Rigol DG1011 Review10.nov 2009
Gabriel, thank you for you extensive review of the device! I will pass your review to the manufacturer as well, as they will probably find it very useful as well.


Customer Service
NKC Electronics

----- Original Message ----
From: Gabriel
To: nkc_store
Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2008 5:26:09 AM
Subject: Re: You've received a message from an eBay member

Hi !

Yes, sure I can write some short review. But sorry for bad English in advance.

For long time I have been using very old Tesla RC generator, which produced sine wave in the range 1Hz-1MHz (0.3mV ~ 3V). I decided to buy new piece hardware, but as a university student I had to choose something not very expensive, and after looking into favourite distributors webpages, the DG1011 (cheapest available) was a clear choice. Last years, new companies come to market with cost effective laboratory hardware. First time I have chosen company OWON and bought cheap digital 20MHz oscilloscope. Yes, it is working, but I cant say that I like that oscilloscope. This time I bought DG1011 signal generator and my feeling about this piece of hardware is much different.
I did not know that a signal generator could be equipped with such a complex set of features. It took me hours to test every one feature. User interface is clear and simple, device reliable. I didnt test the spectral purity / phase fluctuations of sine signal on spectrum analyzer, but when the parameters specified in device description are true, then it is ok. On the startup screen, device says "no modules installed", after googling I could not find out what modules can be attached to generator, but I am happy that the device can be expandable with add-on modules (at least I hope so). As a user, I am really satisfied, the price was reasonable. I am sure that when I will be buying new hardware, I will stay at this company.
Things I love on this device:
HiZ output - finally I dont need amplifier between generator and my devices. Allows to directly drive high impedance inputs of my units. Piezo speakers can be connected directly to generator :) I hope it will not damage it
Setting levels - easy switching from low/high level mode to offset/amplitude !
Many unit settings (Utility button) - for now you can only switch between chinese and english language, but I like the ability to set the number layout. That means you can define whether you want to see frequency in "1,324543" format or "1,324 543" or "1.324 543" or "1.324,543" or "1.324543"
Things that could be better
startup - When you connect your device to mains outlet, the display flashes and device produces strange sound (relay click). First time I was really scared and immediatelly switched the unit off. I thought I killed it by plugging 110V device into 220V mains outlet. It happens sometimes when you buy hardware from USA and use it in Europe :)

amplitude - My old RC generator has the lowest signal level setting 0.3mV / -70dB, the lowest setting for DG1011 is 4.0mVpp. I know that I can use a resistor divider, but this should be already incorporated into generator. For a ECG/EEG device I was developing I needed generator with output in amplitude range 0.1 - 2.0 mV and this was a suprise for me that the generator is limited down to 4.0 mV

sync - when in Sweep / Mod mode, on the sync channel there is only square signal. That is ok, but there should be also possiblity to put the voltage from internal secondary generator on this output. I mean, instead of oscilloscope in external sync mode, it shoud be set in X-Y mode. For the sweep mode on the output will be saw signal. I think that this problem was already solved in DG1021 device with two channel output - my mistake that I bought the cheapest version.

PWM - Device dont allows to generate PWM signal (changing duty cycle with internal secondary generator). The only way to simulate PWM is changing manually the duty cycle of pulse signal

Things I really hate
setting amplitude in db form - In the users guide there is a screenshot describing how to enter amplitude value. There is a choice to enter value in mVpp / Vpp / mVrms / Vrms / dBm. On my device the "dBm" option is missing !!! What the hell ?! Should I prepare a calculator to convert db levels into voltage ? Bad ! Bad ! Bad !

signal continuity - I use this generator mostly in audio frequency ranges and as crystal/oscillator replacement for microcontrollers. When you setup it to generate sine (or any other) wave and when you change the output frequency or voltage range, clicks appears on the output. Simply said, any change of signal settings causes DDS to reset. REALLY BAD. DDS generator should never act in this way. At least when changing frequency, the signal should be all the time continuous.

usb - I dont know whether it is possible to control this device from computer (remotely set signal flavour and parameters), but no SDK was provided on CD. Many hardware companies still dont understand that this is a "must have" feature. Updating software is simplier than upgrading firmware. When the SDK would be released, any programmer could make his own interface and achieve maximum of the generator potential. For example PWM signal generation would be available by remotely changing the duty cycle of pulse waveform.

software (ultrawave) - fortunatelly I didnt need to design my own waveforms. I encountered some problems installing application. For some reason I could not install the device driver. Then I just wanted to play a little with the ultrawave application - manufacturer says that it is possible to transfer user waverforms on USB stick, so the driver should be not a neccessary part to install application. Mistake ! At the last step of installation a popup window appeared saying that the installation could not be finished because the generator driver is not installed. I used Sandboxie application to obtain all the program files. The application looks usable, but not as user friendly as generator itself :)

I hope, it will be useful

Gabriel Valky

eBay Member: nkc_store wrote:

*Dear gabonator,*

Hi gabonator1, I hope you are satisfied with your DG1011. I have a prospect asking for customer references. Do you mind sending me some text about your experience with your DG1011 unit?

I really appreciate your help.


- nkc_store