Calculating the Frequency Response of an Oscilloscope from a Transition Duration Measurement

by Donald Larson

Many digital oscilloscopes have the capability of acquiring, displaying, and storing a digitized representation (the waveform) of an electrical signal. This digitization creates data, the waveform samples, that have discrete amplitude values and are obtained at discrete instants. The storing of the waveform gives the metrologist the ability to perform several useful calculations on the waveform using software embedded in the digital oscilloscope and/or a personal computer. Calculations to determine transition duration (risetime or falltime) and amplitude are the most used. Since the waveform is a digitized replica of the signal, additional information about the oscilloscope performance characteristics may be calculated, along with the associated measurement uncertainties, without requiring any additional measurements. Transition duration measurements were examined by author Jerry L. Eldred, his treatment will be expanded here to include frequency response and bandwidth measurements. Read the full article (PDF)