SainSmart DS213 Review – A Portable Mini Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Orange Pi Development Boards

SainSmart DS213 ReviewHey Karl here with another oscilloscope review. We are going to look at the DSO213 (aka DS213 mini DSO). It is a new handheld oscilloscope in the DSO line. I recently reviewed an oscilloscope that was a tethered USB oscilloscope and will use it as a comparison. The DSO213 is a compact, battery powered, oscilloscope that increases some specs over previous version the DSO203.

DS213 Oscilloscope Unboxing and Teardown Pictures

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DS213 package
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DS213 specifications
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DS213 mini DSO
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DS213 4-channel oscilloscope
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DS213 oscilloscope buttons
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e-design digital storage oscilloscope
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DS213 battery
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DS213 board
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DS213 pogo pin connections
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I thought this was an interesting design choice. Pogo type pins connect this board.

This series of scopes has been reviewed quite a bit and they have been well received and for a hobbyist they seem to be adequate.

Model

DSO213

DSO203

MCU

STM32F103VE

STM32F103VE

ADC

HWD9288

AD9288

Channels

2 analog, 2 digital

2 analog, 2 digital

Analog Bandwidth

15MHz

8MHz

Max Sample Rate

100MSa/s

72MSa/s

Maximum Memory Depth

4K

4K

Horizontal Sensitivity

100nS/Div~1S/Div(1-2-5sequence step)

0.1uS/Div~1S/Div(1-2-5sequence step)

Vertical Sensitivity

10mv/Div~10V/Div(1-2-5sequence step)

50mv/Div~10V/Div(1-2-5sequence step)

Input Resistance

1MΩ

1MΩ

Coupling

DC / AC

DC / AC

Auto Adjustment Mode

NO

NO

Calculation Waveforms

-A,-B,A+B,A-B RecA,RecB,RecC

-A,-B,A+B,A-B RecA,RecB,RecC

Storage

8MB USB flash disk memory

8MB USB flash disk memory

APP Installed

2

4

Operation

buttons, scrollers

buttons, scrollers

USB Interface

Micro USB

Mini USB

Battery

1000mAh

1000mAh

Screen Size

3.0inch

3.0inch

Screen Resolution

400 × 240

400 × 240

Open Source

Application layer Open-Source

Application layer Open-Source

First Impressions

I found the UI pretty easy to navigate. I was up and running and adjusting everything in about 15 minutes. I only had to check the manual once. 90% of the navigation is done through the to rotary wheels. I had already learned that you need to pay attention to the color while changing settings. Blue is probe A, yellow is B, violet is C, green is D. Screen updates are very fast compared to the tethered oscilloscope I looked at previously. The only practical way to get information off is through a CSV file. I wish I could take a screenshot as a method to store info. I think it could be super handy. While doing these tests I found that just snapping a picture of the screen was the best way for me to quickly store a measurement.

Bandwidth and Sampling Rate

One of the selling points for this model is the increased bandwidth to 15MHz and increased sample rate. I don’t have any means to test this nor expertise so I tried to come up with a low tech ways to compare. Bigger, better, faster is always better… right?

I did a few tests. Completely unscientific. I am comparing the SainSmart DS802 with the DSO213.

Test 1

DS213 mini DSO test

In this first test I started out with this simple Arduino code:


and compared the scope readings.

DSO213 analog read
DSO213 after zooming in – Click to Enlarge
DS802 analog read
DS802 – Click to Enlarge

Test 2

ESP32 oscilloscope measurement

Next I took an esp32 thinking it would be able to create the fastest square wave I would work with. I found some code that was able to get to 340KHz.

DS213 Square Wave
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DS802 Square Wave
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After this last test I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think that I would ever come near maxing out the bandwidth on this device nor the less expensive tethered one with my hobbies.

Practical Attempt

I wanted to use the DS213 in a practical manner on a printer but didn’t work out quite like I wanted. It was not the fault of oscilloscope but the board I was testing. After flashing the latest firmware the stepper motors sound noticeably different while moving. I found out after inquiring, that the latest version of Marlin added the ability to modify timing of stepper drivers. I was going to monitor the steppers by probing the step pin on the drivers but the board I was attempting to probe does not have any good points to probe. I was afraid I would short out something. I don’t currently have a good enough soldering iron to do such fine soldering and add a lead. I monitored the steppers themselves but did not get good data. I then tried the datasheet for the drivers to see if I could get some more timing info but alas I will push this investigation off until another time.

Final Thoughts

My only concern is pricing. It is almost to the point where if you can spend just a little more you can get a scope with quite a bit more bandwidth. I guess it boils down to how much you value portability. I am not positive but the increase in bandwidth might not be worth it over the DSO203. You might be able to save a few dollars. Leave some comments below and let me know your thoughts. I thought the build quality was quite good with an all aluminum body and glass screen. I really appreciate the auto ranging feature found on its tethered brother and wish it auto ranged when turned on. As stated previously, the ability to take a screenshot would be great as well. Ohh and btw….don’t delete the prm file when grabbing the saved CSV files. It contains all of your preferences.

I would like to thank SainSmart for sending the DSO213 over for review. If you would like to pick one up here is a link. They are currently on sale for $189 US.

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pmos69
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pmos69

Had the 203 a few years back and it was a nice device, right up to the time it died.
Still, ended up having more fun developing firmware for it ( https://github.com/pmos69/dso203_gcc ) than actually using it.

Hope they didn’t make the same hardware mistake in the digital channels protection that badly limited bandwidth on the 203.

I agree with your final thoughts – If you really need a scope, might as well pay a little bit more and get something better and more durable.

PS: You could have used the included signal generator to do higher bandwidth tests.

Trass3r
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Trass3r

Saw firmware for the DS203 with apparent screenshot functionality: https://github.com/MotoMaxis/DS203-DSOQuad