One of my favorite tools ( that I forgot to mention when talking bout my Microscope and Oscilloscope ) is my 8bit Saleae Logic Analyzer. It is a $150 8bit LVCMOS, 24 MSPS logic analyzer that works by sampling signals using a Cypress CY7C68013A, a single chip that contains a synchronous input FIFO, 8051 uC and a USB 2.0 interface. The hardware is not all that impressive, but the software is mind blowing fantastic. It is a full waveform GUI that is easy to configure and has built in decoding for UART, SPI, I2C, etc. The most impressive feature is that the samples aren’t stored locally, but in Windows RAM and the UI makes it trivial to acquire over a billion samples over a 10 second period and rapidly navigate those billion samples visually for things like spurious interrupts, etc. It is really a great tool for capturing a tremendous amount of data and sorting through it.
Sadly, Saleae has stopped making the original low cost 8bit logic. As far as I can piece together, they had them manufactured overseas and clones of the $150 Saleae started showing up on eBay for $15. One company even brazenly uses a picture from the Saleae website showing that the Saleae software will run on their PCB. It turns out that the Saleae crown jewel ( the software ) is available for downloading and the hardware they charge $150 for has a $10 BOM and is trivial to copy. Hard lesson to learn. IBM learned it the hard way and made Microsoft very rich. Now Saleae is planning to manufacture their new products themselves – which I can’t fathom their volume being high enough to justify. Its too bad they don’t open-source their old hardware design and sell their software ( with keys ) for the clone market. As of today,you can’t buy their old products anymore and their new products have a long lead time for delivery. The Amazon and Sparkfun distribution channels are completely dry of anything from Saleae. I fear for their long term survival.
Anyways – great products, great software technology – highly recommended.