A keygen for the Rigol 2000-series scopes

rigol

A few weeks ago it came to our attention that Rigol’s DS2000-series oscilloscopes were easily unlocked with a few USB commands. We had expected a small microcontroller device would be developed to send these bits to a scope automatically, and we never imagined the final version of this tool hack would be so elegant. Now it’s possible to unlock a DS2072 o’scope using just a serial number and a great encryption hack.

The engineers over a Rigol (bless their hearts) used the same hardware for the $800, 70MHz DS2072 and the $1600, 200MHz DS2202. The only difference between the two are a few bits in the scope’s memory that are easily unlocked if you have the right key. A few folks over on the EEV Blog forum figured out the private key for the scope’s encryption and the user [cybernet] wrote a keygen.

The upgrade process is extremely simple: get the serial number of your DS2072, put it in the keygen, and enter the resulting key into the scope. Reboot, and you have a $1600 scope you bought for half price.

Comments

  1. ds18s20 says:

    This is one badass hack! Good work!

  2. Jason Sewell says:

    Does anyone else see this as ethically questionable?

    • Will says:

      Not at all. it’s like unlocking an AMD 6950 to a 6970 with a simple tweak. http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1608/1/

    • Jason Taylor says:

      No less ethically questionable than a company selling you crippled hardware.

      • Rob says:

        Selling crippled hardware under the guise of it being better than it actually is would be ethically wrong. But if you’re getting what you’ve paid for, that’s not crippled. There’s no intent to deceive.

        I don’t understand the mentality of “I paid $x.xx for y but I deserve everything that the person who paid $xx.xx for z got”… try that in any business and see how far it gets you…

        • Jeremy says:

          I tink you’ll do better in business getting more for your money.

          What is NOT good business is taking advantage of your customer. If I had paid $1600 for a unit that was the exact same as a $800 unit (and cost the exact same to produce), I would be very angry. As a customer, you have to assume that if one model costs double what the other does, that there is some higher cost to drive that price. In this case there isn’t…they just locked up some capability to extort more money from the guy who is willing to pay more?

          Why don’t they just charge $800 for all the units and not have the capabilities locked up? I guess because some people are willing to pay more. That’s all fine and good…unless you’re found out, as this company has been.

          If there’s a reason to charge more money for the higher end unit (like it uses better components, or has other costs that are higher), that’s one thing…and that’s expected. But if they are truly the same unit and just locked up, with one person being charged double, that seems unethical to me. If not unethical, then risky. Nothing stays a secret for long.

          • trophosphere says:

            What you may be paying for, in terms of the high-end model, is confidence that your unit will be able to fulfill its specifications. If some lower end model happens to meet those higher-end specs then your confidence can only be put on some person off the street who tested it and not the original manufacturer.

          • Rob says:

            They’re not taking advantage of their customer, plain and simple. You might have read what I wrote, but you missed the point of it. Pay $1600 for a unit and it is *not* the exact same as the $800 unit… it’s got better capabilities and functions. Pay $800 and get the unit with lesser capabilities and functions, but if it’s the unit you need, then it’s the right one for you. If you need the better capabilities and functions, then pay for them.

            “Why don’t they just charge $800 for all the units and not have the capabilities locked up?” Really? Good luck with that. If they were going to standardize on price, they’d set it at the higher price, a price which is competitive for the feature sets that would be available.

            What you (and everyone else here who’s whining about it) fail to get is that they’re doing us a favor by making a downline unit available at an excellent price that more than meets the needs that most of us here have. If any of us need more bandwidth, then there are upline units for that with commensurate pricing.

            If you ever get around to living in the real world, you’re in for some cruel surprises! The market provides the solution… if you don’t like it, do it better yourself.

          • Bob says:

            Rob: “The market provides the solution… if you don’t like it, do it better yourself.”
            Will do. By simply using the keygen!

          • Inspid Melon says:

            “If I had paid $1600 for a unit that was the exact same as a $800 unit (and cost the exact same to produce), I would be very angry. As a customer, you have to assume that if one model costs double what the other does, that there is some higher cost to drive that price.”

            So your assumption is that everyone is selling you their products based on the cost of the transistors and resistors? Or maybe it should be based on the cost of the raw carbon and silicon?

            Prices for anything you buy are set based on supply and demand. Lowering the prices means generally (not always) you will sell more units. If the profit from those extra units is sufficient, it will offset the price decrease. Thus, there is some optimum price which results in the most profit which is neither the highest nor lowest possible price.

            However, this means some people who would buy your product at a lower (still profitable) price don’t get to. It would be better if you could make special discounts for them, so they can still buy it, but without cutting out your existing profit. The way to do this is price discriminations. This is why coupons exist: to the poor people who are making minimum wage, it’s worth it to cut out newspaper adds and get the best deal. Wealthier people making $100 an hour will not spend an hour searching for deals to save $10.

            Now, if this company selling the oscilloscope was not able to sell $800 and $1600 versions, instead what you would be looking at is one unit marked at (say) $1200. Great if you were going to buy the more expensive $1600 version. But really sucks if you were going to buy the $800. And, of course, it’s the poorer people who are losing out.

            So I am totally a fan of price discrimination. It’s not unethical, it’s to your benefit, at least if you’re strapped for cash like I usually am.

            That said, I also don’t see anything wrong with modifying hardware you paid for in any way you please. And the company probably doesn’t care — few, if any, of the people ordering $1600 units are going to order the $800 units and mod them. Saving $400 is nothing to them, but a multimillion dollar lawsuit for breaking the license agreement, or even just the cost of no longer having their product officially supported, might be. And the company may indeed wind with more sales from a new price discriminated bracked, e.g., people to whom the $1600 machine is only worth $1000 but are willing to mod it can now buy it for $800 when they would not have bought either unit before.

          • E says:

            > If I had paid $1600 for a unit that was the exact same as a $800 unit (and cost the exact same to produce)

            Precisely. Typically the arguments for increasing pricing structures have been that you have to pay more for people to work more.

            You pay more for better things because people put more work into it, or the raw components are higher quality and cost more, etc.

            in this case none of these are true. Both units are exactly the same, even the software is the same. The only thing different is the manufacturer PUT MORE EFFORT INTO THE CHEAPER UNIT TO CRIPPLE IT…. so with all that extra work they could charge less for it? That already doesn’t fit into their typical production model, so you have to question why it’s suddenly convenient.

            This is a really cynical, corporatist thing.

            The only true difference between these 2 units is the sticker on the front. If you want to be a sucker and pay $800 for a different sticker then you do that, leave the rest of us out of your ‘ethical dilemma’.

        • HackJack says:

          There is absolutely nothing wrong for a company to cripple their own product to sell at a lower price. They earn your money fair and square. This has been done long time back in the CPU market.

          • Jeremy says:

            So…would you buy the $1600 DS2202 above? Would you be comfortable buying any of the higher end equipment from Rigol? I wouldn’t. I would be nervous that I was being ripped off.

            While there’s nothing wrong with selling crippled products, I think they’ve made a mistake selling the same product as the cheaper units.

          • blue says:

            It’s different in the case of processors; by necessity you need to print multiple processors per chip because you’re very likely to get an error on any single processor. In that case, you actually end up needing to turn off your backups because the rest of the chip is only designed to operate X number of cores at maximum. Also, companies do this because it would not be practical to have two unique production lines.

            I’m not sure about an $800 difference on a scope like that, though. It does seem they could price the product at 1K and not mess with it at all.

          • Just as there is nothing wrong with a company crippling a product and selling it at a reduced price, there is nothing wrong with unlocking the crippled features in the product. That’s two sides of the same coin. They’re free to sell it to you for whatever price they want, and you’re free to modify it and use it for any purpose you want. If they don’t want people doing this, then they have the option to actually use cheaper parts in the cheaper scopes.

    • Leithoa says:

      No more questionable than jailbreaking a smartphone you own.
      Hardware manufacturers have a long and economically driven history of disabling features using firmware/software(GPUs are a prime example). End users have been finding ways to enable these features for just as long.
      If I disable the electronic governor on my car to go over 110mph, am I ‘stealing’ performance from the manufacturer?

      • Dudecallednick says:

        While I’m not against the idea, your analogy equates to questioning whether or not you stole the 125 Mhz signal you’re viewing from Rigol.

      • macona says:

        Hmm, no. This is no different than using a keygen to unlock extra features in a piece of software. That is called piracy.

        And if he broke encryption to do this it probably breaks the DMCA laws.

        • rj says:

          No, it’s no different than finding a locked door in your house and getting a locksmith to unlock it.

          Complete with the comparison of being possibly prohibited by a contract in the terms of sale vs a EULA, if any exists.

          • Frank says:

            |>No, it’s no different than finding a locked door in your house and getting a locksmith to unlock it.

            This is the only analogy in this god damned blog post that actually makes any sense.

          • yourenaive says:

            It’s a door in a house that was sold in two versions, 2 rooms and 1 room, and you went with the 1 room one, which was sold at a fair price that you were happy to pay, plus the 2 rooms one you couldn’t afford anyway.

            Now you realize the house does have two rooms, you get it unlocked by the locksmith and complain that you got ripped off because the seller should have given you the fully unlocked house for the price of a single room house.

            The fact that pricing can include things such as development cost or any number of factors, not just the price of components making up the product seems to be lost on many here.

            Not saying that you should not hack the scope, I would probably too, but being pissed off at the company is just narrowmindedly naive.

    • Uwe says:

      I would not say “ethically” questionable – but surely questionable if you use the device for work and expect some sort of support from the manufacturer…

    • Alex Rossie says:

      I do, this is just piracy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well no. I buy it, I make no deals on how to use or not to use the damn thing. if I like I’ll switch the screen, add better AD chips, modify software. It’s mine, I will do whatever the hell I want with it unless I’ve written some contract that says otherwise. If I want to I can take the damn thing apart and sell the pieces, or sell the damn thing after I’ve modified it. Or added cool blue leds to it, or whatever. If they don’t want to sell it to me they are welcome not to.

        • Rob says:

          You don’t have to buy it… no one’s forcing you to. But a licensing agreement is part of the purchase. If you’re too ignorant to understand that, you really ought to stop posting your nonesense… (not that you’ll stop being a troll, but you and I both know who’s accurate here).

          • John says:

            When I bought my scope, I didn’t sign a licensing agreement.

          • Rob says:

            Of course you didn’t John, if it was an analog scope. If it was a digital scope, such an agreement was inherent in the purchase. It’s in the documentation. You don’t have to sign it for it to be binding. Your acceptance of the scope is your agreement. Check out the Microsoft Windows EULA… you didn’t sign it when you bought your computer, but you’re still bound by it because you chose to use the software.

          • nelsontb says:

            @rob:

            you mean your ok with people hidding binding contracts on the manuals and the buyer has no choice but to follow the contract that he didn’t know about, didn’t agree with and didn’t sign? if such where the law one could write a contract on a microfim hidden in a bubble gum wrap that forced whoever bought it to give all their belogings to the company after all you bought it, it’s your fault and you have to respect the contract

          • Rob says:

            @Nelson: I certainly don’t agree that such a system is anywhere near ideal, but that’s what we’ve got, no? Such license agreements include a clause giving you the option of returning the purchase if you disagree with that license, so there’s something to be said for reading the manual. If the company constructs their EULA in a way that runs afoul of the law, then the courts have final say. But this is all largely hypothetical, as it’s up to the party that has been wronged (the company) to choose whether or not to try to seek damages.

            Ultimately though, whether a company does or doesn’t try to seek damages, the ultimate question is whether or not such a hack is ethical. Becuase it boils down to theft (there was a mechanism in place to prevent access, the method was circumvented, a benefit above that which was paid for was gained, the company wasn’t compensated), on the ethical question, such a hack fails.

            That’s not to say that I don’t have respect for the mad skills of those who devised the crack, and it’s certainly not to say that I don’t have less respect for the company for not protecting their IP very well (whoopsie!), and it’s not even to say that I don’t think that in many cases, this crack will be harmless (as others have fervently pointed out, it’s not like many of the folks that will do this were ever going to pay for the better feature set). But it is to say that such cracking certainly falls short of being ethical. That was the topic in question, that is the clear conclusion.

        • Alex Rossie says:

          You can wrap it up however you want it’s still piracy.

          If I bought a free try and then used a crack to get the full edition by your logic that wouldn’t be piracy.

          Get your head out of your ass.

      • qwerty says:

        Piracy? Oh please don’t speak like a brainwashed RIAA/MPAA drone! Nothing is stolen here as there is no proof that you would have spent $1600 for the bigger unit. Also you don’t get any warranty or support for a scope modified as such, therefore the difference in price still fits.

    • draeath says:

      No less ethical for gimping $1600 hardware and selling it off for $800.

    • E says:

      Once you buy it you own it.

      Are you serious?

  3. Kemp says:

    The concern brought up here every time one of these articles is posted and never (to my knowledge) given a conclusive answer is: will it perform to the right level? If the part failed testing at 200MHz and was therefore put into a 70MHz scope, then you can unlock it all you want, but it still won’t hit the performance you’re looking for. Is the filtering set up the same? Anti-aliasing is probably going to look quite different between the scopes. Maybe some of the other parts are lower grade as well because they can get away with it.

    • Erik Johnson says:

      Physical performance, maybe true. Features such as aliasing method woud be controlled by software which is whats modified.

    • ub80 says:

      It is a common technique to keep the hardware setup the same between products that come in different flavours (performance/features) and just lock/unlock those using software/keys. This is done to save costs for production/storage/hardware-development on products where the cost for the actual parts is low in relation to the sales-price. I would guess a scope falls into this category. Since an option to upgrade the scope via a key was made available to the user I guess one can also buy that key from Rigol to upgrade the scope.

  4. Skimo says:

    So if I bought a $90,000 Agilent scope and made a keygen to get added features to work and these features were $5,000 each, this would be ok and legal for me to do? If this is illegal, why is HAD promoting it?

    • If you purchased the product then why can’t you do what you want with it?

      • macona says:

        You dont own the rights to the software.

        • rasz says:

          go back to Washington
          YOU OWN WHAT YOU PAID FOR, ITS YOURS

          • macona says:

            No, in this case, you do not.

          • Rob says:

            RTF License Agreement… you bought the hardware, you licensed the software. You have *no* ownership of the software. If this is an issue, then write your own. How is this so difficult to understand?

          • rasz says:

            lol americans and their retarded license agreements, its unenforceable in civilized world
            we can even resale Oracle or oem windows if we want

          • Rob says:

            sure you can, Rasz. sure you can. doesn’t make it legal. doesn’t make it ethical. that’s the point of this whole discussion. if you chose to live with no regard for the law, that’s your choice, but the law doesn’t care one whit what you think of it!

          • rasz says:

            how stupid are you? resale of something you bought is a real consumer law in 1/3 of the world, you can resale used windows in EU, you can even unlock your phone just like this hack unlocks your scope

        • Anonymous says:

          I also signed no software license deal, I simply ordered a piece of hardware, that happened to contain software. Then I keyed in “random” numbers and the software did something?

          • Rob says:

            Your acceptance of the device creates an implied contract for the licensing of the software. This is not new. It’s fully enshrined in modern law. YOU DON’T GET TO CHOOSE UNLESS YOU FIND AN ALTERNATE PRODUCT OR MAKE YOUR OWN. It’s a function of having beneficial technology so we dont have to live in caves/pound on rocks/eat berries/etc…

          • Bob says:

            “It’s a function of having beneficial technology so we dont have to live in caves/pound on rocks/eat berries/etc…”

            False dichotomy.

          • Rob says:

            @Bob: Tongue in cheek, dumbass.

        • Nicholas says:

          It appears things like this have a gray area. This article speaks of two different cases which I feel may be similar. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/feds-ok-iphone-jailbreaking/

        • Beckers says:

          Haha, backing up a Chinese company in regards to software licences. What a laugh.

      • TheAlchemist says:

        Indeed. Soft(firm)ware controls are just straight up foolish on the part of manufacturers. If I’m going to build a device like this, I’m going to build in a physical reason why you can’t just flash it and get all the goodies. I don’t see any automobiles out there that can be software fiddled from a Pinto to a Mustang,or even a base level Mustang to a fully loaded one…

        It’s going to have to be better than an extra resistor or a bridge somewhere that somebody with the right tools can just desolder and free the thing (I’m thinking about opening up forbidden bands on ham radios here); you’re going to need to buy a physical part from me. Or a different unit. It’s inefficient and counter-intuitive to our network enabled minds, but if I want people to pay for a premium product, I have to have a serious means to control the premium.

        I applaud the sorts of measures highlighted here; there isn’t really much of a reason why one should pay an extra $800 other than because the manufacturer can get away with it. If they can’t get away with it, then the price for the better unit will come down to reflect the realities of the manufacturing process (slightly better components, a bit more testing time) and not just a profit grab.

        • Leithoa says:

          The trouble with doing business as you propose is retooling costs. It’s much more cost effective to swap out a strip of resistors, capacitors, or leave a trace/bridge off a product than it is to design a completely new board and circuit around different chips.
          The other common way is to have looser tolerances for the lower model.

          Though I suppose having a hardware key that must be plugged into a port(USB/PCI-e style) could be cost effective.

        • Jake Dixon says:

          in my car you can flash the ecu to the performance model and suddenly you have the same specs as a performance level car.

      • Erik Johnson says:

        You can think of it in game terms, too. Many games come with everything needed for a full version, but the free (or cheaper) version is limited to give you a taste. Usually these can be unlocked with a (CD)key. This is no different.

        Sorry, my terms are archaic; I haven’t really gamed in the new “cloud” nee WWW.

    • Mystick says:

      Well, if the manufacturers had made a different product, and not a reprogrammed version of a single product, this wouldn’t be an issue.

      The difference in this case being a single line of code being sold as a different product worth an additional $800… well, that just seems like a manufacturer ripping off customers.

      “This car is red, therefore $2000 more expensive than the blue one.”

      • Kemp says:

        It’s not exactly like that. Firstly, paying for software features is a pretty common thing. There is plenty of software where all the features are bundled in and their use is controlled on the basis of the license you’ve purchased. Secondly, it sounds crazy, but people have related stories here and to me in person (unrelated to each other, but very similar stories) where they were basically required to take the more expensive option out of the available choices for business reasons rather than practical ones. Thirdly, if you think of it as them changing a line of code and offering it to hobbyists for half the price, it doesn’t sound quite so bad now does it? ;)

        • Chris C. says:

          Some hobbyists are advanced enough they may actually need the higher feature set to successfully pursue their hobby, or at least do it without the difficulty and frustration of working with an inferior tool. And when that hobby is pursued strictly for pleasure, not for profit, it’s awfully hard to swallow paying an additional $800 to avoid a deliberately crippled tool; regardless of ethics. I frequently find myself in that category.

          • Kemp says:

            They’re probably fine with that – you wouldn’t buy the higher priced one anyway, so at least they made the $800 off of you (or whoever). Also, they won’t need to worry about warranty claims and such, which I guess is a win for them but not one they can predict ahead of time.

      • ub80 says:

        Also: It is not a single line of code that is different. That key unlocks features that are otherwise not used – turning the whole of the program/product into something fairly different. And those extra features were a cost (development) to the manufacturer. I can not see how that is ripping anyone off who did not pay for those extra features?

        • That is because you don’t understand theft, in which someone is deprived of something. No one is being ripped off here. If they don’t want people who haven’t paid for that code to have that code, they shouldn’t ship it to them. Instead, they should reflash the unit with a USB upgrade for people who pay, which can be locked to the device’s SN. They took the sleazy way out, and now they are not getting paid for it.

  5. Skimo says:

    It is very apparent who has engineering experience on a high volume production device and who is a hobbyist. One of the major reasons the scope is so cheap to begin with is due to their high volume design decisions. One piece of hardware with firmware cripples is an enormous cost saver in terms of inventory management, configuration management, volume discounts on parts, and countless other issues involved in dealing with multiple hardware configurations and software/firmware to support all of them. Sure, they could hardware lock their scopes, but they didn’t. They saved a lot of money in doing so and that possibly allowed the scope to be affordable to you. If you cant see beyond the scope of just a hardware device and look into everything that goes into a product, it isn’t a big deal, as long as you understand that a LOT more goes into engineering something than just making the physical device. Making a keygen to steal IP from something you didn’t pay for is wrong and it doesn’t matter how you spin it.

    • TheAlchemist says:

      So what you’re saying is that the reason we can have the “lesser” scope for $800 instead of (say, $1500) is because they built more or less identical units and did a soft lock instead of tooling up another line and building a different unit? That suggests that the true value (which reflects the costs to the manufacturer, of course) of the units is represented closer to the higher rather than the lower price? They’re then doing us the market a favour by selling below profitable levels?

      Or, perhaps, the “real” value of the full scope is closer to $800 (and profit must be made by the manufacturer somewhere less than that, since middlemen want a cut too) and they mark it up to take advantage of an artificial difference?

      I want it to be the first, but I’m suspicious.

      I don’t care about stealing IP for the purposes of this discussion, that’s a different matter.

      • Kemp says:

        The first important lesson you learn is that there is no inherent value in anything. The value of an item is exactly the amount people are willing to pay for it. Businesses don’t mind dropping $1500 on a scope that they know will meet their requirements. They can’t sell many of those units to hobbyists though, so they put a unit up at $800. They need to differentiate it so they lock out a few features that they judge the hobbyist won’t need (but that higher-end users probably will). End result – they have a range of units that they can sell to different market segments.

        • Jeremy says:

          What you’re saying is fine…but what it sounds like is “this guy will pay more, so let’s grab him for more, and the hobbyist can’t afford all this, so we’ll sell him one that’s cheaper”. But if all the costs are the same for both units…is that a smart thing to do?

          The risk is that your unit will end up on hackaday.com and your customers will find out that they seemingly overpaid. You’ll loose customers. And they’ll be the best customers too….the ones that pay $1600 for a $800 piece of equipment ;)

          I think that if a company is trying to sell a unit for a lot more than a seemingly identical unit, they’re taking a big risk. Especially because in this situation, the hardware is there. The cost is already paid by the manufacturer. They’re just locking it up and preventing the customer from using it, at no extra cost to them.

          • Kemp says:

            “The risk is that your unit will end up on hackaday.com and your customers will find out that they seemingly overpaid. You’ll loose customers. And they’ll be the best customers too….the ones that pay $1600 for a $800 piece of equipment”

            Except they didn’t, they paid $1600 for the features to be available and supported by the company. As hackers it’s easy to forget that these official support channels exist if you’re willing to throw money at them. If something doesn’t work, we go online, we look for solutions, and we have a go at fixing or improving it. If a company buys a product and it doesn’t work, they file a ticket with the manufacturer’s support team.

            That extra $800 is effectively guaranteeing that support is available and the unit is correctly specced to provide the features you’re using (remember that parts could be in the lower spec scope for the exact reason that they failed testing at the higher spec).

        • Businesses that don’t mind dropping $1500 (or much more) almost certainly buy Agilent’s oscilloscopes rather than Rigol’s.

          I personally own a scope from each company, so I do indeed have first-hand experience using both companies’ products.

      • Rob says:

        The first is essentially what it boils down to, yes. They could make 10 unique models with tooling and R&D costs for each, and charge a large sum for any of them until X number of units were sold, they’d recouped their costs, and they could afford to lower the prices. But by making a shared platform and differentiating in software, they’re essentially passing along the savings in advance, without having to wait and see if certain models are going to sell enough to allow for the price to come down.

        This business model is evolutionary and efficient. Its weakness comes from what we’re seeing unfolding here… without sufficiently protected software, the product can be exploited. Granted, the market is sympathetic in that additional units are sold in order for more people to be able to use the exploit, *but* all the cost projections and etc… that went into the initial project get thrown off, and costs don’t get recouped as hoped. The reflexive solution to this is to raise the price to compensate for lost sales, and this ends up penalizing later adopters for the sins of the initial exploiters. The circle goes round and round, but ultimately, there’s a financial penalty that becomes expensive in and of itself to recoup. As a result, future costs of all models go up faster than they otherwise would have *if everyone had played fairly in the freaking first place*.

        Moral: Everyone loses when someone cheats.

        • TheAlchemist says:

          @Kemp: Nobody said anything about inherent value, but there is a price point where the product isn’t profitable, which is what I meant by “true value”. Value isn’t the right word to be using, of course.

          @Rob: Fair enough, but the business model does not sound evolutionary or efficient at all, those words smack of economic warm-fuzzy buzzwordery. It sounds daft for exactly the reason we’re talking about this, and comes back around to my initial point; Software locks are demonstrated useless at keeping people out time and time again. But businesses keep using them! And people keep breaking them! And then we get the boring moaning and chatter about IP and ethics and so on. The cold, hard truth is that if you don’t want people breaking into devices and unlocking them, you don’t lock them in the first place. You physically remove functionality. Doesn’t matter if it’s “inefficient” or right or just or whatever, you want to keep people out, you put it somewhere they can’t get at it until they’ve paid for it. You get no sympathy from me for me for trying to use a system (soft/firmware locking) that has been a repeated security failure.

          • Kemp says:

            I doubt they’re making an effort to keep people out, it is purely differentiation of the product *as sold*. If a hobbyist wants to have a go at unlocking the scope then fair enough, they wouldn’t have been able to sell it to that person at the higher price anyway. The critical thing is that a business who *would* buy the higher priced scope won’t go to the trouble of buying the cheaper one and unlocking it (thus voiding their warranty and negating any support that would have bee available).

      • ub80 says:

        I fully agree with Skimo and his comment already contains the answer to yours: There are different sorts of costs related to a product. One is a recurring cost that has to be spend on every product manufactured (parts, manufacturing, testing, shipping, margins for resellers and so on). If the sales-price is above the sum of all that you are not making a loss by selling a product. However – there are also initial costs that happen when you develop the product (research, development of hard- and software, other stuff like compliance testing, certificates depending on the type of product, marketing) and you want to cover those over a certain time when your product is sold.

        If you have a product that can be sold with different performances (let’s just say a cheaper entry-level version and one singing-and-dancing one) you will price it that you make a profit on each – but the profit-margin will be higher on the more expensive one (obviously). However – depending on your market (and that research you did to find out about it) you will sell a lot more of the cheaper version because it fulfills most peoples needs. If you would not offer that cheaper version many of your customers would buy a different product because the high-end one is too expensive for them. Which means all the initial costs for the development would have to be covered by the expensive version – making it even more expensive.

        To sum it up: No – the manufacturer is not doing the market a favour. He is spreading his costs among different groups of customers allowing himself to access to those potential customers. The alternative would be to develop a product somewhere in the middle – which may still be too expensive for some customers and not good enough for others.

    • Kris Lee says:

      For me the problem is that they are not only crippling software features that I find legitimate but also hardware specifications. It is obvious that you could ask more money for extra piece of software but they also are crippling hardware specifications to make additional software look more worthwhile. I think that this is not very welcomed policy. When I buy the $1600 unit to get the extra MHz and I really do not care about additional software features then I really feel like being ripped off.

  6. I agree, ultimately this is more to do with people choosing to hack their device, voiding the warranty to unlock features they in fact did pay for with their original purchase price.
    You can’t turn around and make customers unhack their device, this is a breach of both the Constitution (freedom of choice) and Human Rights.

    The only real issue is whether someone can then sell the ‘scope thus modified as a more expensive product and get away with charging a higher price.
    It is a bit like buying a phone, finding out that it has a hidden FM radio SDR chip and making a wideband spectrum analyser with it.
    (Disclaimer: Some Android phones have such a chip, used as part of the phone chipset to work in 4G mode so enabling this feature may break 4G.)

    • macona says:

      Freedom of choice?? I dont remember that in the consitiution.

      What Rigol could (but wont) is sue the person who made the keygen and probably anyone who used it, at least in the the US. There are damages which they can sue for.

  7. lmn says:

    So, grab DS2072 while it’s hot (or until a new batch goes to the production)

  8. steaky says:

    One point my boss points out everytime I tell him about these hacks is the bandwidth of the probes.
    Sure this doesnt apply to the firmware features (like serial decode, or memory depth).

    I doubt they are selling the “low-end” scope at a loss, but I’d be surprised it they would have made back all the investment (tooling + man hours on firmware) if the didnt offer the higher end model. Saying that, I dont think hobbyists would foot the bill for the higher end model anyway – so its the movie production/studio argument against piracy (1 million people pirated a film, so thats lost revenue…)

  9. manfre says:

    The hack is interesting. Using the hack is as illegal as using any other software keygen to bypass the DRM. I’m looking forward to a hack where someone writes their own firmware to unlock the full potential of the hardware and removes the “promoting software theft” angle.

  10. Hattori Hanzo says:

    Piracy here is a delicate topic. Yes, I see that both the expensive and the cheap scope cost probably less than if they had developed two different scopes with different hardware.

    But the question is what you lose due to such a hack as a manufacturer. Would you have sold the expensive scope otherwise? Would you have even sold the cheaper one to the hobbyist, or did he only buy it because it’s such a steal after the hack?
    Business customers will likely not hack their hardware this way. Saving a pittance on a scope for the risk of running it outside its spec and ruining an expensive project? Not worth it. Unless it’s a really small shop that probably couldn’t afford the pricier unit in the first place and needs to cling to every penny.

    The possibility to apply piracy to the device could be a net win for the manufacturer. Whether it is or not in fact is moot to discuss.

    Personally, I’d really like to see the same kind of thing for hardware that exists for software already: different prices for hobbyists and professionals. It’s just an extension of the idea to up the scale of production through selling the same unit with and without limitations. I see, though, that this would be very hard in practice and probably just end cannibalizing the commercial sales.

    I btw do write software for a living. If any of that could have the slightest use for someone to use privately, I’d license it for cheap when restricted to non business use. If any individual would pirate my stuff to use it without making money, I wouldn’t care. There’s simply no one who would pay several grand for what I make just to use it at home. If I’d see a business using it unlicensed, though, they’d either have to pay or would get sued.

    Distributing software costs practically nothing, yet it is priced like goods where you have fixed costs per unit. It should be priced according to its use for the customer.

  11. Zac says:

    I fail to understand why an awful lot of you people even frequent this website. Hacking and cracking has been around for decades and has roots in skirting legality. I see this as not being altogether much different than reverse engineering. Whats the big deal?

    • Rob says:

      Hacking, cracking, and theft can all be thought of as being on the same Venn diagram for this discussion, and there’s overlap for sure, but that doesn’t make them identical to each other. There’s plenty of reverse engineering that can be done that isn’t theft.

      Speaking not to you but to a number of the posters here in this thread, the sheer ignorance of the law (and/or the absence of conscience) is staggering.

  12. nelsontb says:

    There is also a hidden profit for rigol here. They where relatively unknown until people released the 100Mhz hack for theyr older model, now every hobbyist looking for a scope knows them, heck the demand for the cheaper model was so great that they were able to lower the cost of the factory unlocked one and that is the one i got as i didn’t want to loose the warranty, for the ones that did unlock theyr scopes rigol also made some extra profit in the guise of less returned broken units has any good manufacturer also takes into account the probable cost of warranty claims. Now they have another round at it and if they price their new model right they can nail the market with their 2nd generation hobby scopes that really are just cheap (in price) pro scopes (save some “the probe costs more than some labs” niche market)

  13. kajer says:

    Has anyone considered fair use?

    So if you are using this scope as a hobbiest and none of your projects are for sale, this sounds like a good ol’ cup of mind your own f*(^ing business and keep your mouths shut. Don’t tell others and you won’t have a problem.

  14. static says:

    Probably not any more unethical than purchasing a Windows computer & removing Window to install Linux or any other OS. I guess it comes down to if you need or your clients expect instruments with guaranteed performance at 200 MHz to be used. In the event this would void the warranty is something to consider, if the unit ever needs to be serviced by Rigol. You scoff at warranties & proudly void them? I’m not sure if spending $800 with modification in mind to to save $800, if the unit ever needs to repairs that only Rigol can do within the warranty period, a gamble only the purchaser can decide is worth to gamble. Of course if one already owns a DS2072 no longer covered by the warranty, the warranty is no longer a concern.

    • trophosphere says:

      I would think it’s more akin to upgrading Windows Home edition to Professional edition.. The “removing Window to install Linux or any other OS” analogy would be more akin to totally removing Rigol’s firmware and replacing it with custom firmware. <- Custom firmware as in it has none of Rigol's code.

  15. This is spectacularly smart marketing on Rigol’s part. Higher performance scopes are mainly bought by corporate/academic labs. So if they can expand the market for their low end market by leaving it hackable, knowing that the hobbyist choice is between hackable Rigol and unhackable competitors, why not? The average person who buys a Rigol because it’s hackable will never get around to it because (s)he actually doesn’t need the higher-end performance.

    But this certainly gets Rigol free publicity and mindshare. Look at the number of people arguing about this. What percentage of users will actually apply the hacks? 10%?

    The choice by the invididual end user isn’t generally between buying Rigol A v Rigol B, it’s whether to buy Rigol or Tek or Agilent or generic Asian brand.

  16. Agent24 says:

    This might be a clever strategy on Rigol’s part too. They surely must know about the hack of the earlier models, yet the new model is still easy to crack.

    I expect more people will buy from Rigol because they can hack it. Rigol gets more sales and more money as a result. How is that bad for them?
    I think I would rather have someone buy my product regardless of what they were doing with it, than buying someone else’s.

    They would still sell the higher end model to those who want a guarantee it can do what it says on the label. There is no guarantee the hacked low-end model is accurate when unlocked.

  17. Dosjock says:

    Our office had a 17 year old purchase the product. Since he cannot legally enter into a contract of any kind without parental permission the contract is void. The second one I purchased and set up while completely drunk. In my impaired state no contract I was implicated in is valid. Implied/shrinkwrap contracts are worthless.

  18. kommune78 says:

    They must have a hell of a marketing team coming up with this idea.

  19. polossatik says:

    While it’s actual “piracy” the effect is a net win for Rigol.

    Most of the people who will do this hack are hobbyists , meaning that they will sell more of the bottom line scope (sales who might go otherwise to another vendor = win) for this market, a market where the actual amount of sales for the high end model will be rather limited anyway.

    I cannot see any decent lab/prod env using this “hack” besides maybe on one off basis on a surplus scope for “fiddeling around” , in any production env the actual thing that matters is calibration and vendor confirmed specs, the hack may be working 100% the simple fact it’s not certified by the vendor alone means it’s a no-go for critical applications, hence they will buy the unhacked full version anyway.
    Hence the actual loss of the high end level should be very limited and counter balanced by the surge in low end sales and the actual exposure (= free advertising ) of the model line due to all the attention it draws.

  20. Krusty says:

    The $800 unit – do you know if it meets spec? It might have been tested and found to not be reliable at 200MHz – thus being downgraded to 70MHz where it *is* reliable.
    Just because you can make it sample faster – can you be sure of the results you’re getting?

    • Rob says:

      And there’s the rub. Only a couple posts have brought it up, but it bears repeating. Results aren’t guaranteed. Heck, with production irregularities, some of the downgraded/now upgraded scops might be more or less accurate than others… you’d have to test every single one to know for sure. And to do that you’d need standards. And if you had ready access to standards (in most cases), you’d have had sufficient funds to just purchase the better model from the factory in the first place with the understanding that you could trust it and wouldn’t need standards!

      What I want to see are the service menus on these units… where do you go to make adjustments if you’re trying to calibrate it? are the calibration values built in (since it is a digital scope after all)? This is the tip of the iceberg.

  21. Paul says:

    You’re paying for the engineering behind the product. If you need a higher end product you’re paying for more engineering time to make it. It’s not dishonest of the company. It’sthe company getting their return on investment.

  22. The company selling the scope can lock down features and sell it for less all they want. Nothing unethical about that, it’s up to the consumer to pay the difference or not. There’s also nothing unethical about unlocking those features in hardware you paid for. What would be unethical is unlocking it and reselling it to someone else for the price of the “factory unlocked” version.

  23. You do realize they do this intentionally, to get you to discuss the brand? The margins are the same and it’s good advertising…Obviously its working :)

  24. gbot says:

    Is this hack still working with the current scopes leaving the factory?

    Thanks

  25. JFA in Montreal says:

    “You don’t have to sign it for it to be binding. Your acceptance of the scope is your agreement”

    That is BS. The Bill of Exchanges Act of Canada (or equivalent in your country) should be consulted.
    If the contract was not signed BEFORE the acceptance of paymeht, tough bananas. Any software company trying to impose an EULA is nothing more than bullying, and doing false representation. If they claim that their EULA holds, then, they also must expect that some people will not want to agree with the EULA, and then, they expect them to spend time and gas to get the stuff back and get a refund. Well, this is use of my time, and for that kind of activity, if they imply that there can be tacit agreement, it means that they agree to my terms implicitely. My terms are that any software I have to bring back to the place of purchase and get a refund for because I was not properly legally notified about it will be billed at 100,000$/hours, plus 2547$/km to get back to the refund point. Too bad (for them) they did not have a proper contract signed at the point of sale, isn’t it?

    Once the transaction is concluded, once money was exchanged, absent the explicit and LAWFUL (not “legal”) contract, their claim is utter BS.

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