Open source logic analyzer

Hackaday alum [Ian Lesnet] has been working in cahoots with a dedicated team of developers to produce the OpenBench Logic Sniffer. This caseless logic analyzer can operate at 100MHz and sample 32 channels at once. Better yet, a digital oscilloscope add-on is in the works. The pre-order comes in at $45, that’s a lot of functionality for just a few greenbacks. We’ve embedded a demo video after the break that details installing and using this device under Ubuntu.

[Thanks Drone via Dangerous Prototypes]

Comments

  1. jackgassett says:

    A new demo of the OLS capturing and analyzing serial UART data has been posted on the project homepage. This demo was made under Windows to give a better idea of how easy it is to use.

    The demo is also on screencast at:

    http://www.screencast.com/t/MWM5MDUyNGIt

    Jack Gassett
    Gadget Factory

  2. George says:

    @jackgassett Just watched the screencast, very impressive. I have just ordered a card, looking forward to trying it out.

  3. Mikey says:

    Not sure what was impressive about that screencast, infact it made me cringe.

    Linux: overcomplicating shit since… well, forever.

    Also for some of the zealots above, writing something in java doesn’t guarantee it’s portable, it does, however, guarantee that it’s slow.

    I will have to check if there is a windows version or not (with a PROPER installer), as $45 may be cheap, and the product may be sweet, MY time isn’t cheap. And honestly I’d rather pay $200 for proper tools which I can get working in 1 hour instead of $45 to spend the rest of my life trouble shooting my equipment instead of working on what I WANT to work on.

  4. asdf says:

    These analyzers that use only the FPGA’s internal memory are just too limited in their sample depth to be really useful (eg. Rocky Logic and Bugblat have ones that are very similar featurewise). Would it make the design too complex or too expensive to add even a few megabytes of external RAM?

  5. jackgassett says:

    I just wanted to try and clear up any misunderstandings about the Linux screencast that is embedded above. It is a little bit out of context, the above video was one of several screencasts that were made with earlier hardware. The above video was not recorded to demonstrate the software, it was only meant to show that the software can run under Linux. So it is a little bit out of context here if it is taken as an overview of the software.

    If you want a better feel for the software then watch these Windows screencasts:

    Capturing UART Data:

    http://www.screencast.com/t/MWM5MDUyNGIt

    Overview and using RLE (this is an older video on older hardware but the software is the same):

    http://www.screencast.com/t/yWBdfwCYh6

  6. davr says:

    I have a comparison chart of various PC-based logic analyzers under $500. This is obviously the cheapest one, and the specs are pretty decent too. Only time will tell if there are any bugs that crop up due to the DIY nature of the project.

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rmNr4Eeren8jBG7MXfHYxsQ&output=html

  7. charliex says:

    While java is usually the write once, debug forever language.

    The client is pretty good. I was surpised how stable and fast it is.

  8. Andrew says:

    @davr

    Nice speadsheet. I’ve been contemplating buying a zeroplus for a while.

  9. ginge says:

    Well I don’t know what the problem was with the screencast. I just skipped to the interesting stuff, seeing the GUI. It is actualyl kind of refreshing to see an install of a problem with a video cast. I didn’t think the install process was convoluted at all. I have done worse. I also don’t think it is a reflection of linux in any way. It is a tool for a job.

    As for the “open source logic analyzer”. Ordered. I’ll take a gamble on $40. As someone mentioned, at that price you got to be able to do something with it.

    Re: Mounting…. buy a case, buy some self adhesive PCB mounting pillars, glue then on. Sorted.

    Once again, another quality device for an unfeasibly small price.

  10. osgeld says:

    “Re: Mounting…. buy a case, buy some self adhesive PCB mounting pillars, glue then on. Sorted.”

    heh maybe Ill just hot glue it in a tin, still seems like 4 holes isnt that much to be asking for, considering Im going to have to make my own box and probes as it is

    anyway I am about to send a polite email to them asking about what I brought up earlier, see what they say

  11. Rizla++ says:

    @Mikey

    Java, doesn’t guarantee portability, but with Java you ARE able to make portable software, which is this case. And, I also don’t see the reason why Java should be slower… I used CMU Sphinx to write some voice recognition software a couple of years ago and it was surprisingly fast! :)

  12. ReKlipz says:

    @Rizla++
    “And, I also don’t see the reason why Java should be slower…”

    It’s a virtual machine. A single “Java bytecode instruction” (if you can even call them that) equates to numerous machine code instructions. Don’t bring up the fact that there are hardware accelerated JREs, because no one has one (as they’re virtually pointless).

  13. janin says:

    Heh modern Java is as fast if not faster that native code thanks to the JIT compiler. But of course C programmer that rely on benchmarks from 1996 don’t know that.

  14. Spazed says:

    I’d love to see your stats on Java being faster than C/C++. Care to provide some examples? There are plenty of modern comparisons showing C/C++ being faster, not to mention all large data crunching apps being written in C. Surely people willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on computers wouldn’t hamper their efforts by using C over Java because of ‘old benchmarks’.

  15. janin says:

    Program performance is essentially a factor of the developer’s experience and usage of appropriate programming techniques (talking only about compiled languages here). So, the choice of a language is the choice of where you have the more experience and resources available. And C/C++ programmers vastly outnumber Java programmer. Hence the usual choice. In my opinion choosing one over the other purely for performance reasons is a mistake.

    If you really want a benchmark showing Java come on top of C++, here’s one :

    http://scribblethink.org/Computer/javaCbenchmark.html

  16. ReKlipz says:

    That link mentions bounds checking in C as a performance hit. Bounds checking. In C. …

  17. Tony says:

    There really needs to be an alternate release of this board that has at least a 1Mbyte SRAM chip to make good sample depth possible. There just isn’t much RAM available on the FPGA. I’d be happy to pay the premium for this.

  18. janin says:

    No, you read that passage wrong. read it again.
    Anyway, this is not the place for a lengthy debate on the relative performance of programming language. One certain thing is that performance is not an issue for a software like SUMP that is essentially a GUI.

  19. Richard Nibbler says:

    What’s a noob?

  20. ReKlipz says:

    @janin
    Indeed you are correct. I just refuse to install a JRE on any of my machines; I’ll save Java for enterprise work.

    @Tony
    The project pages and discussions notion toward a future revision that will include DRAM, lots of it. Plus, with proper software and firmware, it ought to be possible to dump the SRAM on the fly, using it as a FIFO buffer of sorts, enabling unlimited sampling.

  21. sigtermer says:

    you people complain a lot.

    I hate java. Having said that, it doesn’t matter what language the client is written in AS LONG AS IT WORKS.

    I’ve already pre-ordered mine, partly because it works with linux, and because the specs are pretty sweet for 50 bucks.

    I wouldn’t have even considered it if that little video wasn’t included in the post.

  22. GrizzlyAdams says:

    Its a shame that most of you don’t realize that this is also viable Xilinx Spartan 3 dev board with several pins routed to headers… From what I can tell that gives you atleast 48 GPIOs with usb/jtag interface to the host pc. I’m currently working with 8051F34x usb micros, propeller chip, and pic micros. This looks like a great addition to my toolkit and a good starting point for fpga dev.

  23. ReKlipz says:

    @GrizzlyAdams
    Do you have a beard?

  24. Rizla++ says:

    @ReKlipz, @janin, @Spazed
    Ok, this is the benchmark that supports my experience with voice recognition. :P

    http://www.sunlabs.com/techrep/2002/abstract-114.html

    I also agree that this is not the place to start a conversation about Java performance, we’re only talking about a GUI here! Which, for God’s sake, is impossible to actually be slow on modern hardware!

    I still want that oscilloscope addon, though… :(

  25. jeff-o says:

    Looks great! Any word on whether this would work on a mac?

  26. jackgassett says:

    It should work on OS X but as of yet we have not attempted it. Will put it on the To Do list.

  27. therian says:

    I feel so stupid for buying digitalscope/logic analyzer but it was long time ago, I will look close on this project and definately buy scope version

  28. charliex says:

    @rizla++, read the whole document. They said they could put the improvements from the java client into the C version, and it’d likely match the speed. They also changed the algorithms used.

    What they’re saying is choosen very carefully, in that the work/cost/performance ratio of java to C is the benchmark, not the speed of C, but rather the lesser peforming algorithms and code of flite.

    @GrizzlyAdam’s i think jacks butterfly is probably a better bet for a fpga dev board.

  29. taintedkernel says:

    @GrizzlyAdams: Yes I’m slightly bothered I didn’t realize this earlier as I already ordered a Spartan-3 board earlier this week for double the price. The feature set is quite different however so…

    Personally I think this is a great project and happy to see it supports Linux without a major fuss. It will make a good addition to my bus pirate.

  30. asdf says:

    Nice tool, but the Java front end is a no-no for me.
    Anyway as this isn’t a place for programming languages flame wars, here’s the short answer for those willing to write graphical interfaces for hardware but still afraid of C++: please consider Lazarus.

    Lazarus is the open source multi platform clone of the glorious Delphi, the best interface builder ever created coupled with one of the most powerful object libraries and a blazingly fast compiler.
    Now the Lazarus clone produces 100% native code
    (no VM’s, JIT and other bull) on a plethora of systems/OS’s going from your Windows desktop to the Nokia N900 phone, OSX included.

    http://lazarus.freepascal.org/

    The right way of going multiplartform is to have multiplatform (cross) compilers, not using a virtual machine that eats cpu cycles for no reason.
    Lazarus (as other well thought develpment systems) does just that.

  31. Derrek says:

    The oscilloscope add-on has a 5V limitation – ouch

  32. Rizla++ says:

    Thanx asdf !

  33. Mark says:

    I love that digital oscilloscope add-on even if it limited to 5V. I can use this thing for my electronic project. Need to get this one soon.

  34. scheissfelder says:

    Maybe I’m just too impatient or too much of a mere mortal who can’t figure out the intricacies of the install process, but I can’t get this thing running..

    Where the heck is the transcript that goes along with the Youtube video? I just want to get this set up in a reasonable amount of time so I can get to analyzing my logic. I got a thesis to write and not a whole lot of time to futz with Lunix…..

  35. onaclov2000 says:

    Does anyone have a “how to” for the latest and greatest stuff? I am having issues getting this setup on my ubuntu box, and my netbook doesn’t have a big enough screen to be able to see the capture button in windows…arghhh

  36. Freida Lulic says:

    Man, sucks to be under 18. What if you’re parents aren’t home to give you assistance with the wooden stake attachement and a dracula shows up during gameplay? That’s tough.

  37. james says:

    Just wondering if this would be compatible with products
    Like the motorola xoom or nexus7. If so how would the installation work etc.

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