how to connect an oscilloscope

How to Connect an Oscilloscope to a Circuit

Oscilloscopes may seem like daunting devices at first, but try not to let the several knobs and buttons intimidate you.

They are extremely useful in the field of electrical studies and tasks concerning electronics.
When connected to a circuit, a USB oscilloscope graphs out the electrical current running through the circuit onto a screen, and they also provide users with the core information needed to work out a lot of other elements such as amplitude, transient signals, statistics, etc.

This article will be walking you through the process of how to connect an oscilloscope to a circuit so that you can get the information you need.

Circuits and Oscilloscopes

A circuit is essentially a gapless path along which a circulating electric current flows. This path is made up of electrical components such as resistors, capacitors, wires, inductors, loads (such as a bulb), sources (such as batteries), etc.

When a circuit is connected to an oscilloscope, the behavior of the current flowing through the circuit is visualized on the oscilloscope’s screen, which can then be observed, analyzed, and used in the form of information for further calculations and measurements.

The oscilloscope presents the voltage of the circuit as a waveform graph, with time (in seconds, milliseconds, microseconds, or nanoseconds) displayed on the horizontal axis and voltage displayed on the vertical axis of the graph.

Calibrating Your Oscilloscope before Connecting It to the Circuit

Before you connect your oscilloscope to your circuit, you will need to prepare the former so that it works properly with your specific circuit’s signal. This is called ‘calibrating’ the oscilloscope.

Depending on the oscilloscope, you can measure as low as a few millivolts to as high as a few hundred volts of voltage, and similarly, you can visualize pulses of both very short durations and of very long durations.


In order to properly see how your circuit’s voltages are changing, you need to scale the voltage and time axes accordingly.

The display of the oscilloscope looks like a simple graph with variable scales for the horizontal and vertical axes.


You need to estimate how high and low your peaks and troughs will go and make sure you set the volts/division and time/division knobs appropriately. Ensure that both the maximum and minimum voltages would be visible on the screen at the same time.


Adjust the horizontal scale so that it fits a few periods (that is, the time required by a wave to complete one cycle).

After connecting the circuit, adjust the scale as necessary. The oscilloscope helps to visually test the circuit, so scale it accordingly so that you can see exactly what configuration you need.

Connecting an Oscilloscope to a Circuit

There is very little that goes into the task of connecting a circuit and an oscilloscope. However, this task may seem difficult in the beginning. The following steps should help you walk through the process easily.

First, connect the probe’s ground clip to the circuit’s ground plane. Next, connect the probe tip to the circuit’s signal output port.

Once these two steps are completed, you should be able to see a line appear on the oscilloscope’s screen. This line is known as the waveform of your signal (that is, of the circuit).

This waveform can help you find out not just the voltage of your circuit, but also the frequency, amplifier gain, current, mean, standard deviation, etc.


Learning to operate any new device is a matter of trial and error. However, when working with electronics, it is essential that you keep yourself safe and also conduct necessary and extensive research before performing a new task using your device.

Hence, follow the steps mentioned above when connecting your oscilloscope to a circuit in order to do it properly and safely.

And if you come across any problems while doing the process, give us a shout in the comments or mail us. We’ll try to provide an appropriate solution to your problem in a short time.

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