Oscilloscope for Restart/Repair Cafe use?

Hi all

Do you routinely have an oscilloscope at your repair cafe/Restart sessions? We were debating the merits of getting one for our community, or if it’d get sufficient use to justify the purchase (and lugging to/from sessions).

Mostly we find that a multimeter is enough to diagnose the types of faults we’d tackle at our events, it’s not often we’re looking at TVs or other equipment that might require one. But i’d interested to hear views from others.

For my part, I understand the principles of how they work but I’ve not used one myself.



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Hi Adam,
TBH I think you’ve answered your own question :smiley:.

Realistically how often would it get used and for what?

Unless you spend silly money you’re only going to get something capable of capturing up to ~Mhz range of signals which is only going to be good for, stuff like analogue radios and old TVs, which are either currently obsolete or soon will be and maybe low-frequency digital stuff such as serial line transmission, which is definitely niche.

Modern stuff, like Hi-Def video and digital electronics, definitely needs a GHz range 'scope such as https://uk.farnell.com/tektronix/mdo3104/oscilloscope-4ch-1ghz-5gsps/dp/2381336 which is most likely out of the question.

If you really feel a need for a 'scope, you could look at something like this: https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/oscilloscopes/1632719 for ~£200, but IMO that money would be better spent on other things: even a really good multimeter will cost you <£100 and is good for all sorts of things whereas a 'scope will cost you lots more, will be good for a few niche repairs at best and many repairers won’t know how to use it.

OTOH it would look very cool :rofl: .




I’m with @Dave. Having attended maybe 50 events over the last nearly 10 years, I don’t think I’ve once wished I’d had one at my elbow. Very rarely would we get to the depths of diagnostics in the limited time available for a scope to be useful. I have a cheap Chinese kit-built one (Search for DSO138 in eBay) which I use just occasionally for my own electronic projects but I find it hard to get it to trigger reliably or to display what I want. Last Christmas I treated myself to the acryllic case for it, which was a disaster - inaccurate holes needed filing even for it to go together, and switch sliders broke on first use.

If I ever went for a half-decent one I’d go for one which uses a PC to control it and display the output.

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Thanks @philip and @Dave.

I thought that was probably the case but worth checking I wasn’t missing something!

We’ll put our funds into something else instead that will be better suited to our sessions.

I also take along one of those Chinese DSO single channel toy oscilloscopes, and I’ve used it twice already in my first 6 repair cafes. You don’t need GHz to look at audio or at switch mode power supplies, 10s of kHz is fine. It’s very useful to figure out what’s going on… we used it to look at a triac lamp dimmer and a record turntable with built-in preamp. I’ve just ordered a superior one, but still less than £30, ZEEWEI DSO154PRO, nominally 18MHz, rechargeable battery and with a signal generator to boot.


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I might have to get one of those. If nothing else, it looks slightly more ergonomic than the DSO138.

Hello to Rob Jordan, and welcome. Your experience is quite interesting.

Personally, my view is that we would never use an oscilloscope at the level of diagnostics we have time for at our Repair Cafe, where notionally we can’t allow more than 30-60 minutes per customer to diagnose faults and repair items. A decent analogue multimeter is adequate.

I have three ‘scopes in my own home workshop, and the last time I used one was two years ago to set up a Roberts radio output stage after replacing the output transistors. But this is much further than we would go at a Repair Cafe.

Hi Phil, thanks for the welcome. We’ll all inevitably have our own favoured tools. I pack one bike pannier of personal stuff that I find most useful. Based on experience so far, the tiny, inexpensive oscilloscope earns its place in my kit. Who knows what the future holds.