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# Analog Discovery 2 vs. Other PC-Based Oscilloscopes. Is AD2 Worth the Hype?

March 12, 2020 by Steve Arar

## Analog Discovery 2 is called the "one tool with many functions." But how does it hold up against analogous T&M devices in the industry?

Digilent's Analog Discovery 2, which is developed in conjunction with Analog Devices, is a multi-function test and measurement (T&M) tool. It can be configured to work as traditional instruments such as an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, network analyzer, power supply, signal generator, and so forth.

The Analog Discovery 2 (AD2) was originally designed to provide engineering students, hobbyists, and electronics enthusiasts with a relatively low-cost multi-function instrument. However, the device is sometimes used even in more serious projects.

For example, a research group from Stanford University recently utilized the AD2 in a project involving the safety of RF devices during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as seen here.

##### This diagram depicts the test set up researchers used to "characterize the TAUS signal level versus temperature in different media." Image used courtesy of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine

They used the arbitrary waveform generator of the AD2 to generate a linear frequency modulated chirp signal of 2.5 ms duration that spans the 250-750 kHz range. The oscilloscope of the AD2 was also utilized to investigate the output of the system.

### Memory Depth

A digital oscilloscope acquires samples and stores them in memory for further processing. Assume that the sampling rate of the oscilloscope is fixed and we increase the time/division setting of the oscilloscope.

In this case, the number of samples displayed on the oscilloscope screen increases and we need a large memory to store these samples. If the oscilloscope doesn’t have enough memory to store these samples, it will automatically reduce the sample rate so that the number of samples fit the available memory. Hence, while the ADC might support a high sampling rate, we might lose some details of the input signal simply because of the lack of memory.

The table above compares the memory depth of the AD2 with other PC-based oscilloscopes.

### Triggering Systems

Today’s oscilloscopes support advanced triggering options such as width trigger, slew rate trigger, glitch trigger, and so forth. These triggering options allow us to detect rare abnormal transitions of a signal.

Although the AD2 and DSO3064A cannot offer the sophisticated triggering system of an expensive benchtop oscilloscope, they provide more options compared to the PCSGU250 and VT DSO-2A10.

### Histogram Function

The AD2 oscilloscope can plot the histogram of a signal. A histogram is a graphical representation of the number of samples with a given value. The histogram of a circuit parameter can give us clues to debug a flaw. Moreover, we can use histograms along with the different triggering modes to find rare abnormal transitions of a signal.

In a future article, we’ll more closely examine the applications of the advanced triggering modes and the histogram view.

### Conclusion

In this article, we looked at some of the important features of the AD2 oscilloscope and compared it with some products that are in the same general price range. Based on the specifications listed in the table, the AD2 oscilloscope provides the highest vertical resolution and offers a high sample rate. Its triggering options and histogram function can also be helpful in debugging circuits.

### More Insights on Analog Discovery 2

Many Functions, One Tool: The Analog Discovery 2 from Digilent

The Rise of Low-Cost Test and Measurement Equipment

Featured image (modified) used courtesy of Digilent