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An oscilloscope consists of a cathode ray tube (CRT) and its
associated control and input circuitry.
In the CRT , electrons generated at a heated cathode are
shaped into a fine beam and accelerated toward a
fluorescent screen.
The screen glows at the point at which the electrons strike.
The electron beam is easily deflected vertically and
horizontally by voltages applied to deflecting plates.
The beam is swept horizontally across the screen by a ramp
voltage generated by a time base circuit, and the waveform
to be investigated is applied to deflect the beam vertically.

1.Cathode Ray Tube

The system of electrodes is contained in an

evacuated glass tube with a viewing screen at one
The filament heats the cathode which emits
electrons. The grid voltage controls the flow of
electrons to anodes A1 , A2 and A3, which focus the
beam to a fine point at the screen.

Voltages applied to the vertical and horizontal

deflecting plates move the electron beam around
the screen.

Triode Section
The triode section of the tube
consists of Cathode , Grid
and an. Anode (A1 ).
Grid is a nickel cup with a hole
in it which almost completely
encloses the cathode.
The cathode, also made of
nickel, is cylinder shaped with
flat , oxide coated, electron
emitting surface directed
towards the hole in the grid.
Cathode heating is provided by
an inside filament.

The cathode is typically held at -2kV.

The grid potential is adjustable from -2000V to
The grid-cathode potential controls the electron flow
from cathode and thus controls the number of
electrons directed to the screen.
Therefore the grid potential is a brightness control.
The anode A1 is cylinder shaped, open at one end and
closed at the other end, with a hole at the center of the
closed end.
Since A1 is grounded, it is highly positive with respect
to the cathode.
This causes the electrons to be accelerated from the
cathode through the holes in the grid and anode to the
focusing section of the tube.

Focusing Section

The focusing electrodes A1, A2 and A3 are referred to as

electron lens.
The function of the electron lens is to focus the
electrons to a fine point on the screen of the tube.
A1 and A3 are kept at ground potential while the A2
potential is adjustable around -2kV.
A1 provides the accelerating field to draw the electrons
from the cathode, and the hole in A 1 limits the initial
cross section of the electron beam.
The result of the potential difference between the
anodes is that equipotential lines are set up as
shown in figure.

The convergent and divergent forces can be altered

by adjusting the potential on A2 .
This adjusts the point at which the beam is focused.
A2 is therefore referred to as the focus ring.
The negative potential on A2 tends to slow down the
electrons, but they are accelerated again by A3 .
So the beam speed leaving A3 is the same as when
entering A1 .

Deflection Section
The electrons are travelling at a
constant velocity when they
pass between the deflection
If the horizontal and vertical
deflection plates were grounded,
or left unconnected, the beam of
electrons would pass between
each pair of plates and strike at
the centre of the oscilloscope
When one plate of a pair of
deflecting plates has a positive
voltage applied to it, and the
other one has a negative

The voltage required to produce one division of deflection

at the screen(V/cm) is referred to as the deflection

factor of the tube.
The deflection produced by 1V (cm/V) is termed as
deflection sensitivity.
A grounded isolation shield is situated between the
vertical and horizontal deflection plates to prevent the
electric fields of one set of plates influencing the other
pair of plates.

Screen of CRT is formed by depositing phosphor
materials on the inside of a tube face.
When the electron beam strikes the screen, electrons
within the screen material are raised to a higher level
and emit light as they return to their normal levels.
The phosphors used on the screen are insulators, so the
screen would develop a negative potential as the
primary electrons accumulate which may repel the
electron beam.
The secondary electrons are collected by a graphite
coating termed aquadag , around the neck of the tube
so that negative potential does not accumulate on the

Brightness of Display
The brightness of the glow produced at the screen is
dependent on the number of electrons making up the beam
and also on beam speed.
Since the grid controls the electron emission from the cathode,
the grid voltage control is a brightness control.
Also , for maximum brightness the electrons should be
accelerated to the greatest possible velocity.
However if the electron velocity is very high while passing
through the deflection plates, the deflecting voltages will have
reduced influence and he deflection sensitivity will be poor.
So post deflection acceleration is provided.
A helix of resistive material is deposited on the inside of the
tube from the deflecting plates to the screen.
The potential at the screen end of the helix might be typically
+12kV and at the other end zero. Thus the electrons
experience a continuous accelerating force all the way to the

Deflection Amplifiers

Any voltage that is to produce deflection of the electron

beam must be converted into equal and opposite
voltages, +E/2 and E/2. This requires an amplifier that
accepts an(dc or ac) input and provides differential
Transistors Q2 and Q3 form an emitter coupled
amplifier. Q1 and Q4 are emitter followers to provide high
input resistance.
When the input voltage to the attenuator is zero,
the base of Q1 is at ground level. If Q4 base is also
adjusted to ground level, Q2 and Q3 bases will be both at
the same negative potential with respect to the ground.
So Ic2 = Ic3 , and the voltage drops across R 3 and R6 set the
collectors of Q2 and Q3 at ground level.
These collectors are the amplifier outputs , and they are
connected directly to the deflection plates.

The input voltage which is to produce vertical deflection is

coupled to the attenuator of the amplifier feeding the
vertical plates.
The attenuated voltage appears at the Q 1 base, where it is
further attenuated (via R1 and R2 ) and then applied to Q2

A positive going input produces a positive going voltage

at Q2 base, and causes Ic2 to increase and Ic3 to decrease.
This causes Vc2 to fall below its normal ground value
and Vc3 to rise above ground.

A negative going input will cause Vc2 to rise above

ground and Vc3 to fall below ground.
The attenuator resistors are select to produce a wide range
of deflection sensitivity.

Potentiometer R10 is a dc shift control which

serves to adjust the voltage at the base of Q4.
When VB4 is positive, Q3 base voltage is raised, so Ic3
increases and Ic2 decreases.
A differential dc voltage is thus applied to the
deflecting plates to deflect the electron beam above
the centre of the screen.

R10 adjustment shifts the displayed waveform up or

down on the screen as desired by the operator.