FNIRSI Vs Rigol: An Alternate View

We’ve heard of the FNIRSI 1014D scope, but we’ve had the impression that it might not be a great scope, although it is economical. [Learn Electronics Repair] had heard from another YouTuber that it was “a piece of junk.” However, he wanted to look at it compared to another inexpensive scope, the Rigol DS1052E. His results were different from what we usually hear. To be clear, he didn’t think it was a perfect scope, but he did find it very usable for his purpose.

The 46-minute-long video does more than just a casual look. He uses both scopes in some real-world measurements. If you are in the market for a scope in this price range, it is worth the time to watch.

Honestly, we are as guilty as the next person of getting obsessed with specifications. One PC is good because it scores 1% higher on a benchmark than another. But in real life, you’ll never notice the difference. That may be what’s happening here.

On the other hand, everyone’s use cases are different. Besides that, your choice of a tool as integral to your day as a scope or a soldering iron is pretty personal. You like what you like, and it doesn’t always have to make sense.

If you have either of these scopes — or both — what do you think of the review? Leave us a note in the comments. We actually looked at the original review that this video refers to. We know that not all FNIRSI scopes live up to their supposed specifications.

30 thoughts on “FNIRSI Vs Rigol: An Alternate View

  1. In Poland this oscilloscope is cheaper than vintage analog scopes. Even if it has bandwidth of 30MHz, it’s still a decent tool in my opinion for people who can’t afford anything better. Seriously, 20 years ago such oscilloscopes came from top brands for rather hefty prices. So it’s good enough for most beginners. Pity it lacks serial decoding – a great feature to have. Still, cheaper than vintage analog scopes.

    1. @Urgon said: “Pity it lacks serial decoding – a great feature to have.”

      If you’re reading Hackaday I’ll assume you have a PC or laptop. So spend less than $20 online (even less on AliExpress) for an 8 ch. 24 MHz USB logic analyzer module.[1][2][5] Then run the module with the free open-source cross-platform Sigrock [3] back-end plus any of various front-ends like PulseView [4] and you have both a logic analyzer and serial bus analyzer that understands most common protocols. Spend a little more money on the USB analyzer module and get more channels and/or speed.

      * References:

      1. KeeYees USB Logic Analyzer Device with 12PCS 6 Colors Test Hook Clip Set USB Cable 24MHz 8CH 8 Channel UART IIC SPI Debug for Arduino FPGA M100 SCM 4.4 4.4 out of 5 stars 158 ratings $13.99 USD


      2. Sigrock Compatible Hardware


      3. Sigrock Back-End


      4. PulseView Front-End


      5. [001] Sigrok and Logic Analyzers (YouTube video)



      1. Actually I have both a cheap logic analyzer dongle and a Siglent SDS1104X-U oscilloscope. The scope has many serial decoders included by default – no hacking is necessary. Still your information would help others.

  2. Even cheap-o stuff can be bought used. I have the rigol I got for $100. No regrets.
    Also I’ll say again join your local ham club if you want access to free unlimited ridic equipment and people more than excited to help you use it.

    1. YMMV, as in my country used DSOs cost almost as much as new ones, and vintage analog ones also hold their value. The only oscilloscopes that are cheap used are PC o-scopes you connect to USB port.

    2. >I have the rigol I got for $100. No regrets.

      No kidding. Albeit the important thing to note is that anyone reading this is unlikely to score a used Rigol for $100.

  3. I am a fan of Richard’s repair videos. I have learned a lot about trouble shooting and they also taught me another lesson: Like most nerds, I love my tools and have quite a collection of somewhat expensive stuff although all I do is dabble in hobby projects and here’s a guy making a living in electronics repair using cheap tools that many of us would consider sub-standard.

    1. “I love my tools and have quite a collection of somewhat expensive stuff although all I do is dabble in hobby projects …” Well said.
      I find that of all the times I’ve waited, researched and saved up then got what I wanted, using such nice stuff is half the fun. Examples- a nice sextant, quality beer making equipment, and so on in that order.

  4. I agree with both (sitting on the fence!):
    – If you bought it based on the marketing blurb and needed it specifically for VHF, then it’s not fit for purpose.
    – In any other case, i.e. you did some research, found out it doesn’t cover VHF, but that’s not what you plan to use it for anyway, then it’s very good value for money.

  5. Personally I dont care if FNIRSI 1014D can still be used in some limited scope (HA!) with success. This product is a FRAUD. Right on the box you see 1GSa/s while its using dual 100MHz AD9288 per channel.

    1. heh i am also frustrated by fake marketting.

      but this is hackaday. off-label use is taken for granted here, so who cares what the label says?

      even a drug store telescope can be used for something, despite the famously misleading photos on the box

    2. You can use a 100Ms ADC to sample at 1Gs if you have a periodic signal, super stable clock and the ADC implement good sample and hold circuit. Equivalent time sampling is named this technique. I agree with you about false claims, because the seller put 1Gs but in the label one must want o see the real ADC max sampling frequency. ETS degrades the quality of the acquired signal compared to a real 1Gs/s ADC and ETS sample rate is not related to the characteristics of the ADC nor the clock reference used underneath.

  6. Good on this company for producing a scope that hobbyists can actually afford!
    Not everyone has a $1000s of disposable income lying around AND the time to spend it on fun projects!

    1. Fnirsi costs $170. It’s a lot of money to waste on an unreliable, frustrating tool which often emits meaningless measurements and gives you little clue about it.

      There are fairly well behaved Owon and Hantek bench scopes right around $200. A small price step for a massive upgrade.

      There’s now even PeakTech 1400 series which at its lowest end with cut down specs beats Fnirsi on price. I don’t know where they come from, they seem to have Owon-y feel but I haven’t seen an equivalent model there.

      And then the question is whether at sub $200 price points whether bench scope should be what you’re after or whether a handheld style one makes for a better compromise.

      If you have little money, you have to be particularly careful not to waste it on junk.

      1. I have an Owon HDS-2012S scope meter in my tool bag. It is a very good instrument which includes a two-channel 100 MHz scope, a Cat III/IV true RMS meter electrically isolated, a 25 MHz Arb signal generator, and a 100 MHz probe and meter leads, etc. The signal generator is probably a little less versatile than I’d like, but OK for field work. I was able to find the HDS-2102S for about $220 US.

        The scope section is quite good and will tigger stably on inputs over 200 MHz in single channel mode. At 200 MHz, the input sensitivity is down about 3 dB. Between DC and 100 MHz sensitivity is flat to within +/- 1 dB. I also like that the power source is two 18650 cells that provide hours of use and extra cells are cheap and easy to pack in my tool bag. The unit can also be run from its USB-C port, but I wouldn’t want to count on cat III/IV safety rating when powering by USB. Data is downloadable from the scope, but I haven’t used the feature. The firmware was updated about a year ago to fix a timebase error on the highest sweep speed and my unit arrived with the bug fix already in.

        I own a few FNIRSI items, but not their junky scope. You shouldn’t waste your time with the scope unless you’re super desperate. There are Owon, Siglent and Rigol scopes that are only a little more expensive and much more accurate and user friendly. Save your lunch money for a few more weeks and get the better product. A good bench scope is nice, but if you are willing to accept a few minor compromises, and HDS-2102S will get you three good instruments that exceed their promised specs. You can use it on the bench and also take it with you.

  7. First, I find it quite sad this fnirsi is getting much more attention then it’s worth. It was already (briefly) reviewed in another article on hackaday. https://hackaday.com/2022/06/07/cheap-oscilloscope-is-well-cheap/
    (I am a bit disappointed Kerry Wong did not look under the shielding for the input sections)

    And this “learn electronics repair” guy has an opposite opinion, which makes me wonder, which opinion do you trust most, and why…
    If I look at this review, it does not test the capabilities and flaws of this fnirsi thing (I won’t call it an oscilloscope) He just puts a few of the simplest repetitive waveforms into it, and then concludes it’s able to show some picture on screen. And Indeed, this fnirsi is capable of putting something on the screen that (most often) resembles the signal it’s measuring. The trouble with this thing is that you can’t trust it because it hides to much and there is too much you can’t see, and that is why it’s bad.
    Go watch some other reviews to go into this.
    I’ve seen about two types of reviews for this thing. I see very superficial reviews with the conclusion “it is able to show a signal on screen, so it works”. and reviews from a bit more capable people who notice it’s (serious) flaws and think it’s very bad, but don’t go further into details, because this thing just is not worth their time.
    All reviewers also seem to take it out of the box and put some test signals into it. I have never seen someone actually using it for serious work for a few months and then making a review.

    Some other remarks:
    @16:00 Why is that “square wave” wobbling in this weird way?
    @16:06 The weird transition which is a clear indication of averaging (i.e, you will never see any glitch).
    @27:50 “Funny little thing when you change the range”. Yeah right. He has no idea what is happening.
    @17:56 Approx 30% amplitude difference in what should be a simple sine wave…
    @19:35 You see noise and ringing on the Rigol, which was all filtered out by the fnirsi. (@16:03)
    @36:00 I was waiting for this idiot to touch one of the other BNC connectors while the whole fnirsi chassis is connected to some high voltage…
    @36:58 “We can clearly see there the waveform of the pulse”. Euh, I just see some garbage because of too low sampling rate.

    If you only want to see some simple signals, then indeed this thing may be “usable”. If you want to do some more with electronics, then soon you will be mislead by the fnirsi thing and you will probably be wasting hours of your time before you even realize it’s the fnirsi that gives you a distorted view of your signals, and then you’re still guessing what is really happening, and that is not what you want to spend your time on while learning electronics.

    With the current state of electronics, you simply can not make a decent scope for that price. You can get a Hantek or Owon for just a little bit more, and those at least don’t lie (as much) to you. Or get a handheld with small LCD (so there is some budget left for the front end).

    Also to consider:
    If you’re a beginner with electronics, get stuck with your tinkering and post a few scope screenshots on for example EEVblog of a fnirsi, then other people will also be second guessing whether there is a decent correlation between the screenshot and what is actually happening.

    1. All the above is true. But just as with lathe, scope, knife, camera – bad tool is better than no tool.

      I would consider it, for 50usd or as effective interrogation tool for EE.

      1. I sorta kinda used to think bad tool better than no tool, but I now respectfully disagree. After getting burned several times I just don’t think that is the case. One specific example: I wanted to learn celestial navigation for reasons. I bought a cheap plastic sextant thinking it would be good enough to at least learn the basics. It was so bad and so full of artifact that I didn’t even know if it was instrumentation error or I was doing something else entirely wrong. It was very frustrating to say the least. On top of that the filters for sun sights were so badly designed they were actually dangerous.
        I don’t know enough about the el-cheapo scope discussed here but I strongly suspect that is gonna be the same problem. Say you are making an oscillator and trying to see if it works. The instrument is giving you crap unreliable, non-repeatable readings and you don’t even know if the thing you made was made correctly or you messed up the hardware. Hypothetical.
        BTW I ended up saving $40/mo for a year and buying a very nice used sextant and that is almost more fun to use good equipment than solve the navigation problems itself.

      2. In the case of the FNIRSI scope reviewed above, I am not so sure a junky tool is better than no tool. The FNIRSI can lead you down a primrose path by giving you seriously bogus information.

  8. In my opinion comparing Fnirsi and Rigol is an insult for Rigol. They make fine stuff, not like Fnirsi… I have a DS1102E and it works well. I would buy Rigol-stuff anytime again (and will at some point, or maybe Siglent?)

    1. Rigol used to OEM budget gear for for HP back before HP was Agilent/Keysight. I have a four channel Rigol scope which had a fairly similar HP cousin. The Rigol equals the HP specifications and has a slightly better user interface, and of course a much lower price tag.

      It is kind of a horse race between Rigol and Siglent for who’s got the better product at a given moment. Owon is still worth a look. I have the Owon HDS-2102S scope which is a great value. I have several of the Owon bench switch mode bench supplies which are a bit noisy. I’ve also got several Owon linear bench supplies which Newark sells under their own label Multicomp; they’re OK but not great, but they are quite affordable. For more demanding work, I have a Rigol 3-output linear supply. The one expensive thing on my bench is a Keysight 6.5 digit multimeter. I also have a 4.5 digit Owon bench meter with kelvin resistance measurement capability. The Owon is only usable to about 20 KHz on AC and has a quirk that it simply blanks the display to zero for AC inputs below 20 uV. I wrote to Owon and got a response in less than 24 hours, that yes this is expected behavior. I suggested that they alter the firmware to put a “limited precision” indicator on the screen. When you’’read trying to null an amplifier, you may not care about the precision, you just want as small a value as possible, for example.

  9. One thing not mentioned in the video is the low vertical sensitivity:
    100mV/div (the 50mV/div is in software only). This makes it pretty
    useless with low signals, e.g. ripple. And with 10X probes it’s 1V/div.

  10. Guess I’m a little late for the post, but how do the Hantek scopes compare? I’m an electrician and hobbyist and don’t want to spend more than I have to. I keep a “nice” Mustek DMM I bought off Aliexpress as a reminder- It worked twice (12V DC) and died the next time I needed it, neither seller or manufacturer ever responded to my emails.

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