Small, standalone scope recommendation

Hi all

Am looking for a scope for my workbench and would love some recommendations from your experience.

I have an extremely small amount of real estate on my bench, so even a “regular” bench top scope would probably be too big! I also have limited power outlets unfortunately.

I am waiting till April 5 to see if the AD2 becomes available again (see this thread: Analog Discovery 2 (AD2) Bundle no longer available?) but even if the AD2 comes back, that will have to live with my PC and so a secondary, smaller scope could be rather useful to live by the workbench, or even be a portable option to take to the office.

Given the above, I’m looking at something small, self contained (own screen) and even battery powered if possible. Also looking at the cheaper end of the market - as it would be a secondary option.

Units that seem to fit the bill

  • seeed dso nano v3 (appears to be a white labeled DSO203) and its bigger brother the DSO213
  • fnirsi ads1013d

I’ve done some research, looked at the reviews (mostly out of the eevblog) but if anyone has a recommendation I’d love to hear it.

Cc @hedrickbt
Related post: Bench check (please share your setup)

Looks like you need something smaller than what I’m about to suggest, however, I have a Rigol DS1054Z, and it’s a great all rounder scope, and it fits nicely under my monitor, so doesn’t take up any desk space at all:

1 Like

The AD2 is amazing, but I’ve heard from others as well that it’s hard to find right now.

The Rigol is a good entry scope if you’ve got some space. It’s pretty small.

You might want to look at Saleae ( offerings as a possible alternative. They’re higher-end devices (read: more expensive) and targeted at more logic analyzer applications. However, they do have analog inputs with good software to make a scope replacement. They lack the other features of the AD2, though (e.g. function generator, power supply).

Another alternative is the ADALM2000 ( From what I can tell, it’s Analog Device’s answer to the AD2. It looks to be cheaper, but the software isn’t apparently as good (

1 Like

What kind of measurements will you be using the tool for?

If your idea of a standard scope is based on the somewhat older stuff you’ve probably seen in the university EE lab, you might want to look more carefully at the new offerings as they are much more compact. The Rigol 1054Z is my daily driver now. I bought a carrier bag for it to make it easy to take to client sites, and the bag is almost exactly the size and shape of the classic US mail mailbox.

The 1054Z can be unlocked to 100 MHz (at 1 Gsps) and to enable protocol decode and triggers. Very handy features if you do any complicated work beyond simple level triggering. The “portable” scopes can be lacking in bandwidth, triggering, and sample buffering.


While the logic analyzer side of the house is awesome, don’t think I’d recommend this for the analog inputs

These are also a bit weak for what you’re going to want to see in most circuits. The 200 kHz analog bandwidth, is much less than the 10 MHz of the AD2.

It’s all going to come down to your budget, honestly. The AD2 offers the most flexibility in a small package, but also has a lot of limitations. I loved my Rigol as well and if you do the unlock, you can get closer to having the same features as the AD2, albeit without a computer. It might be worthwhile to consider skipping the AD2 entirely if you need to save budget for the Rigol.

1 Like

I have a boat anchor Tektronix 500MHz scope for HF stuff

For lower frequency a Picoscope 2000 series cost 139 USD:

You can select other variants, higher bandwidth, more channels, signal generator etc.

With the pico you get the scope SW with free advanced protocol debuggers, spectrum analyzer, third party tool that does VNA


Anyone here a Picoscope owner?

I’d love to know your thoughts if so. That seems like a way more capital efficient path to getting Ethernet and PCIe compliance working for my current company than shelling out 6 figures to Keysight.

1 Like

I have an unlocked Rigol DS1054, but before that, I started with a Bitscope Micro. USB scope, logic analyser and waveform/clock generator:

I’d recommend the BNC port adaptor to use with it though:

1 Like

I had a Bitscope, and I wasn’t thrilled by it. Clunky UI, and it up and died after about six months.

I’d save your money to put towards an entry level Rigol instead.

1 Like

I have a Picoscope 2204A, just for simple stuff and VNA. it’s great, like I wrote earlier, the SW adds a lot of functions (cheapest is 119 USD for a 10MHz scope)

I also use a pico 5444B, 4 channel, 200MHz. It’s reasonable high end to capture fast events. Has 512Msamples memory, which is a lot, allows you to capture spurious events and zoom in at a later time. Also use that for VNA (up to 20MHz)


I bought a BitScoe back in 2008 and still use it. At that time the sample rate, UI, memory and price were very competitive. Today I would be tempted by the sample rate and memory depth of a dedicated oscilloscope, but most of my work is at lower frquencies and I also depend on the 8-channel logic capture and the protocol analyzer, so I’m happily saving my money until I need more.

1 Like

How much space do you have?

What is already in the space?

Can you go up, off the bench?

I have a 12U desktop network rack, where I have my workstation, 'scope, multimeter, dual power supply, network switch and a little empty space, all taking up as much desk space as a large Tower PC. Something like this:

1 Like

I visited this topic to provide an opinion about a lab stereoscope, and realized you are talking about a different kind of “scope”!

But I’m glad I did open the thread, because I’m in a similar boat. I have an AD2 (I was so lucky to get mine just weeks before the shortage hit). My only “real” oscilloscope is an old GWInstek with health issues. I have some upcoming projects where I want a physical scope, and these tips are helpful. I’m going to consider the Rigol 1054Z that @ToyBuilder describes. I don’t travel around so much with Covid these days, but in a previous life being able to cart my o’scope to the client makes these “lunch box” scopes quite attractive.

1 Like

BTW, I have used both the Saelee and AD2, and I’m more confident using the AD2. On the surface they have a lot of similarities (logic analyzer modes). When I dug deeper, I found various quirks in the Saelee that left an overall negative impression (perhaps undeserved). The AD2 hasn’t let me down (so far). But if only folks could buy the thing…

1 Like

I have one of the Rigol MSO1104s. It has both the scope and the logic analyzer. It is fantastic for everything except decoding long bitstreams. It loses its place when you zoom and shift the time base too far. It is not a hindrance to my work. I will say the menus for things like saving are a little strange, but I got used to that quickly. So, I would buy it again in a second.

1 Like

Hi all

So sorry for the delay in getting back to everyone - an unexpected bit of chaos (corona scares and job reorg!) stole most of my attention, and 1 day away turned 2… into 3… eventually into many as I dug through the pile of todo’s that accumulated during my absence. Suffice to say I’ve read everything (via mail to keep the notifications here to follow up) and have been doing some thinking during my absence.

… mobile just now, hopefully back at the keyboard soon!

@maxsimmonds1337 - cheers mate; looking at the photos, I reckon I might be able to squeeze something i - I had the same idea as @nickb suggested in going higher, and adding a second shelf (which has the added benefit of more storage space for component boxes etc)

(for the record, the workbench i have is 720mm x 380mm and @nickb at the moment i’ve stripped it down to just have my bench supply (which takes up 120mm away from the 720mm - so adding another layer would actually be good to increase the available space)

@ToyBuilder - what do I plan on using it for? (which is a great question and one i should have included in the first post). initial need is low speed TTL up to a few hundred hertz, standard interfaces like I2C, SPI, UARTs. Other than that, my daily is going to be embedded cellular IoT boards similar to the CE ABC but I also have an iMX6UL SO-DIMM (like the Variscites) which might need some interfacing work. Additionally i have an 8 year old showing some engineering tendencies and having something for him to explore basic circuits would be good (I should add that my first scope was a slightly crusty Hameg 10Mhz CRO i picked up cheap second hand as a student, and indeed how far we’ve come since those days! The AD2 does have the ability to be dropped in a drawer out of the way when not in use as well though… but you are right, the new DSOs are much more compact - as maxsimmonds1337 clearly demonstrates)

@ChrisGammell - yes I had suspected that the low bandwidth of the DSO Nano would be an issue for all but a few of my projects as i describe to @ToyBuilder above; it was grasping at straws a wee bit; the idea of skipping the AD2 and going to the Rigol is an interesting thought that I have been thinking over along with the advice from many other Rigol owners in this thread

@KVK - I had a Pico many years ago, leant it to a friend and never saw it again (though to be fair, if memory serves me correct we did a trade, so i didn’t lose out!) - i don’t ever remember having any major issues with it. In Sweden (and this is a common note here) pricing and availability tends to push the pico’s out of the conversation compared to other options like the AD2

1 Like

@DefProc (@dale) - yep, had a look at the Bitscope, also saw a project Ben Heck did with one; They are available at a decentish price, but support doesn’t appear to be there any more, and a few bad reviews arounds the place

@rclott glad the thread helped, what is the driving factor for a physical scope over the AD2? (since you have both and we seem to have similar needs, your experience here seems valuable!)

@steveg i’d love to have a MSO, but $$$ :smiley: (though this is why the AD2 is so tempting)

once again, thank you so much to everyone above for stopping by and adding your $0.02, it’s very appreciated; The many people who mentioned skipping the AD2 and going for the Rigol, nickb, ToyBuilder and maxsimmonds1337 particularly made me think, with enough creativity, there is more than enough room on the bench (p.s nickb i’m intrigued by the setup you have, can you post a few pics? the rack sounds very interesting). Lastly, I will add here that in Sweden, where I am located, pricing and availability is a bit tougher than the US. So! with all the above said and done, this is what I have in front of me, and I would love a vote/recommendation

(n.b all prices are converted to USD from SEK)
Rigol DS1054Z : asking price between $473.09 and $631.54
Siglent SDS1052DL+: $344.22 (from what I can read, this 50MHz scope might be upgradable to 100MHz same as the Rigol; there was a post of EEVBlog*)
Siglent SDS1102CML+ : 459.15
ADALM2000: $286.77 (@ShawnHymel)
PicoScope 2204A: $182
BitScope: $217.14
AD2: $217 (CE Pricing)

Budget wise, I can stretch to the Siglent SDS1052DL+, but that would be the absolute max I think. So it’s a toss up between the AD2 and the Siglent I think… I am leaning towards the AD2 due to the extra flexibility with the logic analyser (I am thinking a wall mounted monitor or laptop on a raised shelf, will solve some space issues) - what does the Jury think of the above options?

* eevblog forum is down; here is a link to the cached post though:

1 Like

My vote would still be for the AD2 (if you can find one) for the added logic analyzer and portability. I’ve got an AD2 and a good 200 MHz scope. I still use the AD2 90% of the time, unless I need to measure something in that 50-200 MHz range.

@ShawnHymel yes, that has been my gut feeling all along, as well. I have limited budget so trying to get it right first. The AD2 is back though!


I notice the AD2 is only 30MHz, how often are you needing the extra 20Mhz (or 170Mhz in your case!) in practice? Doesn’t sound like much - though there is of course more to choosing a scope (and a DSO in particular) than just bandwidth - doing some reading on rigol vs siglent and the AD2 limitations