DSO201 oscilloscope review logo

DSO201 oscilloscope review


This dso201 oscilloscope review will tell you exactly what I like about it. For a pocket oscilloscope I don't think you could really ask for more.

dso201 oscilloscope review article

Things I like about the DSO201.

  • The size – having carried around a huge and heavy oscilloscope this is brilliant. Fits in your pocket and practically weighs nothing. It takes portable to the extreme.
  • Rechargeable battery, you don’t have to plug it into the mains or an adapter.
  • As its digital you don’t have to keep maintaining focus and intensity of the display as you had to with analogue scopes when you changed ranges.
  • Displays the frequency on screen when you have a regular waveform.

The thing I don’t like about the DSO201.

  • Although the size of the DSO201 is brilliant, when it comes to some things, it can also be a problem, because it’s so small and light it doesn’t stay in place when you start moving the probe.

If you’re into hobby electronics, an oscilloscope can sometimes be considered an expensive extravagance. That’s a shame because they can be tremendously useful, sometimes being able to do things you otherwise couldn’t. They are also the sort of thing that once you’ve used one and see just how useful they are you want one.

I grew up not being able to afford an oscilloscope but used them every day in my job and so wanted one. Thankfully years on and having rediscovered my electronic hobby I’ve found that there are some extremely good oscilloscopes around at amazingly low prices. You can read my guide on the best hobby oscilloscopes here. This is my current favourite at entry price level. It costs about £50 and in my opinion for what it can do its brilliant.

Best handheld scope

The first thing you will notice about the SainSmart DSO201 ARM DSO Digital Nano Oscilloscope is its small size. It’s as small as a little mobile phone and weighs practically nothing. It’s also battery powered and rechargeable via a micro USB socket on the side. It makes it easy to use not having to plug it into the mains or a mains adapter. Just turn it on with the small slide switch on the top side. This makes it the best handheld scope that I've seen.

Battery powered oscilloscope

Another thing I like worth mentioning is that even if you don't touch it for six months, when you come to use it, it still has charge remaining in it. You can see this on the display, an icon in the top right of the screen shows you this. I like this because I have used devices before where no matter how charged they were, you put them on a few months later only for them to be flat!

Talking of the display it’s a 2.8” colour TFT LCD 320 x 240. This may seem rather small but it’s never been an issue in use. It’s only now that I look at it from a review point that I’ve actually noticed how small it is.

If you want something easy to use,  this is it. When you turn it on the top line shows:-

AUTO

1V/DIV

200uS/DIV

Y POS

FREQN

Battery icon

Auto is the trigger method then you have the volts per division and the time per division.

The AUTO flashes as its waiting for its setting to be changed. Press the right advance button and the 1V/Div to the right of auto flashes waiting for its setting to be changed. Press the upper + button and 1V/Div changes to 2V/Div. Pressing the + button repeatedly takes its setting up to the maximum setting of 10V/Div. pressing the – button takes it down to the minimum value of 10mV/Div.

Pressing the right arrow button again moves you right to the 200uS/Div which again flashes indicating that it’s waiting for you to alter it. The + button takes this setting up to the maximum value of 10S/Div while the – button takes it down to the minimum value of 1uS/Div.

Pressing the right arrow button again takes you to Y.POS where the + and – buttons move the line or waveform up or down in the display.

That’s how easy it is to use in its most basic form. That’s about as much as I first new about scopes when I first got shown how to use one. I figured this out with my basic understanding of oscilloscopes without a manual. You can read about the basics in how does an oscilloscope work here. I was just mentioning that you can do most stuff without the manual.

DSO201 manual

There is one available to download here. You will need if you want to do more advanced stuff. You can also download it to see the full list of specifications and functions. I didn’t want to bore you with all that stuff here.

Once you get to know the basics you may want to get into more advanced features of the DSO201.

The USB socket, micro SD card slot and probe socket.

The power switch and recessed test connection.

The DSO201 will work as a digital storage scope. It takes a  micro SD card that fits in the side this will store your data. The data can also be transferred to a PC via USB.

At the top right corner of the oscilloscope there is a recessed gold pin. If you touch the probe onto this you get a square wave. Looking on the screen you can see that it’s about 3.5 volts and the FREQN changes to the frequency read out, which in this case says 1.000KC which I presume to be 1KHZ. The frequency of the signal and the amplitude can be altered in the menu.

There are also many other features that you will find on other much more expensive oscilloscopes such as all the normal triggering methods if you’re trying to see specific things. You can also use the storage functions to make measurements like frequency or peak to peak voltages. I can’t comment on these features because as yet I’ve not needed to use them. For me these are just extras that I may or may not ever need. I hope this DSO201 oscilloscope review has helped you with the information you require. As for my DSO201 I’m totally happy with it. For me it does everything that I could want it to do and at a really low cost.