Oscilloscope Glossary

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Term Definition
reproducibility

The closeness of agreement among repeated measurements of an output for the same input value made under the same operating conditions.

resolution

Smallest portion of a signal that can be measured and displayed. Normally determined by the resolution of the anallog-to-digital converter of the input channel of the oscilloscope. A resolution of e.g. 8 bit equals 256 steps and 12 bit equals 4096 steps.

response time

The time between application of a step input signal and the indication of its magnitude.

RS-232

Serial communications interface for computers and peripherals. First introduced in 1962. Also used for communication between test instruments and PC. Meanwhile widely replaced by USB.

sample rate

Defines the number of acquisitions (i.e. measurements) per second. Specified normally in MS/s (megasamples per second = 1,000,000 measurements per second).

sampling rate

Frequency at which analog signals are converted by the analog-to-digital converter of the input channel into digital data. The sample rate should be at least twice the highest freequency in the signal to be acquired (Nyquist).

sensitivity

The smallest quantity that can be measured and displayed.

SENT

SENT (Single Edge Nibble Transmission) - a serial transport protocol used for communication between sensors and a controller in automotive applications.

settling time

Time required for an analog output to reach its final value.

SFDR

Spurious free dynamic Range - Ration of the rms value of the signal to the rms value of the worst spurious signal. This specification represents the smallest value of a signal that can be distinguished form a large interfering signal.

SINAD

Signal to Noise and Distortion Ration - Ratio of the rms signal amplitude to the mean value of the root-sum-square of all other spectral components.

single shot

A single shot acquisition is need if the signal to be measured did occur only once or very rarely.

slew rate

Maximum rate of change of output voltage per time (expressed as volt per second).

spurious free dynamic range

Ration of the rms value of the signal to the rms value of the worst spurious signal. This specification represents the smallest value of a signal that can be distinguished form a large interfering signal.

synchronization

Time coordination of multiple instruments or functions with in a system.

temperature coefficient

Amount of drift (expressed in percent of full scale output) that results from a 1°C change in ambient temperature.

THD
Total Harmonic Distortion - Ratio of the rms value of the fundamental signal to the mean value of the root sum square of its harmonics (normally only the first 5 harmonics). 
THD+N

Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise - THD plus all noise components.

trigger

An external stimulus that initiates an instrument function. Also used for synchronization.

trueness

According to ISO 5725-1 the trueness of a measurement refers to the closeness of the mean of the measurement results to the actual (true) value.