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How to use an Oscilloscope

Skilled technicians are a vital part of the automotive industry – and so are their tools. Fortunately, technological advancements haven’t stopped at cell phones and tablets; today’s industry pros reap the benefits of combining their training with more efficient equipment.

In this video, J-Tech Diesel instructor Scott Ruske will show you how to use an oscilloscope. Years ago, mechanics were limited to pulling on plugs to determine whether something was working properly. Not anymore. The oscilloscope is an important device for today’s technicians because it allows you to read an electronic signal as it is occurring. Rather than using the heavy, expensive machines of the past, Scott is able to perform the same task using a laptop computer and an OTC scope hookup – a much more affordable option.

As is always the case when it comes to working with heavy machinery, safety comes first. With his safety glasses in place, Scott hooks up the oscilloscope to the injector. He explains that by using a paper clip to fit into the back side of the injector, you can read the trace. Before starting the engine, however, it’s important to make sure the oscilloscope doesn’t touch any metal parts as that would cause interference in the signal. Because it must also be grounded, he has hooked it up to the battery, as well.

Once the engine is running, the injector traces will appear on the screen. Even though he’s only put in one injector, because each one creates an electrical impulse, you can actually see all eight injector traces. By freezing the screen, Scott is able to see where each injector fires an event. (It’s also worth noting that in today’s diesel vehicles you will have two injection time events.) No one-trick pony, the oscilloscope also allows you to measure the length of each injector trace by adding markers and dragging them to the start of each event. In his demonstration, Scott sees that the injector fires for 3.67 milliseconds.

Through a series of pushing pause and play, you can actually see each timed event as it is occurring. As Scott explains, knowing that the entire frame is on a 200 millisecond (2/10 of a second) range, he is able to ensure it is firing correctly by simply counting the distances between each one.

As Scott has demonstrated, for a technician in today’s industry, the oscilloscope is an important device. Being able to watch electronic signals as they are occurring – and without having to spend thousands of dollars to do so – is a great way to improve your speed and accuracy when it comes to troubleshooting.

If the ability to problem-solve, an aptitude for technology, and a desire for efficiency are in your arsenal, J-Tech has a place for you. Whether you’re drawn to Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology or the combination of operating and maintaining a rig through Commercial Truck Driving, we have the programs to help kick-start your career.

Call (877) 447-0442 today for more information.

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