How To Photograph The Images On An Oscilloscope or other similar screens

6 months 3 weeks ago - 6 months 3 weeks ago #657311 by BlurredLines
I happen to have a Sony AX100 CamCorder and I'm wondering if anyone knows if it would work in the following situation....

I need to take photographs of Oscilloscope displays.   They don't have to be professional, just "good enough" to see the wave forms clearly and to post on forums.

As you may know, Oscilloscopes create their display using a fast moving CRT display and usually there is just one point of light but at high speed, the human eye perceives this as a complete and continuous line or wave form.

When taking a picture, I think I've been using a shutter speed that is too fast.    I think I need to slow down the shutter speed in order to allow the camera to capture the full image as seen by the human eye.

I've been trying to use various cellphones with little luck.

Does anyone know off the cuff if the Sony AX100 camcorder can be used to take the kind of photos I'm needing?   Or am I going to have to buy a digital camera?


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6 months 3 weeks ago #657351 by CharleyL
Searching the internet brought up this link, and it appears that they are all 30-50 years old and not likely to fit newer oscilloscopes. You may not even be able to get the correct Polaroid film for these cameras anymore either. You could contact Tektronics or other oscilloscope manufacturers to see what they have available today, or do some searches on ebay, etc. for an older oscilloscope and a camera that will fit your need, if you are on a tight budget. I have no idea of your technical requirements or budget parameters, so I can't really recommend a good direction for you to go.

On a really tight budget, if you already have an oscilloscope that you can use with single sweep capability, and a digital camera with a good macro lens, you might try making a light proof adapter to fit the camera to the front of your oscilloscope, keeping the camera lens the correct distance from the oscilloscope screen for the lens to be able to focus correctly. Use the same single sweep trigger method of the oscilloscope and use a bulb type way of controlling the shutter of the camera. You will need to experiment with F Stops and oscilloscope trace brightness, and hopefully a camera to oscilloscope diy adapter that has no light leakage, but it should work. Black foam core board and gaffers tape would be the cheapest way that I can think of.

You might also look into digital oscilloscopes that have the ability to export the trace data to a laptop computer. Then you could avoid the need to make adapters or buy old cameras and test equipment. I have a dual trace portable oscilloscope made by Fluke that can do this with a cable and software option, that traveled with me when I was the factory service rep for a printing press manufacturer. That little scope and I traveled to 46 States and many of the Caribbean Islands together, and the airlines were never able to break it.

I don't know what you mean by "other similar screens". For TV, you won't be able to set it for single trace, so you will need to figure out how to open your camera shutter for one or two refreshes of the screen and then close it, or set your F stops and film speed sensitivity to get the result that you are looking for, again with some kind of DIY light proof adapter between the camera lens and TV screen.

Good luck.  


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6 months 3 weeks ago - 6 months 3 weeks ago #657352 by BlurredLines
Thanks Charley.
Not really needing "professional" results..

I've been experimenting with my cellphone camera and can get close by setting the shutter speed at 1/2 second and ISO around 100.   The images are not great, but almost good enough.

It's an old CRT Hitachi Oscilloscope and more than I need.   I just like to occasionally look at waveforms from generators and various motorcycle alternators and things like that.

I would love to have a newer Digital Oscilloscope that can interface with my Desktop or Laptop but for my occasional hobby use I can't justify the $300 expense especially since I have this Hitachi unit already.


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6 months 3 weeks ago #657639 by CharleyL
Does your oscilloscope have single sweep trigger ability? It would help with a more steady image to get a clearer view and photo. Photographing multiple sweeps that are slightly different each time makes for a very blurred image. I know, older and cheaper scopes usually don't have this function, but it will help if it does. A shutter speed that is just slightly longer than one scope trace is another option. A light screen shroud made form black foam core and gaffers tape would likely make a big difference in photo quality for not much investment. Then you need to just keep trying, since with a cell phone you will have no way to synchonize your camera and scope trace. 

Just my thoughts to try to help.


The following user(s) said Thank You: BlurredLines

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6 months 3 weeks ago #657662 by BlurredLines
Thanks Charley.
Not sure it will help, but since I kinda wanted one anyway I ordered a Digital Camera that has much more options than any of my cellphones can dream of.

So once it arrives it should give me a much better chance to get better photos of the waveforms.

Thanks for your help.

Best Regards

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