OWON Oscilloscope Teardown

We sympathize with [learnelectronic’s] statement: “I’m ashamed. I may have bought another oscilloscope.” We get it and we enjoyed watching him tear down the OWON SDS1102. (Video, embedded below.) As you might guess, this is a 100 MHz, two-channel scope, and very similar to many other Chinese scopes you can get inexpensively.

The last ten minutes are so of the video below shows him removing the case. There’s only three little boards inside. One is clearly a power supply. The other two don’t have much on them. There’s a tiny RF shield over one part of the board, so you assume that’s the input section.

The larger board looks like it just mounts the user interface controls. The central board appears to have all the front end and microprocessor components. It is amazing how little there is to see.

The scope runs about $250 or so, new. Like most scopes in this price class it has a relatively small screen, and an 8-bit front end. The claimed sample rate is 1GS/s. However, the screen is larger than a Rigol DS1102E, which is pretty comparable and is about $50 more than the OWON.

We’ve asked readers to help us pick a cheap scope, and found that everyone has their own opinion. The last time we looked at an OWON scope, it was a confusing digital scope impersonating an analog one.

27 thoughts on “OWON Oscilloscope Teardown

  1. The supposed ‘teardown’ is far from complete, and the video is not much of a review.

    For example, the spec sheet indicates 400V signal input. And the video indicates the reviewer is “impressed” with the ground wire (!?!), but fails to go any further to verify what is floated, what is isolated, and how the 400V input rating spacings and materials are achieved.

    Dude, you are supposedly an EE, you can do better….

  2. My Tektronix 7603 100MHz scope, made some time in the 1970s, is telling me that digital scopes are for the weak. Literally; it weighs 13kg and I need a trolley to move it.

  3. I love my ObiWAN. Mainly because it was the cheapest one with incredible sample depth, so you could record for a second and zoom into a microsecond to find those nasty things. My only “hate” is the rotary dials keep getting contaminated or something and become jerky or work intermittently or not at all.

    I wish someone would modify a LimeSDR or HackRF (or two) to be a scope sending samples over USB3 to my computer.

    1. Crack it open and solder a pair of 0.1 uF caps across the rotary A and B pins to the common pin. 0805 or 0603 or even ceramic disk capacitors will work well. My buddy and I just had a hack day to do just that, as well as put a switch in series with the battery pack to be able to switch it off so the scope’s power supply won’t discharge it just sitting there.

  4. Opinion here. Feels to me to be a company sponsored ‘tear-down’ aimed at getting more sales from those of us that are on the fence about this scope. Incomplete softball tear-down.

  5. My friend just bought one of these to go with his other 6-7 scope he likes it although that is qualified with the price of course…Yes you can easily buy better but can you afford better ?
    A keen neewbe would find this a great boon and not much more than a scabby old crt model!

  6. Just got myself my first “real” scope – Its a Hantek DSO4084 80mhz 4-channel scope I got as defective from the “broken” section of my local electronics store. Since I had zero information it was a bit of a leap of faith since it was still 104EUR.

    I lucked out tho – I was able to attach a serial port and delete the temporary settings tables that were causing it to get stuck booting.

    After that I modified it into the 250mhz Model and Rebranded it “Robotron” I even made new labels. I also added the arbitrary function generator to it while i was at it.

    you can get this Model new from China for about 280EUR new from China.

    1. I got a USB Hantek 6022BE with no display where you need to run a GUI on your PC. I don’t often need a scope, but this one works well for my purposes, and it was only $50. Hantek’s official PC software is not good, but I found a forum where people were writing better software (search Open 6022BE on EEVblog) and I ended up using that. It does essentially everything I need.

  7. I am impressed by the emptyness of the box, and then cleanliness of the internal builds of this scope.
    It seems that if Owon had tried, the depth of the box could have been half of what it is, but as it’s depth is already modest it is not an important factor.
    It looks like this scope can be made portable relatively easy. Plenty of internal space for a battery pack, and the powersupply has 2 black and 2 red leads, Is that a single voltage?

    This scope is clearly targeted at the budget market, where price is (almost) everything. I noticed that the 20MHz SDS1022 is below EUR200, (USD190 on Ebay), which is pretty impressive.

    Unfornately it is not much of a review of it’s capabilities, but still, it seems a much better buy than those scope gadgeds built in a MP3 player box.

    About case size…
    Some time ago I was ready to invest around EUR 400 to EUR500 in a Siglent Benchtop DMM.
    I was having doubt between the SMD3045x and the SDM4055.
    When looking closer at the spec’s though I discovered that the case was 26cm deep, which is simply too much for me. If I put that on my desk I have no room left for my projects.
    When looking at teardowns of this thing I noticed that the case is also mostly empty.
    It easily could have been put in a box with half the depth, which woul put it on par with normal oscilloscopes.

    Those very deep boxes are a remnant from an age when oscilloscopes had long vacuum tubes and were half a meter long.

  8. I own the Owen SDS1102. I have several old Tek scopes but can’t print a waveform. The GPIB to USB interfaces I tried don’t emulate printers like the Think Jet needed for a screen dump. The Owen has become my ‘go to’ scope, being small and lightweight and has the PC interface for saving waveforms. I seldom need real high bandwidth. The only downside is being light weight, the probes tend to pull it off the desk.

  9. My OWON SDS1102 works fine and was about 1/100 of the vintage Tektronix wth similar or worse specs.
    In fact it is so cheap that I will only tear it down for parts when broken and I need a new replacement.
    Oscilloscope technology without microchips requires a lot more circuits and in the 70’s was only reserved for the higher educated.
    Nowadays the few chips connect to a display and some external I/O….

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