Do you remember those old TV show episodes of “The Twilight Zone” where they had a TV monitor with wavelength signals on it? They used one of the first modern-day oscilloscopes, pretty cool for back in the black and white days of television.
What that gizmo did was measure the power of electricity basically as it comes in various signal strengths. This is needed to test and measure equipment to make sure it is operating at maximum efficiency. Too much juice or too little can cause a catastrophe in some lines of work. So the o-scope is used to accurately tell what the signal is doing and where it is coming from and also how to adjust it correctly.
Now, I want to go in another direction here and talk about ghosts. What am I driving at? Well, have you ever watched one of those ghost hunting shows on tv recently? It is important because this is the exact type of equipment used to find if there is any ghost activity. Oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers can read if there is any unusual electric activity in the room via a RF signal for the spectrum analyzer and finding the wavelength signal via the o-scope, usually a handheld version.
This is important to take note of even if you do not believe in ghosts or the paranormal because these types of spectral analysis makes it seem so even if it is all smoke and mirrors made for TV entertainment. But ya never know… Is it even possible that these RF o scopes can really pick up electric wavelengths of the recently deceased? Sounds like something out of a Halloween novel doesn’t it.
That is just an example of what weird things these ridiculously expensive pieces of test equipment can be used for. Also seen in the film “White Noise” with Michael Keaton. Yes, those were oscilloscopes he was using to find his dead wife or kid, I forget which but I do remember that wall of monitors and equipment very well even if the movie was a stinker.
So back to the oscilloscopes and what they can do. The most important thing they can do and the reason as to why they cost so much is their reliability and dead on accuracy. That is what you are paying for is the accuracy that is the deciding factor in the end result of the test and measure. However you need to understand that this type of equipment needs routine maintenance just like an exotic sports car. Things need to be tightened up and remain sharp for the next test, always.
When I was in college out professor did an accuracy test with 3 different kinds of oscilloscopes, one was about 20 years old and one was brand new while the other was a handheld device that used a USB connection and hooked right up to his MacBook Pro. The test was to see how accurate these three were in conjunction with each other. Mind you the older one just had a tune up so it was ready to go as were the more recent ones.
What we came to find out was very interesting. Not only did all three perform with zero probability and were dead accurate but the real kicker was that this test showed just how good an o-scope can be in many forms. New to old to USB handheld. Now of course the Apple computer was the top of the line MacBook with the correct software installed for this test. All three were virtually flawless in the eyes of analyzing the test subjects.