We’ve often heard (and said) if you can’t hack it, you don’t own it. We noticed that [tmbinc] has issued a call for help on his latest project: developing new firmware and an FPGA configuration for the Rigol DS1054Z and similar scopes. It isn’t close to completion, but it isn’t a pipe dream either. [tmbinc] has successfully booted Linux.
There’s plenty left to do, though. He’s loading a boot loader via JTAG and booting Linux from the USB port. Clearly, you’d want to flash all that. Linux gives him use of the USB port, the LCD, the network jack, and the front panel LEDs and buttons. However, all of the actual scope electronics, the FPGA functions, and the communications between the processor and the FPGA are all forward work.
Why the Rigol? [tmbinc] says they are cheap, have decent hardware, and use parts that have accessible tool chains. Plus, the Rigol is popular among people likely to hack their scope. The Xilinx FPGA and the ARM processor are reasonably easy to work with using either open source or freely available tools.
We’ve seen several open scope designs, but developing from scratch is a different animal than reverse engineering something that is already built. We’ve also seen [Dave Jones] reverse engineer the DS1054Z in detail. We are sure that will be a big help to [tmbinc’s] efforts. We hope Hackaday readers will answer the call and help produce some open source software. It will be interesting to see if the community can outperform the manufacturer.