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50MHz DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope Review

50MHz DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope First Impressions

50MHz DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope

50MHz DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope

I recently purchased a 50MHz DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope and have been impressed with how many features Rigol has packed into this device! The knobs and buttons have a nice feeling to them and I like the LCD screen and the user interface. I have used the oscilloscope to look at R/C PPM Signals,  audio waveforms, NTSC video signals, and done a few custom micro-controller projects with it. The oscilloscope has worked flawlessly and is a joy to use. I like how you can save the data externally as a BMP or as a CSV onto a USB memory stick. You can also save your current setup to a file and the device will recall all of your settings. I haven’t done anything with the USB or Serial PC link or used the Windows software yet.

NTSC Video Scanline

A view of a single NTSC video Scan-line

The oscilloscope trigger menu seems to have all of the features a demanding hobbyist could ask for. It was easy to hook-up a video signal and select an individual scan-line to look at. When I zoomed in on an NTSC video signal I could easily make out details like the Color Burst.

It is also easy to setup the trigger hold-off period when analyzing a PPM signal from an R/C radio to keep the updating PPM channels aligned on screen. The oscilloscope makes it easy to lock on and measure changing values like the duration of a specific PPM channel.

When working with the oscilloscope I found it to be responsive and intuitive. It has several filter settings that you can apply to noisy signals to cleanup the waveform for legibility.

I used the built-in FFT (Fast Fourier transform) mode to look at a simple FSK signal and it met my needs very nicely. I like using the cursors for measuring the timing of signals. You can easily and quickly change what data is displayed and for which channel. The display is able to keep up with the signals going through the oscilloscope in real-time which was nice.

This is an animated Rigol screenshot of a 100 kHz sine wave created using an ancient vacuum tube based signal generator. The animation shows the difference between the raw signal and a view with the Rigol's digital low-pass filter enabled (mode: Upper Limit 150 kHz). I would like to thank Michael Damkier for the FFT images.

This is an animated Rigol screenshot of a 100 kHz sine wave created using an ancient vacuum tube based signal generator. The animation shows the difference between the raw signal and a view with the Rigol’s digital low-pass filter enabled (mode: Upper Limit 150 kHz). I would like to thank Michael Damkier for the FFT images.

Dual Channel Signal Comparison

Dual Channel Signal Comparison

I found the color LCD display easy on the eyes and the text was crisp on the screen. There are multiple screen color skins to choose from depending on your taste.

The only thing I found a little slow and tedious is using a rotary knob to enter the file name one character at a time for saving a file externally to a USB memory stick.

My Mac OS X computer had no trouble reading the data recorded from the oscilloscope off a USB memory stick and it is nice to be able to save .BMP formatted screen-shots and .CSV comma delimited text files for later viewing.

The Rigol Oscilloscope comes with a .PDF formatted help manual that is very readable and has a lot of illustrations. It is a good resource to be able to refer to.

Overall I have had a very positive experience using this oscilloscope and feel it was a great purchase for my home electronics workshop.

  1. I just purchased this oscilloscope based on different info on the web and the hacking potential to use it as a 100MHz scope. This is my first oscilloscope, and I’m kinda having a hard time finding information about what “classes” of oscilloscope there are and what brands would be comparable to the Rigol. Do you have any information as to comparable brands and what I’m really missing when I use this $400 scope vs some $8k Tektronix one?

  2. When I bought my Rigol Oscilloscope I was debating purchasing it vs. an Owon scope. I have been really satisfied with the Rigol. In my opinion a sub $500 Oscilloscope is perfect for hobbyists, educators, and students. The illustrated .PDF manual for the DS1052E Rigol Oscilloscope was quite well written for an Asian product and got me started in no time at all.

  3. Hi,
    I need a scope with logic analyzer for microcontroller projects. Do you offer Rigol DS 1102 D for 8051, PIC, FPGA, ….. ?
    Thank you

  4. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your excellent post about this scope. I’ve been researching scopes online from cheap to expen$ive and it’s not easy to sort them out. The Rigol scope appears often on the web, but your writeup here makes it easy to understand what it is and isn’t. Thanks!

    I also use OS X and most scope softare is for Windows. I was glad you included something as simple as writing files to a USB stick that are readable on a Mac.

  5. Really appreciate your review.

    I was having trouble deciding between the Rigol and Owon myself but a combination of seeing your review, looking at an Owon scope and seeing other people’s feedback made me decide to go for the Rigol.

    I bought mine from MCS Test Equipment in the UK and was really pleased with the service I received and all the scope.

    I wasn’t impressed with the Owon scope.

  6. Hi David.

    It’s nice to hear that my Rigol oscilloscope review was helpful.

    Over the last 2 years I have found the Rigol to be a great addition to my hobby workshop. So far the USB port on the front has been my favorite feature – I use it for saving screenshots and settings to a USB flash drive on most electronics projects.

  7. Hi,
    Ran across your review after purchasing the Rigol. I agree, it is super capable and has been a great addition to my workbench. I do mostly audio stuff and the FFT and math functions are really helpful for getting an idea about distortion, e.g., and the frequency counter function in the Rigol agrees with my calibrated Philips counter to 3+ decimals so it even now serves that function. (The capability of the Rigol for the price has me seriously thinking about purchasing the their DG1022 waveform generator.)
    Just a thought regarding your comment about naming files. I also found scanning through the alphabet with that little knob a pain until I had a ‘doh!’ moment. Now, I just let the ‘scope give the file it’s default name and rename it on the stick using my computer.
    – M

  8. Hello,

    This is a cool budget oscilloscope for serious hobbyist and postgraduate engineering students like me.

    I used this to test stuff in my work, and doing various troubleshooting with it.

    For the serious hobbyists – Rather than getting that cheap “DSO Nano” pocket o-scope, try saving up a bit more and get the DS1052 instead.

  9. Can anyone comment on the level of acoustic noise made by the internal fan used to cool this instrument?

  10. Hi Rod.

    I don’t find the fan noise to be a problem with my DS1052E oscilloscope. In my workshop the DS1052E is quiet enough that it doesn’t effect the ambient sound level of the room.

  11. Speaking of fan noise, I personally found it quite loud especially as I’d silenced my PC at considerable cost shortly before receiving this wonderful scope. I saw this as the one single flaw that would mar my enjoyment of this gem, in every other respect it is perfect for my amateur radio experiments.

    I added some low value resistors in series with the psu fan, carefully increasing R while monitoring temperatures on each key component in the smps. Now I have the best of both worlds, nearly silent running with no appreciable rise in temperature. Two years of 4-5 hours use per day and no issues to report.

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