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.



34 thoughts on “Unlocking A Rigol Scope Once Again

  1. 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. Hi,

    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?

    1. Would you hack a scope bought by your company? of course not
      would you buy $1600 home scope? most people wouldnt, most people will struggle with a decision between $400 50-100MHz Rigol/Tekway/Owon and $800 70MHz Rigol.
      This might make 1% of people who planned for $1600 scope consider buying cheaper model to hack it back to 200MHz, but it will also make thousands of people buy rigol for home/hackerspace instead of another brand BECAUSE it can be hacked.

  3. 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…

    1. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. Not only is there constant stream of new models, but the prices of existing models change regularly, and the hacks appear and evolve fairly quickly. Any advice would become out of date quickly. When your ready to buy, spend some time over at the eevblog forums.

  4. 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….

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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 :)

  7. 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.

    1. 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

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