Fluke - Making sense of electrical signals

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Devices that convert electrical power to mechanical power run the industrial world, including pumps, compressors, motors, conveyors, robots and more. Voltage signals that control these electro-mechanical devices are a critical but unseen force. So how do you capture and see that unseen force?

Oscilloscopes (or scopes) test and display voltage signals as waveforms, visual representations of the variation of voltage over time. The signals are plotted on a graph, which shows how the signal changes. The vertical (Y) access represents the voltage measurement and the horizontal (X) axis represents time.

Most of today’s oscilloscopes are digital, which enables more detailed accurate signal measurements and fast calculations, data storage capabilities and automated analysis. Handheld digital oscilloscopes such as the Fluke ScopeMeter® Test Tools offer several advantages over benchtop models: They are battery operated, use electrically isolated floating inputs and also offer the advantage of embedded features that make oscilloscope usage easier and more accessible to a variety of workers.

The newest generation of ScopeMeter® Portable Oscilloscopes are designed to be operated quickly and easily in the field and can even share readings in real time over a smartphone app in order to receive consultation from colleagues or other experts, or to save data in the cloud for further analysis. These designs also make safety-certified measurements possible in CAT III 1000 V and CAT IV 600 V environments - a critical need for safely troubleshooting electrical devices in high-energy applications.

The graph on an oscilloscope can reveal important information: 

• The voltage and current signals when operating as intended
• Signal anomalies
• Calculated frequency of an oscillating signal and any variations in frequency
• Whether signal includes noise and changes to the noise

Multimeter vs. oscilloscope

The difference between an oscilloscope and a DMM (Digital Multimeter) can be most simply stated as “pictures vs. numbers.” A DMM is a tool for making precise measurements of discrete signals, enabling readings of up to eight digits of resolution for the voltage, current or frequency of a signal. On the other hand...


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