OsciPrime: Open Source Oscilloscope for Android


Since 2010, the OsciPrime project has aimed to turn your Android smartphone or tablet into a fully functional oscilloscope. From its simple beginnings as a school project to the current run of dedicated hardware, OsciPrime is an excellent example of a open source product’s creation from start to finish.

OsciPrime Legacy

The original version of OsciPrime, now referred to as “Legacy”, was developed as the Bachelor thesis: “Using Android in Industrial Automation” at the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland. The software was originally developed for running on the Beagleboard, but the application was later ported to generic Android devices.

Screenshot from OsciPrime Legacy

The original OsciPrime release is pretty simplistic, and only supports using the microphone as an input. This limits the usefulness of the application considerably, but it still showed promise in the concept; promise enough that the application has received tens of thousands of downloads since its release.

OsciPrime Oscilloscope

Last year, continued interest in the OsciPrime project prompted the developers to commit to a complete rewrite of the application, relegating the original application to legacy status. This new version of OsciPrime is vastly improved over the original build, and takes into account community feedback and requests from OsciPrime Legacy.

Screenshot from current OsciPrime

The current build of the OsciPrime software supports most of the features you would expect from a standard oscilliscope, but in a much more portable package:

  • Range +/- 1.5 V up to +/- 16 V
  •  5 us/Div max – 1 ms/Div min
  •  2 individual Channels
  •  V-Offset, Time-Offset, Calibration
  •  Trigger Falling/Rising Edge, CH1/CH2
  •  Measure: Voltage, Freq, Time
  •  Run/Stop data acquisition
  •  30 fps rendering
  •  Processing 400’000 samples per second

While the improved user interface and functionality was a welcome addition, the biggest advancement in the new version of OsciPrime was support for the hardware peripheral the team has been building through their startup, Nexus-Computing. This hardware component to the OsciPrime project gives any phone or tablet with USB host mode (such as the Galaxy Nexus) the capabilities of a professional oscilloscope, at a fraction of the price.

OsciPrime Hardware

The OsciPrime hardware is really what sets this project apart. While the two versions of the OsciPrime software have been accomplishments in their own right, putting out a piece of completely open source hardware is a notoriously difficult proposition. While the OsciPrime hardware is not currently ready for purchase, its design has been completed and the team at Nexus-Computing is currently looking at manufacturing partners to take the project from prototype to finished commercial product.

Purchases of the OsciPrime Oscilloscope application for Android go directly to supporting the manufacturing of the finished hardware, and the team asks that anyone interested in preordering the final hardware should +1 their project page on Google Plus to show their interest.

OsciPrime Hardware

Stay tuned to “The Powerbase” for future coverage of this impressive project, including an interview with Nexus-Computing Managing Director Manuel Di Cerbo.

About Tom Nardi

Tom is a Network Engineer with focus on GNU/Linux and open source software. He is a frequent submitter to "2600", and maintains a personal site of his projects and areas of research at: www.digifail.com .