One of my electronics labs in college had a few of these scopes (Agilent 54600B). I can’t remember who originally showed me how to access the game, but it was a great way to show off to the undergrads. You hold down two unlabeled buttons in the System/Utility menu and the game starts up.
Alas, I don’t think my DSO1014A has such a feature…
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:
The highlighted string, “Rigol Technologies“, confirms the Rigol connection.
Later in the same file, Rigol shows up again:
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.
Over the Memorial Day weekend I had a chance to spend a little bit of time with my new Agilent DSO1014A oscilloscope.
The Agilent 1000 family was just introduced on May 4th, 2009. Since it’s a brand new model, I had to look around a bit to find one in stock at one of Agilent’s distributors. Agilent quoted a 6-8 week leadtime and said I probably wouldn’t be able to find one anywhere before late June, but with a little searching I spotted one at Newark Electronics. Two days later, it was running a self calibration in my lab. Thanks, Newark!
The DSO1014A is a digital storage oscillscope. The primary advantage of a digital oscilloscope over a traditional analog scope is that waveforms can be easily captured and analyzed even after the original signal is long gone. Brief transients in the input signals can be viewed by carefully triggering a digital storage oscilloscope. This is almost impossible to do with a simple analog scope.
Here’s a brief feature list for the DSO1014A along with some of my notes:
100MHz bandwidth (the higher end DSO1024A has 200MHz BW)
4 channels (most low cost scopes only have 2, this was a big selling point)
1GS/s sampling rate per channel (pretty standard), 2GS/s in half channel mode (impressive!)
10kpts/channel record length, 20kpts/s in half channel mode (another big selling point for me)
front panel USB connector for recording screenshots to USB stick (yes!!!)
This scope will be a huge upgrade from the analog scope I have been using (an ancient 20MHz Hitachi V212). While it won’t be able to view USB 2.0 eye diagrams, it should be more than good enough for general purpose use around the lab.