Unlocking a Rigol scope once again


Rigol scopes are finding their way onto the workbenches of makers the world over. There’s a reason for that – they’re so easily upgraded. With a simple software update, you can turn the 50 MHz Rigol o’scope into a model with 100 MHz of bandwidth. Design decisions in one model are sometimes carried over to different product lines, so eventually someone would figure out how to turn the 70 MHz DS2072 scope into the 200 MHz DS2202. A great mod that turns an $800 oscilloscope into one with the features of a $1600 scope.

There’s no internal modifications necessary for this mod; it works simply by sending a few engineering unlock codes to the scope over USB, a simple task that [Blair] implemented with a Raspberry Pi and a bit of Python code. The only fault of the hack is the scope resetting each time it’s powered off. This can, in fact, be accomplished with just about any microcontroller with a Python interpreter.

A fairly uninformative demo video is available below, or you could check out the EEVBlog thread where this mod was conceived here.

We here at Hackaday expect a small, cheap USB/microcontroller dongle thingy that automagically updates the DS2072 to show up in our inbox any day now. We thank whoever sends that in.



  1. polytechnick says:

    I think these “unlocks” are a clever PR ploy by Rigol. A $800 oscilloscope is still A LOT of dough for a ‘scope these days, but with Rigol you are kinda sorta having this sense of buying “more” than what you paid for. Besides, what a great free promo when people keep writing about your products for years, covering every minute detail of the hacks. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of these hacks might have uncovered a bug or a dozen, all free to Rigol, courtesy of hackers inspired by the common notion of “hackability” of Rigol products.

    Good job, Rigol marketing department! If only Apple could learn from you…

  2. rasz says:

    Yeah, first 50-to-100 Rigol hack made them King of the cheap scope hill.

  3. David says:


    Is it legal? It’s like a jairbreak on consoles?

    I’m only curious because this information may cut the sales of better models and the hacker may e sued. Didn’t?

  4. lnm says:

    I’ve got a question that’s a little off topic.

    There are a ton of brands for these cheap, digital oscilloscopes: atten, hantek, owon, rigol, siglent, etc. Is there any good comparison of the different makes and models? Are they basically the same, except for branding — all made in the same Chinese factory?

    So many options have prevented me from doing a real investigation…

  5. If you’re on a tight budget, a $350 Rigol scope is by far the best option.

    But if you’re looking for something that performs better, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not look seriously at the Agilent scopes like the 2000X, 3000X, 4000X. Yes they’re more expensive than a Rigol with similar specs (eg, a $800 Rigol vs $1200 Agilent), but the specs alone don’t tell you how usable the scope really is, how well designed its many features and menu are, etc.

    I don’t work for Agilent or Rigol. But I do own both scopes….

  6. Jon says:

    Does anyone happen to know if the reason the 70 MHz scopes and 200 MHz are sold at those speeds simply due to QA and sorting of parts to ensure the unit performs to their spec?

    Has anyone seen a teardown of these? I’d be currious to see how the design differs between the units. Do parts or population options change?

    • Blair says:

      They (DS2000 series) all have the same input stage using the LMH6518. It’s a programmable gain amplifier which allows you to limit bandwidth via an SPI bus.

    • rasz says:

      Its done for market segmentation only
      most companies will have around $1K monthly budget for non approved expenses
      so the choice is write a request and wait/explain why you need tools to do your job or get a CC and just order a $900 scope immediately.

      Its cheaper to make one hardware platform, they are all the same inside.

  7. steveway says:

    You may already know this but you can buy these relatively cheap here:


    You won’t get any support for doing something like this of course, but you should know this anyway.

  8. Edward says:

    Is this hack still good its almost sept 2013

    • Frizzy says:

      I have heard that the DS2072 is no longer being sold by authorised dealers, that It has been replaced with the DS2072A. Just about every Rigol authorized seller website I have checked still displays the DS2072 model. Maybe best If your looking for enhanced hack performance to send an email first requesting confirmation of the model before giving them your money. The hack may have made the DS2072 model a best seller but nobody knows at this point if the hack will work on the DS2072A. I was told by a reseller that there are physical differences in the new model, so maybe it’s best to hold on to your money for a while until the results of some tests.

  9. Bob says:

    Has anyone tried this hack on the the “A” model yet? If so, what are the results?

  10. nimp0u says:

    I have tried it. It does not work.. Do you know if there is an updated version of the hack yet?

  11. Frizzy says:

    Heard news that it may now be possible to hack the DS2072A by installing the firmware version of the DS2072 then applying the DS2072 key hack. Early days yet and still much testing to be done. There are experts working together on it as I write :)

  12. nimp0u says:

    Yeah it works. I have done it yesterday.You have to downgrade the firmware back from v2 to v1 and then do the usual key input to unlock.

  13. Frizzy says:

    Tried It too and works well. Lost my CAN decoding option but have 200 MHz and all other options. 300 MHz and CAN decoding is the next step, it may only be a matter of time before the experts find a way. Looks like sales of the DS2072A will increase now.

  14. Frizzy says:

    I Finally have 300mhz and all options on the DS2072A.

    • Likewise. I just got my scope today. I got worried because I had version 3.0 and the place where i started reading in the thread was saying you couldn’t upgrade mhz with firmware 3 and you had to jtag in. By the time I got to the right page, however, I saw that all I needed was a lan cable. I don’t know what I’d do without all these great hackers to learn from

  15. Redguy says:

    Anyone seen a hack for the rigol 1074Z yet ?

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