Choosing $1 sound card for DC-capable low speed oscilloscope

Device enumerates as composite device: sound card + HID input. HID input part is used for audio volume and mute control and it functionality is slightly broken – same as with multimedia keyboard it controls default sound card settings, not necessary settings for this specific device.
USB descriptor dump:
Judging by the descriptors chip inside is identical as in previously described “C-Media” sound card version without any control keys.

Unlike the previous “C-Media” USB sound card I've tested and similar card from this thread it was easy to find point where DC signal component is not blocked:audio input is mono and two “live” contacts of mic jack are physically shorted together; DLL is intented to be generic (handle stereo cards also), but 2nd channel can be disabled (i.e. hidden) in GUI:DC-capable low speed

  • according to device properties reported by Win7 it offers 44100 and 48000 Hz sampling
  • there is 2.23V voltage (DC offset for ADC) on the C6; output impedance of this offset source is relatively high – short-circuit current is 20uA; adding 120k resistor in series reduces it to 8uA
  • resistor in series (I've used 120k and software is calibrated for it by default) seems like the cheapest way to extend measured voltage range to 0-6V; noise measured in this configuration = 20mVpp
  • make sure to disable AGC and set fixed volume (by default plugin is calibrated for Volume = 0) for sound input associated with card (Win7 below):
    • C6 capacitor has to be desoldered – its measured capacity is 80nF and it is connected with power supply for mic thus it would severely limit usable frequency range if we'd use additional resistor in series

    Beware that with this simple setup oscilloscope input would be equivalent to 2V voltage source with 250k resistance in series. It may be not suitable for circuits with e.g. weak pull-ups. Input buffer would fix it but I'm not considering it economically justified as base STM32F103 board that doesn't have this problem (and is usable with miniscope v2c firmware/DLL) costs ~$4.

    Other approach to building input stage: (I haven't tested it yet but it's simple and looks promising).

    Don't judge a book by its cover (thanks to Daniel Montalvo) – it looks like othes type of sound card is sharing almost the same package:

    Settings window allows to define voltage per bit and offset (in raw units) that would be applied to raw data. Default calibration settings are intented to result 0-6V range (*) when connected with 120k resistor in series and setting Volume to 0 in Windows 7.
    For fine/final calibration use separate calibration function available in GUI (allowing calibrating each channel separately).
    * Actually negative voltages can be measured also

    Example traces:
    complex waveform (generated with miniscope v2d AWG

For more detail: Choosing $1 sound card for DC-capable low speed oscilloscope


About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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