Saleae Logic Analyzer Knockoff Hacking

Despite what this module says on the case, it’s certainly not official Saleae Logic Analyzer hardware. [Jack Andrews] picked up this Chinese knockoff on eBay for about $18. When plugged into the computer the Saleae software picks it up as the official hardware. But [Jack] has seen other knockoffs which have a jumper to select between Saleae cloning and USBee cloning so he found a way to switch software with this dongle.

He pulled the board out of the case and discovered a Cypress CY7C68013A microcontroller on a poorly-soldered board (imagine that). This is an 8051-compatible processor that includes USB functionality. There’s also an EEPROM on the bottom of the board which stores the VID/PID pair identifying it as Saleae Logic hardware. The trick to getting this working with the USBee software is to change that pair. [Jack] managed to do this without an external programmer. He uninstalled the Saleae driver and installed a Cypress driver. Then he wrote a bit of code for the CY7C68013A to rewrite the EEPROM and flashed it via the USB connection. Now the dongle enumerates as USBee Logic Analyzer hardware.

71 thoughts on “Saleae Logic Analyzer Knockoff Hacking

  1. I wonder if you can do it computerside too, man-in-the-middle attack and intercept the system providing the ID’s, that must be doable since I don’t think they went all insane on protecting that so far.
    The advantage would be that you can also get ‘obsolete’ stuff working again with drivers from other manufacturers.

    And yeah I know that sometimes you can simply edit the inf file in the installer, but when you need it that always is just the time it doesn’t use an installer like that, sigh.

    1. Or maybe make a dongle with USB in and out and have it rewrite the ID’s at will? That would be an interesting hack, but it would have to be low cost to make it worthwhile, but not interfere with the speed of the data.

  2. >He pulled the board out of the case
    >and discovered a Cypress CY7C68013A
    >microcontroller on a poorly-soldered
    >board (imagine that).

    I have a J-link clone and some PICKit clone that is really well soldered and well made.. so its not like all these clones are badly made.

    1. No doubt there are counterfeit items, that are of quality construction. However a clone can be legal, and a counterfeit item never, even if it’s a legal clone otherwise. Picky? Maybe, but helping blur the line can’t help the DIY community. I don’t know if the product you mentioned are counterfeit, but it seems the K-Link could be. Segger doesn’t help matter by not calling counterfeit item counterfeit

      1. >>However a clone can be legal, and a
        >>counterfeit item never, even if it’s a
        >>legal clone otherwise.

        I think some of the AVRice clones etc out there are legal.. and some of the PIC tools. Because Atmel and Microchip published the designs and firmware.. You can get legal clones that are junk. All the ones I have so far have been pretty good though especially considering the price difference . So basically.. I wouldn’t automatically say clone == junk.

        >>K-Link could be. Segger doesn’t help matter
        >>by not calling counterfeit item counterfeit

        The J-Link is 100% no go .. it has Segger’s firmware on it and its been made to look identical to Segger’s own unit. It has no problem taking segger’s firmware updates either. I have a feeling it was a late night run in the factory that produces the “real” ones.

  3. I always feel a little bad for Joe when these knockoffs appear. The real meat of his product is the software, which is usually protected from piracy because you basically need his $150 analyser (‘hardware dongle’) to use it.

    It’s inevitable, and I don’t think it’s killing his business, but it still just makes me slightly sad. He’s created a lot of goodwill by being open about the development process, not putting annoying locks on the software, sometimes replacing out of warranty units for free etc. Go with the real thing if you can!

    1. As a counterpoint to “this shouldn’t be posted” that has sat here for 8+ years, I am now using this post to repair my real Saleae logic analyzer that appears to have been broken by their alpha-quality software. The idea that there’s a moral imperative to direct the world’s resources to high-markup startups seems pretty dubious from a zoomed-out perspective. Zoomed in, I just want to capture my traces to I can keep working.

  4. I am ashamed of Hackaday for publishing this article about a straight clone that rips off a company dedicated to supporting hackers and providing top notch, affordable tools.

    I agree with Craig. The software behind the Saleae is great and obviously took a lot of time an effort. If you use some other software go ahead and buy something like this, but support our small companies and engineering development.

    1. Yeah how dare hack-a-day do what it was set up to do, discuss hacks and specifically hacking existing hardware.
      Why don’t they focus on pictures of cats with funny text on them right?

      Hackaday pointed out that the soldering was shoddy on the thing, it’s clear that if you want quality you need to get the real thing, I think that’s enough.

      1. >>>Yeah how dare hack-a-day do what it was set up to do,
        Discuss one Hack-A-Day?

        >>> discuss hacks and specifically hacking existing hardware.

        Oh, you just want Hack-A-Day to do what it was “set up to do” when it supports your argument. Never mind.

        >>>Why don’t they focus on pictures of cats with funny text on them right?

        That site already exists, it’s called reddit.

      1. No, a site promoting hacking and modification of devices holding back a post because it might hurt a vendor who hasn’t gone to any length to protect his IP is hypocritical.

        Look, I’m a small business owner. I wouldn’t want my stuff cloned. I vote with my wallet, as should you. Trying to babysit the entire internet because your friend might get hurt is ridiculous. It’s a rough world out there. Come out and play or stay inside, but don’t shut down the playground because your baby brother might fall off the swing.

      2. What IP? The logic is a cypress MCU, connected via built in USB, with an eeprom for storing usb identifiers. Plus connections for a few GPIOs. No IP here; that’s a reference design. Can you call using a reference design cloning?

        The software is where the magic happens, and he makes that available for free.

    2. As of 2019, this particular “clone” is still available, but the Saleae instrument(s) it was based on is long discontinued. There were several early Saleae logic analyzers that were based on the Cypress FX2 micro-controller. These were simple, low cost low performance, basic tools suitable for hobby use. Anyone buying these (the 24mhz/100mhz 8/16 channel FX2 based units) and uses them with the Sigrok software should not feel guilty. You are not hurting Saleae by using these. The original Saleae units were based on Cypress Ap notes. The PC software written by Saleae is available for download freely from their site, but is intended for use with their instruments. You might feel guilty if you use it with one of the clones, but this is a gray area since the company hasn’t made any effort to lock out the availability of their software, or its use on their older, pirated hw. In any case, sigrok is a fantastic, full featured open source tool that can also be used with the real McCoy.

    1. He mentions the site name in the article linked. Also agreeing with this logic, I bought a real one and love the quality. but a spare for work without the worry of loss or blowing it up would be lovely.

      1. I ended up buying _two_ of them! They are so small and compact, I misplaced one for several months. Couldn’t live without it, and sure enough, after buying the second one I found the first one.

  5. Thanks for pointing this out – bought one myself.

    The Saleae Logic is nice, yes – but it’s also crazy overpriced for what is essentially a breakout board for a cypress MCU in a nifty case. Supporting startups is great and all, but a 10x markup is insanity.

    Could just as easily get ahold of one of the uCs and make my own clone – it’s not like there is a proprietary design secret that has been stolen here.

    If I can find a donation link, I’ll shoot the guy some $$ for putting together some nice software, though, assuming it performs as good as it looks to.

    1. 10x is not really as crazy as it may seem…,

      Components are really one of the cheapest things in selling assembled stuff to hackers…

      I have a fairly simple product, that sells for just under 100USD, where the parts are just 20USD

      Then comes assembly
      Firmware flash
      QC test
      Packaging, shipping
      Support, warranty replacements/verification
      stocking, more support, and finally vat on sale

      in the end the real profit is a lot lower, if using assembly house and hired workers, profit would actually get alarmingly close to 0.

  6. they cost $68 from the looks of things….
    read through this description, it is engrish in it’s purest form, trying to sell you a fake product!

    2011 new USBee Saleae the logical analyzer
    Always Free Shipping

    Qty Discounts Off Price
    $68.00 5-9
    $65.96 10+

    The logical analyzer for delay adjustment, timing, remote control analysis program brings great convenience, electronic engineer, electronic lovers and commissioning of the students ideal tool. Take instructions, provide USBee, Saleae software, the installation can be used.

    -USBee logic analyzer
    -Saleae logic analyzer

    8 channel logic analysis
    1.8 ~ 5.0 V level input
    24 Mbps sampling
    Storage depth depends on physical memory, general PC 10 M ~ 50 M

    Shipping list:

    The logical analyzer host a
    1.5 meters high quality USB2.0 line one
    Ten PIN color line with a root, dupont four color clip

  7. This is the one I bought for ~$20 (free shipping), I don’t need:
    *the CNC custom milled case
    *anodized surface finished to perfection
    *the 2-part elastomer injection molded bottom cover
    *4-layer PCB, professionally designed, laid out, and design reviewed
    *the top notch support
    If I had the spare money I would buy the real thing, but I can live without those luxuries for now.
    When I get it I plan to open it up and make sure it will not short itself out upon plugging it in.

    1. Pretty much my reasons. Can’t justify spending 150$ for something that should practically cost at least half that – even with the fancy case. If it were 75$, I’d likely have pulled the trigger when it first became available.

  8. Hackaday, what the hell are you thinking? Promoting a copyright infringement?

    I own a real Saleae Logic device and I’m happy to be a LEGAL owner of the proper item.

    I’m not even pissed of at the fact that the knockoffs exist – that’s just life, China just doesn’t give a crap about copyright infringements. But for a formerly reputable website like HAD to promote this is a little too much for me to stomach.

    Come on Hackaday, you are better than this. Leave the predatory journalism to the red-top tabloids please.

    How about some quality control huh?

    1. Every single non-open source company would agree with you…

      In that hacking “their” devices are copyright and patent infringement. Do you whine about jailbreak articles like this? Do you complain about router modding articles, or how to trick “your” printer into actually using an entire ink container?

      1. thanke you cde!

        your so right. this is a hacking / modding forum who is to say what we can hack and mod??????

        a copyrighted apple iPaid?? a fake china logic analyzer..

        Sorry. same rules apply for everybody!
        if we can.. we will just to do it!

  9. If anything, I would just ask the company their official position on this. Just sitting here saying that it’s wrong is basically a waste of our time. Yes, he got a knockoff. Yes, he hacked it to work better. However, if he and HaD are really wrong, isn’t between them and the company?

  10. Good grief :( reading comments at hackday often is like overhearing the whiners table at the cafe. One could read this as why to not buy counterfeit goods, or one could read this as promoting their purchase. A whiner would choose the later. Whine may not be the best verb hear, but the one that generally comes to mind isn’t suitable to a general audience. Then there is the whining of those who attempt to justify the purchase of counterfeit goods, sorry I find it unjustifiable. With using the item is this post as an example. Those who actually need this will pay the $448 for the hardware/software if their livelihoods depend on having it. Sure the whine about the cost, but they will pay it, because their livelihood depend on having good tools they can depend on harming the computer or the circuit the tool is connected to. The hobbyist may desire the genuine Salea product, but I’m not not coming up with a reason why they need it. In the event they truly need it. In the event they did they would make adjustments, and sacrifices elsewhere, just like techs, and businesses do. That’s the extent of my whining.:) While I don’t ever see myself ever needing or desiring a logic analyzer of this complexity, perhaps this could be an open hardware/software adventure for those who do?

    1. BTW the $448 figure was in error because the damn sit kept putting 2 items in the cart and I didn’t notice it for the software for the hardware that first appeared at that states a price of $299. Looking for a product closer to the $150 stated By Jack Andrews I used the logic button on the menu, and was directed to the product featured on the home page. Hardware cost 149, the software linked to on the hardware page 149. By now when I see buy now next to try free I assume free is limited in some manner. Perhaps with no product similar to the on counterfeited, seemingly unavailable from Saleae, the counterfeiters though they could get a pass. In the event it’s truly no longer available many will have no second thoughts about buying the counterfeiter(it’s still counterfeit),but they still should keep caveat emptor in mind.

  11. The USBee SX has a sort of signal generator output feature according to the web site. Is there additional hardware in the USBee SX? It says these knockoffs are compatable with the USBee, but would it still do the signal generator output stuff?
    About the saleae and USBee having similar hardware, how did that come about? Did one knock off the other anyway? If so, it’s a little funny that a Chinese company knocked off both of them.

      1. What you mean is that they skipped the expensive R&D step and stole the designs.

        They can sell a very cheap knock off because they do not need to recoup the R&D costs. The original company could die if enough people finance the knock off company instead of the innovator.

        Anyhow cool little hack. But in case at some future date I’m on the market for a USB logical Analyser, I’ll keep in my bookmarks.

        I personally choose to pay more to help them with the next product and the one after that.

      2. You got it backwards. USBee has been around for years with overpriced hardware and crap software. Saleae came around and brought a good product at the same price, which prompted USBee to lower prices and actually work on their software.

  12. I have an idea for a no-fuss change of vid/pid.
    Does the EEPROM have a ChipSelect/Enalble pin?
    If so, and if you can get similar EEPROMs for cheap, you can piggyback solder additional eeproms in parallel on top of the first and leave the ChipSelect pin connected to a little switch on the box to change modes. Maybe some kind of micro dip switches.

  13. I’d not heard of Saleae before.

    After reading this blog, I checked them out and I liked what I saw.

    I just now placed an order for the genuine 8-channel unit plus some accessories. I detest the Chinese thieves and those who support them.

  14. I am a proud owner of the original Saleae “LOGIC”.

    Simply put, it is great. The software is intuitive, it just works. I love mine. As short as money is, My money goes to Joe. When I can afford it, I am looking forward to getting one of the wider units.

    I have a number of other logic analyzers, but the Saleae has consistently produced better results then the other ones, and it is the one that is not, “buried in some box”.

    I don’t know what your time is worth, but if you spend hours fooling around trying to get a clone working, ypu could have bought the real thing and had it working in ten minutes. Also Joe supported the Mac. Big cheer for that!!

  15. I ordered a Saleae Logic from Jameco Wednesday evening, it arrived today, I connected it up, fired up the software and in ten minutes was looking right at the details of the problem I’d spent all wednesday trying to divine from aperiodic symptoms in other equipment. At $150 it’s a steal for the quality, and the software is top-notch. I can understand the incentive to make and sell these to a chinese market cheaper, buying one of Saleae’s for an average chinese engineer would be exorbitant, but for an american buying one from Saleae knowing that it will work well with the software and with any future updates is totally worth it. It does sound like Saleae has an untapped market for a cheaper and less pretty version though, if it can afford to sell one.

  16. All of the selfish pricks on here make me fear for humanity. They want something they know to be stolen and can justify their support of a Chinese knockoff because saleae is overpriced? They claim to be able to make one trivially and yet don’t. Yes, you don’t need the nice case, etc because that is marketing. But, you do need the software for usbee and Logic, because that’s the hard part. The pcb is a breakout board with a cypress micro and a little bit of input protection. So what.? You still have to write the software, and that,s what’s being stolen here with these Chinese knockoffs. Copied design and pretends to be something it isn’t so the software will work with it. Yeah, that’s stealing.

    1. Anyone using this Chinese knock off should be truely ashamed. I sopke with the guy’s at Saleae and this could cost jobs. I have used this product and the software is awsome, why fund the Chinese market when they violate just about every patent/product on the planet. By doing this you are just funding crap and costing jobs in the developed world. If you do not beleive that $150 is good value for a precision made tool and quality software then try design a product like this yourself. Professional Engineers respect the effort that goes into developing products like Saleae and appreciate that some of the cost goes into the development cycle. Are you a real Engineer or brainless idiot?. I have two Logics and have a Pro 16 on order, and my respect goes out to all my fellow hardare and software Engineers on the planet who appreciate design effort and quality.

      Regards A Real Engineer.

  17. What a bunch of BS. Why is USBee and Logic giving out the software for free? I would also like to see the patent from USBee or Logic on the breakout board. Who is to say that maybe USBee or Logic are the thieves and are selling there product at high price. Wake up people we have thieves here in the good old USA to.

  18. VID_04B4&PID_8613 = “Cypress EZ-USB FX2LP No EEPROM”
    VID_0925&PID_3881 = “Saleae Logic USB Logic Analyzer”
    VID_08A9&PID_0001 = “CWAV USBee Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0002 = “CWAV USBee Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0003 = “CWAV USBee LX Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0004 = “CWAV USBee EX 2.0 Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0005 = “USBee ZX Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0006 = “BusBee Bus Monitor”
    VID_08A9&PID_0009 = “USBee SX Digital Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0012 = “USBee AX-Standard Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0013 = “USBee AX-Plus Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0014 = “USBee AX-Pro Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0015 = “Half of a USBee DX Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_020A = “USBee Protolyzer COM-port Driver”
    VID_08A9&PID_0301 = “USBee RX Test Pod”
    VID_08A9&PID_0400 = “USBee BX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0401 = “USBee CX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0402 = “USBee FX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0403 = “USBee GX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0404 = “USBee HX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0405 = “USBee IX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0406 = “USBee JX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0407 = “USBee KX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0408 = “USBee MX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0409 = “USBee NX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040A = “USBee OX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040B = “USBee PX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040C = “USBee QX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040D = “USBee TX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040E = “USBee UX”
    VID_08A9&PID_040F = “USBee VX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0410 = “USBee WX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0411 = “USBee YX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0412 = “USBee SX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0413 = “USBee ZX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0414 = “USBee AX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0415 = “USBee DX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0416 = “USBee RX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0417 = “USBee EX3”
    VID_08A9&PID_0418 = “USBee SX”
    VID_08A9&PID_0419 = “USBee ZX”
    VID_08A9&PID_041A = “USBee AX”
    VID_08A9&PID_041B = “USBee DX”
    VID_08A9&PID_041C = “USBee RX”
    VID_08A9&PID_041D = “USBee EX”
    VID_08A9&PID_041E = “BusBee”
    VID_08A9&PID_041F = “BusBee 3.0”

  19. For what it’s worth, I bought a real one as a present for a colleague, and a knockoff for myself. He uses his a lot more than I will mine (I do a lot more power and analog, and usually can rely on a good debugger) but still wanted one.
    Didn’t feel as bad about buying the knockoff as I already bought a real one.

    Here’s an idea: release a free basic software for hacker/hobbyist/poor people, and sell a preimum software for the pros(eg no logging or whatever).
    I’ll buy the real deal as soon as I need it and will make money off of it.
    But still, great work, and I’ll recommend it (the real one) any day for a pro!
    Or better yet: put a donate button on your website!
    Most people (me for example) would gladly donate 10-20$ even if I only use it twice a year…

  20. Congratulations guys!

    “Just went on USBee’s website and it says they have gone out of business as of 9/10/2015.”

    One down….one to go. Keep up you glorious hacking. Perhaps you can sink the whole US economy?

    1. The USBee was a pile of shit. I bet on that horse.

      Shit hardware. Shit software, ZERO support and ZERO innovation beyond the initial product line. They are out of business because Saleae simply out-manoeuvred them.

      Funny, Saleae seems to be doing pretty damn good with their new product line too. Any other pithy comments you’d care to add?

  21. I bought one that looks exactly like that one but black and branded as an ALTERA USB Blaster from eBay for like… $3 or something ridiculous. I didn’t really have any idea about them. When I look at the device in linux it has a serial number of all zeroes so I doubt it’s a legit one.

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