A new, better Openbench Logic Sniffer

The venerable Openbench Logic Sniffer has long been a popular logic analyzer: it's cheap, capable and entirely open source. Unfortunately the project was abandoned long ago, so no new features were ever added. The one major problem with the OLS was always its limited available memory: it has no memory chip on the board, using only the small amount of memory available on the FPGA to store samples. Its slow, PIC-based USB interface made it impossible to use a streaming architecture, like the fx2lafw devices.

Enter the Saanlima Pipistrello: an inexpensive but very capable FPGA development board. It has a newer Spartan-6 FPGA, 16MiB flash, 64MiB DRAM and an FTDI-based USB interface. It also comes with lots of ports: HDMI, audio, Micro-SD, PMOD, and 48 GPIO pins in a Papilio Wing configuration. The board is completely open source: schematics and Eagle design files are available under the CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. The board itself sells for $155 at the Saanlima Store.

A buffer wing is also available. This protects the FPGA with 5V-tolerant transceivers. Highly recommended: I destroyed many unbuffered pins on my OLS board long ago.

The original OLS verilog code couldn't use DRAM for storage, so the Saanlima folks adapted it. Proper edge triggers were also added to the FPGA code, something that was cumbersome on the OLS. They also contributed a sigrok driver, which has been merged into libsigrok. Thanks, Magnus!

New protocol decoder: nrf24l01

libsigrokdecode has gained support for a new protocol decoder recently, the nrf24l01 PD.

Thanks a lot to Jens Steinhauser for contributing the decoder, as well as a bunch of test files that we're using for some automated decoder tests (and that you can use to easily try out the decoder as well).

This decoder stacks on top of the SPI PD, decoding some higher-level commands used by the Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01(+) 2.4GHz RF transceiver ICs.

A short description of the chip and its protocol and pins is available on the respective wiki page, along with pointers to further reading.

New major release of various sigrok components

Hi everyone! We're very happy to be able to announce a major new, coordinated release of:

There have been a lot of improvements in pretty much all parts of the code, including more supported hardware, more protocol decoders, more features, various bugfixes, better portability, improved GUIs, and lots more. Many thanks to all the contributors who helped to make this happen!


Starting with the libsigrok 0.3.0 release, all libsigrok drivers that talk to serial ports are using the cross-platform LGPL3+ libserialport library now (which has its first release, 0.1.0, today). This also helps to improve the Windows support for sigrok.

The library was written by Martin Ling (thanks a lot!) and supports a number of OSes, including Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and others. Supported features include port enumeration, opening/closing ports, setting port parameters (baud rate, parity, and so on), reading/writing/flushing data, etc. etc. You can take a look at the API docs for more details.

Note: libserialport is completely independent of sigrok, i.e. it can be used by various other open-source projects without any problems, too.


The most interesting libsigrok changes for users will likely be the new hardware support, so here goes:

There have also been a number of other (infrastructure) changes and improvements, though:

  • We added support for channel groups (multiple channels of the device, that share some properties and are configured together).
  • There's a generic SCPI backend now that drivers can use, supporting various transports: serial ports, USBTMC, TCP/RAW, TCP/Rigol, VXI, and librevisa.
  • The session file format (*.sr) has changed and its version was bumped to 2.
  • There's improved Windows support now for serial port and USB based devices, though it's partially still experimental! Please checkout the current list of known Windows issues, since there are some problems e.g. with the popular FX2 based devices (bug #343) and the Openbench Logic Sniffer (bug #205). Feedback, bug reports and patches are highly welcome!
  • Various API improvements were also done, to allow for some of the new features and to ease future extendability. You can take a look at the API docs for more details.
  • And of course there was a huge amount of bugfixing, as usual.

See the NEWS file for the full list of changes.


Same deal for libsigrokdecode, most people will probably want to know which new protocol decoders are supported:

  • guess_bitrate: Guess the bitrate/baudrate of a signal
  • ir_nec: NEC infrared remote control protocol
  • ir_rc5: RC-5 infrared remote control protocol
  • midi: Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  • parallel: Parallel synchronous bus decoder
  • rgb_led_spi: RGB LED string decoder (SPI)
  • xfp: 10 Gigabit Small Form Factor Pluggable Module
  • z80: Zilog Z80 microprocessor disassembly

The protocol decoder backend has also received a bunch of new features and facilities in this release:

  • Support for annotation rows (groups of annotation classes to be shown together).
  • The new OUTPUT_BINARY facility allows PDs to output decoded data in various (file) formats (e.g. I²S output in WAV format, USB output in PCAP format for Wireshark, LCD controller output in PNG format for viewing, and so on).
  • The new OUTPUT_META facility allows PDs to report certain data points or events to the frontend, which can be used for various post-processing and statistics purposes (e.g. simple counts, average/mean values, min/max values, and more).
  • The protocol decoder API has changed, the API version is bumped to 2. Decoders using the old PD API no longer work with this library release.
  • A large amount of PD fixes have been done to improve the usability of all PDs when used with GUIs (long/short annotations for zoom-dependent display, corrected annotation sample numbers, use of annotation rows, and so on).
  • Various API improvements were also performed to allow for all the new features. You can take a look at the API docs for more details.
  • And of course all PDs and the library code have received quite a few bugfixes, as usual.

See the NEWS file for the full list of changes.


sigrok-cli (a command-line sigrok frontend) now depends on both libsigrok >= 0.3.0 and libsigrokdecode >= 0.3.0 and supports all the new features of the libraries, including channel groups, PD annotation rows, the new *.sr file format, plus the usual bunch of bugfixes.

The following changes have been performed for the command-line options:

  • The -g | --channel-group option was added.
  • The -M option (for PD meta output type support) was added.
  • The -B option (for PD binary output type support) was added.
  • The -p | --probes option was renamed to to -C | --channels.

There were also a bunch of improvements related to the (experimental) sigrok-cli Windows installer. You can download an (experimental) nightly build here: sigrok-cli-NIGHTLY-installer.exe. Any feedback, bug reports, or patches are highly welcome!

See the NEWS file for the full list of changes.


PulseView (a Qt based sigrok GUI for logic analyzers, oscilloscopes and MSOs) has also received quite a huge amount of improvements and new features (thanks a lot to Joel Holdsworth!):

  • Support for protocol decoding (via libsigrokdecode) has been added, including support for annotation rows, multiple decoders in the same GUI window, support for stacking protocol decoders (e.g. I²C -> RTC8564, UART -> MIDI, or SPI -> SDcard) and lots more.
  • Support for loading and saving sigrok session (*.sr) files has been added.
  • Initial support for analog data sources (specifically oscilloscopes, e.g. the Rigol DS1052E) has been added.
  • The Windows installer has received a bunch of fixes and improvements, too. You can download an (experimental) nightly build here: pulseview-NIGHTLY-installer.exe. Any feedback, bug reports, or patches are highly welcome!
  • And of course there were quite a number of bugfixes, as usual.

See the NEWS file for the full list of changes.


This release of sigrok-firmware-fx2lafw, the open-source firmware for FX2-based logic analyzers, is only a minor bugfix release. It basically only fixes one bug which lead to the data pins not being tri-stated after an acquisition, but rather being driven.

See the NEWS file for the full list of changes.


Have fun analyzing your signals!

Windows support and installers

For a long time Windows support in sigrok was somewhat lacking and/or in the TODO state, but things have improved quite a bit recently.

While there have been both a working cross-compile setup based on MinGW (additionally based on the MXE suite of scripts) as well as working NSIS-based installer executables for sigrok-cli and for PulseView for quite a while, they weren't really all that useful.

Only very few devices used to actually work in practice due to portability issues and due to certain limitations in the way libsigrok was talking to USB-based hardware devices (e.g. various logic analyzers) and serial port based devices.

All of this has changed though. A major part of the solution and fixing was done by Martin Ling (thanks a lot!) by writing specific thread-/Event-based code for the Windows platform for allowing libsigrok drivers based on libusb to properly work on Windows (transparently, i.e. without requiring changes to the drivers).

The other part of the puzzle is the new LGPL3+ libserialport shared library, also written by Martin Ling (thanks again!), which is a portable, cross-platform C libary (that is completely independent of libsigrok, i.e. it can be used by various other open-source projects without any problems, too). So far, it supports Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and some BSDs. More on libserialport in another blog post.

With all the above-mentioned improvements we're now providing daily-built, self-contained Windows installers for sigrok-cli and PulseView, that ship with everything you need (the executables and libraries, the protocol decoders, some firmware files, some example files you can use for testing decoders and UIs, the Windows Python 3 installer you need for running protocol decoders, the Zadig tool you need for switching devices to use the libusb driver, etc. etc.).


Please make sure to read the Windows wiki page, it contains some more information related to drivers, firmware files, current device status, and so on.

We've tested the basic functionality on Windows XP and Windows 7 (and we don't expect any issues on Windows Vista or Windows 8 either), but we're happy to hear any feedback you may have and/or issues you might encounter.


New protocol decoder: ir_nec

We're happy to announce that libsigrokdecode now supports yet another protocol decoder, this time: ir_nec. The PD has been contributed by Gump Yang, thanks a lot!

This is a decoder for the so-called NEC infrared (IR) protocol, a rather widely used protocol for remote controls (for TVs, VCRs, and lots of other things).

The protocol is based on a pulse-distance encoding, i.e., a 1 bit is encoded by a pulse and a long pause after that, and a 0 is encoded by a pulse and a short pause after the pulse.

The "payload" basically consists of an 8-bit address (which is a number that is supposed to be unique for a certain vendor / device), and an 8-bit command / code which identifies which button was actually pressed.

The 8-bit address is followed by the inverted 8-bit address, the 8-bit code is also followed by its inverse. This is (or can be) used for error checking on the receiver side.

You can read up on the protocol details in various online resources.

When the proper definitions for specific remote controls are added to the PD, it can also decode the actual remote control button in a more human-readable form e.g. "Matsui TV: Mute" vs. "Address: 0x40, command: 0x10", see screenshot for an example.


Brymen BM869 support

Yes, it's time for another multimeter! This time libsigrok has gained support for the Brymen BM869 multimeter (the code was written by Aurelien Jacobs, thanks a lot!).

This is a 50000 counts True RMS DMM with various "higher-end" features compared to other, cheaper DMMs.

The PC connectivity interface Brymen BU-86X is using USB/HID internally (based on the Cypress CY7C63743 enCoRe USB chip), the protocol is relatively simple and documented by the manufacturer.

You can also browse the source code if you're interested in some of the implementation details.


New protocol decoder: rgb_led_spi

We're happy to announce that there's a new protocol decoder available in libsigrokdecode since today, rgb_led_spi (thanks to Matt Ranostay for the contribution!).

This is a small PD that decodes RGB (red/green/blue) values for a certain type of LED controller that are sent from a host/microcontroller via SPI in order to light up the LEDs in a certain color.

It can be used for decoding data to a WorldSemi WS2801 RGB LED controller, for example (see the led/ws2801 directory in the sigrok-dumps repo for sample files).

Since this (rather simple) "protocol" is transmitted over SPI, the protocol decoder can make use of the stacking feature in libsigrokdecode and simply stack upon the spi decoder (thus avoiding having to re-implement all of the SPI handling in the RGB LED decoder itself).

Happy LED blinking!

Gossen Metrawatt Metrahit multimeter support

A few weeks ago libsigrok received support for various Gossen Metrawatt multimeters, a line of DMMs we didn't yet support at all.

The respective gmc-mh-1x-2x driver (for the Gossen Metrawatt Metrahit 1x/2x series multimeters) was contributed by Matthias Heidbrink (thanks a lot!).

It already supports a number of devices, e.g. the

Other devices are already being worked on, and/or can be added to the driver by interested users (patches welcome!).

The driver was tested with the Metrahit RS232 PC interface, support for other interfaces may follow (again, patches and people who can test with these interfaces are highly welcome).


jhol's sigrok year in review (and 30c3)

Happy New year - 2014! I was barely used to the idea of 2013! - where does the time go?

So I decided it's time for a quick roundup of the year from my own very personal perspective.

Project Status

By any measure, 2013 was a great year for sigrok. The project has grown to over 100kLOC and the number of contributors is growing steadily. Last month was the project's best ever month for contributors - with 12 different people contributing code.

For me it's been particularly heartening to see that many people are interested in contributing. Some have come to provide whole drivers, others providing major features, others contributing all kinds of tweaks and bug fixes. It's great to see the people think that sigrok is a project worth giving their time to. There is even now a commercial fork of sigrok by the DSLogic team.

This year Uwe and Bert continue to be the commit-count-kings building features at all levels of the stack.

In recent months Martin Ling has provided a fresh burst of energy adding the libserialport library and writing drivers for many (all?) Rigol oscilloscopes.

In April we had the first ever PulseView release.

I'm really glad we reached this milestone, because there have been some false starts on the sigrok GUI front. I was keen for the project to get to the point where it was very basically usable. I absolutely did not want to add another tombstone to a graveyard of dead sigrok GUIs. Therefore, v0.1 was not meant to be anything very special, just enough to "close the loop", and provide a basic minimal, not to buggy GUI for sigrok.

Now that this has been achieved, I have been able to add some more exciting features to the project - most notably support for sigrok signal decoding.

PulseView pulseview-0.1.0-195-gdfb9f75 with mixed-signal data, and decoding.

Because of Martin's recent work, there is agreement that we need to make an all-sigrok release as soon as possible. However, PulseView decode support still has some way to go. Therefore, as a compromise I've decided to make decode support a compile-time option in v0.2, which allows fans of the bleeding edge to test this code, but without compromising the overall quality of PulseView in this release.

Once the release is done, I hope decode support will be completed within a short time, and then we can release PulseView v0.3 with the feature enabled.

PulseView is in reasonably good shape, but it's still quite small, and progress is slow. 12 people have contributed to the code in the last year, but I remain by far the largest contributor, contributing 79% of commits in the past 12-months. Some have said that they find the C++ rather impenetrable, but my hope for 2014 is that we broaden out the contributor base so that the project is not so dependent on one person.

It is now easier than ever to contribute to PulseView. I always find GUIs are particularly difficult to design by committee, but once there are some coherent concepts in place, it is much easier for people to understand how their feature should fit into the general scheme of things.



Many of the regular contributors to sigrok, including myself, met at 30c3 in Hamburg for four days of intense sigrok hacking. For me this was my first time to visit the conference, and my first time to meet many of the guys who I've been working alongside for the past two years.

The Sigrok Table at 30C3

We were extremely busy. There's nothing quite like face-to-face meeting to tackle large scale design questions, so much of the time was spent in design meetings trying to bash things out - which to my surprise was quite fruitful, resolving many of the big questions. Whether these ideas ever become code remain to be seen.

Walking round the conference there were a couple of cases where people were using sigrok to solve actual problems. Uwe met a team of guys investigating network controller backdoors, using sigrok to collect SPI data - this without any of us telling them to use the project.

Most of the time was spent working on the code. We hoped to complete the release during the conference. We didn't quite reach this goal - but we are very close. Therefore hopefully there will be a sigrok release within the next couple of weeks.

Finally, I have news that the sigrok project has made the news - specifically Aljazeera TV. The piece is mostly about NSA surveillance, but watch carefully at 0:13 to see a nice sweep of the sigrok table - with some guy, but I don't know who he is.

Hameg HMO scope support and SCPI backend code

The list of contributed hardware drivers for libsigrok is getting longer yet again. This time, support for the Hameg HMO series oscilloscopes (tested on Hameg HMO1524) has been added by poljar (Damir Jelić), thanks a lot! It has recently also been successfully tested on a Hameg HMO2024 at 30C3 in Hamburg.

This driver should support the Hameg HMO compact series device (70MHz - 200MHz) for now, other devices can be added later though. It also makes use of the recently added probe groups feature to allow setting coupling, trigger slope, timebase and so on independently for each scope channel. Currently the driver supports the serial port connectivity of the scope.

Since SCPI commands are used for controlling and querying the scope, poljar also added an initial set of common SCPI related functions to libsigrok, which other drivers can also make use of later. Those functions initially assumed a serial port transport, but have been made more generic in the mean time by Martin Ling (thanks!), now supporting SCPI over USBTMC and SCPI over TCP too.


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