Oscilloscopes are endlessly useful and used by several different industries. They allow a user to view and monitor electrical voltage in a graphical display.

A number of retailers such as RS Components provide oscilloscopes for a range of uses.

In this guide, we explain what Oscilloscopes are used for, their various types, and why they are useful.

What are Oscilloscopes used for?

Oscilloscopes are used to display electrical signals as a graphical image. They will monitor electric signals over a period of time to assess any changes.

Typically, an oscilloscope will include a sensor that monitor electric signals and an audio output to help users track the normal or abnormal flow of electric currents.

What are the types of Oscilloscopes?

Below are a few common types of oscilloscopes and where they are used.

Medical oscilloscopes

Medical oscilloscopes are probably the most widely recognised. They usually take the form of an ECG or heart monitor.

In medical situations, an oscilloscope will monitor the heartrate of a patient to check for abnormalities such as arrythmia, or when a patient is unconscious and in a critical condition.

Engineering oscilloscopes

Engineers often use an oscilloscope as a multi-purpose instrument that functions as a digital multi-metre.

This helps them to use electrical signals to make extremely accurate and complex measurements of structures and machines.

Telecoms oscilloscopes

In telecommunications, it can be vital to be able to read and determine the nature of electrical signals and codes.

An oscilloscope can be used to help in diagnostic processes and enable telecommunications agencies or providers analyse what is happing on their networks.

Why are oscilloscopes useful?

Oscilloscopes have many essential uses, as we’ve seen above. But why are they so useful across differing industries?

Below, we take a look at some useful characteristics of oscilloscopes.


Newer, digital oscilloscopes are often very compact and easy to cart around. This makes them ideal for a variety of tasks.

This portability also makes them easy to store and less space-consuming than traditional oscilloscopes.

On-screen measurements

Today’s digital oscilloscopes offer accurate, on-screen measurements of electrical signals and lengths.

This makes them more efficient and less labour-intensive than the older, analogue versions of the past.

Easy to use

Over time, oscilloscopes have become easier to use. Advancements in user interfaces mean that less and less technical training is needed to operate an oscilloscope.

However, an oscilloscope user will still need to understand what they’re reading, so some specific training is required.

High bandwidths

As technology has advanced, so to has the efficacy of oscilloscopes. Higher bandwidths allow for a greater degree of accuracy when measuring electrical frequencies.

This allows oscilloscope users to be more precise with their readings and more accurate in their respective jobs.