[sdiy] What test gear do you use?

matt holland matt at mattholland.org
Mon May 7 21:23:13 CEST 2018

I did some work at a clients location recently and assumed (incorrectly)
that they would have a scope on hand. I was very happy that $300 and 24
hours later (thanks to Amazon) we were up and running with a Rigol. Used it
on a variety of debugging tasks and have no complaints with the encoders or
user interface. Would I have rather used a scope with four or five digits
in the price? Yes, but it did the job just fine. Also an EE with perhaps
less decades of experience than Brian (hi Brian!).

At home I have the Rigol, an Owon which I like for it's light size and
portability but dislike for its user interface (can't put it into words
exactly, maybe same deal as Brian and Rigol) and a Tek 465 which is sadly
mostly for show. Also splurged on a Fluke 87V several years ago and like
Brian fully expect to be using it for many decades to come even though I
probably went a bit overboard selecting that particular model. Nothing else
too fancy or worth talking about other than an Audio Precision System One
that I still need to get set up and running.


On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 5:41 PM, <rsdio at audiobanshee.com> wrote:

> If you’ll note, I used terms like “unusable” and “useless” before saying
> “overall design quality.” I guess I should have said, “overall usability
> design quality” or “overall user experience design quality.”
> I am an EE and I have used many different ‘scopes over the decades. When
> I’m using a ‘scope, I’m not really concerned with what it looks like when
> you take it apart (*) in a YouTube video, I’m focused on getting a task
> done. The Rigol makes it almost impossible to get work done at a reasonable
> pace. I’d rather have an ancient ‘scope with fewer features that work
> quickly, than a modern ‘scope that doesn’t know how to provide precise
> control over those features. I’m not saying that the encoders are falling
> off (physical build quality), I’m saying that I can’t use them to get work
> done efficiently (user experience design quality).
> It’s like the firmware inside the Rigol was created by a team with
> absolutely no experience in practical functionality or user experience.
> Mere editing of things like calibration scaling or DC offset gets to be
> hopeless. If all you know how to do when it comes to using a ‘scope is the
> automatic settings, then the encoders won’t really bother you.
> Admittedly, some of my clients are not EE graduates, and they’re not
> interested in hiring EE graduates, but they still buy a ‘scope so they can
> plod along. Folks who don’t know what they’re missing aren’t really going
> to complain about the poor usability of the Rigol designs. I guarantee you
> that it’s only popular because it’s cheap and most folks don’t know any
> better.
> Brian
> p.s. I am happy that the Tektronix parts have reliable build quality. If
> the user experience wasn’t functional, then I really wouldn’t care how well
> the Tektronix was put together. However, when they have both build quality
> and appropriate user interface design, that’s the ultimate.
> On May 6, 2018, at 3:35 PM, sleepy_dog at gmx.de wrote:
> > >> I have found the Rigol products to be completely unusable compared to
> quality ‘scopes. The encoders are useless, for all intents and purposes.
> There’s a reason these ‘scopes are cheap, and hacking one to a higher base
> model does not make up for the poor overall design quality.
> > <<
> >
> > Do you have anything concrete about that "poor overall design quality"?
> > I have seen teardowns and extensive tests done by several EEs, and they
> were quite impressed with the quality, even though there have initially
> been some firmware bugs.
> >
> > Apparently many people finding them quite usable, some of them smaller
> companies, not just hobbyists.
> > When I bought my Rigol of the newer generation when it had just come
> out, its specs - and they are real specs - completely dwarfed the back then
> basic Tek DSO model, especially its laughable point memory size (and the "1
> elephant tooth per kpoints" they were asking for extra). For what was it,
> 1/3 the price or less? I don't remember exactly.
> >
> > Now take it with as many tablespoons of salt as you like as I'm no EE,
> but there are not just a few EEs who do approve of that product line :-)
> >
> > I'm not sure what exactly is your beef with the encoders. That they're a
> bit slow?
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