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  DSO203 Open Source 4 channel digital oscilloscope


Front Veiw of the Scope

Front View of the Scope

Recently my business partner, Garett Churchill surprised me with a little goodie. A 4 channel DSO that will fit in my shirt pocket.

We’ve been very busy lately so I didn’t pay it much attention other than to charge it via the USB port. Today I decided to take a look.

The first thing I noticed on the back was the Creative Commons symbol. That really perked this open source advocate’s ears up! The first thing I did was go to their website (through Google Translate – the site is in Chinese. The whole site is a BBS/forum format which I found quite un-useful.


Scope Schematic

A mini-optical disk came with the scope so I popped it in the drive. There were many jpg photos that Irfanview could not render, though the Linux document viewer could. And a manual. And source code. And a schematic! This this truly is open source! Is that amazing or what?

The first thing to do was to connect it to a signal generator and see what it can do. The photo above shows it displaying a 500kHz square wave. The fluff on the edges of the square waves are caused my my less-than-perfect connection


probe connection

A not-so-50-ohm-connection


Don’t hardly think that’s 50 ohms across there!

Next I connected to my Rigol DSO and compared the amplitude and time interval measurements. Right on the money. For a little scope that cost around $169 (sleazebay), I’m getting more and more impressed.

Another thing that is impressive is how easy it is to upgrade the firmware. No special PC software needed. Just hold a button for a few seconds and it mounts like any other drive. Here are the complete instructions.:

If you want upgrade the firmware of DS203, PLS follow these steps:

1. connect the DSO to PC with a USB cable ,then press
“>II” key when power on.

2. After a few seconds , you can see a “DFU storage”
in your PC , copy your firware file “*.hex” to the
“DFU storage” . Note that only one file can be
copied each time. And waiting for auto-reboot.

3.Restart the DSO.


Simple enough, eh?

I next took the scope out to my truck and repeated some of the tests I outlined here. The results were the same.

Needless to say, I’m pleased! Here are some more photos of the instrument

back side

Back View

left side

Left Side View

right side

Right Side View

I really hate to recommend anything where sleazebay is the only source so I went looking. Good old came through. Go here and type in “DS203″. Several vendors will be reurned. Bear in mind that the posted prices are very soft! Feel free to haggle. Be sure you get the version with the two probes, a carrying case and the mini-CDROM.




Posted by neonjohn on August 11th, 2013 under Electronics, Neon and other lighting, Product Reviews |

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Yep, got hacked about 3 weeks ago.  Very slick hack that didn’t alter the operation of this blog while it tried to inject bad stuff into the reader’s machine.  The very fine folks at my host, found the malicious code during one of their periodic security scans and informed me about it.  They also helped me get rid of the bad stuff.  That basically involved saving off all my content, deleting WordPress, installing a virgin copy and copying back over my content.  A nice afternoon wasted.

I did a dumb thing that allowed the hack.  A couple of years ago I was about to make some major changes to my blog so I copied the existing blog over to  There was a vulnerability – later fixed – in that version of WordPress.  So while my active copy got its automatic updates, that saved copy just laid there waiting for a malicious robot to find it.

Lesson learned from this: Never leave any detritus laying around on a computer exposed to the web.

This is the first time I’ve ever experienced any form of maliciousness.  I run Linux here at home so I’m pretty well shielded from the cruft that attaches to Windows.  I agree with others who have said that it makes one feel violated.  Just 5 minutes alone with the perp…







Posted by neonjohn on August 4th, 2013 under Computing, Hints and Tips, Internet |
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  Cutting My Way To Paradise


Inverter Ready to go

Inverter Ready to Go

When I say “cut my way to Paradise (here in Green Cove) I mean it literally.  On my to the metropolis of Tellico Plains, I navigate about 25 miles of winding country road that follows the Tellico River.  On any given day there can be one or more trees down across the road.  That’s a sure bet after the monsoon we’ve had this summer.

What this means is that you either carry a chain saw or you sit and wait on someone who does have a chain saw.  In the winter, that wait can be a long time!

Ever since I’ve lived up here I’ve carried a small gas powered chain saw in my vehicle.  Several problems with that.  First off, it stinks up the vehicle with the smell of gasoline.  Two, fresh gasoline must be kept in the thing.  Three, in cold weather it’s hard to start.

Being an electronics nerd, I knew there had to be a better way.  The Better Way is an electric chain saw powered by a 2000 watt inverter and 100 ft of light gauge cord.  Since I didn’t want to drill holes in my new truck body and didn’t really want the inverter exposed to the elements, I used a pair of Anderson connectors to make the inverter to battery a quick connection.  The details of how to do this are described here.

And as long as the battery was equipped with an Anderson connector, I decided to make a heavy duty set of theft-resistant jumper cables.  Somewhat theft-resistant because they’re useless to anyone without an identical setup to mine.  The details of that project are here.

I’ve had this installed about 2 weeks and already I’ve had to use it once.  Returning to my cabin late night I found a small tree across the road.  Only about 3″ in diameter, I could have probably put the truck in 4WD and creeped over it.  But this was a perfect opportunity to try out the new toy :-)  10 minutes later, the tree was cut up and off the road and I could continue home.  Success!


Posted by neonjohn on July 26th, 2013 under Cool Stuff, Projects, RV/Camping |

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  Cherohula Skyway Closed by Mud Slide


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Up here in the Tellico Mountains, we’ve been busy building Arks. Over the 3rd week of January we got a total of about 8 inches of rain plus a little snow! That replenished the badly needed ground water and brought the Tellico Rivery back up to snuff but it also had some bad effects.

One effect is a mud slide that closed the Cherohula Skyway at about the TN/NC line. The Skyway is a destination for those who like to ride sport bikes, drive sports cars or just see some beautiful scenery. It connects Tellico Plains, TN with Robbinsville,NC.

On about the 17th of January, a huge mud slide took out a good hunk of the roadway and resulted in Tn-DOT closing the road completely. The next day my friend and neighbor Vicki J and another friend Tracy drove up to look at and photograph the damage. Here are Vicki’s photos.

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The damage is extensive enough that the road will probably be closed through at least most of the summer riding season. No word yet from TN-DOT about a time to repair.


02/03/2013 update:  With speed that I didn’t know a government agency could pull off, TN/NC-DOT has the Skyway back open. I haven’t driven up to see what they’ve done but I’ve heard that they removed the guard rail on the other side and made a lane out of the shoulder. In any event, it’s back open and all is well.


Posted by neonjohn on January 27th, 2013 under RV/Camping, Tellico |
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