Hacklet 36 – Oscilloscope Projects

Oscilloscopes are one of the most often used tools of the engineer, hacker, or maker. Voltmeters can do a lot, but when you really need to get a good look at a signal, a good scope is invaluable. This week’s hacklet is triggered by the rising slope of some of the best Oscilloscope projects on Hackaday.io!

rigol500We start with [DainBramage’s] recent project Stretching the Limits of a Rigol DS-1102E Scope. The new Rigol ds1054z may be getting all the press lately, but the older DS-1102E (100 MHz) model is still a very capable scope. [DainBramage] broke out his vintage Singer CSM-1 service monitor to generate frequencies all the way up to 500 MHz. The Rigol did admirably well, detecting a sine wave all the way up to 500 MHz. This is in part due to the scope’s 1 gigasample-per-second sampling rate. Once things got beyond the specified limit of 100 MHz though, the signal began to attenuate.  Not bad for pushing a low-end scope way beyond its limits!

 

cornel-scopeNext up is [Bruce Land] with his PIC32 oscilloscope. Microcontroller scope projects are nothing new, but one that runs at nearly 1 MHz sampling rate while generating NTSC composite video is nothing to sneeze at. [Bruce] pulled this off by using Direct Memory Access (DMA) to move the data from the ADC to memory, and to get the video data from memory to the I/O pins used to generate video. The video itself is created by a resistor tree DAC. All you need to make black and white video is three resistors and two I/O pins. [Bruce] says the entire scope cost about $4.00 us in parts!

scope-hand[Jacob Christ] mixed art and science with his chipKIT Oscilloscope Plotter. [Jacob] used a Microchip PIC32 based Fubarino to draw patterns on his scope. To do this the scope must be set to X-Y mode. [Jacob] paired his Fubarino with a MCP4902 Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). Using a dedicated DAC is a great way to do this. [Jacob’s] images are a testament to that, as they’re some of the cleanest “scope art” drawings we’ve seen. Much like [Bruce Land], [Jacob] used his project as the basis for a college class. In fact, the image to the left was created by one of his students!

Want more scope goodness? Check out our new Oscilloscope Projects List!

Hackaday.io Update!

Hackaday.io is getting new features every day. Our dev team has just rolled out a new gallery view. Just click on a project’s featured image, or the “View Gallery” button, and you will be taken to a gallery view of every image used in the project – including log images. YouTube videos will render in the gallery as well. It’s a great way to view a timeline of progress for some of the projects on hackaday.io. For a great example of this, check out OpenMV’s gallery.

In other Hackaday.io news, check out the Caption CERN Contest! Every week we put up a new image from CERN’s archives. The Hackaday.io user who comes up with the funniest caption wins a T-Shirt from The Hackaday Store!

Looks like we’ve hit the end of the trace for this Hacklet. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

How To Reverse Engineer, Featuring the Rigol DS1054Z

For a few years now, the Rigol DS1052E has been the unofficial My First Oscilloscope™. It’s cheap, it’s good enough for most projects, and there have been a number hacks and mods for this very popular scope to give it twice as much bandwidth and other interesting tools. The 1052E is a bit long in the tooth and Rigol has just released the long-awaited update, the DS1054Z. It’s a four-channel scope, has a bigger screen, more bells and whistles, and only costs $50 more than the six-year-old 1052E. Basically, if you’re in the market for a cheap, usable oscilloscope, scratch the ~52E off your list and replace it with the ~54Z.

With four channels of input, [Dave Jones] was wondering how the engineers at Rigol managed to stuff two additional front ends into the scope while still meeting the magic price point of $400. This means it’s time for [Dave] to reverse engineer the 1054Z, and give everyone on the Internet a glimpse at how a real engineer tears apart the worth of other engineers.

The first thing [Dave] does once the board is out of the enclosure is taking a nice, clear, and in-focus picture of both sides of the board. These pictures are edited, turned into a line drawing, and printed out on a transparency sheet. This way, both sides of the board can be viewed at once, allowing for a few dry erase marker to highlight the traces and signals.

Unless your voyage on the sea of reverse engineering takes you to the island of despair and desoldering individual components, you’ll be measuring the values of individual components in circuit. For this, you’ll want a low-voltage ohms function on your meter; if you’re putting too much voltage through a component, you’ll probably turn on some silicon in the circuit, and your measurements will be crap. Luckily, [Dave] shows a way to test if your meter will work for this kind of work; you’ll need another meter.

From there, it’s basically looking at datasheets and drawing a schematic of the circuit; inputs go at the left, outputs at the right, ground is at the bottom, and positive rails are at the top. It’s harder than it sounds – most of [Dave]’s expertise in this area is just pattern recognition. It’s one thing to reverse engineer a circuit through brute force, but knowing the why and how of how the circuit works makes things much easier.

Continue reading “How To Reverse Engineer, Featuring the Rigol DS1054Z”

A keygen for the Rigol 2000-series scopes

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.

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.

Continue reading “Unlocking a Rigol scope once again”

Rigol DS1022C hack brings it up to 100MHz speed

rigol-1022c-100MHz-hack

[Andreas Schuler] has been playing around with his Rigol DS1022C digital storage oscilloscope. It’s an older model which can capture samples at up to 25MHz, but [Andreas] claims to have quadrupled that using a service menu hack. His technique changes the settings to use the DS1022C at 100Mhz.

Usually a hack like this includes some test measurements that confirm the hardware is actually sampling at the higher rate, and is not just claiming that it has the ability to do so. We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’ve got this piece of bench hardware and decided to try it for yourself. His method enters in a sequence of buttons from the system info menu. If done correctly this will add a service menu option that wasn’t there before. A bit of navigation leads you to the screen seen above, where you can change the model number to DS1102C. This is the more robust 100MHz cousin of the 1022.

If you think you’ve seen this hack before it’s probably because the Rigol 1052E was previously pulled to 100MHz with a firmware hack.

Rigol WFM viewer ported for non-Windows users

rigol-wfm-parser-for-linux

[Matthias Blaicher] may think this isn’t a big deal when it comes to the amount of work he put into the hack. But for us, anything that extends the functionality of the versatile yet affordable Rigol DS1052E is a win. In this case he’s taken a previous hack and made it work for more people by extending the functionality of the WFM file format viewer.

[Dexter2048] pulled off the original hack which allows this oscilloscope to be used as a spectrum analyzer. [Matthias] didn’t want the tool to be limited to running only on Windows systems so he got to work. This isn’t quite as easy as sounds because the only part of the original code that was released is the parser itself. [Matthias] had to build everything up from that starting point. His software uses standard Python to parse the WFM file and reformat the data. The features included in the current version allow you to export data as a CSV file and even plot the waveform and FFT as seen above.

Grabbing data from a Rigol ‘scope with Python

While a fancy Rigol 1052E oscilloscope is a great tool and a wonderful portable oscilloscope we heartily recommend, sometimes you just need to use the more ‘advanced’ functions of an oscilloscope. Luckily, [cibomahto] figured out how to use a Rigol scope with Python, allowing for easy remote viewing and control of a Rigol 1052E ‘scope on any desktop computer.

[cibomahto]’s Python script grabs the screen and can send commands to the oscilloscope, effectively obviating the need for the slightly-terrible Rigol Ultrascope software. Not only that, controlling the 1052E is possible under OS X and Linux because of the portable Python nature of [cibomahto]’s work.

The Rigol DS1052E has become the de facto standard oscilloscope to grace the workbenches of makers and hackers around the globe. With a small price tag, the ability to double the bandwidth, and an active homebrew development scene, we doubt [cibomahto]’s work of grabbing data over USB will be the last hack we’ll see for this fine machine.

Thanks to [Markus] for sending this one in.