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Open source multi-use instrument for the makers

Digilent » OpenScope

Julien Happich

EETimes Europe

US company Digilent Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Instruments and a provider of technology-based educational design tools, has launched a portable multi-function programmable instrumentation module, dubbed on kickstarter.

Connecting to a computer (through Wi-Fi or a USB cable), the small board lets users acquire, analyze, visualize, and control signals from circuits, sensors, and other electronic devices. But unlike typical USB instruments, OpenScope can also be programmed to run standalone like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, but with high-speed precision analog and digital I/O.

Digilent - OpenScope

"Instead of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on conventional benchtop instruments, we've created a tool powerful enough for most hobby electronics projects and affordable for most beginner budgets. By transforming popular open source platforms into affordable and powerful instrumentation, we are empowering makers, hobbyists, engineers, and new learners to design and debug their most innovative products", Digilent writes on its kickstarter page.

OpenScope also comes with WaveForms Live, a free, open-source, JavaScript-based software that runs in a browser, inspired by the company's own WaveForms 2015 software tool.

Combined with WaveForms Live, the OpenScope can be configured to be an Oscilloscope, a Function Generator, a Logic Analyzer, a Power Supply, and even a Data Logger.

Built around Microchip's PIC32 MZ processor, the board has been designed as a tool to troubleshoot projects on the go, perform long-term monitoring and gain a deeper understanding of electronics through visualizing what's happening inside of your circuits.

Because OpenScope is run by a software program served inside of a web browser, any computer with internet access and a browser can serve the software needed to run the OpenScope. But the native application could also be added as an extra SD card to the OpenScope, so the board could run as a standalone unit.

WaveForms Live allows users to simulate a device for testing, export data, do firmware updates, handle device management, provide a GUI for hardware control, and to visualize the signals.

Digilent aims to provide a programmer's guide together with firmware and source code on GitHub.

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