Tag Archives: Oscilloscope

Add a touchscreen to your oscilloscope

This Maker replaced his oscilloscope’s knobs and buttons with a touch interface. 

Igor, the author of the “More Than User” blog, decided that his unwieldy button and knob interface on his oscilloscope wasn’t good enough. He chose to enhance it with a touchscreen ripped out of a Preistigo 7” tablet, using an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) to convert these signals into something that the scope could understand.


This stated goal of this project was to “remove keyboard completely, instead add touch screen to control oscilloscope.” As seen in the video below, the project is a success, and Igor can control quite a few scope parameters with the press of an onscreen button or the swipe of a finger. As he puts it, he “managed to emulate keyboard data with ATmega328, then I just mapped all the codes that was used to control DSO [digital storage oscilloscope], and bascially that’s all.”


Despite his humble description of the project, actually implementing this solution involved quite a bit of work. The COM port wasn’t working correctly, so he had to find and analyze the keyboard interface pins and revers-engineer the protocol for it. He recommends getting a logic analyzer for tasks like this, as the job will be much easier, especially since he was working on the same scope that he was using for analysis!

If that weren’t enough, the touchscreen itself had to be set up, including multiple broken component issues that had to be dealt with. In the end, it now works well, and is mounted on a nice wooden stand. The Nano is displayed proudly on the front, with wires radiating toward the touchscreen, which should be useful for troubleshooting and modification in the future!

Maker mods Quake to run on an old oscilloscope

Oscilloscopes are tools conventionally used to indicate changes in signal voltages with a simple 2D XY line plot. However, with a little tinkering, they can also become a gaming monitor. That is just what programmer Pekka Väänänen demonstrated. The Maker had rigged an aging oscilloscope into a playable version of the classic first-person shooter game Quake.


While gaming demakes — which refer to the process of adapting modern games to the standards of older platforms — have risen in popularity over the years, this one will surely spark up some nostalgia. In fact, Väänänen isn’t the first to modify an oscilloscope to play a video game. Back in 1958, physicist William Higinbotham designed Tennis for Two on a Donner Model 30 analog computer, which simulated the game of tennis (or ping pong) on an oscilloscope display.

To bring his creation to life, Väänänen used a Hitachi V-422 oscilloscope and a simple XY-oscilloscope simulator written in the Processing language. The programmer’s complex demake required him to transform the 3D graphics of Quake into a signal the oscilloscope could read and display, such as audio.


The system used the PortAudio I/O library in order to get a signal from the PC over to the oscilloscope. By outputting the game through an audio card, Väänänen was able to alter the game’s engine to be read as a series of changing voltages that the oscilloscope would draw in series of rapidly moving lines.

Well, it looks like Doom isn’t the only game that can be modded and played on unusual devices, like printers. Interested? You can read all about Väänänen’s complicated build here. Or, you can just watch it in action below!

Smallest mixed-signal oscilloscope with AWG packs Atmel’s ATXMEGA32A4U

An oscilloscope is an electronic test instrument designed to monitor varying signal voltages, typically as a two-dimensional graph of one or more electrical potential differences using the vertical or y‑axis, plotted as a function of time (horizontal or x‑axis).

A mixed-signal oscilloscope (or MSO) is often equipped with two types of inputs – a small number of analog channels (typically two or four) and a larger number of digital channels (16). The mixed-signal model is capable of accurately time-correlating analog and digital channels, thus offering a distinct advantage over a separate oscilloscope and logic analyzer. As such, digital channels may be grouped and displayed as a bus with each bus value displayed at the bottom of the display in hex or binary.

Recently, Saelig introduced the Xprotolab Portable, which the company describes as the smallest handheld mixed-signal oscilloscope with AWG (arbitrary waveform generation). The device – powered by Atmel’s ATXMEGA32A4U microcontroller – offers a combination of three electronic instruments: a mixed signal oscilloscope (simultaneously sampling of 2 analog / 8-bit/200kHz and 8 digital / 1MHz signals), an arbitrary waveform generator and protocol sniffer. The oscilloscope weighs less than 60g, is a compact 3.13″ x 1.83″ 0.7″ and boasts an integrated graphic 1.3” OLED to render waveforms on a 128×64 pixel display. In terms of connectivity, the Xprotolab Portable can link to a PC’s USB port for battery charging, external control, or screen dumps.

As a mixed-signal oscilloscope, the device offers simultaneous 2MSa/s sampling of 2 analog and 8 digital signals; as an arbitrary waveform generator it provides advanced sweep options on all waveforms; as a protocol sniffer, it can decode SPI, I2C and UART. The handheld mixed-signal oscilloscope also features an advanced triggering system, adjustable trigger level and the ability to view signals prior to the trigger.

As a portable DigitalMeter, the Xprotolab Portable displays VDC, VPP and input frequency to 12MHz, with XY Mode facilitating Lissajous Figures, the display of V/I curves and the phase difference between two waveforms. Meanwhile, an integrated FFT Spectrum Analyzer offers various windowing options, along with selectable vertical log and IQ visualization. Perhaps most importantly, the waveform generator and the oscilloscope can operate simultaneously, with the waveform generator running in the background.

And last, but certainly not least, the Xprotolab Portable AWG can output Sine, Square, Triangle and Exponential signals, as well as periodic noise that fills the AWG buffer with random data. In addition, a SWEEP feature increases one or more parameter values automatically on each screen refresh of the oscilloscope.

Accessories include one USBmini-USB-PC cable, two 3.5mm-EZhook signal probes and an 8-channel logic probe. An optional 3.5mm to BNC adapter facilitates the use of standard 10:1 scope probes for signal input, while an optional Tripod Adapter allows Xprotolab Portable to be mounted using a standard camera screwthread.

Additional information about the $98 Xprotolab Portable is available here.