Voltage Measurement: How an Oscilloscope is Connected


Oscilloscopes are a great tool for measuring the voltage of a signal. Typically, they will display voltage as it changes over time in the form of a waveform on-screen, but many oscilloscopes can also provide a simple voltage measurement. To begin, you should understand how an oscilloscope is connected for a voltage measurement.

Step 1: Turn your oscilloscope on and press the “Default Setup” front panel key.

Step 2: Plug a probe in to Channel 1. You can use any probe you have, likely a 10:1 or 1:1 passive probe. It’ll be easier if the probe has a clip or other mechanism that prevents you from having to manually hold it to a wire.
How an Oscilloscope is Connected - Passive Probe

Step 3: Connect the ground clip to a reliable grounding point.

How an Oscilloscope is Connected - Grounded Tip

Step 4: Locate your signal and attach your probe to that point.

How an Oscilloscope is Connected - Probe Tip

Step 5: Press the “Auto Scale” front panel key to center the signal on screen. You should now see the signal’s voltage as it changes over time, with time on the X-axis and voltage on the Y-axis.
Step 6: You can further adjust how your signal is displayed by using the vertical and horizontal knobs. These knobs will help you zoom in and out as well as shift the signal right, left, up, and down.

How an Oscilloscope is Connected - Front Panel Button

Step 7: Turn on voltage measurements by pushing the “Meas” front panel key. Many oscilloscopes will have some or all of these voltage measurements built-in.

  • Peak-Peak
  • Maximum
  • Amplitude
  • Top
  • Base
  • Overshoot
  • Preshoot
  • Average- N Cycles
  • Average- Full Screen
  • DC RMS- N Cycles
  • DC RMS- Full Screen
  • AC RMS- N Cycles
  • AC RMS- Full Screen
  • Ratio- N Cycles
  • Ratio- Full Screen

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