(Topic ID: 250055)

Thinking about getting an oscilloscope to work on pins


By swampwiz

9 months ago



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  • 19 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 months ago by mbwalker
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    #1 9 months ago

    I was reading a Zaccaria manual for an SS, and it described how the voltage at some test point should be some waveform. This got me thinking that perhaps it is time for me to get an oscilloscope, not just to help on pins, but to have in general. It seems that computer technology has reached the point where a regular computer could act as the computer, display, input, etc. for the scope, with some USB dongle being the device that gets the signal inputs.

    I came across this, which seems to be an attractively priced device:

    amazon.com link »

    What do you think?

    #2 9 months ago

    That one is only 20Mhz. I'd go with this one: https://www.picotech.com/oscilloscope/2000/picoscope-2000-overview

    I've read several on here use it with success.

    #3 9 months ago

    That scope should work fine for pinball troubleshooting, but I agree with the idea of going for a Picoscope to get the additional bandwidth; the Pico will also likely have a better, more polished software package. I have used a variety of PC scopes, and thought the Picos were always excellent.

    That being said, I found I really consistently prefer to use a full-blown dedicated DSO. The more compact ones are quite portable and easy to position for in situ work on something like a pinball machine, and the convenience of having dedicated physical buttons/dials versus mouse clicking or keyboard controls cannot be overstated. Plus, DSOs can be interfaced with PCs and operated like a PC scope if desired, so you can have the best of both worlds. Hantek, Rigol, and Siglent all make good, reasonably priced ones.

    For example:
    amazon.com link »

    #4 9 months ago

    I think a scope is a great tool for situations rarely encountered when repairing pins. You'll almost never need it. If you're doing lots of board repair it may be slightly more useful.

    If frequency of use is an attractive criteria for deciding what tool to use I think a logic probe wins most of the time.

    #5 9 months ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    I think a scope is a great tool for situations rarely encountered when repairing pins. You'll almost never need it. If you're doing lots of board repair it may be slightly more useful.

    If frequency of use is an attractive criteria for deciding what tool to use I think a logic probe wins most of the time.

    It does; for those pesky matrix issues though, nothing beats actually seeing the timing errors

    #6 9 months ago

    Working on pins since 1980, I think I have never encountered a situation needing an oscilloscope. A multimeter has been enough. With board repairs, oscilloscope sometimes helps in finding shorts and opens in acid damaged CPU boards, but a simple logic probe would also do the job.

    For analog work e.g. on sound board amplifier section the scope has its benefits. Scope bandwidth of 10 or 20 MHz is plenty enough for early SS / WPC/DE etc games, since their CPU works at 1-2 MHz.

    #7 9 months ago

    I'm a bit of an outlier, as I do both repair and development work..... and I used to do a LOT of repair work, so I found a scope to be extremely useful. Still have one and I default to it for anything other than just checking basic voltages. Hell, I often use it when doing voltage checks anyway, just to make sure the capacitors are properly smoothing the voltage.

    I also have a logic analyzer too. This lets me see how specific gates are working, and I can trace entire chip select circuits from end to end.

    This is what I currently have, and it's been extremely useful for me. Sure beats my old analog scope, that's for sure.
    amazon.com link »

    But again, it all depends on how much board repair you expect to do. I'm an oddball to this conversation for sure, as I've also got a pick and place machine, bank of 3D printers, and a lot of automated wire equipment. Things are much different when viewed from a business perspective as opposed to a hobby.

    -Hans

    #8 9 months ago

    I agree, a meter or logic probe is all you need for the majority of repairs you will perform; however, it will never ever tell you that you have a shorted diode in you switch matrix ... but it can be clearly seen with an oscilloscope.

    Bad Diode (resized).png

    #9 9 months ago

    So far, all I've needed has been a multimeter and logic probe, and I do my own board repairs.

    An oscilloscope *probably* would have been handy in certain situations.

    But granted, I don't go too deep into advanced troubleshooting like some of the professional board repair guys do.

    My process usually involves a little bit of guesswork when I suspect a bad component, and some of that guesswork would probably be removed by the use of a scope. Especially with sound boards.

    #10 9 months ago

    I’ve used a scope twice in over 25 years on sound boards. Most of the time a dmm and Logic probe do the job.

    #12 9 months ago

    Swampwiz,

    I asked about the same unit sometime back.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cheap-oscilloscopes

    IMG_1227 (resized).JPG

    The good points are it takes up little space (if you already have a lap-top on your bench). It’s inexpensive and does a good job working on pinball games.

    The down side is it’s not very portable (with the lap-top). It’s only 20 Mhz (which isn’t a problem on Pinball games). But like Thermionic pointed out, I just couldn’t work with the keyboard and mouse controls. For this reason I replaced it with a Hantek DSO5072P.

    I think most everything on a pinball game can be handled with a DMM and logic probe but I found it to be a great learning tool. I’ve learned more about electronics with an oscilloscope than I ever knew – and I’m still learning.

    #13 9 months ago

    OK, it looks like unless I am really getting into malfunctioning board diagnosing, it would not be of any use, so I will pass on this.

    #14 9 months ago
    Quoted from swampwiz:

    OK, it looks like unless I am really getting into malfunctioning board diagnosing, it would not be of any use, so I will pass on this.

    Get a logic probe if you don’t have one. Itll do what you need almost every time.

    #15 9 months ago

    Which logic probe is recommended?

    #16 9 months ago
    Quoted from Pinballer73:

    Which logic probe is recommended?

    The Elenco LP-560 has been good to me.

    ebay.com link

    -Mike

    #17 9 months ago
    Quoted from Pinballer73:

    Which logic probe is recommended?

    I like the Elenco LP900/625 Logic Probe. This one will auto detect if you are working on CMOS or TTL circuits and I do use the pulse feature when troubleshooting and repairing boards on the bench since I don't own a dedicated pulse generator.

    amazon.com link »

    Recommendation:
    Pick up a Elenco TL-12 Banana to Mingrabber Set to go with this amazon.com link » I plug these into my meter, connect the minigrabbers to the power source on the board, usually an input diode or capacitor, then shove the alligator clips into the back side of the banana plug. By doing this, you keep the logic probe alligator clips off the board so there is no way they can cause a short.

    EXAMPLE:

    IMG_1716 (resized).JPG
    #18 9 months ago
    Quoted from Pin_Guy:

    I like the Elenco LP900/625 Logic Probe. This one will auto detect if you are working on CMOS or TTL circuits and I do use the pulse feature when troubleshooting and repairing boards on the bench since I don't own a dedicated pulse generator.
    amazon.com link »
    Recommendation:
    Pick up a Elenco TL-12 Banana to Mingrabber Set to go with this amazon.com link » I plug these into my meter, connect the minigrabbers to the power source on the board, usually an input diode or capacitor, then shove the alligator clips into the back side of the banana plug. By doing this, you keep the logic probe alligator clips off the board so there is no way they can cause a short.

    I like this idea better than what I been doing.
    -Mike

    #19 9 months ago

    I bought a Hantek a couple of years ago, Hard to beat what $200 will buy these days. I'm not a fan of the USB scopes, but only from a practical standpoint. If I'm working on a pin, I don't want to haul a laptop around - I just want to plug in a scope w/a screen and be able to turn a knob and measure.

    The logic probes people mentioned are nice too, and I have one (and use it). But more often than not, I'd rather actually see the waveform. Plus you can measure the high voltage lines w/a scope. That's one of the shortcomings w/a logic probe.

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