Gas station without pumps

2011 September 24

iPad Oscilloscope

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:52
Tags: , , ,

Last year, I complained about the lack of oscilloscope attachments for Apple computers, particularly Mac OS X laptops and iPads.  Now there is a product for iPads: Mixed Signal Oscilloscope – iMSO-104 | Oscium.

For $300, you can get a single-channel 5MHz scope (plus 4 digital inputs) that uses the iPad as a display.  It can also be used with the iPhone and iPod touch, though the smaller screens may reduce the value of the scope.

The biggest limitations seem to be

  • single channel
  • only 5MHz bandwidth
  • limited voltage range (up to ±40v with the 10x switch on the probe)
  • only 8-bit resolution (so you need to set the gain carefully)

These limitations are fine for low-power audio work, but not for anything higher speed (like video or even low-speed digital work like an Arduino).  I can’t see this limited device replacing my Kikusui COS5060 bench oscilloscope (60Mhz 2-channel), which I got used for far less money.  It would be nice to have a digital storage scope, but I’m not willing to give up quite so much bandwidth and flexibility to get one.

The core hardware is a system-on-a-chip, the  Cypress PSoC 3 chip, and the software is available as a free app.  I’ve not bothered downloading the software, but reviews on the web suggest that it is a fairly clean, easy-to-use interface, as one would expect from a touch  screen interface to a device with fairly simple, limited capabilities.

ThinkGeek’s catalog says

Intuitive hand gestures are used to navigate:

  • Trigger Level – Setting the analog trigger level is as easy as touching the right side of the screen and swiping either up or down.
  • Zooming – Changing the vertical & horizontal scales can be done by moving two fingers away from each other. To zoom out, simply pinch the screen moving two fingers toward each other.
  • Repositioning Channels – Both the analog and digital channels are also easy to reposition. Touch and swipe the desired channel to any position on the screen to customize your display.

I hope that in the next couple of years we see some more capable (professional, rather than hobbyist) scopes coming out for tablet computers, as the touch screen interface is a natural for oscilloscopes.


  1. Not to be picky, but in talking about the “5Mz” scope don’t you mean “5MHz”? The mislabeling may be confusing to some, impossible to find with a search engine for others.

    Comment by Julia — 2011 September 24 @ 20:52 | Reply

    • Thanks, I fixed the typo. (There was a 5MHz elsewhere in the post, so search engines would have been ok, but typos are irritating nonetheless.)

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2011 September 24 @ 21:20 | Reply

  2. […] iPad Oscilloscope […]

    Pingback by 2012 in review « Gas station without pumps — 2012 December 31 @ 11:18 | Reply

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