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Videos / Our Rigol DS1104Z Oscilloscope Review

The 1000Z line of oscilloscopes from Rigol is one of our favourites. They have luxuriously large displays, deep memory and about all the features you'd want in a 'scope. Often, a long list of features implies difficult to navigate menus, but the user-experience from these 'scopes is great! The second row of context buttons down the left of the screen give you button-per-item interaction rather than more endless scrolling.

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G'Day, just a quick review of the Rigol 1104Z which is a 4-channel 100 megahertz oscilloscope;. Let's take a look.

Just a quick look at what you get in the box, of course, a Rigol DS1104Z, with power lead, a USB lead for the data connection or automation and of course 4 scope probes included. We also have the manual, with calibration certificate from Rigol, taking a look at the front panel we have the dominating feature, of course, is the enormous 7-inch display, quite luxurious with buttons down the side. So this is a nice feature, this is a feature that I like in modern scopes where because they can get quite complicated and they have often a lot of features, having the extra panel four buttons means that you have a one button to one function display, and that means you're endlessly scrolling through menus. We'll see more of that when I power the scope up, of course four channel inputs with the control for a given channel with controller these knobs that of course you can select your channel numbers here and of course the horizontal or time base, not control and the triggering control this is all very very common very common layout for the most digital storage scopes we also have our measuring acquisition settings as well as cursor and some print menus and of course the the run, single, and stop buttons at the top. Of course a folding handle on the top and on the bottom we have some folding feet so you can lift up the desk if you need to. On the back, we have just the standard IEC power input as well as the communications connections for USB and LAN we also have the trigger output which also doubles as the pass/fail output for running automated tests.

Ok just off camera I have turned the scope on that took the usual 15-20 seconds it's pretty common for DSO's. I've also connected it up to a function generator so we can see there are there are two functions on the scope at the moment and maybe just to make things a little clearer I'll make that square that triangle is a sine wave. So we have two different signals on the screen I don't have a four channel generator so unfortunately, I can't show you all four channels pumping away but there you have it. So let's take a look at some of the built-in functions for the scope. Straight away we have some measurement functions and we can also change which are which axis we are looking at by hitting this menu button so we can move between I don't know if you'll be able to read that on camera but we can move between the vertical measurements and horizontal measurements by selecting this menu button, and then we can scroll up and down using these arrow keys. So if I were to take these waveforms slightly out of phase, or maybe not slightly maybe I will go, let's go how about 90 degrees out of phase, I also make the frequencies match, so these are both 1-kilohertz wave-forms with a phase of 90 degrees. There we go. So we should be able to measure that quite quite trivially by scrolling down along the horizontal and selecting phase 1 to 2 so if you press that we can see the bottom a small display has come up showing the phase angle as about 90 degrees now that is fluctuating a little bit because you know the stability of the function generator just turned on and what have you so what we can do is bring up the statistic menu, which will give us a little more information. So we can go over to measure and we can bring statistic on and now we have the current and average, a max and a min reading, for any measurement that we choose and somewhat bad practice I forgot to just bring these channel multipliers down to 1 times of course I'm using BNC to BNC probes instead of the on the DSO 10x Probe, so I need to rescale my channel that's okay that just changes voltage readings on the display but there you have it we have our phase measurement coming up down the bottom. I can switch over to the vertical menu and let's measure I guess how about the the voltage peak to peak, so I'll select channel 1 and I'll hit the voltage peak to peak and you might have noticed actually that the color of the text has changed on this menu that's that's quite a nice visual prompt just to show you what channel you're measuring. Before continuing, I thought I would zoom in a bit so we can select that voltage peak-peak measurement and we get another window coming out and because of course we're in statistic mode we're getting the time statistics as well I could turn that statistic mode off and we get just a single window or single reading in that window of just the current voltage and of course selecting channel 2 just on screen I've selected channel 2 I can then measure the peak to peak as well so you'll notice that these two windows have different colored text and also the channel label just to make things really nice and clear as to what channel that measurement corresponds to.

The DS1104Z is that is what we would call a deep memory oscilloscope and oscilloscopes depth of memory affects how much information it can store for a given sample rate, for instance, let's take a single measurement. First of all I might just change that second channel to just some noise so we have a sine wave on channel 1 and noise on channel 2 now if I think a single snapshot of the these waveforms, the deeper the Scopes memory, and of course the higher sample rate, the more I'll be able to zoom in on the waveforms to see and still see information so you can see I've zoomed in to about 100 nanoseconds, and I can still pick up the detail of the noise on channel 2, so this is really useful for lower frequency wave forms being able to find noise spikes within that wave form but also the depth of memory means that you can store more information at a given sample rate and that's really important for when you're trying to capture say a turn on characteristic, and you want to capture any transients during say a power supply's turn on.

So just to illustrate I captured that waveform at a 1 millisecond time base and I can zoom all the way down so we're now at 100 microseconds down to 10 microseconds down to 1 microsecond and even further down to say 200 microseconds and we can still pick up detail in that noisy waveform, so the depth of the Scopes memory has allowed us to capture waveforms all the way out here and zoom into them all the way down here.

So let's take a quick dive through the other menus the Rigol has to offer we have the cursor menu where of course we can take manual measurements with the cursor, as we normally would that's just using moving the cursor bars so I'll just on this top channel I can move the cursor bars to select that point and then if I wish I can select the top of that next peak just like that, and then using using those two cursors we can extract some information about the period and voltage difference between them and that's shown up on this window here. We can cycle the cursors back to off or even though it also will attempt to automatically resolve those measurements for it if we head over to the acquire menu this is where we set our acquisition settings so this is where we can change the acquire mode, we can also change the memory depth, so at the moment we're on automatic memory depth but you can set that to something manually lower so you don't use the full memory depth because it does take a little while to throw all this data around and that can change your acquisition window size so I mean usually auto is fine from those circumstances and anti-aliasing currently off but definitely useful to have we can change the display characteristics and of course because this is a digital storage oscilloscope, we have the option for storage so that would be where you have a USB Drive plugged into the scope and you can select to save as a picture or as some Rigol proprietary formats by traces and waves but we can also just dump pure CSV data so done you can open up in Excel, MATLAB, octaves, and analyze on a computer manually.

So there you have it, a quick walkthrough of the Rigol DS1104Z and I'd recommend the scope for really serious makers who know they're definitely going to need that 100 megahertz or for as a standard piece of bench equipment to put in a maker space where you know you'll have a lot of varied use cases it's really affordable scope for that kind of application. As far as interfacing goes. I'm really happy with it I really like this extra of buttons down the left-hand side so you've got dedicated menu options turning the knobs pressing the buttons everything's very responsive everything feels very nice and the display updates instantly there's no lag whatsoever. So if you own a Rigol DS1104Z and want to share your thoughts or if you have any further questions I'd love to hear from you on our forums I'll catch you next time.