[ we make science jokes, periodically ]

The Dope Scope

An oscilloscope can take millions of voltage measurements per second and graphs them.

The graph might look like a few different things and are called waveforms. Let's go over types of waveforms:

A sine wave is a smooth increase and decrease in the signal.

A square wave looks like straight lines up and down.

A triangle wave looks like a triangle!

A saw-tooth wave is a slow rise and a straight-down fall of the signal or the opposite (a straight-up rise and a gradual decrease)

When we are talking about waveforms, another common thing with them is their frequency. Frequency is measured in hertz. One hertz is
once a second, 10 hertz happens 10 times a second and so on.

Different things make different waveforms. The electricity in your house is a sinewave and 60 hertz. A radio station's waveform might be
100 megahertz (MHz), that's something that happens 1 million times a second!

Oscilloscopes are helpful when the pattern of the waveform is essential. If it is expected to be a sinewave at 60 hertz, it's helpful to know if it is something different. Sometimes 57 hertz instead of 60 hertz can be a big deal. Other times, a sinewave is needed, but something might need to be corrected with the hardware and it is a square wave instead.