Oscilloscopes are a lot like multimeters, but in most cases, they're much more powerful and take measurements and analysis to the next level. One important distinction, too, is that oscilloscopes focus solely on electrical signals, and when we say focus, we mean it. They actually let a user view the signals they're monitoring.
An important tool to have on hand for designing and testing anything dealing with electronics and electrical systems, oscilloscopes are used by people across a large cross-section of industry. You might find one in an aerospace-defense testing facility, another in an automotive factory or still another in any number of research labs. An oscilloscope can display the wave pattern of an electrical signal, and this allows someone to analyze whether or not it's the appropriate pattern and strength.
Agilent Technologies is one company that makes oscilloscopes. Their top-of-the-line models cost upwards of $100,000, but many are more affordable [source: Agilent Technologies]. Let's take a closer look at what one of those more affordable oscilloscopes can accomplish.
At a base price of close to $18,000, the InfiniiVision MSO7104A Oscilloscope measures several aspects of electrical waves in a 1 gigahertz bandwidth range [source: Agilent Technologies]. It's capable of providing measurements to a high degree of accuracy, and performing several mathematical functions on the results in order to manipulate and study them. It has four analog and 16 digital channels which can be used to view and compare all the separate signals on its 12.1 inch screen. You can watch your waves come in at a maximum rate of 4 giga-samples per second with a refresh rate of up to 100,000 waveforms per second, providing great detail and accuracy. The InfiniiVision also has a fair amount of memory, so you can record sample signals and play them back for comparison and study.
Now that we've looked at some cool tools for design and testing, let's move onto the factory floor.