How to Use the Automotive Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Written by samuel markings
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How to Use the Automotive Digital Storage Oscilloscope
You can use an automotive digital storage oscilloscope to test electrical signals in cars. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A way to visualise AC electrical signals within cars is with the use of an automotive digital storage oscilloscope. This is a device with a number of electrical inputs and controls, and a screen that shows the signal. Automotive digital storage oscilloscopes are typically used by engineers within manufacturing factories to set electrical signals to their defined form, or by mechanics within garages to fault-test components within the engine. Examples of electrical signals that may be observed include the ignition sequence and the output of the throttle position sensor.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Automotive digital storage oscilloscope
  • Coaxial cable

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  1. 1

    Connect the coaxial cable between the relevant output on the car and one of the inputs on the oscilloscope. Oscilloscopes normally have two inputs and these are labelled "A" and "B." You can connect the cable to either input. Switch on the connected input by pressing the "A" or "B" button.

  2. 2

    Alter the volts/division control. This changes the vertical scale and the number of volts each division represents. The electrical signal will not be clearly visible until further settings are modified.

  3. 3

    Alter the time/division, or timebase, control. This changes the amount of time each horizontal division represents. If you know the frequency of the electrical signal, then you can calculate the time/division. The time for one period is equal to T = 1 / f , where f is the frequency. Set the time/division to the calculated value.

  4. 4

    Alter the vertical position control. This moves the signal up and down on the oscilloscope screen. Center the signal.

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