Product Review: The World's Smallest Oscilloscopes Creates New Possibilities

By Robert Cong
Product Marketing Engineer

Once upon a time, computers were a thing of science fiction. The notion of a machine that would calculate data, literally, in seconds – which would take a human hours, even days, to do by hand – was inconceivable. When computers became a reality, not only were they extremely expensive, they were humongous! No normal person could afford to have such a machine in their home and in some cases they took up as much room as the home itself. The thought of technology a fraction of its original size was just too futuristic to imagine.

Oscilloscopes were just as bulky as any other technology. Generating waveforms, measuring peak-to-peak voltages and observing output changes are essential to troubleshooting and testing circuits, but historically having an oscilloscope of your own was not always practical. A nice scope can cost thousands of dollars and take up some serious real estate on the workbench. Most of us simply want the basic functions without the extra bells and whistles, or added footprint.

Smallest Oscilloscope Early version of the oscillograph known as the Hospitalier Ondograph.

Introducing the world's smallest oscilloscopes from Gabotronics. Not only are these inexpensive relative to what you can expect to spend on a full-size scope, but they are also incredibly portable and accessible. They won't take up half of your benchtop and you can take them wherever you go for measuring waveforms in the field and on-site. These are perfect for the straightforward tester needing quick solutions and for the new engineer looking for their first oscilloscope.

Xprotolab Overview and Demo

The XMEGA Xprotolab measures a tiny 1-inch wide by 1.6-inches long. It was designed with mountable headers so that it can be directly plugged into a breadboard allowing circuit builders to test their designs immediately. No need to migrate the circuit over to a bench with an oscilloscope that takes up most of your workspace. There is a convenient 0.96" graphic OLED screen with 128x64 pixels that is surprisingly vivid and easy to read. As for the available functions, there are all the basic functions found on full-size oscilloscopes as well as a few more:

Adjustable trigger
Average, peak to peak and frequency readout
XY mode
Horizontal and vertical cursors
Spectrum analyzer with different windowing options
Arbitrary waveform generator with sweep on all parameters

This is an extremely powerful tool that allows for instant troubleshooting, quicker turnaround and heavier pockets.

Xprotolab Plug-In Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 1.6" x 1.0" Xprotolab Plug-In Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 1.6" x 1.0"
XMEGA Xminilab Plug-In Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 3.30" x 1.75" Xminilab Plug-In Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 3.30" x 1.75"

If you're looking for a more complete scope without the breadboard mounting feature, the Xprotolab and Xminilab also come in a portable ready-to-use version complete with switches, buttons and LED indicators. Each scope from Gabotronics is equipped with the ATXMEGA32A4U featuring 36KB Flash and 4KB SRAM, and is compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac and Android.

Xprotolab Portable Small Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Xprotolab Portable Mixed Signal Oscilloscope
XMEGA Xminilab Plug-In Mixed Signal Oscilloscope 3.30" x 1.75" Xminilab Portable Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

For those who love big screens, you have your choice of using your own computer as the display for an even more pocket-friendly option. The Xprotolab Plain comes with unassembled headers so you can choose whether you want the breadboard plug ability or not. Just use the USB connection to plug in to your computer and you have an instant scope!

With all the headaches and frustration that can come with troubleshooting, it really helps to have tools quickly accessible and convenience doesn't get any better than this. You will be pleasantly surprised with the clarity and ease of use of these miniature oscilloscopes. You might even be left wondering how you ever lived without one.

Have a clever use for a mini scope? Send us your application ideas by emailing
Robert is a graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Electrical Engineering. He is originally from Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, CA, and currently resides in Belmont, CA where he works as a Product Marketing Engineer for Jameco Electronics. His interests include sports, movies, music and playing with cool, new gadgets.