Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is the DSO Nano a No No?

So I finally broke down and bought myself a Pocket Oscilloscope!
Maybe soon I'll learn what I'm supposed to do with it, but in the mean time it looks really cool.

I bought the e-Design DSO201 aka DSO Nano.  DSO Stands for Digital Storage Oscilloscope.

Built in what had to once be a MP3 player shell, it uses an ARM Cortex-M3 32bit processor and sports a 320x240 display.  The one I purchased I believe is the second version of the first model. It has the newer better Probe (1x/10x) and a miniature BNC connector as opposed to the original that used a headphone jack and some very cheap probe/clips.

Now, my Nano supposedly had the newest software/firmware on it, but I couldn't make heads or tails of it. When I was researching the DSO Nano I found out that everyone hates the way it comes and everyone changes it use BenF's version (I don't know who BenF is, but hey, everyone else does). So the first day I have my new toy and I'm already messing with it and hoping I don't brick it.

I found out that this version of the DSO Nano also has a different bootstrap then the first one also, that made updating the software/firmware a bit of a trick, but after searching the web for awhile, I found BenF 3.53 Library and 3.64 App in the required HEX format and now everything is working well (you can download those files here).

To update this model you have to plug in your DSO to your PC. Hold the "-" button (down on the pad) and turn the power on. You should get a screen that tells you to copy the HEX files over. Don't drag both files over at once, copy over 1 file, it will disappear as the DSO dismounts and remounts itself, then copy the next file over, the process should repeat. If you see a .err file, then something went wrong. Now unplug the DSO switch it off and back on again.

So far I have used it to :
  1. Watch the pulses my Arduino sends to a servo (cool to see PWM as it happens).
  2. Check out the levels in a little 555 circuit that I put together just to test the DSO.
  3. Diagnose a problem with a power supply for a printer.
Is it the most powerful thing ever? No, and it doesn't pretend to be. But it does work well for the price!
I can't wait to learn more about oscilloscopes so I can make better use of it.

  • Cheap! At under $100, every Hacker/Prototyper/Tinkerer should have one!
  • Fits in your pocket so it will certainly fit in your Computer bag or parts box.
  • Rechargeable, no batteries to keep up with.
  • SD card slot so you can compare previous readings (Thats the "S" in DSO ).
  • Easy to use (if you know how to use an oscilloscope).
  • With the 10x probe on the NANO you CAN measure US Household AC current (110v/115v/120v).
  • It's opensource so you can hack it if you want.
  • Original firmware/software SUCKS, you must get BenF or something better.
  •  Support from anyone other than the community is scarce at best.
There is a newer version available now, the DSO Nano V2 is pretty much the same oscilloscope in a newer box. It is the same hardware and runs the same software as the V1, it's just in a new box. Personally I like the V1 package more.

There is also the very new and much improved DSO Nano QUAD sports 4 channels but of course costs much more.


  1. If it's of any help, I just received a new DSO Nano (running 3.26d firmware), and ended up with the "white screen of death" when trying to install Ben F's software. It's really simple to fix - download the patched software from here -, then unzip it. Fire up your Nano whilst holding down the minus key then copy/paste or drag and drop the one "hex file" into the Nano, wait until it changes file extension - reboot Nano, job done! - hope that helps

    1. I get the white screen of death when turning the device on and when starting it in DFU mode, I don't suppose you have any suggestions for fixing this?
      Many thanks in advance!!