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OT - Clever Marketing? Rigol Oscilloscope "hack" turns $400 tool into $1000+ tool

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  • OT - Clever Marketing? Rigol Oscilloscope "hack" turns $400 tool into $1000+ tool

    I'm wondering if you guys think this is a leaked hack and a very wily ploy to sell a lot more product, or if it's a legitimate black-market hack?

    Background: Rigol, a Chinese instrument maker, has been making good quality scopes for dirt cheap. They are super easy to hack, so you can unlock all the bells and whistles for free.
    They are an excellent value, and well built. Is this another form of dumping to kill the competition?


  • #2
    Previous rigols have been similar. Yes, you can make it run faster. BUT! The front ends on the signal inputs are not the same between the scopes. There are hardware differences. Just because you can enable it in firmeare does not mean the hardware will match the spec. Heck, my old Tek TDS340 is only rated for 100mhz but I can see signal waveforms faster than that, it just means your accuracy goes to hell.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by macona View Post
      Previous rigols have been similar. Yes, you can make it run faster. BUT! The front ends on the signal inputs are not the same between the scopes. There are hardware differences. Just because you can enable it in firmeare does not mean the hardware will match the spec. Heck, my old Tek TDS340 is only rated for 100mhz but I can see signal waveforms faster than that, it just means your accuracy goes to hell.
      Not sure if the front end is different or not, but you also get SPI, I2C, RS232 decoding, extended memory depth. It seams to good to be true.

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      • #4
        Well, it is just cheaper for them to make the same basic scope and just change a few parts in the front end, technically what they are doing is unlawful.

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        • #5
          sorry, just to clarify. The hack is unlawful? or the selling the same scope with locked out features is unlawful? In either case why is it unlawful? Not trolling, just interested to get your opinion.

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          • #6
            The Hack would be unlawful. If you watch the video, you will see the you enter your serial number, and it gives you a code to unlock the features. This is exactly the same thing you are doing if you buy a trial version of, for example, Adobe Photoshop and then register it with a key generator. You are getting features you do not pay for.


            As to the manufacturer, they are doing nothing legally wrong. If they choose to, they can produce a scope with 10 GHz bandwidth and 100 channels and sell it in a form where you can only use one channel, and only 10 MHz of bandwidth. It would be a terribly stupid thing to do, as they would never recover their development costs, but it would not be illegal. But if they do sell an underspeced product, they are always free to offer you upgrades to a higher level of performance for a fee.


            That said, I have two views on this. First is that I doubt the hacked scope is truly up to the spec of the higher model. I would expect accuracy to drop at the higher end of the frequency spectrum, but that does not mean that the hack is useless. I use many analog scopes well past their rating when I just wanted to see what a waveform looked like, not necessarily get an accurate measurement.


            The other point is, it is Chinese. They are the masters of hacking, and care nothing about the intellectual property of others. If I had one of these scopes, I would apply the hack without a second thought.
            Last edited by The Doctor; 11-12-2014, 02:03 PM.

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            • #7
              Theft. The same something for nothing mindset used to justify hacking a free upgrade to an oscillocope motivated the theives and conquers of history as they plundered whole civilizations: "Hey, if I don't do it someone else will."

              Who ever or whatever the Chinese may or may not have hacked, the other guy's bad begavior does not justify your own.
              Last edited by Forrest Addy; 11-12-2014, 02:20 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Forrest Addy View Post
                Theft. The same something for nothing mindset used to justify hacking a free upgrade to an oscillocope motivated the theives and conquers of history as they plundered whole civilizations: "Hey, if I don't do it someone else will."

                Who ever or whatever the Chinese may or may not have hacked, the other guy's bad begavior does not justify your own.

                You are morally correct, but in practice... pretty tough not to put in a simple set of numbers and get 3 times the features. Is hacking simple thievery in another form? Is it outsmarting the mega-corp to ones own benefit? Shades of grey?

                I saw a chance to upgrade my tool. Is putting a pipe on the end of a ratchet instead of buying a bigger ratchet stealing?
                I think Rigol has benefited by leaking simple hacks.

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                • #9
                  Some time ago I was looking for a decent.. yet relatively inexpensive portable USB logic analyzer.

                  http://www.zeroplus.com.tw/logic-ana...n=3&pdnex=list

                  I eventually bought a Zeroplus LapC 16128 above (made in Taiwan) , mainly because of the quality of the software , and the 30 odd protocol analysers that came in the deal.(which are fantastic btw)

                  http://www.zeroplus.com.tw/logic-ana...=10&pdnex=list


                  It seems that all the models use the same board (partly stuffed for 16 channel versions) and asic.... the hacker fratenity have been able to buy the cheapest version ,and by swapping memory chips,and using keygens to register protocols etc..they have converted them into the most expensive versions.

                  I assume that the numbers are small...which is why Zeroplus continue to use the same cost effective start point for the models... And the same will be true for Rigol.



                  Rob

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by superUnknown View Post
                    You are morally correct, but in practice... pretty tough not to put in a simple set of numbers and get 3 times the features. Is hacking simple thievery in another form? Is it outsmarting the mega-corp to ones own benefit? Shades of grey?

                    I saw a chance to upgrade my tool. Is putting a pipe on the end of a ratchet instead of buying a bigger ratchet stealing?
                    I think Rigol has benefited by leaking simple hacks.
                    I read a few years ago that Rigol was the supplier of Agilent's (aka hp) lower end scopes and by purchasing a Rigol you were getting the same device but at a lower cost since it didn't have the Agilent badge.

                    I find it hard to justify the "stealing" comment. I used to work for a manufacturer that did the same thing: it was cheaper to make all our machines with the same hardware and enable a particular feature at a customer site by a Field Service technician entering a special code than it would have been to install the extra hardware in the field. Of course the customer had to pay for the upgrade! I see this as the same thing.

                    I like to believe that if I buy something, it's mine to do with as I please.

                    On the other hand, as a software developer I understand the frustration of releasing a free preview version of software and having someone who might otherwise have been a paying customer "cracking" it to get the full version for free.

                    Yeah, it's far from black and white.

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                    • #11
                      eevblog.com has been covering this for some time. Apparently the hack works reasonably well within certain limits, all the features available is probably more useful though. The scope certainly performs well for a 50 mhz but certain types of waveforms create a user beware situation as with all digital scopes. Non-repetitive fast waveforms will not always give the expected results and the sampling rate is halved if more than one channel is in use. On the other hand my 70 mhz Rigol (not hacked yet) is very good.

                      Overall I would buy this scope based on need as an excellent deal, perfect for a first time purchase. Just check out the scope school video on eevblog.com for how to get the most out of your scope.

                      As far as hacking goes, to each his own and I suspect the vast majority never get hacked even though it is a simple firmware code entry to do so.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lwalker View Post
                        I read a few years ago that Rigol was the supplier of Agilent's (aka hp) lower end scopes and by purchasing a Rigol you were getting the same device but at a lower cost since it didn't have the Agilent badge.

                        I find it hard to justify the "stealing" comment. I used to work for a manufacturer that did the same thing: it was cheaper to make all our machines with the same hardware and enable a particular feature at a customer site by a Field Service technician entering a special code than it would have been to install the extra hardware in the field. Of course the customer had to pay for the upgrade! I see this as the same thing.

                        I like to believe that if I buy something, it's mine to do with as I please.

                        On the other hand, as a software developer I understand the frustration of releasing a free preview version of software and having someone who might otherwise have been a paying customer "cracking" it to get the full version for free.

                        Yeah, it's far from black and white.
                        I work at Keysight (used to be Agilent), and I'm pretty sure that if our company found out someone was enabling licensed options without buying them litigation would ensue. Especially if the hacker was associated with a business entity. We have pretty tight controls on license key generation.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Forestgnome View Post
                          I work at Keysight (used to be Agilent), and I'm pretty sure that if our company found out someone was enabling licensed options without buying them litigation would ensue. Especially if the hacker was associated with a business entity. We have pretty tight controls on license key generation.

                          Does that mean they're going after eevblog?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Forestgnome View Post
                            I work at Keysight (used to be Agilent), and I'm pretty sure that if our company found out someone was enabling licensed options without buying them litigation would ensue. Especially if the hacker was associated with a business entity. We have pretty tight controls on license key generation.
                            Not sure what has to do with non-Agilent/Keysight hardware, but good to know.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Forestgnome View Post
                              I work at Keysight (used to be Agilent), and I'm pretty sure that if our company found out someone was enabling licensed options without buying them litigation would ensue. Especially if the hacker was associated with a business entity. We have pretty tight controls on license key generation.
                              Hey do you get deals on old gear or new DMMs?

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