|Good value, but better model now available
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I purchased mine in 2012. I've gotten lots of use out of it. It has been an outstanding value. As others point out, it makes a fine RF voltmeter, and it also has a very good frequency counter. There's a very accurate and precise hardware counter that counts the pulses of the trigger circuit, good for precise frequency measurements of transmitters and such. The automatic "measure" function is less precise for frequency measurements, basically measuring the waveform on the display.|
As a storage scope, this will record and store a million samples for a one-shot event, allowing you to pan and zoom through the recorded waveform after the fact. I've used this to reverse-engineer digital communications protocols between devices. It's also handy for checking start-up behavior of power supplies and such.
As much as I've enjoyed mine, it's probably not the best value anymore. These days, I'd probably spring for the Rigol DS1054Z, a new model, with four channels, intensity graded "analog-like" display, bigger screen that has higher resolution, and more memory for storing longer waveforms. The 1054Z is only slightly more expensive than the 1052E (actually, it is currently selling for the same price as I paid for my 1052E, but the 1052E price has been reduced in the intervening years).
|Fantastic value for money
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|This RIGOL is not only a great oscilloscope, but the "measure" function also makes it an AF and RF millivoltmeter plus a frequency counter, and all this at a very, very affordable price. |
The build quality seems quite OK, the case and the controls feel sturdy enough. It was hard to say goodbye to my good old TEK 453A, but this RIGOL has now taken over its place on my workbench for good.
It took me a while to get used to the menu structure which is sometimes confusing, but generally operating the RIGIOL is a pleasure, particularly the "auto"-function. No fidling of a multitude of knobs to get the signal displayed on the screen correctly: the RIGOL does it for you in a few seconds, for both channels.
The only thing that disturbs me is the fan noise. The scope hardly gets hot, so why let the fan blow at hurricane speed all the time? It would be great if it were temperature controlled. Even though, I give it a well deserved five.
|Great Digital Storage Scope at a Breakthrough Price
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|In my opinion, this is a price-performance breakthrough in test equipment. If you're used to traditional analog scopes (as I am), it will take a little getting-used-to, but it's worth the effort. |
You get a dual-channel digital scope with a 50 MHz bandwidth and a full 1 GHz sampling rate that truly supports that bandwidth. Besides being a fine scope for traditional use, its "math" capabilities make it a fine voltmeter (true RMS), frequency counter, and transient analyzer. It even does some limited spectrum analysis via a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm. You can also dump the memory or screen image to a PC, which makes it a great teaching tool.
My current favorite function is the "Auto" button. Just give it a signal (or two) and it will automatically scale the voltage level and set the sweep speed to display several cycles of the waveform(s). You can then iterate from there depending on what you want. I expect all digital storage scopes may have this feature -- it's essential on an instrument with so many possible "soft" settings. Nonetheless it's a real pleasure to use -- a kind of "home page" to return to when you're having trouble.
This scope is already the most-used piece of test gear in my ham shack "lab". I may donate away most of my older, clunkier, 70's and 80's era analog scopes. This Rigol is about the size of a lunchbox and weighs only a few pounds. The price includes two good probes. It's AC only though -- no battery operation.
One downside -- the manual that comes with it is *really* sparse, and there are many multi-function and "soft" buttons to learn to use. This is no problem for most hams, who like to tinker and learn through experience anyway.
Rigol is evidently a Chinese company, and I was concerned there might be quality issues given the very low price, but so far it works perfectly. And as I understand it, Rigol makes gear for sale by Agilent (formerly HP), which sells first-quality stuff.
One other small "downer": traditional analog scopes with modest bandwidth produce a bright hairline-thin trace that I love to see. It's what I'm used to after being a "lab rat" for over 40 years. Because this scope has an LCD screen, there is a +/- 1 pixel "quantizing noise" on the display even for very stable, low-noise repetitive waveforms. The slightly "warbling" display was disconcerting at first, but no real handicap. And I can always halt the sampling and see a stable record of a waveform at any time.
Note the "1052" model number in the heading above should actually be 1052E. There are many other more expensive Rigol models with additional capabilities. Maybe this is a loss-leader for Rigol(?).
If enough hams buy this scope, I'd be interesting in starting a blog about it to swap experiences, tips, etc.