Xprotolab: oscilloscope and Xmega development board

Here’s a nice hands-on overview of the Xprotolab, a development board based around the AVR ATxmega32A4 microcontroller. The tiny DIP package includes an OLED display, four tactile switches, and it can be powered via a micro USB connector. The device ships ready to use as a two-channel Oscilloscope, but check out how small it is in the video after the break to decide if this will actually be useful for you. It’s not that it doesn’t have a lot of features, in fact it’s packed with them, but that screen is quite small for meaningful work. Still, at $35 it’s an inexpensive way to get your hands on the hardware and acquaint yourself with this line of microprocessors. Not that in order to flash new firmware you will need a PDI capable programmer.

[Thanks Daniel]

Comments

  1. Bill D. Williams says:

    Looks great.

    I wish the Arduino came with a OLED! That’s actaully really handy for debug/prototyping.

    Hey arduino, it’s time to step up your game.

  2. matyvico says:

    Amazing! I’m going to buy one! But before, did you see other options like this?

  3. John says:

    While I like what I see, it would be nice if it could dump the data to your computer over that usb connection.

  4. Wow, really well done!!! Incredible price for such a nice device.

    @John – get it, hack it.

  5. John says:

    :P Good point. And it might even force me to learn how to write a USB driver… Hmm.

  6. @John – I just looked at the schematic on their website and the data lines are running to the uC. They provide all of the source code and everything to hack this puppy. Even if it’s not possible to do what you say, this thing is just too freaking nice to pass up. I just purchased one :) While I was on the site they sold 5 units… only 40 left!

  7. Hi, thanks for the article!
    Unfortunately the XMEGA doesn’t have a USB module. I can’t promise anything yet but I am trying to do a software USB implementation, the hardware for USB connectivity is already on the board.

  8. Fallen says:

    OMG WANT

  9. @Gabriel – Hey thanks for this! I’m very happy to hear you are working on the USB interface too. Even if the screen blanked out for a second while it was streaming data to the computer it would be FINE by me. First request would just be a streaming CSV dump, realtime or a buffer. Next might be a Bitmap Screenshot. You could probably get some help on a nice Processing App that would blow the screen up for some really interesting Remote viewing… and turning off the OLED while that was happening could free up some realtime to send data to the computer. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  10. vonskippy says:

    If my hamster ever needs a OScope – I know what to get.

  11. Ren says:

    The video is well made.
    What is its highest trigger frequency?
    What is its lowest trigger threshold?
    What is the input voltage range and impedance?
    What does AWG mean?

    Maybe I can mount one on an eyeglass frame…

  12. @Ren – Go read the specs here:

    http://gabotronics.com/development-boards/xmega-xprotolab.htm

    AWG stands for Arbitrary Waveform Generator

    This thing is pure gadget magic!

  13. Thanks Ren,

    1) The maximum sampling rate is 2MSPS, the analog bandwidth is 320kHz. The trigger can lock on the waveform in the entire bandwidth.

    2) On your second question, I don’t have that specified, but I did a quick test with a 40mV p-p sine wave, and it triggered ok (using the maximum gain stage of 78.125mV/div).

    3) The input voltage range is +/-20V, the input impedance is 1Mohm (so you could attach a 1:10 probe).

    4) AWG means arbitrary waveform generator. The device has three waveforms preprogrammed: sine, triangle and square. You can control the ampliture, frequency, offset and duty cycle of the waveform.

  14. blue carbuncle says:

    I think and hope John was joking :) Cool piece of kit! Thanks Gabriel for the quick data sheet. Gonna pick one up next month-trying to be responsible and build my 401k :(

  15. Foxdie says:

    Gabriel, is it possible to make this into a standalone product like the DSO Nanoscope? I felt the DSO was let down by the fact it had only 1 channel, if you could make a better version of the DSO (including colour screen, on-board LiPo battery and 2 channels) for around the same price band you’d be on to a winner :)

  16. James says:

    Sold out.

    Too bad.

  17. Paul says:

    This is incredibly cool. Great work! I wish they hadn’t already sold out! I’ve been looking for a low-cost oscilloscope for doing simple stuff like verifying a clock waveform/frequency or looking for voltage sag. I can get old oscilloscopes, but they’re big and clunky. This is tiny enough to just toss into the drawer with my tools and pull it out when I need it. Brilliant!

  18. chlen says:

    The best stuff I have ever seen!!
    SUPER!

  19. @Foxdie Perhaps I could design an add on board, with a battery connector and charger, so you could connect the Xprotolab on top of it. It could also have 3.5mm audio plugs to connnect probes. I would need to find an enclosure. My to do list is growing exponentially…

    I have a feature request on my forums, you can add your requests there so I can keep track of them.

    @James I expect to have more units next month

  20. therian says:

    @Foxdie DSO was let down by the fact it was really SLOW, this one even slower

  21. @therian The DSO nano claims “1MHz bandwidth”, but applying a frequency above half its sampling rate will just get aliased (is it’s sampling rate 1MSPS or 2MSPS?).
    The Xprotolab has a 2MSPS and, to prevent (or reduce) aliasing, I set (by design) a low pass filter at 320kHz.
    This is what regular digital oscilloscopes do: they have an analog bandwidth much lower than the sampling rate to prevent aliasing.

    If users prefer not have the 320kHz filter, it can be disabled by simply removing three capacitors: C2, C4, C9.

  22. therian says:

    @Gabriel Anzziani
    Why you explaining the filter? it doesn’t change useful frequency of 2Mhz/10

  23. Ted says:

    This seems like a good candidate for wearable EKG, anyone knowledgeable enough to comment?

    How about power usage, anyone figure that out yet?

  24. ladz says:

    Wow! This thing is great. It’s absolutely perfect for the purpose they show it for: simple small breadboard troubleshooting without the need to hook up huge external scopes and bench DMMs.

    Too bad they are sold out, I’d buy two!

  25. Fallen says:

    Got mine!!

    Haven’t used it really, just powered it up. Wow it is tiny :)

  26. My first thoughts on video here:

    http://fightcube.hackhut.com/2011/03/26/microscope-revisited-first-thoughts/

    Some updates… Gabriel has fixed some issues with the frequency measurement shown in my video. Also, he has implemented I2C decoding and has changed the hardware to support the USB interface for new orders. I’m super impressed with how awexome this scope is.

  27. user says:

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