Gas station without pumps

2016 March 26

Oscilloscope tutorial video

Filed under: Circuits course,freshman design seminar — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:08
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I’ve released an intro tutorial on using the digital oscilloscopes in the lab:

The tutorial is fairly short (12 minutes, 23 seconds), and so only covers the basics of using the oscilloscope, not the myriad of features that the scopes in the lab have.

Incidentally, it took us about 2 hours to shoot the video, 2 hours for me to edit it, 2.5 hours to render it, and 5 hours to upload it to youtube.  (I would have uploaded it to Vimeo, where I already had an account, but they limit non-paying customers to 500MB a day, and the 1080p video was 1.6GB—it’s not worth paying $10 a month to upload one video.)

I’ll probably do more videos this summer, if students find this one useful, but since the production takes about 50 times the running time, don’t expect a lot of videos from me!



  1. Gee, it would be nice to have your 15-year-old digital scopes!

    That was very instructive, both the info about the time required (which is NOT news to me) and seeing the result. Although I have been doing screen capture (recorded live), the time required is about the same. Since I have the uncanny ability to see my own mistakes when watching someone else do what I do, I learned a lot that I will try to apply when I do that kind of live capture. There are some demos I need to get on video, including one about our scopes! So a few thoughts.

    You really need to turn on the CC and see the word salad that YouTube creates when you (like me) slur your words. It is very time consuming to edit the captions, but a necessary evil because it will help your students.

    Kudos for keeping the time short. My goal is a “half TED”, meaning half of the 18 minute limit on a TED talk that is based on attention span studies for detailed presentations. In your case, that might mean making the sound demo a separate video that follows in a playlist. Yes, easier said than done. I always try to do too much in my own because my mind is built around an entire lecture rather than a lecture fragment. (You could, in fact, edit what you have into a pure setup video and an example video. I did that a few times myself.)

    My only criticism is of something I tend to do: vague hand waving. I have trouble with what might be called “intentional” pointing, that is, pointing right at a specific thing and then getting my hand out of the way.

    Oh, and it would work a lot better if you had two shots: the wide one when you adjust a control, and a tight shot where everything on the screen was legible, or perhaps also one zoomed onto the controls. Full screen HD is just on the edge of clarity, although it might be the focus wasn’s quite on the screen. Of course, using two camera setups would quadruple the editting time, so that is just crazy talk. I would probably do exactly what you did.

    PS – You look much too young to have a kid in college.

    Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 April 2 @ 18:20 | Reply

    • How does one edit the closed captions? This is the first youtube video I’ve put up, and so the process is a bit new to me.

      I was aiming at 7–10 minutes, but ended up with 12.5 minutes. I had considered splitting it into two videos, but that would have required going back to the lab to record a new intro, and my son is already back at UCSB. Maybe this summer we can do some shorter videos.

      I’m sure my son, who did the narration and acting in the shots, will pay attention to the comments about the specificity of the pointing. The problem is a tough one—in my trial shots, before he did the acting, I couldn’t see the scope (wrong glasses), so had to move in close to set anything. This meant that my head or hand was often in the way of what I was trying to point to. He was aware of the problem and tried to point without his hand or body between the camera and what he was pointing to, but that was not always easy.

      I had considered zooming in and out on the scope, but decided it was too difficult to do smoothly and synchronized with the action. If I had two cameras and two tripods, it might be worthwhile to run two cameras—one fixed and the other trying to track the action. I could cut between clips fairly easily, though syncing them could be a bit of a hassle. But I only have one camera and one tripod, and I don’t think that it is worth the money or bother to get another camera—I don’t find making videos that much fun.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 April 2 @ 22:00 | Reply

      • When I talk about two cameras, I really had in mind two recording sessions where the screen part (or a closeup of the controls) could be done as a separate segment, then cut together. “Now lets look more closely at the screen”, then cut.

        I understand the timing problem, which must be really hard for what you were doing. Overall, that is an excellent first video! I find them to be so much work that I tend to leave well enough alone and just make the next one better.

        You edit the captions while logged into YouTube. I believe YouTube has a tutorial, but I was walked through it by a staff member from our college’s distance ed group so this might be slightly flawed. You start in the video manager, and either use the pulldown menu next to Edit to select captioning or click on the CC link on the top bar when you are in the editor used to modify the video description. There is an option to create them from scratch via type along (pros only!) or creating a script that is then up loaded. You can also download the existing crap as a file, edit it, then upload it, but it is easier to work with what is there because it is already in timed blocks. So … first be sure the language is right, then click on the “automatic” captions that are there now. You will see the actual captions on the right and the timing blocks and audio histogram under the video. Then click the edit button and do your thing. When you save it, this will create a NEW “English” cc set (you can’t modify the automatic one, but you can delete it when you are done). The big blue “+” will insert a new block, and you can slide the time blocks to adjust the timing. Pretty much WYSIWYG.

        You can also add an “Annotation”, which is a note that appears on the screen and can be clicked to take the viewer to a link. You certainly must know what I mean (used for ads), but you can put it where you want it (any size or location) and use it to link to some outside site related to your course.

        Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 April 3 @ 13:03 | Reply

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