What is the Palm Oscilloscope?


Click on the black box to see what's inside

The Palm Oscilloscope project is an attempt to use a Palm PDA as an oscilloscope. The portability and availability of Palm PDAs make them ideal for data acquisition and display applications. Also, because many of the target users already have Palm computers, adding oscilloscope features to a Palm would cost much less than purchasing a complete portable oscilloscope.  In this project, a Palm is used to display waveforms that are received through the serial port from a BlackBox. The BlackBox is a device which samples the analog signals and transmits them to the Palm using a specific communications protocol.


The Palm Oscilloscope has a two part design. The first part is, of course, a Palm-compatible PDA. The PDA is the user interface for the oscilloscope, and displays waveforms that represent the measured signals. The other part of the oscilloscope is a black box, named the BlackBox. The BlackBox is responsible for measuring an analog signal, and transmitting the measurements to the PDA.

In order to maximize the usability of this product, no hardware changes are required of the PDA. All communication is performed through the built in serial port.

The Palm-O-Scope is a small program that runs on a Palm-compatible PDA.  It provides the user interface to the Palm Oscilloscope, by scaling and displaying the measured waveforms. These measurements come from the other half of the Palm Oscilloscope, the BlackBox.

The BlackBox is responsible for measuring analog signals and transmitting the results to a PDA. The exact implementation can vary considerably. For the Palm Oscilloscope project, two BlackBoxes have been designed, one of which has been implemented and demonstrated. The BlackBoxes communicate with the host (the PDA) using the BlackBox Protocol. This protocol provides much freedom for the PDA oscilloscope.

Feature Summary

  1. Palm-O-Scope
  2. BlackBox One
  3. BlackBox Two
  4. BlackBox Protocol