate standard waveforms like sine, square, ramp, triangle, and noise with exceptional stability and low distortion.
  • Customizable creations: Craft intricate, user-defined waveforms using the 12-bit resolution and 40 MSa/s sampling rate, opening doors to unique signal simulations.
  • Modulation mastery: Add internal AM, FM, FSK, and burst modulation to your waveforms, mimicking real-world signal behaviors without external equipment.
  • Sweep and burst versatility: Investigate dynamic signal changes with linear and logarithmic sweep functions, or create pulsed outputs with internal/external burst control.
  • Intuitive operation: Front-panel knobs and keys provide fast access to essential functions, streamlining your workflow.
  • Connectivity options: Communicate with the instrument via GPIB, RS-232, or the IntuiLink software for remote control and advanced analysis.


  • Testing circuits and componentsSimulating real-world signals
  • Generating training signals for educational purposes
  • Characterizing audio and communication systems
  • Performing power integrity measurements


The following exercise is intended to familiarize you with the important functions of the oscilloscope.

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