How to Build an iPad Oscilloscope

To build an inexpensive touch-screen oscilloscope, start with an iPad

2 min read

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an engineer in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an oscilloscope. You can get low-end oscilloscopes for less than US $500, but they're heavy and cumbersome, and usually offer a minimum of functions, all accessed from knobs and switches.

Luckily, a new option has emerged for the scope-hungry hacker: the Oscium iMSO-104. For a mere $300, you can get this four-channel digital, one-channel analog touch-screen oscilloscope with some advanced trigger functions, handy calculations such as the signal root mean square or duty cycle, and the means to capture screen shots with the press of a button. Best of all, it weighs a scant few ounces and fits in your pocket with enough room to spare for an iPhone. The catch is that you'll also need that iPhone—or an iPad or iPod Touch—to use it.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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