Oscilloscopes & Spectrum Analysers
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Oscilloscopes, protocol and spectrum analysers are a class of electronic or sometimes software-based test devices that are designed to give an intuitive visual representation of an otherwise abstract from of information.
The oscilloscope in its base form is a display that graphs a constantly varying signal voltage onto a two dimensional graph - where the voltage is usually in the Y direction, and time given along the X direction; it therefore allows for the observation of change in waveform versus time. It can show amplitude, distortion and time between pulsating events.
The spectrum analyser performs a slightly different task. It is used to analyse the frequency distribution when multiple frequencies are present in a single signal. The display typically plots frequency along the X direction, and the magnitude of the signal along the Y direction. Time is not considered, and subtle variations can be averaged out. The display describes the strength of the specific frequency at any given time.
The protocol analyser typically takes the form of a computer program that logs information traffic being passed through a digital network. It can be used to trace peak usage hours and visually identify unusual occurrences that could indicate faults in or threats to a network.