Recovering An Agilent 2000a/3000a Oscilloscope With Corrupt Firmware NAND Flash

Everyone knows that you can never purchase enough projects off EBay, lest boredom might inadvertently strike. That’s why [Anthony Kouttron] got his mitts on an Agilent DSO-X 2014A digital oscilloscope that was being sold as defective and not booting, effectively just for parts. When [Anthony] received the unit, this turned out to be very much the case, with the front looking like it got dragged over the tarmac prior to having the stuffing beaten out of its knobs with a hammer. Fortunately, repairing the broken encoder and the plastic enclosure was easy enough, but the scope didn’t want to boot when powered on. How bad was the damage?

As [Anthony] describes in the article, issues with this range of Agilent DSOs are well-known, with for example the PSU liking to fry the primary side due to soft power button leaving it powered 24/7 with no cooling. The other is corrupted NAND storage, which he confirmed after figuring out the UART interface on the PCB with the ST SPEAr600 ARM-based SoC. Seeing the sad Flash block decompression error from the Windows CE said enough.

This led him down the rabbithole of finding the WinCE firmware images (nuked by Keysight, backed up on his site) for this scope, along with the InfiniiVision scope application. The former is loaded via the bootloader in binary YMODEM mode, followed by installing InfiniiVision via a USB stick. An alternate method is explained in the SPEAr600 datasheet, in the form of USB BootROM, which can also be reached via the bootloader with some effort.

As for the cause of the NAND corruption, it’s speculated that the scope writes to the same section of NAND Flash on boot, with the SPEAr600’s Flash controller documentation not mentioning wear leveling. Whether that’s true or not, at least it can be fixed with some effort even without replacing the NAND Flash IC.

21 thoughts on “Recovering An Agilent 2000a/3000a Oscilloscope With Corrupt Firmware NAND Flash

    1. Yep! Recently, there are some folks on eevblog that have claimed Keysight no longer covers the nand repair. I can’t imagine keysight will have a stock pile of spare 2000a / 3000a main boards forever, so I figured I would document my recovery efforts to help other folks out in the future.

      1. Anthony, back in around 2016 Keysight told me that repair of the board was “not possible” and that the board had to be replaced with a working one. It only took me maybe 3 evenings to figure out exactly what the author is doing in his writeup (except through ethernet) and resurrect my bricked board. I believe that the person who told me it was not possible was telling me what they believed was the truth – They were simply repeating what they were told to believe. I proved them wrong with ease. I lost a lot of respect for Keysight over that incident. As long as you have access to that bootloader, you can recover these machines easily. Even if the bootloader is corrupt, you can flash it on from an image from another machine and still resurrect it.

    2. Back when this happened to me (seems like it was around 2016) I was open with them about the fact that I had unlocked my DSO-X3034 to MSO-X5054 capability with all options and asked them how that would affect the repair. They were very obtuse in their answer and said I might get the scope back in its original DSO-X3034 state, or I might get it back non-working exactly as I sent it. After much back and forth I decided to fix it myself using the same method mentioned in this writeup except through ethernet (since I had the ethernet card in mine). Never looked back. Once Agilent became Keysight their quality of support declined considerably IMO (unless you were a corporate or university customer in which case their support seemed to be fine).

      1. You likely would have received the scope back in the stock state with latest firmware. My first DSOx scope developed nand corruption and was covered by them a few years back. With this one I did not reach out as that would feel like double dipping, so I fixed it myself. I have had great success with their support, both through the phone and online parts ordering. However, as of like ~1 year ago, they made a large selection of parts through their info-line “please call to inquire” or “Not orderable, Contact Keysight for repair service” instead of telling you price and quantity. Then there was the whole “you must have a business name to have support” instead of being an individual – not a good look. Maybe it’s Keysight telling Engineers to incorporate for tax benefits! :D

  1. Lmao. I am positive that I was the first person to do this many years ago back when the NAND issues first appeared and Keysight was being ridiculous on potential repairs for my scope since I had already unlocked all of the extra features and bandwidth. Did you find my threads on any of the sites? Seems I mentioned this in detail on that EEV blog site back in the day. Did your serial number get corrupted too?

    FYI, you don’t need to do this through the serial port if you have the ethernet adapter – It is much faster over ethernet. There were some guys creating homemade ethernet cards for these some years ago but I would imagine that secondhand ethernet adapters are relatively cheap now. This scope is unbrickable no matter what happens to it no matter what anyone tells you, you can restore everything no problem except for cal info if that gets wiped but calibration is relatively simple on this series.

    I still use the scope as a backup scope, it performs reasonably well but honestly the only feature on it that I find more useful than one of my Tek scopes is the segmented memory… And that usefulness is limited. I have been meaning to get a DSO-X 4x or 7k scope and experiment with one of those but still haven’t gotten around to it.

    1. There’s a non-zero chance I ran across your posts, the eevblog therad is like 130+ pages long at this point and there are several other offshoot threads on the nand issues as well. Luckily, my serial number did not get corrupted. I can neither accept or deny that I have used telnet to explore other features of this scope, so I am familiar with telnetting into the scope. However, I was not successful in telnetting into the scope at boot. I am currently exploring the Dso 80k series, but I saw nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing :D.

      1. I believe the unlocks are fully verified up to the DSOX/MSOX7000 series, so there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t work on the 8k series…
        I still do use this scope regularly but I must admit to being a Tek fanboy and the only reason I ended up with the scope in the first place was a promotion back when this generation was released. I have so much invested in Tek probes that I don’t know if I could ever really convert over to Agilent/Keysight. I don’t even know if there are available cost-effecitve equivalents to the TDP series probes that I use every day on my Tek scopes.
        Regardless, if you did end up being successful with an 8k series scope, uhh, you should definitely say something xD

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