This is the kind of scope I fell in love with at work; but is much older, thereby within my budget. This scope is unique in that it instruments using Windows XP as the host operating system and has a full Pentium(r) III cpu with a whopping 512MB of main DRAM. The scope is really overkill for me – as I don’t see the need for 1GHz capability; but the 4 channel option is good as will be the +16 logic capability. The post below is a series of notes I took to upgrade this machine – documented for others on the internet.
First; The scope had some issues when it first arrived. The Acquisition boards failed self test (more specifically, the application just died with buffer overrun and exits).
All channels reported random noise. The seller had tested the scope before he shipped; so the damage occurred during shipping. The Seller offered to exchange the scope but I convinced him that I should open the cover to see if any cables were loose (and/or reseat them). He agreed once we had a quick phone conversation. Armed with the Service manual I set about disassembling my new scope.
Upon opening the top cover; I saw nothing out of place, other than a extra screw being loose in the scope. From the service manual; I knew the ADC board was mounted under the motherboard behind the bottom cover so I removed it. Once I remove it I saw something very suspect:
Um… yeah; that ain’t right. At first I thought that bracket was suppose to hold the cables in place… but Then I noticed the VRM was also loose:
Yeap; that’ll do it… The ADC board was getting no power; so it was reporting random noise. I re-installed the VRM in it’s black socket and the screwed the bracket to it screw hole next to using the loose screw I found. I was a little concerned the bracket, screw, and VRM loose in the machine while I was attempting to get it to work would have caused irreparable damage – but I’d gone this far… so, I powered up the scope; saw waveforms… and it passed Self-Test. 😉
With the scope now functional; I needed to turn my attention to the OS installed on the beast. It had WinXP SP2 installed which is long out of date. Infact, Microsoft EOLed WinXP and no longer supports it as of April 2014. To make matters worse; it had an HP corporate OS build on it. It was set to an internal proxy server I didn’t have access to. So; I need to get a clean SP3 install on it. I spend about 4 days on this struggling by using an old XP RTM CD I had… then I tried a slipstreams SP3 image… all were giving me Key (licensing) issues. I didn’t have any recovery CDs from Agilent in my accessories bag. Before I got too far down the XP install hole – and while I had the Scope still open from the repair above; I decided to make a backup of the 4200rpm 20GB IDE mobile drive it had in it. Using CloneZilla I made a backup copy and then “restored” it to a VMWare Virtual Machine I had running on my main development PC. While tinkering around in the backed up virtual machine I noted that there was a “recovery partition” as /dev/sda4. In a hail mary; I set the recovery partition to active and unhidden and booted the drive in the scope. I was greeted with a Agilent notice that continuing would restore my scope to factory defaults! I let it restore the WindowsXP image and rebooted. But then had to go back into gparted and set sda4 to hidden and sda3(winxp) to active and boot. Windows XP SP1 came online with no bloat. It was pre-activated (due to Agilent’s OEM keys in the bios).
I wasn’t real happy with the 4200rpm laptop drive. It’s slow, old, and well – just sad in these modern days of SSDs plus SSDs in a Scope for reliability makes more sense to me. Why not just use a PATA SSD? Well; I’m not real fond of the “no name” brands available via Amazon these days. I had a lot of success using an mSATA Intel SSD w/ with a IDE to mSATA adapter for my NAS’s read cache… so thought I’d try my luck with this configuration. I ordered a Samsung Evo 860 250GB mSATA drive and a 44pin mobile IDE adapter to mSATA using Amazon Prime.
I restored my backed up copy of the hard drive to the mSATA drive; and then restored the factory image to the SSD and temporarily placed it on top of the scope while I was testing to ensure it all worked.
This also allowed me to move the drive to my VM where I could easily set active partitions and eventually use GParted to move sda4(RECOVERY) to the end of the drive and expand sda3 to a maximum size (~230GB). I had some concerns; but WinXP and the Motorola VP22 motherboard had no complaints about an order of magnitude larger partition.
With the SSD good; the saga of trying to get Windows XP up to SP3 with all security patches installed began. This was a lot harder than it should have been. I don’t know what the deal was… but I’m sure it has to due with the fact that XP has been “dead” for almost 4 years. No security updates, ect. I finally ended up downloading WinXP SP3 “offline” patch, IE7 & IE8 “offline” updates, and finally a cumulative IE8 security rollup. With this I upgraded WinXP SP1 -> SP3, rebooted. IE7, rebooted. IE8, rebooted, IE8 cumulative rollup, rebooted. Windows Update still wouldn’t prompt me for a whole slew of patches, so I was using some Google FU to follow some advice of some random people on the internet and booted into Safe Mode. When I did that; WindowXP safe mode did some additional installations that regular mode wouldn’t. I rebooted back into normal mode and still didn’t get any notifications of updates. My issue is that something was happening in the background as wuauclt was taking 100% of my CPU… but it never seemed to do anything useful. I was about to give up; so I set Windows Update service to “Manual” in services.msc and then went back to google.
My last effort was to set Windows Update to only notify me of updates; but not download and let me choose, then issued the command to kick off an update:
wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow
This caused Windows to almost immediately put the familiar yellow shield in my taskbar telling me there were a large number of updates. Yeah! I then rebooted and got a welcome message:
Several reboots later; I had every single one of the WinXP patches available.
Now; Microsoft is still supporting Windows XP… but only for Point of Sale systems. Someone smarter than me reported this clever registry hack to get these security patches thru April 2019.
Why did I go thru all of this? Well; the CPU in these systems is from March 2000. The RAM is small by today’s standards. Additionally; a friend of mine at work told me that Agilent (Keysight) likes to charge for OS upgrades. I couldn’t find any evidence of this – but I knew that I’d want Win7 on the box… and Win7 would not like the single thread, single core, Pentium III running at 1GHz. It also wouldn’t like the small memory. I had serious doubts that the scope software would even function well with a heavier OS. So; I needed to leave the scope in WinXP but put as many security patches on the system to help protect it from my home network.
Sadly; I can’t seem to find a Windows XP compatible Antivirus protector to run on the box. Looks like everyone has implemented changes to their software to only support Win7 and beyond. I guess what I’ll need to do is revisit later or just make sure I have a backup copy of the drive if anything happens.
My last change hasn’t yet been implemented – but will be shortly. I need USB3.0 on this machine. USB1.1 is painfully slow when trying to load the OS. My plan is to pull the GPIB card from the machine (not needed for my application) and install a PCI USB3 card which claims to be WinXP. I’ll report back later if successful.
Additionally; I plan to rack mount this scope above my electronic workbench as it’s really too big for it. More on that later.