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Knob-less touch-screen tablet oscilloscope packs a punch

17 May 2016  | Adam Carlson

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Time and again, a test equipment manufacturer would churn out a piece of novelty that promises certain capabilities. The best way to get a true feel for a piece of test equipment is to use it to track down a real-world problem in a real-world design.

I really love the chance to review new products. Manufacturers are entrusting you with their latest hardware in the hope that you will love it as much they do. Most of the times I've been given these opportunities, I've been fortunate enough to enjoy truly pleasurable experiences and, looking back over this review, I am happy to say that this has been one of those occasions.

A few weeks ago at the time of this writing, a box arrived at my door with two different oscilloscopes to review from a new, little-known manufacturer called Micsig. Based out of Shenzhen, China, the folks from Micsig released their first oscilloscope in early 2013 (the tBook series), followed shortly thereafter by a handheld device with integrated multimeter (the MS series).

In this column I will be reviewing the TO202A from the tBook series of 10.1in touch-screen devices. For those who simply cannot wait until the end of the article to see my opinion, I can summarise it here by saying that the TO202A is an innovative device that I have really enjoyed using. It comes in at a nice price-point compared to the competition, while offering a great feature set. It also offers something that many other scopes do not; it also comes in a battery powered version.

I know what many readers might be saying at this point: "Hmmm, a touch-screen device without any knobs, I am not sure that I can survive without knobs on my scope." Well, over the past few years I have reviewed a few oscilloscopes that have touch as their primary means of control, with some being supported by a set of auxiliary knobs and buttons. In this case, tBooks go all out because they don't have any knobs to turn whatsoever.


Figure 1: TO202A (Source: Micsig)

Opening up the short (but very handy) user guide gives one a quick tour of how the device works. In order to maximise screen space, many of the controls are tucked away in screens that are accessed via a quick finger swipe. Because of the all-touch approach, the tBook offers the largest screen in its class at 10.1in with multi-touch capability.

While the touch screen demands one's attention, there are many other features to highlight, a summary of which are as follows: Model: TO202A; channels: 2 (a 4-channel model is available); bandwidth: 200MHz; sample Rate: 2GS/s; resolution: 8bit; input impedance: 50Ω and 1MΩ; allowance for various probe multipliers; rise time: <1.75ns; gradient display; memory depth: 90Mpts; capture rate: 500,000Wfrms/s; built in storage: 4GB (extensible through a USB Port); battery: up to 13,000mAH for about six hours of run time; and price: $1,198 (Available on Amazon and

In order to review this device, I actually put it through its paces by debugging a circuit I'm building for my RC receiver project. This circuit uses an ON Semiconductor AX5043 RFIC, but I was having issues getting the proper output from the data pin (as an aside, I almost have the problem fixed thanks to this scope).

I really love using an actual project and real-world problem to test a piece of equipment, because this really allows one to really get a feel for the device. Starting out as a baseline, I brought out my trusty, but heavy, Tektronix 2465. I found that I had a signal that was buried in a lot of noise. It is hard to see this noise in the image below, but, sadly, there was a lot of it.

Tek 2465 scope

Figure 2: View of the analogue data packet from an 8-channel RC transmitter using a Tek 2465 scope (Source: Adam Carlson)

I was able to confirm this with the TO202A, which more clearly showed the noise with which I was dealing as illustrated below.

TO202A scope

Figure 3: View of the analogue data packet from an 8-channel RC transmitter using the TO202A scope (Source: Adam Carlson)

The signal in question is the analogue signal of a RC Transmitter that is being received through the RFIC. Next, I decided to take a look at the 75.850MHz carrier signal to verify the performance of the scope. This allowed me to not only test the ability of the device to measure a VHF signal, but also to evaluate some of the built-in measuring tools. In this case, I used the peak-to-peak and frequency measurement tools.

75MHz carrier signal

Figure 4: Image of 75MHz carrier signal captured just after the bandpass filter using the TO202A scope (Source: Adam Carlson)

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