Getting An Old Digital O-Scope To Output To A Computer Monitor

Michael over at AcidBourbon recently got his mitts on an older (circa 1990) digital oscilloscope and wanted to see if he could hack a way to plot the screen from the ‘scope on his computer. The unit he’s hacking is the GOULD 4094, 200MHz digital storage oscilloscope with four input channels. With no proprietary software and using only Linux command line tools and the open source scripting language PERL, Michael sets out to achieve his goal to get this beast displaying on his monitor.

All the features that you expect from a good scope are there: switching between AC/DC coupling, switch input impedance between 50 Ohms and 1M, setting trigger levels and delays, you can even set two different time bases (horizontal scaling) A and B and switch for each of the four input channels between these two timebases independently. When you freeze a curve with the hold button or by setting a trigger, you can “walk around” the curve with a cursor and read the momentary voltage level. You even can set the display intensity for the traces and the alphanumeric output separately.

You can view the full project at Michael’s site at the link below. If any of you have an older ‘scope sitting around, destined for the dumpster, this project just might help you breathe some new life into it! Good stuff.

(via Hackaday)

Salvaging Li-Ion Batteries To Power Your Projects

We found a cool article about salvaging lithium-ion batteries that you thought were totally dead, and how to reuse them for your embedded projects. The idea comes to us by way of, and in their write-up, they describe some of the ways one can tap into the power that is still left in one of these “dead” batteries from a laptop, cell phone, MP3 player, etc.

[Don’t throw away your dead Li-Ion batteries,] but instead take them apart and check if there are any of the individual cells alive. They can be reused in other projects. For instance [Karman] took a Macbook Pro battery pack and found two of three cells working. Then he took the individual cell protection circuit from a dead picture frame and paired it with one cell. This way he got a decent power supply for the same picture frame or any microcontroller project. Lithium cells are still pretty costly, so look around, maybe there are a few sources to scavenge them from and reuse.

So don’t trash those batteries just yet – hit up the links below for the goods on reusing your Li-Ion batts!

Hacker Challenge #1: Win A $40 Gift Card To GF Store!

Hackers, are you ready for the first Gadget Factory Hacker Challenge? Do you want to win a $40.00 gift card to spend on anything your heart desires at the GF Store? Here’s the deal: YOU design and implement a way to make the Ethernet module pictured above work with your Papilio board. You WIN a $40.00 gift card to the store! Simple enough.

Ethernet functionality. It has long been a requested feature for the Papilio FPGA dev boards. And the Gadget Factory community has what it takes, so let’s make this happen! In the first (of hopefully many) Hacker Challenges, the community of Papilio users and developers are going to put our heads together to hack this module and make the results open to the community.

The Challenge:

  • (No purchase required) You must hack a way for the ENC28J60 used in this module to work with any and all Papilio FPGA boards.
  • Post your working code (Arduino code and a library for the Arduino IDE, or VHDL code) to the Hacker Challenge thread on the forums.
  • Must be repeatable so every Papilio user can benefit – embrace the open-sourceyness!
The Reward:
  • Designs that are repeatable, work with both the Papilio board and the Ethernet module will win one of three $40.00 gift cards to the Gadget Factory Store.  
  • So, the three of you that make the most meaningful contributions to the design will get a gift card! Those contributions can be:
            • Post your working code (Arduino code and a library for the Arduino IDE, or VHDL code)
            • Write documentation
            • Make improvements to documentation or code

    The endgame here is to create a design that anyone with a Papilio and this particular Ethernet module could use successfully for their own projects. In the true spirit of open source, when we put our heads together as a community, we all win!

So get crackin’ – get hackin’!