Agilent firmware update confirms Rigol connection

Last week, Agilent released a firmware update for their 1000 series oscilloscopes.  The 1000 series, Agilent’s lowest end line, is a family of powerful yet reasonably priced digital storage oscilloscopes that includes my DSO1014A.

When I downloaded the firmware update and copied it to a USB stick for transfer to the scope, I noticed that the suffix of the file was .RGL.  This reminded me of some rumors I heard a few months back about how Agilent’s low-end scopes are actually manufactured by Rigol Technologies.  Rigol makes some very interesting low cost scopes, including the DS1052E, which was reviewed favorably on EEVblog earlier this year.

I opened the .RGL file in a hex editor, and found this:

Rigol Technologies

The highlighted string, “Rigol Technologies“, confirms the Rigol connection.

Later in the same file, Rigol shows up again:

RIGOL

Clearly Rigol is involved with (and probably wrote) the firmware for Agilent scopes.

Interesting also is that the string “DS1204B” shows up in the file.  The DS1204B is a 200MHz Rigol model that looks pretty similar to my scope, and the screenshots are a perfect match too.

I’m not implying that this is a bad thing, just interesting.  If Agilent needs to outsource the design and/or manufacturing of their low end scopes in order to provide an inexpensive entry-level scope with the Agilent badge on it, so be it.  What I haven’t done is actually opened the scope to see if Rigol’s name appears on the hardware as well.  Has anyone voided their warranty to investigate?

One more note, I found the DS1204B for $1895, over $500 less than the retail price of the corresponding Agilent DSO1024A.  This might make the Rigol an attractive alternative if having the Agilent name on your equipment isn’t important to you.  Note that I have not made any effort to go through all the specs for each scope and look for differences.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Agilent added their secret sauce to the DSO1000’s to tweak the performance.  It would certainly be interesting to see a side by side comparison of both scopes.

16 thoughts on “Agilent firmware update confirms Rigol connection”

  1. If its wasn’t obvious from the case design, PCB design, and user interface already. The only real difference is the price.

    1. You’re right, it should have been obvious to me before now. For some reason I never really paid attention to the Rigol screenshots before, those should have given it away.

  2. Thanks for showing the firmware, that’s interesting.
    I did a teardown of the Rigol DS1052E on my blog recently, and a few of us on the eevblog forum are wondering if it’s possible to mod the 50Mhz to the 100Mhz model, as the hardware seems identical.
    The same thing might be possible with the Rigol/Agilent A series.

  3. I know Jack Brand the former US GM of Rigol (lives local to me.) We were thinking of reselling Rigol before he left the company (since we were local, we had great access to their equipment.) Yes, he mentioned to me last summer that Agilent low-end scopes were Rigol. Meeting with him today on another topic, but if you have any questions you want me to ask him, let me know.

  4. the 200Mhz Rigol model you mentioned (DS1204B) only lists for $1800, but in reality most vendors are very willing to bargain, knocking it down to 1500-1600 depending on how many you get. That makes it even more attractive to us low budget people ;)

    1. Wow, that is a really sweet deal on a 200MHz scope!

      Has anyone done a side by side comparison of the performance of the Rigol scopes vs. their Agilent counterparts? I wonder if the Agilent scopes are tweaked for slightly higher performance or have any additional features?

  5. You’re correct on all counts. Mention my name when you contact us if you’d like a bargain on a Rigol scope – we are authorized Rigol distributors. We also provide free scope cases with our sales.
    Alan Lowne CEO Saelig Co. Inc. sales@saelig.com

  6. Hi Jeff
    Can you provide me original 4.03 firmware. People from agilent have made new release 4.04 which have same features but there are no rigol strings in hex. I`m owner of DS1204b so i like to examinate firmware to find if it is compatibe with 4.03.

    1. Hi Max,
      do you have firmware for DS1204B? I also have this scope and I’m experiencing some problems with it. If you have it, could you send it to me: d.gray@seznam.cz, many thanks!
      David.

  7. I briefly compared the Agilent DS1204A manual/spec and the Rigol DS1204B manual/spec. Here are the differences I noticed:

    Agilent: true zoom, 23 auto measurement modes (10 voltage 12 timing, 6-digit frequency counter on any channel), 20/10kpt samples, push trigger level knob for 50% trigger, remote programming (NI, LabView, etc) support

    Rigol: delayed scan, 22 auto measurement modes (10 voltage, 12 timing), 16/8kpt samples, extra 50% trigger mode button, pressing level knob sets level to 0, programming -manual not as detailed as Agilent

  8. Would it be possible to post a link to the Rigol DS1052E firmware version 2.02? I would like to downgrade my unit and cannot locate this for the life of me.

  9. Due to my interest in buying a reasonable priced but good oscilloscope, made some research for some time about different models. I then got aware of Rigol making oscilloscopes for Agilent. Comparing equivalent models, Rigol has attractive prices and some people liked it but also some complained about it (see Rigol in youtube). Rigol has a 300Mhz model by around $2,000 and the same price for a 200Mhz if it’s Agilent. I contacted an application engineer in Agilent who told me that it’s true that low end Agilent models are made by someone else, but he also say that it’s not the same, as Agilent oscilloscopes are manufactured by Rigol, BUT with advise and supervision of Agilent people. Rigol oscilloscopes -he said- don’t “enjoy” the same expertise, and that’s why they are cheaper and more prone to problems. After some thinking, I decided for an Agilent -a brand I already know- as technically speaking, there is not a lot of difference between 200MHz and 300MHz. Another reason for this decision was that I believe that a company with the expertise to make high end oscilloscopes – like 30GHz and beyond- somehow it translates into really better models than the ones made by a company which build instruments no more than 2-3GHz. Better a good 200MHz than a doubtful 300MHz.

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