NorthTree Associates Announces Micsig Sales Promotion On TO202 and TO202A tBook Tablet Oscilloscopes

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A new Micsig sales promotion is underway at NorthTree Associates. The Micsig TO202 and TO202A  tBook Tablet Oscilloscope have been put on sale at special prices.

The Micsig TO 202 tBook Tablet Oscilloscope has 2 channels, a 200MHz bandwidth, and a 1GSs sampling rate is now priced at $669.00. CLICK HERE NOW to order and see complete specifications.

In addition, the MicsigTO202A tBook Tablet Oscilloscope has 2 channels, 200MHz bandwidth, and a 2GSs sampling rate is now priced at $769.00. CLICK HERE NOW to order and see complete specifications.

As the tBook Tablet Oscilloscope innovator, Micsig has achieved various worldwide patent rights, software copyright for their touch screen tBook Tablet Oscilloscope. Features include: a multi-touch screen, 100MHz to 200MHz bandwidth, 2 or 4 channels, real time sampling rates of 1GS/s to 2GS/s, compact design, high memory depths, and excellent function features.

The affordably priced Micsig handheld oscilloscopes offer bandwidths ranging from 70MHz up to 200MHz, two channels and 1GS/s sampling rate, making them deal for both laboratory testing and field service applications across a wide range of industry sectors.

High performance features offered by Micsig oscilloscopes include isolated inputs for safely carrying out floating measurements, up to 190,000 wfms/s refresh rate, support for serial bus protocol trigger and decode (1553B/429/UART/232/485/LIN/CAN/SPI/12C) in both graphic and text modes, and multi-function operation including digital oscilloscope, digital multimeter and recorder.

In oscilloscope mode, the units offer a wide range of trigger types, 31 automatic measurements, and maths functions including FFT. Isolated input versions offer up to 1000V CAT II 600V CAT III maximum channel floating voltage.

Designed for user-friendly operation with Micsig’s touch screen technology, the oscilloscope offers three operation modes – moving the waveform, zooming in and out, and menu option selection – with the large 5.7 inch TFT LCD screen providing users with a sharp 640 x 480 high resolution display. A user selectable indoor (black background) or outdoor (white background) display mode makes the models particularly useful in field service applications.

The Li-ion batteries provide users with up to 6 hours of continuous operation, while the USB host and slave interface allows users to easily download captured waveforms as well as connect the oscilloscopes to a PC.

NorthTree Associates based in Cologne, MN provides unique Electronic Test & Measurement tools for increasing productivity. You can reach NorthTree Associates at sales@northtreeassociates.com

LabNation SmartScope Open Source USB Oscilloscope

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LabNation has announced the launch of an open source USB oscilloscope dubbed SmartScope. Using a Kickstarter campaign that started in 2014, the project raised 645% of its funding goal within 30 days. Believed to be the world’s first test equipment designed to run on multiple operating systems and platforms such as smartphones, tablets and PCs, the SmartScope is powered directly from the host’s USB interface.

The SmartScope combines the multiple functions of an oscilloscope including a logic analyzer and a waveform generator in a case measuring just 110.0 x 64.0 x 24.2 mm, weighing only 158 grams. The software provides the user interface and functionality, and can be downloaded from the SmartScope website. It is available for Android (Google Play Store or LabNation website), Apple Mac OS X, Apple iOS (jailbroken), Microsoft Windows 7, 8 and 10, and Ubuntu and Debian Linux distributions.

The oscilloscope provides two analog channels with a sample rate up to 100 MS/s and provides a -3dB bandwidth of 30 MHz, input signal range of ±35 V with a 1 MΩ / 1pF impedance, an 8-bit precision and a maximal resolution of 2.5mV.

The LabNation SmartScope oscilloscope software provides a comprehensive set of on-screen functions, either by touch, mouse or keyboard controls, for voltage scaling, time-based scaling, panning, input coupling, triggering and simple voltage measurements. The logic analyzer offers eight input channels with a user selectable logic level of 3.3 or 5 VDC. The application includes a number of standard protocol decoders such as I2C and SPI in addition to allowing the creation of custom decoders. The single channel waveform generator creates arbitrary waveforms with a data rate up to 50 MS/s and an output level from 0 to 3.3 V.

A digital output generator provides four channels, up to a rate of 100 MS/s at either 3.3 or 5 V. The LabNation SmartScope is ideal for the growing numbers of makers using small board computers such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino to diagnose faults and learn more about how basic electronics and how their design is functioning. The light compact unit suits a broad variety of electronics engineering, field service, education, and hobbyist applications. The small form-factor unit is supplied complete with a mini ‘B’ USB cable, two analog probes, digital cable and probes.

NorthTree Associates has represented LabNation SmartScope since 2014. Contact us with any questions or comments concerning the LabNation SmartScope or any of the other fine products we sell. www.northtreeassociates.com

Choosing the Right Diagnostic Automotive Oscilloscope for Your Auto Repair Shop

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Searching for Answers: Choosing Your Oscilloscope

Every shop will have different needs and uses for an oscilloscope, so it’s important to identify your facility’s specific needs from the equipment. Here are six steps to cover so your choice is the most correct one.

Step 1: What kind of vehicles are worked on? Take a look at the shop’s mix. What kind and type of vehicles are repaired the most? What makes, models and years are seen most often? “The more specific and ‘specialized’ the work that can be provided, the better off the shop will be. Choose the 10 most worked-on vehicles, and figure out the needs for those.

Step 2: Consider what isn’t worked on. Obviously, an oscilloscope should be able to help in bringing in additional business, jobs, revenue and, as is the overall goal – profitability. Will it be a tool that can help in bringing in vehicles in the area that the shop is missing out on? Are there any other shops working on a specific vehicles? If not, can the right oscilloscope help the shop take advantage of this opportunity?

Step 3: Research oscilloscopes. Here’s where shops often get off track or go the easy route. But if the proper approach is used and the correct observance of the shop’s work mix (Steps 1 and 2), then it narrows it down quite a bit. Here are six things to consider:

Coverage. What software does the tool come with? What updates? What vehicles does the software cover? Makes and model years? Because of changes in vehicle design and capabilities, how often is the software updated? It needs to be understood what each software package is capable of diagnosing.

Training/Ease of Use. Most oscilloscopes are “plug & play” aftermarket tools. Higher-end oscilloscopes often come with a steeper learning curve for first-time users. Try to get a feel for how long it will take shop technicians to master the equipment, and what training or support is offered.

Compatibility. Some oscilloscopes are Windows-based PC or laptop-based, and that often means one oscilloscope with powerful software can provide a wide range of coverage.

Technical Support. Got hotline? Some oscilloscope manufacturers provide hotlines of sorts to call for additional information or for support for difficult diagnoses. Understand how each oscilloscope is supported.

Upgrades/Updates. Oscilloscopes are constantly being upgraded and updated. Research the companies you’re considering and see what they offer in terms of upgrades. Not only for the purpose of the software but also for the oscilloscope.

Cost. An obvious point. Do you want a high-end do it all oscilloscope, then get ready to pay significantly. There’s going to be a large discrepancy in price between oscilloscope makers. This is why understanding the work mix of the shop is important to grasp the value of the tool.

Step 4: Analyze the return. There are a lot of ways to try to analyze how valuable a diagnostic oscilloscope is for a shop. One way to analyze the return is to low-ball the return and only compare the cost of the tool (including subscriptions and upgrades) to the amount of profit made on diagnostic charges. This will gave an absolute minimum that can serve to directly pay off the tool.

Step 5: Demo the tools. Be wary of any company that isn’t confident enough in its oscilloscope to let you have it for trial period. What is their return policy? If the oscilloscope doesn’t fit your needs, can you return it NQA? Using the oscilloscope on your own is important in making the right decision.

Step 6: Implement the tools. Although this step must come after you selected and purchased a tool, it will also help to confirm your decision. Don’t just simply buy diagnostic equipment and hand it off to the technician. Create processes and systems for your shop to use it correctly, Seyfer says, and make sure to market your capabilities.

Keep It Simple

Choosing an oscilloscope for the shop can be a difficult task. The most important thing to remember, is to find the best fit for your shop. Get as much information as possible. Speak with other shops, talk with vendors, ask about it in association gatherings, and on message boards—anywhere you can. There’s plenty of information out there about each tool.

In the end, try to make the process as simple as you can.

Should you have any questions, you can contact us directly by filling out the form below.

10 Reasons Why You Need A PC Oscilloscope

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PC Oscilloscopes (PCOs) are rapidly replacing traditional digital storage oscilloscopes (DSOs) as the essential item for your test equipment arsenal. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. Compact and portable units
  2. Uses your PC monitor to provide a large and detailed color display
  3. Signal storage is limited only by your PC’s storage capability
  4. Captured waveforms and instrument settings can easily be shared with others
  5. New functionality through free software updates
  6. Can be used with desktop or laptop PCs
  7. High-speed USB 3.0 connection (parallel port oscilloscopes are also available)
  8. Hardware and software in one package
  9. Use your PC Oscilloscope for data acquisition
  10. A complete test and measurement lab in one unit

1.  Compact and portable units

By integrating several instruments into one small unit, PC Oscilloscopes (PCOs) are lighter and more portable than traditional test equipment. When used with a laptop computer, you can carry a complete electronics lab in the same bag as your PC.

2.  Uses your PC monitor to provide a large and detailed color display

The display of a traditional oscilloscope is limited by the physical size of the oscilloscope, and may only be a single color. With a PC Oscilloscope your computer controls the display, so not only do you get a full color display, but the display can be the size of your monitor, projector or plasma display.

3.  Signal storage is limited only by your PC’s storage capability

PC Oscilloscopes store the signals that you are measuring directly on your PC. With the power of today’s modern PCs this gives you vast storage capabilities. Along with allowing you to record lengthy signals this also lets you save signals for reviewing at a later date.

4.  Captured waveforms and instrument settings can easily be shared with others

Need to show your customer or colleague the signal you have captured? Just save the waveform and email them a copy. They don’t have a copy of the oscilloscope software? No problem – just export it as text, an image or in a binary format for use with third-party software. (If they want to set up their equipment to run the same test, simply send them the oscilloscope settings too.)

5.  New functionality through free software updates

If you’re lucky you can return a traditional DSO to the supplier for a firmware upgrade and maybe get improved functionality. With a PC-based oscilloscope new features and improved functionality can be added at any time with a simple software update. Free software updates means that a PC Oscilloscope is one of the few things that can actually become more powerful and useful with age.

6.  Can be used with desktop or laptop PCs

PC Oscilloscopes are external devices that are connected to your PC using the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus (USB). Virtually every laptop or desktop PC sold comes with multiple USB ports so there’s no problem using your PC Oscilloscope with either a desktop or a laptop PC.

7.  High-speed USB 3.0 connection

USB 3.0 can transfer data at speeds of up to 1 GS/s. Using powerful PC Oscilloscope software it give you incredible performance with fast screen updates and the ability to stream data.

8.  Hardware and software in one package

Choose PC Oscilloscopes that come complete with the hardware and software in one package.

9.  Use your PC Oscilloscope for data acquisition

Using the sw, you can transform your PC Oscilloscope into a data logger that can log data over extended periods of time.

10.  A complete test and measurement lab in one unit

When you buy a PC-based oscilloscope make sure you don’t just get an oscilloscope: make sure you also get a spectrum analyzer, meter and data logger rolled into your PC-Oscilloscope choice. Some models even include a built–in signal generator or arbitrary waveform generator. So with a PC Oscilloscope you really do get a complete test and measurement lab in one cost–effective unit.

NorthTree Associates is a distributor and supplier of Electronic Test & Measurement Equipment. Companies represented include ITIC USB 2.0 Protocol Analyzers, LabNation SmartScopes, Micsig Oscilloscopes, Oscium iOS Test Tools, OWON Oscilloscopes.

5 Features To Consider When Choosing A Digital Oscilloscope

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For anyone designing, manufacturing, or repairing electronic equipment, a digital storage oscilloscope is a must-have tool. It lets you see high-speed repetitive or single-shot signals across multiple channels to capture elusive glitches or transient events. An oscilloscope is equally as useful a tool for qualifying elements of a new design as it is for isolating problem components in an existing system under repair.
When it comes to evaluating oscilloscopes, many engineers focus on one specification: bandwidth. The assumption is generally that the faster oscilloscope is the better oscilloscope. And while bandwidth is an important thing to consider, it falls well short of telling the whole story or in ensuring that the oscilloscope you’re considering will truly meet your needs. With that in mind, here are five other things you’ll want to consider when choosing your next oscilloscope.

1. Rise time — Accurate rise-time measurements are key to making accurate measurements in the time domain. Many logic families have faster rise times (edge speeds) than their clock rates suggest. A processor with a 20 MHz clock may well have signals with rise times similar to those of an 800 MHz processor. Rise times are important for studying square waves and pulses. Square waves are standard for testing amplifier distortion and timing signals for TVs and computers. Pulses may represent glitches or information bits — too slow a rise time for the circuit being tested could shift the pulse in time and give a wrong value.

2. Fast sample rate — The sample rate of an oscilloscope is similar to the frame rate of a movie camera. It determines how much waveform detail the scope can capture. To capture glitches you need speed. A signal must be sampled at least twice as fast as its highest frequency component to accurately reconstruct it and avoid aliasing (showing artifacts that are not actually there). This is however an absolute minimum. What’s more, it applies only to sine waves and assumes a continuous signal. Glitches are by definition not continuous, and sampling at only twice the rate of the highest frequency component is usually not enough. A high sample rate increases resolution, ensuring that you’ll see intermittent events. As a rule of thumb, look for a sample rate of at least 5x your circuit’s highest frequency component.

3. Versatile triggering — All oscilloscopes provide edge triggering, and most offer pulse width triggering. But more advanced triggering capabilities can save you time and shorten the time to answer when working with more challenging signals. The wider the range of trigger options available, the more versatile the scope. Some of the triggers available include A & B sequence triggering; video triggering on line/frame/HD signals, etc.; logic triggers such as slew rate, glitch, pulse width, time-out, runt, setup-and-hold; and communications triggers for serial and parallel buses.

4. Powerful waveform navigation and analysis — Searching for specific waveform errors can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Tools that automate the process can be a big time saver. For instance, oscilloscopes with record lengths in the millions of points can show thousands of screens worth of signal activity, essential for examining complex waveforms. Capabilities such as search and mark speed up the process by letting you search through the entire acquisition and automatically mark every occurrence of an event you specified. Other capabilities include zoom and pan, play and pause, and advanced search.

5. Matching probes — Precision measurements start at the probe tip. The probe’s bandwidth must match that of the oscilloscope, and must not overload the Device Under Test (DUT). Probes actually become a part of the circuit, introducing resistive, capacitive and inductive loading that alters the measurement. It’s important to have a range of probes available. To start with, select passive probes that have high bandwidth and low loading. Active ground-referenced probes offer one to four GHz bandwidth while active differential probes support 20 GHz or more. Adding a current probe enables the scope to calculate instantaneous power, true power, apparent power and phase. High voltage probes measure to 40kV peak. Specialty probes include logic, optical and environmental types.

Cost of ownership
Any scope you choose will need to fit within the constraints of a capital acquisition budget. While cost of ownership isn’t a feature per-se, it’s an important consideration.  This means you should compare support options to see to whether they add value to your purchase or can help extend the scope’s useful life. On-site education and training, as well as design, system integration, project management, and other professional services can help maximize productivity and ensure reliable measurements. Support packages such as these, along with options like extended warranty can save money in the long term.

Contact us with your questions or if you would like to visit our online store to shop for digital oscilloscopes – visit http://www.northtreeassociates.com / sales@northtreeassociates.com

NorthTree Associates Introduces OWON XDS Series Multi-Function Oscilloscopes

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The XDS series of oscilloscopes is the latest product release from OWON. With 12‐bit resolution, the XDS series offers the best solution for those who need to measure small signals or be able to read details from a large signal. Highly suitable for Medical, Automotive, Power Supply, and more.

In addition to having a 12‐bit resolution, the OWON XDS series of oscilloscopes are equipped with advanced technology and functions such as advanced trigger and decoding functions, Wi‐Fi and App support along with a capacitance touch screen.

OWON XDS series oscilloscopes come with the OWON 3rd generation technology platform ‐ Xvisual, which advances the performance of the XDS series oscilloscopes over other oscilloscopes available. The new Xvisual platform consists of 3 parts: Low Base Noise, 40M Record Length, 75,000 wfms/s Refresh Rate. One of the main benefits of Xvisual is ease at which the measurement of small signals can be read, and the ability to fully restore the true status of signals.

The XDS series oscilloscope software, provides advanced trigger and protocol decoding functions to help engineers analyze bus protocols and quick positioning. The embedded Wi‐Fi module ensures computers and cell phones can share the display screen to view and control the oscilloscope. Users can also check and save waveform data via App. By saving data via the App, data can be shared between other users.

The optional capacitance touch screen has been designed to look and act similar to a Smartphone – thus being intuitive and easy to start using right out of the box.

Additionally, the OWON XDS is complete mobile test station. It has incorporated the ultra‐thin design of the OWON SDS series oscilloscope, and has a battery option for portable use in the field. Besides the oscilloscope function, the OWON XDS also has function modules such as: a 25 MHz/50MHz single/dual channel(s) arbitrary waveform generator, a digital multimeter and a high precision data logger.

Established in 2004, NorthTree Associates (Cologne, MN) is a North American distributor for OWON oscilloscopes, waveform generators, and programmable power supplies. NorthTree Associates provides unique Electronic Test & Measurement tools for design engineers, test engineers and production engineers.

Micsig MS510S 2 Channel Handheld Oscilloscope Review

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The Micsig MS510S 2 Channel Handheld Multifunctional Oscilloscope is portable unit has two fully isolated 100MHz scope inputs, a built-in isolated multimeter, 14.5cm (5.7”) color touch-screen, up to 190k waveform updates per second, 240k points memory and a battery life of up to 7 hours. It’s supplied with a pair of isolated probes for measuring up to 600V (Cat II).

As portable scopes go, this handheld oscilloscope offering from Micsig has a lot of good features and reasonably priced. One of the reasons this review was written was that we recognized how useful it is to have a scope with two fully isolated channels; this makes it much easier to make measurements at two different points in a circuit which may not necessarily have the same ground reference.

However, you do have to be a bit careful using an isolated scope because you can possibly have a high voltage not only between the input signal and ground but between those grounds and from each ground to earth. So the probes and inputs need to be well-insulated to prevent accidental shocks.

The Micsig MS510S unit does not disappoint as it is supplied with two insulated probes that shroud the BNC connector shields, earth clips and test probes (to the extent possible). These are 500MHz, 10:1 types rated for 300V CAT III and 600V CAT II.

First impressions of the overall user interface are good. The screen has good contrast and color and is easy to read indoors; it has an outdoor color scheme which helps for reading in sunlight. However the lack of an anti-reflective coating on the display means it would work a lot better with a hood or under shade. The unit boots up fast – in just a couple of seconds – and responds to button presses pretty quickly. So it doesn’t feel sluggish to use.

While the touch-screen can be used to perform many functions such as moving along the timebase, moving traces up and down, zooming into portions of the waveform and selecting measurements to display, virtually all functions can also be performed using the front panel buttons and side jog wheel. The operation of this unit is quite different to most benchtop scopes but users will quickly figure out the controls and get used to them. Like most digital scopes, it has soft buttons (F1-F4) which drive the on-screen menus.

The control layout below these buttons is pretty simple and the function of most buttons is self-evident. This oscilloscope is 165mm wide, 255mm tall, 62mm deep (not including side carry strap) and weighs 1.7kg. It has a tilting stand at the back to prop it up on a flat surface. Supplied accessories include the two probes, a set of multimeter leads, mains charger, user manual and PC software on CD and warranty card.

Oscilloscope Functions

Each channel of the Micsig MS510S oscilloscope has a selectable sensitivity of 5mV-50V/division so with the supplied 10:1 probes, that gives a range of 50mV-500V per division. The sampling rate is 1GS/s with one channel active and 500MS/s with two. As stated earlier, storage is 240Kpoints total so with both channels active it can store 120K samples. Channel bandwidth can be restricted to 20MHz if required and each channel can be AC or DC coupled.

This oscilloscope uses a 9-bit ADC which is slightly better than bargain basement oscilloscopes (including desktop models) which typically use an 8-bit ADC. As such, when the bandwidth is set to 20MHz, the traces are quite clean, however there is still a fair bit of noise evident with 100MHz bandwidth (this setting affects both channels simultaneously). You can of course enable averaging to reduce noise with repetitive signals; this is also enabled for both channels at once. By default, the oscilloscope has trace persistence, which can be handy in some circumstances as it allows you to see the ‘spread’ of the signal, i.e. – to get an idea of jitter in a digital signal or amplitude stability in an analog signal.

But sometimes you want to turn it off to get a ‘cleaner’ looking trace – unfortunately, we can’t figure out how to do that with this unit. The minimum persistence setting is 100ms. This isn’t a huge problem but it does seem to be an oversight in the software. (As of this posting, Micsig is working on a solution for this issue).

You can display up to four measurements in oscilloscope mode, selected from a large list and these appear at the top of the screen, overlapping the graticule. They’re updated a couple of times a second. The unit also has basic X/Y cursors that can be enabled and moved around in the usual way. Typical trigger options are available, including Edge, Pulse, Logic (ie, high/high, high/low, etc), Video (including high definition) and Serial Bus. The hold-off time is adjustable as is the trigger coupling (AC/DC).

Serial Bus Decoding

While this is not a mixed signal oscilloscope, it does have an option to decode various serial buses and trigger on the contents of the packets. This includes serial, LIN, CAN, SPI and I2C although given the fact that there are only two channels, it’s more suitable for I2C than say SPI.

Multimeter Functions

The built-in multimeter of the Micsig MS510S is easy to use because of the large touch-screen. It’s easy to switch modes by pressing on their icons and the numeric display is large. One aspect we particularly like is that it auto-ranges almost instantly, which overcomes one of the biggest arguments against auto-ranging meters (which, let’s face it, are pretty much standard now).

However, there is one major drawback apart from the modest 4-digit resolution and that is that you need an external accessory to do current measurements – either a shunt or a hall-effect sensor (clamp meter). These are available as accessories; however Micsig does not currently list them or have a price. So that probably means you need a multimeter on hand, in addition to the Micsig MS510S. But that’s not to say the multimeter functions are useless – far from it.

It offers DC and AC voltage in ranges such as 500mV, 5V, 50V along with a maximum of 1000V DC and 750V AC (20kHz bandwidth). The multimeter inputs are fully isolated from the scope inputs. It also does statistics (minimum/average/maximum) and has a bar graph in addition to the numerical read-out.

Other modes include resistance (0-50MΩ), continuity (50Ω threshold), diode test (up to 3.5V), capacitance 100pF-50ΩF), temperature and humidity (requiring an external sensor accessory) and pressure (also requiring an external sensor accessory).

One nice feature of the Micsig MS510S oscilloscope is that the multimeter inputs can also double as calibration outputs for the probes. Small adaptors are supplied to make the connections.

Data Logging

The Micsig MS510S also has a “Recorder” mode where it can log readings from either the meter or oscilloscope input(s). When logging from the meter, you can choose from DC volts, AC volts or DC+AC volts. You can also log DC amps, AC amps, temperature, humidity and pressure but all these extra modes require the appropriate accessory.

The readings are displayed in an automatically-scaled horizontally scrolling chart format and the data can then be saved to a USB flash drive (in an “.MMR” file format) or in a screen grab of the chart. It can be set to either stop storing data when full, or set to a circular buffer mode where it overwrites the earliest data with later data once storage space is exhausted.

For data logging from the oscilloscope input(s), it can either log a low-frequency view of the two input channels or alternatively, it can log one or two of the scope measurements. In the latter case, you need to first enable the measurements you require on the appropriate channels, then about five hours to reach full charge.

Conclusion

As portable oscilloscopes go, the Micsig MS510S is a pretty attractive proposition. Even for bench-top use, the dual isolated channels and ability to easily move it around are quite useful features. While we would like to see a couple of software tweaks and an anti-glare coating on the screen, it’s a very flexible instrument with good overall performance and a responsive user interface.

While the Micsig MS510S is not light, it can be operated hand-held and with the protective rubber surround, appears to be robust enough for field use.

For applications where performance is not so critical, the Micsig MS-310IT oscilloscope is a more economical option. The main difference is the waveform update rate – the Micsig MS510S has 190K samples/second and the Micsig MS310IT only has 50Ksamples/second. Micsig also has the MS-200T series oscilloscopes are even more economical, but as with the MS310IT oscilloscope, this series does not feature isolated inputs.

Established in 2004, NorthTree Associates (Cologne, MN) is a North American distributor that provides unique Electronic Test & Measurement tools for design engineers, test engineers and production engineers.