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Electronic Components/Cathode Ray Oscilloscope Interface with Printer.


QUESTION: Dear Deirdre

1. Is it possible to interface Cathode Ray Oscilloscope (CRO) with a printer via USB, Serial port ?.

Interface cable between the USB/Serial port on the CRO Device with the Printer output device.

2. Could this be a useful function as certain waveform for electrical circuits can be Visualized, inspected as well as printed similar to a electrocardiogram ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Most Oscilloscopes today are not of the Cathode Ray sort. The Cathode Ray tube deflects an electron beam by means of electrostatic action on the beam of the tube. This involved a completely separately calibrated amplifier system, and were expensive.

Modern Oscilloscopes no longer use the CRT, but instead present the information digitally, and are much more easily connected to a computer. Some Oscilloscopes have no display at all, but are simply connected to a USB port, and use the computer screen to deliver waveforms to the user.

The other advantage of modern digital oscilloscopes is the ability to switch from an oscilloscope display to a spectrum analyzer. It's very easy to do an FFT on the input data and display spectral data in real time.

There are still instances where an analog 'scope might outperform a digital one - high speed glitches can, at times, be caught on an analog scope that might be missed on some digital scopes, but in general, digital scopes are the instrument of choice today - especially with the reduced prices.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Deirdre

Thank you.

Is it possible in real time to take print out of a Waveform (Sine, Square, Triangular) seen in the Scope display for some electrical circuits directed to a printer output device interfaced to the Digital Cathode Ray Oscilloscope Device ?.

Is it possible to interface a printer with a CRO Device directly and take printouts of signal waveform in real time without using a computer viz desktop, server, laptop, smartphone ?.

In ECG Medical Device, the Heart beats/pulses recordings are directly printed on the Graph Paper. Is this possible in a Digital or a Analog CRO Device without interface of a Computer and which is similar to a ECG Device ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

There were devices called "Recording oscillographs" some time ago, where the waveform was printed directly to paper - these are not used much, if at all, anymore. There were also cameras that could be attached to the face of an oscilloscope, but again, with modern oscilloscopes, these are not used either. Modern oscilloscopes, connecting to a computer allow for easy print-out of waveforms.

Even modern printing EKG systems do so via a standard embedded printer and with digital technology. These systems are necessary because of the way physicians and veterinarians are trained. It is also handy in the field, where bright light might obscure an LCD display. But for engineering purposes of for a technician, rarely is a paper print-out of an oscilloscope display necessary.

In the past, before desktop publishing, a paper print-out of a display would have been necessary for such purposes as writing a book and trying to insert the waveform in the text. But now, even that is accomplished digitally.

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Deirdre Hebert


I can answer most questions regarding electronic components, what they are and how to use them.


I worked for a number of years in the electronic component testing industry, designing and building automated test equipment for the electronic manufacturing industry.

Numerous technical manuals for the equipment we built.

UNH, CCAF and others

Past/Present Clients
General Electric, Motorola, Ford, Sensonor and others.

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