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LCS-1M - A Low-Cost Hobby Oscilloscope
An oscilloscope is an invaluable tool for anyone working in electronics. It allows studying electrical signals
that are changing over time. Perfect for troubleshooting, monitoring, or simply observing one's electronic
creations in more detail.

Unfortunately, even with significant reductions in cost in recent years, a usable oscilloscope remains out
of reach for many people who could benefit from it - especially young students just starting out, and many
hobbyists on a limited budget. A good low-end standalone scope easily comes in at over US$1000, and
even PC-based scopes (which connect to a computer for display and control) usually cost US$300 and
above.

On the other hand, most "hobby" solutions (sound-card based or purely microcontroller based) lack
sufficient performance and usually are not much more than toys without much practical use. Of course it is
often possible to pick up a decent used analog scope on Ebay for a good price, but most such scopes
(cathode ray type) are rather bulky and bothersome, especially for someone without the luxury of a
spacious electronics lab, and they often are difficult to use without a good dose of prior experience.

For that reason, I set out to develop
a simple yet full-featured digital sampling oscilloscope that I hope
will enable you to get a successful start in this domain. The main goals in this development were:

  • Create something that is really usable in practice - i.e. it must have sufficient sample rate to at
    least cover the audio range (DC up to well over 20 kHz), and a wide input range (from Millivolts up
    to several Volts).

  • Keep down cost as much as possible and design it in a way that all the components are easy to
    procure and assemble, so any moderately skilled hobbyist can build his/her own (see circuit
    description and "Build It" pages).

  • Make it easy to use so even a user without much experience with oscilloscope gets a quick start,
    and make it compact so it doesn't use much desk space.

  • Last but not least, make it an open design so anyone can improve upon it. Note that the design
    may be used without any restrictions for personal, non-commercial use only. Any other use is
    strictly prohibited without explicit, written permission by the author.

For questions, suggestions, feedback etc. please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is this site about?
Bare Board Version
Mounted in Enclosure
Disclaimer: The author of these pages does not assume any responsibility whatsoever regarding
the design, construction or use of the described circuit. The author cannot be held responsible for
any damage to persons or property connected with the described design. This includes (but is not
limited to) damage to your computer, fitness for a specific task, and specified performance.
If you
decide to build the oscilloscope and use it, you do so at your own risk. Observe safety guidelines
when soldering. Never apply any voltage exceeding 20V to the oscilloscope inputs.
Please note that I have a new design, the DPScope, which is superior to the LCS-1M in every respect
- higher performance, smaller, faster, easier and lower cost to build (who says you can't get all of
that at the same time?)
. Unless you really want to build a Picaxe based instrument I highly
recommend going for the new design (the corresponding
webpage is here).

Of course I will still fully support the LCS-1M in the future, but I do not plan to order another batch of
printed circuit boards, so when my current stock runs out, that will be it.

In the meantime, I am
giving away the remaining boards for free (well, you need to pay shipping).