Keysight’s New 1000-X Scopes Get Double Hertz

It’s not every day that we have the pleasure of being excited about a new oscilloscope in the market; not only is it affordable but also produced by one of the industry’s big players. To top it all off,  all the marketing is carefully crafted towards students and hackers.

Keysight recently released a new line of oscilloscopes called the 1000X series that starts at $448. It’s an entry level, two-channel scope having (officially) 50 MHz, 70 MHz and 100 MHz versions to choose from. It hosts their standard technology such as Megazoom, but also some interesting, albeit optional extra quirks such as an in-built signal generator and a simple network analyser with gain and phase plot capability.

The release of this scope and the marketing strategy employed by Keysight feels like they’re late to this entry-level party but still want to get in on the fun. In the words of Keysight we should all immediately “Scrap the toys, get a real oscilloscope” . The persuasion has gone a step further; Keysight has kindly facilitated many giveaways and generated hype from our favorite EE YouTuber’sIf anything, this certainly heats up the entry level scope market, so we at Hackaday welcome it with open arms.

All this fuss about affordable yet capable entry level scopes started with Rigol. Here was a company that actually bothered to genuinely market a scope to the masses at a reasonable price. At the time, the norm for such scopes was to be marketed solely to schools and universities by large teams of suits. Winning the hearts (and money) of any hackers along the way was merely collateral damage.  The scope that considerably changed this was the Rigol DS1052e, the predecessor of the DS1054z which is now considered the benchmark for all entry level scopes. If Keysight is to entice us to scrap the toys, the 1000X series must spar with the community’s current sweetheart.

It is still early days for this scope, but [Dave Jones] already received one and successfully unlocked the shipped bandwidth lock. He has even unearthed an undocumented 200 MHz bandwidth mode by hacking the main processor board! Unsurprisingly, the analog front end is consistent across all the models with the sampling rate and bandwidth being set, rather old-fashionedly, by a few resistors on the main processor board.

How is Keysight going to react now?  Is it going to take a leaf from Rigol’s book by turning a blind eye to this in exchange for a massive boost in sales? Is this all part of some massive marketing ploy?

52 thoughts on “Keysight’s New 1000-X Scopes Get Double Hertz

    1. I think so too. Using resistors to set product configurations is so old school, infact my 1996 Tek Spectrum Analyser does it this way. Dont see why this was not simply stores and retrieved on a cheap EEPROM.

    2. since keysight gave him the scope it wouldn’t surprise me. Would be quite clever, everyone loves to think they some how beat the system and got something for free. and keysight doesn’t lose anything, the people who would hack a scope is probably not the people that would pay for those features

      1. What… so… it’s some bizarre double-bluff? Reverse psychology? Instead of speccing it as a 200MHz scope and selling it accordingly, they deliberately halve it’s capabilities, expecting that a user is going to unlock it anyway, and enjoy getting something for nothing, a free 100MHz, as a reward for his own ingenuity?

        That’s….. genius! It’s insane! Somehow like Intel’s chip under-rating in the 1990s that led to over-clocking, only the other way round, sort of, somehow.

        That’s completely insane, but I can imagine it’d be effective. Depends on who they’re aiming it at though, I’d guess companies whose products rely on their test instruments being accurate, aren’t going to want a bodged-in resistor-snipping double bandwidth freebie.

        But for many users, Keysight get the best of both worlds, have their cake and eat it. They don’t have to guarantee anything more than 100MHz performance, but by dropping hints -AHEM- they can unofficially, quietly, sell it as more.

        I can see this oscilloscope feature hacking thing ending up in textbooks of the future, for business and marketing. It just needs a name. So now we wait for it to somehow blow up in someone’s face, and that’s what the phenomenon will be named after.

    3. Completely agree. They saw how it worked for Rigol. Now Keysight releases their own product line with simple vulnerabilities knowing full well that knowledge of the vulnerabilities will get out on short notice and capture the attention of the electronics community with a new “value-added”, “marginally bad-boy (ohh… you naughty hackers….)”, and likely in the running for “project of the year” type of product.

      Sure they’re second to the party, but they have some unique market loyalties that they can capture which Rigol probably cant (at least in the US), and the entry level price is such that a fair number of folks will probably jump at the chance regardless.

      It seems like a cleverly-executed plan, and I can’t say that I’m disappointed at all by more good-quality scopes getting out into the marketplace.

    4. Keysight scopes guy here, I’ll take that bet all day. We definitely did not feed Dave any hacking-related or resistor related info. That is 100% him (and 100% do-at-your-own-risk).

      1. And THAT is the point so many commenters are missing: It’s voiding your warranty and it’s at your own risk to your $500 scope. Sure a few cheapskates will hack the cheap scope into the faster one, but a LOT of users/buyers will just pay the extra $100 or whatever for the “right” scope, and I’ll bet they’re in the vast majority.

        For engineers being paid to get stuff done, the time taken to dick around with a scope costs more $ than the $ saving.

    1. I bought a four channel scope a long time ago thinking that it would be so much more useful than a two channel scope but I have found in practice that I typically only use one or two channels at a time. My oscilloscope’s third and fourth channels were 0->5V only so that also limited how much I used them but for the most part I never felt like I needed them. Usually when I wanted multiple channels, it was to help me to debug digital stuff. I ended up buying a logic analyzer for that.

          1. I purchased a 4 channel scope for work a few years ago. I was able to ‘sell’ them on a 4ch over a 2ch as the price increase was less than the price of buying two spare probes. We have used the 4ch feature only a handful of times.

      1. Three Words: Brushless DC Motors

        I am yearning to upgrade my two channel scope to a four channel scope for just this reason. Testing and debugging a curcuit for driving a BLDC motor (or, really, any three phase motor) is best done with a scope that has four channels plus an external trigger input (so you can watch all three motor phases, a current monitoring shunt on the low side, and have your driver circuit spit out a pulse train at the PWM frequency and a pulse every time it switches phases).

        There are certainly other examples of situations calling for a four channel scope but that is a big one…

        1. I’ll see your DS1054Z and raise you to the MSO1104Z. Adds in logic analyzer functions. Now I can see the motor drive waveforms in time to my hall sensors and my encoder feedback.

      2. Well 4 channels…

        You can measure voltage and current into a design and voltage and current out of it, at the same time. If your scope can multiply 2 channels, you’ll have Watts*Seconds.

        That might make calculating power consumption simpler.

      3. 4 channels are really useful on a scope. I use it pretty often, from SPI buses (the cheapest logic analyzers aren’t fast enough either), troubleshooting I2C issues (you can see your I2C signals, plus a couple extra like another I2C bus, or signals on the IC you’re talking to, sources of noise, etc), monitoring 4 power rails at the same time, H bridges, you can use a spare GPIO pin on one trace to make the scope trigger at a certain moment, etc. It has countless uses.

        I could see wanting that alongside a cheap 4 channel scope, but I wouldn’t trade a ds1054z for it. I think the main attraction is the brand name, not so much the functionality…

        1. Oh, now that I looked… It’s disappointing :( I wasn’t hoping to buy one — what I was hoping is that it would crash the prices of all those old name-brand scopes on ebay. I guess not…

          *starts at $448: educational version, without the function gen. Standard price is twice that… CA$ 1,089 plus taxes and shipping… That’s twice as much as a DS1054Z, for half the channels. Too expensive for most hobbyists.

          So I guess most old scopes on ebay are gonna stay overpriced. Perhaps I should sell my old TDS-210 while it’s still worth anything…

      4. Hah! I do enough analog foolery that I wish I had a 4-channel scope all the time. I just wrote up a second piece on filters (should come out in the next couple weeks) where I had to include three images b/c I’ve only got two channels on my scope.

        I bought my scope ages ago used, and got a phenomenal deal, but I’d trade a 300 MHz scope with for channels for its two channels at 500 MHz any day.

      5. I’ve been on the market for a new scope. For me, 4 channels is a minimum, but that’s only cause of the particular stuff I do. I frequently work with three phase motor stuff, synchros, and small hardware neural networks… Quite frankly, I could manage to use 4 channels plus all the channels on an MSO simultaneously, if I had such a tool…

        My current scope is older than I am, and I’m nearly over the hill…

  1. For me I use my 4 Channels all the time, I wish I had more. I use 2x 4ch scopes and and one is a MSO. when prototyping, it is easier to see the entire project than 1 section at a time.

    Also, if I may say, it seams odd that he found the hack so quick considering he was given scopes to give away, and he did that gimmick video saying he found them in the trash. I just feel there is more to the story. YouTube is his main source of income now, so it makes we wonder….

    1. Ever looked at a Yokogawa scope? It was nice having 8 channels in my last position, and now it looks like you can get MSO functions too. Definitely not in the hobbyist range though.

      1. Ha! Too true. Our department at work bought one of the Yokogawa modular ‘ScopeCorder’ instruments a few years back. Cracking bit of kit. Somewhere between a very fast chart recorder, and a slow scope. 16-bit input voltage res. across about 12 channels, inbuilt solid-state hard drive, massive screen. Cost as much as a not-so small car though.

  2. >[Dave Jones] already received one and successfully unlocked the shipped bandwidth lock. He has even unearthed an undocumented 200 MHz bandwidth mode

    umm, his scope was FACTORY unlocked to 200MHz BW, his mod only made it display lower BW without changing anything else. Watch the video.

    1. Youve missed the point. Many of the product configurations limit the bandwidth down to what is stated on the label, where as some dont. This will be the case with lower end variants on the scope. So dave has uncovered the list of product configurations where the bandwidth is actually 220MHz plus the higher sampling rate regardless of what the label says.

      1. re-watch the video, seriously

        1 when he shows console output _for the first time_ it already prints “Product profile 24, bandwidth 200MHz” on his factory 100MHz scope.
        2 when he tests BW BEFORE modifications its already measurable 220MHz
        3 when he tests BW AFTER modifications its STILL measurable 220MHz (@12:40 in the clip)

        the only thing this mod changes is the console printout and available options/sampling speed. Real measurable BW stays the same. Im guessing Dave was shipped cherry picked prototype unit

        1. No, watch my first hacking on this (the linked one is Part 2). Out of the box the scope has the bandwidth limited to 100MHz (measures about 120Mhz or something). It is genuinely bandwidth locked.
          Yes the serial dump displayed 200MHz and I’m not sure why, but the actual measured bandwidth in the factory unit is 100MHz, not 200MHz. You have to hack it to get 200MHz.

  3. As a guy with a very limited hobby budget, this has just hit the top of my list of “scopes I need”. The fact that I can now get an HP scope for only slightly more than I paid for my Rigol is a huge deal. The fact that it can be opened up to 200 MHz makes it even more desirable.
    Anyone want to buy a Rigol DS-1102E?

  4. Nice write up! I feel obligated to point out that we also have a YouTube Channel (Keysight Oscilloscopes) and we’re giving away over 125 of these scopes this March as part of Scope Month!

    I’ll also be a part of this week’s HackChat with one of our ASIC engineers (17-Mar), tune in!

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