Digilent Analog Discovery 2
We have been using the Analog Discovery 2 by Digilent for years and it still amazes us all of the functionality Digilent was able to pack into this portable oscilloscope. The Analog Discovery 2 is our go to electrical engineering tool for for debugging problems with embedded system circuitry. It has been especially handy when we want to see what is going on between a microcontroller and its peripherals. Here are some of the top ways we like to use the Analog Discovery 2
Considering all of the tools packed in to the Analog Discovery 2, for the price [click here to check on Amazon (students can get it for less)] this is, in our opinion, the best budget oscilloscope for hobbyists, beginners, and experts. Click one of the links above to jump to a section showing off some of the Analog Discovery’s features it in action or checkout our video where we show you the Analog Discovery 2 in all its glory.
Regardless what you call this thing an o scope, mini oscilloscope, portable oscilloscope, or pocket oscilloscope that fact still remains if you need to see what is actually happening in your circuit than you need an oscilloscope to do it. So whether you are in your lab or on the move this little pc based oscilloscope can get the job do for most things under 25 MHz. In the video below you can see us use the Analog Discovery 2’s oscilloscope to analyze the output of a low pass filter we where using to convert a PWM signal to an analog signal via a band pass filter. Watch the following video to see us use the digital oscilloscope in a recent project. Also to find out more about pulse width modulation (PWM) and simulation via KiCad checkout our page on it.
Whenever you are dealing with a circuit where you need to know how it behaves across a range of frequency the network analyzer is the right tool for the job. In this video we show us using the Analog Discovery 2’s network analyzer feature to characterize and tune the frequency response of a RC low pass filter. In the video you can see us adjusting a potentiometer while actively running a sine sweep to generate a body plot. We have used this in the past to dial narrow band pass filters to the exact frequency we are looking to pass. With out a network analyzer you are just hoping to circuit is close to your design, with a network analyzer you can tune it so that you know it is!
The logic analyzer functionality of the Analog Discovery 2 gives it the ability to passively spy on the digital communications in your circuits so you can see what is actually happening. Additionally, you can use the built in logic analyzer to communicate directly with microcontrollers and peripherals via SPI, UART, I2C, and others. This is great when you have a new peripherals and need to figure out exactly what messages to send to them to get the information you want from the peripheral. In this video we show us using the logic analyzer to watch the boot up sequence between a microcontroller (esp32 firebeetle) and a distance sensor. Also in the video, we use the logic analyzer to quickly send messages from the Analog Discovery 2 to the distance sensor and get data back, what a time saver. What you do not see in the video is how the logic analyzer functionality came in very handy when we where reading the distance sensors datasheet to figure out how to use I2C to flash the distance sensor and then communicate with it. Needless to say the Analog Discovery 2’s USB logic analyzer saved us a bunch of time in getting the communication between the microcontroller and the distance sensor correct. Lastly, because the Analog Discovery 2 is a logic analyzer and has a 2 channel oscilloscope it qualifies as a mixed signal oscilloscope, that’s pretty cool!
This function generator is jam packed with functionality, you can use it to generate your standard sine, square, and saw tooth waves but the Analog Discovery 2’s signal generator is capable of much more. You can use it as an arbitrary function generator an create your own wave to output. You can use math and pre-built waves to systematically create a wave or you can just draw your wave on the screen and have it output that. You can even open a .wav audio file and have it output your alma mater’s fight song to your audio circuit (it totally works we have done it before). Pretty much if you have a waveform shape you want to inject into your circuit than the Analog Discovery 2’s function generator will put that waveform in your circuit in no time.
Wrapping it up
We have gone over several of the features that have us grabbing for the Analog Discovery 2 time after time but we didn’t cover everything. There are even more features the Analog Discovery 2 has and Digilent also keeps adding new features to the software like a impedance meter we still have not tried out. So regardless if you are looking for the best oscilloscope for beginners or you are in need of a pocket sized multi tool for seasoned vets the Analog Discovery has a lot to offer. If you like what you have seen than you can pick one up your self on Amazon here for around the same price as an entry level bench top oscilloscope.