Low budget DIY oscilloscope in a matchbox

It seems that less money you have, more creative you are. Not many dear to start a DIY oscilloscope project since these tools already aren’t that expensive as they were earlier. Anyway there are always hobbyists somewhere in the world that would rather build a tool rather saving to buy. In my opinion, oscilloscope is must have tool on a bench and if possible good one. So if your budget is short to buy one, ajoyraman offers his plans on $15 scope.


Oscilloscope doesn’t come with display, so it has to be connected to PC. He made sure that software is a multi-platform where Visual basic was used to to build windows compatible part, while Python for Linux. Scope has two channels with sampling frequency from 1Mbps to 20Mbps. Other features are like on common scopes including triggering on both edges, selectable gains, different capturing modes including single, repeat and store. Most of work is done on PC software where you can select various parameters and see graphs. Here you can zoom, copy, save images as you would like. Scope is built around dsPIC30F2020 microcontroller that talks to PC through USB interface made of FT232R USB to serial converter. The front end of each channel is build by using MCP6S22 programmable gain amplifier controlled over SPI bus from microcontroller. The PCB is also home made and fits in to larger matchbox.

Compiling Arduino code for PIC32

Programming PIC microcontrollers using Arduino code style isn’t something new. We are already familiar with ChipKit development boards from Digilent and their Arduino like development environment called mpide. Tom Kibalo suggests using MPLAB IDE to develop and use Arduino code for PIC32 microcontrollers. He has been developing Arduino library code for PIC32.


Most agree that Arduino IDE environment sucks for making more serious projects, so different options are always welcome. For instance by using MPLAB X IDE you can be way more productive with all tools it provides. Arduino library for PIC provides most of Arduino specific functions and there fore most of Arduino code can be executed on PIC same way using simple wrapper code.

PIC32 Based breakout Board

Everyone has been in a situation, while prototyping your project you are in a need of more power and easy to configure peripherals. The requirement might not be easily met by an 8-bit Arduino which currently seems to be the best way to prototype your project faster. There are situations, where you need a microcontroller with fairly large number of pins, but most of them are available in SMD package which are so hard to solder. So Gaurav has come up with a breakout-board for his own, which is based on PIC32 based controller few necessary peripherals like bunch of LED ,few switches , USB , EEPROM , V-Reference for ADC ,Oscillator and Voltage regulators too.


The cost of the board has been tried to keep as low as possible and the most important thing, the board is bread-board compatible. The board boast off two on-board oscillator, an altimeter and temperature sensor along with a digital compass. It has also has a combination of different types of LED’s and few user switches. The board seems to be a good choice for robotics project.

Building a pulse meter using ChipKIT

chipKIT is a great PIC32 based Arduino like development board designed by digilent. They have made quite a bunch of them since last time I have checked. Additionally they are taking care of numerous shields that allow quick and easy interfacing and developing cool things. Embedded-lab has been doing a nice chipKIT tutorial series. This time they are building a pulse meter using several building blocks – chipKIT Uno32, Basic I/O shield and Easy pulse sensor along with their Easy Pulse sensor board.

Everything plugs in nicely while leaving soldering iron cold. Pulse waveform is captured with on Analog input and displayed on I/O shield graphical LCD. Program also calculates Beats Per Minute (BPM) value.