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Open source lab-on-a-board costs $29

Nov 23, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 4,078 views
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The tiny, open source “EspoTek Labrador” board combines an oscilloscope, waveform generator, power supply, logic analyzer, and multimeter.

We’ve seen several open source projects that have slashed the price and complexity of data acquisition (DAQ), testing and measurement, and other lab gear, such as the Red Pitaya, which is now selling kits under the STEMlab name starting at $199. Now, Melbourne, Australia startup Espotek has gone to Crowd Supply to launch an “EspoTek Labrador” board with somewhat similar electronics lab functions for only $29, with worldwide shipments due Jan. 31, 2017.

EspoTek Labrador
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike Red Pitaya’s STEMlab, which like many such products, runs Linux on a Xilinx Zynq FPGA SoC, the EspoTek Labrador has no brain of its own, but hooks into desktop computers via a USB port to act as a lab-on-a-board add-on. The board’s open source test software runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac desktops. On the other end, the board connects with a solderless breadboard.

The Espotek Labrador measures only 38 x 31 x 23mm and weighs 10 grams, but manages to squeeze in a wide variety of test gizmos for experimenting, debugging, and testing of electronics. The lineup includes:

  • Oscilloscope – 2-channel, 750ksps
  • Arbitrary Waveform Generator – 2-channel, 1MSPS
  • Logic Analyzer — 2-channel, 3MSPS per channel, with serial decoding
  • Multimeter — V/I/R/C
  • Digital outputs — 4x programmable 3.3VDC outputs
  • Power Supply — 4.5 to 15V, 1.5W max, closed-loop

Espotek Labrador detail view: (a) power outlets, (b) digital outputs, (c) function generator outputs, (d) oscilloscope/multimeter inputs, (e) logic analyzer inputs
(click image to enlarge)

The hardware is available under a Creative Commons license, while the software is licensed under the GPL. The software is aimed at beginners, letting users interact with waveforms on-screen and the like, but it also offers advanced operations such as manually adjusting the ADC gain and UART parameters. The application “runs at 60FPS on single core machines, instantly zooms in and out of a data stream that records at a constant 750ksps and lets you control an entire scope interface with a couple of mouse gestures,” says the Crowd Supply page.

Given the open source nature of both the Labrador’s hardware and software, it would appear that its functionality could easily be integrated into a control-oriented single board computer, or a computer-on-module carrier board. Labrador sources are currently available for free doewnload at GitHub.

The Espotek Labrador has almost doubled its $9K Crowd Supply goal, at which point a stretch goal will kick in for porting the software to Android. The Raspberry Pi is next up if the campaign reaches 25K, although the update from EspoTek’s one-man band Chris Esposito suggests he might port it anyway.

Further information

The Espotek Labrador is available for $29 on Crowd Supply, not including the cost of a micro-USB cable, with shipments due Jan. 31. Volume discounts are available. More information may be found at the Espotek Labrador Crowd Supply page and the Espotek website.

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