Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Our thanks to all our customers for your support during 2013! Our offices and warehouse will be closed from today until January 6th. The next shipment date for orders received during the break is January 7th. We have some new and exciting developments for BitScope in store in 2014 so stay tuned and see you then!
BitScope Server now available for Linux and Raspberry Pi !
Recently we announced BitScope Server, a light weight server for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and ARM (Raspberry Pi) that makes any BitScope available via IP based networks, just like our network models.
In a nutshell it means any BitScope, whether it has built-in networking like BS445N or is a USB connected model like BS10 can now be accessed via a network when connected to a host running the server (including Raspberry Pi).
The server supports 22 BitScope Models, is compatible with existing BitScope software and libraries and comes with built-in device simulators for offline use. It can serve network BitScopes (like Sydney) or work as a proxy for other instances of itself allowing BitScopes connected to private networks to be published on the Internet (via a gateway) without exposing the private network.
Today we've published packages for Linux and Raspberry Pi. The server is in development so these beta packages may have bugs but our testing has been successful so far. Read More...
BitScope Server, shared remote access for any BitScope!
We have long supported direct network access for remote data acquisition and diagnostic work with our network BitScope models such as BS325N or BS445N. It's how the SYDNEY online demo works across the Internet.
These models can be used remotely without the need for a server because they are LAN connected devices that use the UDP/IP stack to transport BitScope Packets directly between BitScope and the host. They can do this because they have a built-in LAN Interface Adapter (called LIA).
However, we have received many requests to do the same thing with USB BitScopes so in a recent blog post we demonstrated how to connect USB BitScope models like BitScope Mini to a network using tools such as VNC and X.
But we wanted more flexibility so we've replicated the functionality of our Network BitScope models via a new server that can run on any host, even the PC on which the BitScope software is run. The result is BitScope Server.
BitScope DSO updated for Server Compatibility
DSO has been updated for compatibility with the forthcoming BitScope Server and the Raspberry Pi based BitScope Server demo system. Various bug fixes have been applied and additional connection help added to the SETUP dialog to help first time users get up and running and support for newer firmware revisions has been added. This update applies to all platforms; Windows, Linux, Max OS X and Raspbian. Build ID DL06B.
Collaborative Solutions, Online & Interactive Education.
Last Thursday we were invited to present at Collaborative Solutions sponsored by NSW Trade & Investment.
It was an event for technology companies working in the education sector to meet with research, education and multinational corporations to explore new online and interactive educational solutions.
We presented ideas from BitScope Ed.
You can listen to our four minute pitch on the subject of project based interactive learning in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, also known as STEM.
Our focus is on using computer programming as a facilitating platform for problem solving projects built around low cost electronics such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Read More...
Powerhouse ThinkSpace Digital Learning
Recently we exhibited BitScope Ed at the Sydney Mini Maker Faire hosted by Powerhouse Museum.
We previously posted a review of the mini maker faire but we were very impressed with the Powerhouse Thinkspace Digital Learning Centre and Thinker1 Arduino prototyping board.
Thinkspace offers "learn by making" workshops in applied arts and sciences with various programs designed for school children, families, teachers, professionals and people with a disability. Thinkspace learning experiences are engaging, interactive and 100% hands-on.
They are very good examples of project based learning in action. Read More...
BitScope at the Sydney Mini Maker Faire.
Last Sunday we exhibited at the first Sydney Mini Maker Fair held at the Powerhouse Museum.
We were blown away by the popularity of the faire. Over 3000 people visited more than 50 exhibits, from robots to rockets to 3D printing and of course lots of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and other maker electronic projects.
We were there to exhibit BitScope Ed and seek feedback from visitors, teachers and other exhibitors about the idea of combining programming, electronics and BitScope.
We wanted to know if others agree that an education in electronics and programming can be very engaging and a lot of fun with low cost systems like Raspberry Pi or Arduino, some electronic components, prototyping boards and BitScope.
It seems they do! Read More...
BitScope Library V2.0 and Proto Scope Application
The BitScope Programming Library allows anyone to program USB or Network BitScopes with ease.
Version 2.0 of this library is now in beta release for several platforms including Linux and Raspberry Pi.
Alpha releases are also available for Windows and Mac OS X. The latter is available as a framework.
Version 2.0 supersedes production releases up to and including V1.5. It is recommended for new projects.
The API has changed in some small ways but migrating to the new library should not be difficult in most cases.
To make the process as easy as possible the library package comes with detailed programming examples written in C/C++, Python and Pascal. Read More...
Using a USB BitScope with any Linux system.
There is nothing you need to install or configure to use a BitScope with almost any Linux system.
Normally it just works but if your BitScope is plugged in and powered on but you cannot connect, especially if your Linux distribution is not one of the mainstream ones, here's how to debug your connection and get started.
In most cases, if you have only one BitScope connected and there are no other USB serial devices connected to your PC no configuration is necessary and operation will be automatic.
However, if you have more than one BitScope or you have other connected USB serial devices you may need to select the USB port manually (using BitScope DSO or any other BitScope software application) to choose which of several devices is your BitScope.
The SETUP dialog shown here is how you do this. The drop-down list shows usb serial devices that may be selected or you can simply type in the name of the device if you know what it is. Note that the list of options may be shorted shown here. Read More...
BitScope DSO 2.7.DG17D Update (All Platforms)
This update fixes a number of bugs reported since we updated the Sydney BitScope and upgraded it to a new model (BS325). We recommend you use this latest development release (DSO 2.7) to access the Sydney BitScope. You can use DSO 2.7 for your own locally connected BitScope as well, but DSO 2.6 (production version, to be published soon) is recommended instead because production releases never expire and do not connect to Sydney by default.
BitScope DSO upgraded for Mac OS X Mavericks
Apple released Mavericks last week so we've been working to ensure our software remains compatible.
The good news is that Apple have made the transition easier this time.
Mavericks was quite a smooth upgrade for us and there were very few surprises with the associated Xcode tools either.
We've been testing with Mavericks developer previews for a while so it did not surprise us that it runs most of our software without change.
However, we have found a few unusual bugs in some situations so we're working on a set of update releases to address them.
First cab off the rank is BitScope DSO 2.7 build DG17C which runs Mavericks and it works very well with all the current model BitScopes. We will be testing it with legacy models during the week to confirm they're also fully compatible with Mavericks. Read More...
Sydney BitScope, Online Demo Updated.
We have always supported remote access and device sharing with network BitScope models such as BS325 and BS445 and we've had an older model (BS300N) quietly running 24x7 for some years in the R&D lab to demonstrate this.
By simply downloading BitScope software and running it on an Internet connected PC, anyone can connect with this publicly accessible BitScope to try out the software without needing to own their own BitScope.
Recently, this demo has become rather more popular than we expected, so we've made a few changes. First, we upgraded the BitScope itself to a current model BS325. This is faster than the older one and can demonstrate some of the more advanced features now available such as analog prescalers, input offset controls, larger capture buffers and more flexible sampling, among many others new features. It also means software apps including Logic, Meter and Chart can also be shared remotely (in addition to BitScope DSO). Read More...
BitScope Touch Screen User Interface
BitScope DSO uses a gesture based user interface we call Act On Touch.
Act On Touch makes using a mouse, track-pad or touch-screen with BitScope easy. Whether you use a PC, Mac or notebook, a touch-screen PC tablet running Windows 8 or even access a remote BitScope from an iPad or phone via VNC, BitScope DSO responds the same way.
Act On Touch simply means you can click, drag or select to adjust almost any DSO parameter to change its value in real-time as the display updates or select built-in functions or values related to the parameter via a pop-up menu.
For example, click and drag up and down or left and right on a parameter to adjust its value. Click on the left or right edge of a parameter to select its previous or next value. Right-click (or control-click on a Mac or press-and-hold on a tablet) to pop up a context menu and double-click to open an editor to type in a value or select a default value. Read More...
Network access for USB BitScopes via Raspberry Pi.
We have long supported direct network access for remote data acquisition and diagnostic work with our network BitScope models such as BS325N or BS445N. It's how the SYDNEY online demo works across the Internet.
These models can be used remotely without the need for a server because they plug into a LAN and use the UDP/IP stack to transport BitScope Protocol Packets directly between BitScope and the client.
However, we were asked at a recent OzBerryPi Meetup whether the USB BitScope models, like BitScope Mini or BitScope 120, could be used remotely and shared via a network connection too.
We knew it was possible but we also knew it would require a server so we decided to explore the options by reconfiguring BitScope Pi. We'd use Raspberry Pi as the server (instead of the stand-alone desktop system for our Electronics Projects Lab) and we'd use off-the-shelf hardware and software solutions to connect via the network (using WiFi in this example).
Two options immediately sprang to mind; X over SSH or VNC.
Our goal was to access a USB BitScope remotely from any PC, tablet or phone that supports either of these protocols which between them should allow support for almost any client device. Read More...
BitScope is virtually indestructible, just as we intended!
We received this BitScope Model 325 recently.
It's a new device which was returned by a customer following pretty clear evidence of rather unfortunate mishap during transit.
Of course we shipped him a new one as soon as he notified us and we've not had something like this happen before but, after some investigation based on the shape of the marking on the package, our courier suggested it was most likely crushed in a fork-lift accident during unloading.
Does not happen often we're told but, ouch!
Now we build BitScope tough, but perhaps not quite that tough. The case a 3mm walled solid aluminium extrusion designed to handle the rough and tumble of a typical student lab or engineering workshop. A person of average weight can stand on one and it won't bend or break, but we wondered, did this one still work?
To cheers in the office, it did still work so we've decided to put this one in the trophy cabinet!
BitScope Ed at OzBerryPi, Presentation Review.
We joined some other speakers and saw demonstrations of some amazing projects and ideas based on Raspberry Pi and Arduino as part of the OzBerryPi Sunday Meetup yesterday.
Bruce spoke about the history, design and development of BitScope itself and our roadmap for BitScope in Education.
He described Mixed Signal Circuits and how a BitScope makes them easier to understand and he showed a pre-production prototype for a new product planned for the Raspberry Pi.
After the talk we were very pleased to see the level of interest expressed in the core idea behind BitScope Ed; we believe a practical education in programming and electronics can be made more accessible and a lot of fun using Raspberry Pi, Arduino, some low cost components and prototyping boards together with a BitScope. Read More...
BitScope and friends at OzBerryPi Maker Space
We were delighted to be invited to speak about BitScope Ed at the OzBerryPi Sunday Meetup at EngineRoom in Sydney today.
We've since written up an overview Bruce Tulloch's talk in a separate post but what we've got here is our impression of Sydney's OzBerryPi and the other terrific presentations.
OzBerryPi members hack on the RaspberryPi, Arduino, MCUs and Linux so they're an ideal audience for what we do here at BitScope.
They come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds and ages but they all share a passion for hardware hacking, sharing ideas and learning about how to actually make their own stuff. Read More...
Vertical Offsets and Dual Channel Display
BitScope DSO can display up to 4 analog waveforms (and 8 digital waveforms) at once, depending on the BitScope model.
When displaying more than one waveform the vertical separation can be important.
Sometimes one simply wants the channels separated for clarity, as shown here. At other times one wants them to overlap or shown relative to the same vertical scale and offset for measurement purposes.
BitScope has a compact offset parameter for each analog channel that allows the offset applied to each waveform to be adjusted for these and other purposes.
Unlike some scopes, BitScope's input offset is more than just a handy display feature; it actually applies an analog offset voltage at the channel input. This is an important difference. Read More...
How to Install BitScope DSO on Raspberry Pi
Last month we posted How to Install Raspbian and BitScope on Raspberry Pi. Recently, several people have told us there's an easier way so we thought we'd document it here.
First, if you've not already set up your Raspberry Pi, you will need to install Raspbian. For this, please refer to our earlier post about how to do this using NOOBS and then return here.
When Raspbian is up and running, fire up the default Midori web browser and grab the BitScope DSO package via the download menu on the BitScope Pi Home Page.
The first few steps are the same as before but when you download the package file the procedure is a little different.
Breadboard One | A typical Mixed Signal Circuit.
We designed Breadboard One as the first BitScope Ed project because it is a very simple mixed signal circuit which explains key elements of mixed signal systems.
A Mixed Signal Circuit is one which has both analog and digital components. In analog circuits the currents and voltages vary continously whereas in a digital circuits they switch between discrete values (high and low) to represent logical or numerical values.
Almost all modern electronic systems comprise mixed signal circuitry but the development methods and diagnostic tools you need to design and debug the analog and digital components are quite different. Read More...
BitScope Active Differential Probes.
Differential measurements can be very important but it is usually not possible to make such measurements using standard scope inputs, including BitScope.
There are standard solutions for normal oscilloscope channels (e.g. PRB-06) but they tend to be expensive, bulky and designed for higher voltage work.
We decided a better solution was needed, one that leverages BitScope's Smart Port Interface to support differential and other measurements packaged as a low cost accessory tailor made for BitScope.
What we've come up with is a small active design that needs only twisted pairs to connect. Read more...
BitScope Smart Port. The clever connection.
Ever since the original design, BitScope has had a Smart Port socket for connecting analog and digital signals to its inputs and outputs. This interface also provides power, ground and control for a connected circuit and most models provide waveform and clock generator signals too.
The Smart Port Interface was originally designed using a DB-25 connector but we switched to IDC-26 and current models use this new standard. Every BitScope provides access to at least two analog inputs, 8 logic inputs, power and ground lines. The interface has general purpose control signals which can be used to control connected circuits or switch logic and most models include a waveform generator. Read more...
BitScope DSO 2.7.DG17B update (Mac OS X)
This is the new development branch for DSO (Version 2.7). The existing development branch (Version 2.5) is in feature freeze and will become the next production release (Version 2.6) as soon as the outstanding bugs have been squashed. BitScope DSO 2.7 will introduce a range of new features including improved mixed signal data logging, presets and user configuration, slow timebase scrolling displays, a multi-band spectrum analyzer for baseband and RF work and automatic signal measurements (similar to BitScope Meter). This is the Mac OS X release.
BitScope Ed | An Educational Blog about Electronics.
We often get asked about designing and debugging electronics, microcontrollers, analog and digital circuits and other mixed signal systems. BitScope was designed with all these things in mind and we have long published circuit designs for BitScope itself. In recent years, building your own low cost electronic circuits has become very popular, especially with projects like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, and this has highlighted how many people want more practical and educational information to help them learn to design, build and most importantly, debug their own electronics projects. Read More...
Why the oscilloscope update rate is important.
Back in the day, all oscilloscopes were analog and the update rate was usually quite high (>50Hz) because the waveform appeared on the display only briefly requiring a high rate to appear "permanently", much like analog TV.
This had implications; it was generally not possible to see waveforms that were not periodic and one-shot capture was usually impossible.
Most modern oscilloscopes whether they are stand-alone or USB based like BitScope are digital and the refresh rate is irrelevant when it comes to persistent waveform display.
It also means they are able to capture single waveform events such as glitches and display them persistently for analysis. While these oscilloscopes are often designed with one-shot capture in mind there are many situations where repetitive capture is needed and in these cases update rate specification can be important. Read more...
Visualizing sound with Sonic Pi and BitScope
After we installed the latest edition of Raspbian to try BitScope on the Raspberry Pi we started having a look around and were delighted to find Sonic Pi was pre-installed.
Sonic Pi is a sound programming environment developed specifically to teach programming concepts where sound synthesis provides the medium for learning how to program.
We like this idea a lot but we also saw another educational possibility; Sonic Pi makes for an excellent complex waveform generator which is easy to use. It's the perfect tool to help explain what an oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer can do and how they can be used to analyze complex waveforms.
Waveform analysis is a very big topic so we're launching an educational blog to cover it and others in more detail soon. Read more...
BitScope Software Blog Launched
By popular request we've added this new blog to our website.
It complements the BitScope and Raspberry blogs and forms part of our RSS feed (in addition to the blog page).
Our aim is to collect together release announcements, technical support, user guides, documentation and tutorials about the range of software options for BitScope and how to get the most out of them. We've bootstrapped this blog with a collection of earlier posts from across our website which you can read below.
Future software releases will continue to receive notification on their own pages but they will also now appear on this blog.
We'll publish news of third party software projects which use or are built with BitScope. We're also in the process of rebuilding our projects page for relaunch for those projects specifically built around the BitScope VM or the programming library and we'll publish information about how to program and use BitScope for specialized purposes such as process monitoring and control, automated testing and data acquisition.
Stay tuned and feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions or suggestions for future posts.
Differential measurements matter, here's why...
Almost all oscilloscopes have single ended inputs
This means all channels measure voltages relative to a shared reference point which is almost always ground. To understand the implications we need to understand what voltage measurement is.
Voltage is defined as the electrical potential difference between two points. Making a voltage measurement therefore means measuring the difference in electrical potential between two points.
To see why an oscilloscope with single ended inputs (and a shared reference) imposes a serious constraint on the types of measurement that can be made, consider a tank circuit. The measurements we seek to make are of voltage across the inductor (L) and the voltage across the resistor (R). The topology of this particular circuit makes this possible with a normal oscilloscope because both components share a common reference and this reference happens to be ground. What if the circuit was such that this was not possible? Read more...
How to Install Raspbian and BitScope on Raspberry Pi
Many people have asked how to install BitScope software on a new Raspberry Pi and Raspbian now has an official image (released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation) so we thought we'd install everything from scratch on a brand new Raspberry Pi to check compatibility and explain how to install BitScope software at the same time.
First we need to install Raspbian. It can be downloaded as an image (which you must then copy to an SD card) or it can be installed as an option for the New Out Of Box Software installer (NOOBS).
We think NOOBS is brilliant, especially for first time Raspberry Pi users so we've used this method to install Raspbian. This latest release also includes some new packages that are of interest to us; Sonic Pi and Pi Face so we'll investigate these soon too. Read more...
BitScope Website Upgrade and Blog Launch
Following the huge response to BitScope Raspberry Pi and its blog and the very positive feedback we've received about the recent website upgrade, we decided to create this Blog.
It replaces the BitScope News (which remains available) and we've moved some recent posts from the news to this blog. The blog will provide more frequent and informal updates about BitScope and anything we find interesting that relates to BitScope and it will be syndicated via RSS for your favorite reader.
We undertook the website upgrade and we're launching this blog in preparation for a range of new software and product releases.
Among them are Raspberry Pi support (already announced) APIs for embedded ARM and x86 systems in automated test and acquisition, new open source software applications and some unique low cost accessories for BitScope which we hope will change the way people approach test, measurement and data acquisition. Stay tuned and feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions or suggestions for future posts.
BitScope Raspberry Pi Oscilloscope
BitScope is now compatible with Raspberry Pi.
Connect any current model BitScope via USB or Ethernet with a Raspberry Pi to build a stand-alone mixed signal oscilloscope with built-in logic analyzer, spectrum analyzer and waveform generator.
Our pick for Raspberry Pi is BS10. Like the Pi itself this tiny BitScope is very low power which means you don't need a USB hub. Simply connect directly to the Raspberry Pi, add a monitor and mouse, and you're good to go!
We've ported BitScope DSO and BitScope Library software to Pi and others will be made available soon (and some as betas now if you're keen).
There's lots more for BitScope on Raspberry Pi coming soon, especially if you're into programming your own automated test, measurement or data acquisition on the Raspberry Pi.
Stay tuned and feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions.
BitScope DSO | Tutorial Examples
This tutorial provides examples of several analog, mixed signal and logic waveforms captured and displayed with a BitScope and the BitScope DSO application. There are several other examples including waveform spectra and video too.
As well as reading about these examples online you can try them yourself on your Macintosh, Windows or Linux PC by installing BitScope DSO and opening the offline replay data files (available via the tutorial).
You don't need a BitScope to do this.
For a little more fun, try a real BitScope live via the Internet; simply click the Online Demo button at the top of the tutorial page to learn how to connect with the Sydney BitScope directly. This BitScope is sometimes quite popular so if you have trouble reaching it, please try again later. By way of comparison the first tutorial page has the Sydney waveforms so you can see what they look like even when you're not online.
BitScope DSO and our other software offer a huge range of features and learning them all can take a while. For all the details about DSO see the User Guide and for each of the other applications, such as Logic or Meter, you will find guides included in their release packages.
However, to make it even easier, we will publish some more tutorials soon to explain many of the newer software and hardware features such as input sensing, protocol decoding, the effective use of range, scale and offsets for mixed signal work, trigger setups, grounding and voltage references and much more.
Stay tuned and feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions.
BitScope Website | Major Upgrade
Welcome to the new BitScope Website.
If you have visited us before you may have noticed a few things have changed.
We have worked long and hard over the past few months to make the new website accessible and easy to navigate regardless of whether you're visiting from a desktop, notebook, tablet or phone. You can learn more about the website itself here.
We've not thrown anything out. All the information we've previously published is still here including our design, product and software pages but we hope you find it easier to read on all your devices and easy to find though consistent page navigation.
At the top of every page is the navigation menu where you can jump straight to the major sections of our site. This may appear as a navigation button similar to many other mobile websites on a phone or tablet. On the left of many pages is a navigation bar and above it a drop-down and location bar so you always know where you are.
Like everything we do, our website is a work in progress which we always seek to improve so if you have any comments, suggestions or feedback feel free to contact us anytime.
BitScope Meter V2.0 | Waveform Analyzer
Using an oscilloscope couldn't be easier with BitScope Meter V2.0 and BitScope.
Simply plug-in your signal and BitScope will lock onto the waveform and report the signal parameters simultaneously and in realtime!
View AC and DC signals and automatically measure the Peak, RMS, Min/Max voltages as well as DC bias and signal mean. Despite its simplicity, Meter deploys some sophisticated techniques to analyze the signal. It uses auto-correlation instead of simple zero crossing counts to lock on to the waveform frequency and it has selectable parameter filters to refine its measurements.
It reports related measurements such as duty cycle and waveform period as well as capture parameters such as sample rate and frame duration. If you need to make detailed manual measurements BitScope Meter can be used concurrently with BitScope DSO for accurate cursor measurements or BitScope Logic for related logic analysis. Meter is compatible with Windows 7, 8 & XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
Performance Boost for Windows 7 & 8.
High speed USB BitScopes prefer low latency USB for highest performance.
The probem is that Windows 7 & 8 assign high latency when they automatically install the driver. Reduce USB driver latency to give your USB BitScope or BS10 a major performance boost when used with Windows.
BitScope DSO has been updated for to take advantage of this and our other apps will be updated the same way soon too. If you use Mac OS X or Linux you can also benefit from this upgrade.
Simply install the latest DSO to take full advantage of it; there are no driver settings you need to change for Mac OS X or Linux.
BitScope 326 | 10 Channel Mixed Signal DAQ
Network BitScope 326 is a rack mountable 2 + 8 channel mixed signal data acquisition system.
BS326 inherits comprehensive test & measurement functions from the popular network BS325 desktop model.
This model is optimized for data acquisition and process monitoring with a focus on high speed mixed signal systems with network connectivity for host access.
Each unit has 2 analog and 8 logic channels. Up to two units may be mounted per 1U rack making it ideal for building large multi-channel data acquisition systems.
BS326 can acquire framed captured data at up to 512k samples per frame and a data rate of up to 80MB/s or it can stream data at lower rates continuosly.
It uses standard IP network protocols for universal connectivity and is compatible with all BitScope test, measurement data acquisition software. Email us at email@example.com for a quote.
BitScope now works with OS X Mountain Lion
Most BitScope Apps are now compatible with OS X Mountain Lion.
BitScope DSO and Logic have been available for Apple OS X for a while and now Chart and Meter are also supported.
The BitScope Library will soon be available for OS X too (as a framework for Xcode) so you will be able to create your own Mac apps or integrate BitScope with third party apps.
All these apps are available free of charge for existing owners, simply download and drag the apps to your Applications folder.
If you are using a USB BitScope you may need to download and install the USB driver on your Mac first but Network BitScopes connected to the same LAN as your Mac should work without any drivers or configuration required.
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