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How can I calibrate a scope?

Guest Zeppelin

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Guest Zeppelin

I'm planning to buy a used oscilloscope from eBay. These scopes usually need calibration. I was wondering can I calibrate it myself using a function generator, frequency counter & another scope, or do I need special equipment? Is it a complicated thing to do?
Anybody with experience?

Thank You

P.S. right now as you might have guessed I'm not so crazy about accuracy, but I expect the readings to be fairly accurate.

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Not knowing a lot about the scope you are going to purchase, and considering you views on accuracy, 2 of my past Tektronix scope's and my BK Precision have a 1khz squarewave calabration timebase output to check the probes, and accuracy check.  If this is the closest to accuracy you want, then calabrate to that timebase.  If you want the best accuracy you can get, then have it setup by a repair shop that deals with scopes.

My BK has several pages of calabration checks, and to put them to 99% or better, It was suggested to take it in to a local service department.  Just remember that the general setup checks must include a CRT check.  As componant's degrade, the screen can show the system may be out of alignment, when actually it is the CRT that is showing up as degrading.

Also, when dealing with a scope and eBay, ALWAY's get insurance and a written agreement against D.O.A.!!!  Scopes take a beating while being shipped.  The CRT neck may crack with one good bounce, then you are out of luck.  C.Y.A. is my first thought when dealing with fragle items on eBay.

Good luck,


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Honestly, I haven't had the manual out in 10+ years, but the basic tools you need are a DVM, a scope, a high voltage probe, among others.  I never did my scope because of the needed tools.  My company I USED to work for refused to do their own scopes, so they had them sent in.  I don't think I could trust my own work, if .01% accuracy is needed (for example).

If you get it and it works on the 1khz test jack, for the most part, it will be accurate enough to do hobby work.

The easiest way to see what is needed, after all is said and done, is to find the manufacturer of the scope, download the manual, and check out the adjustment section.  All the necessary tools and test equiptment is listed.


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