Is it worth dropping $400 on a really nice oscilloscope (Rigol DS1054Z)? Answered
I will describe my situation: I am a hobbiest that likes to make cool projects, and plan to get into maybe RF analog stuff, (maybe start out with making a few FM bugs, reverse engineer a simple video transmitter kit, and a few other things.) as well get into arduino some more, AC analysis (learn about Xformers, power factor, maybe some math, etc.) and I so currently have an old 2ch. 30MHz analog oscilloscope that is a PITA to make real measurements with. Not only is it huge and takes up a lots of space, but also I'm not even sure it is in cal!) I will be transferring into UVA (or maybe VT) for EE, and gone this summer for a NASA internship at langley. (maybe I will be able to take it with me w/ a toolbox of some electronics stuff!)
The scope I am looking at (what appears to be what many subscribers seem to use, and/or claim is pretty good) is the Rigol DS1054Z. I only know how to use my $30 30MHz BKprecision scope I got on craigslist from the son of a father who was a TV repairman, and have NO experience with the use of the fancy-shmancy digital scope! What little I know is from watching EEVblog review of other scopes in the past. (I do know that they can be useful for 'capturing' waveforms, and can be set up to trigger on a pulse, maybe a certain digital codes, and that could come in handy for reverse engineering crap.)
What sells it to me, being a complete newbie to electronics and digital scopes is that it has a nice big screen, the specs seem good (other certainly think, I have no intuition of what any of those things mean except the bandwidth, and maybe the sampling rate, 1GSa/s), 4 channels, intensity graded display, and it has loads of functions and stuff for me to grow into, and hacking it to make it think it is a DS1104Z is tempting, but I probably will not do that right away. Maybe once I feel what it offered is limiting.
The deal breakers is the $400 price, a bit steep for me (cheap for something this good, apparently but still.), the fear that by the time I really start using it, it will be obsolete and the same money can buy some quantum super duper ASIC tech whiz bang 3GHz 100Gsa/s 1GB segmented memory spectacular scope!
I am not really sure if it has a source, or signal generator either. Some sources claim that higher end ones do, or certain models anyway, and it seems like the official site say's no.
http://www.rigolna.com/products/digital-oscilloscopes/ds1000Z/ds1054z/ That brings me to my next point. Should I also get a decent function generator?