Velleman PCS500 Oscilloscope under Linux

Velleman Software on Linux

Velleman Software on Linux

I like my Velleman PCS500. Its not perfect, but it does a good job and has been my “bench scope” for awhile now edging out my old faithful Tek scope for all but the most demanding jobs. However, there are two things I definitely don’t like about it. It uses a parallel port which many of my computers no longer have and the software doesn’t run under Linux.

When I built my last computer I stuck a cheap PCI parallel card in it. Of course, the PCI bus puts it at some wacky address like 0xE000 and most software can’t find it. I read this article: but it didn’t help either since the I/O wrapper won’t work on “high ports.” For the longest time I’ve just used an old Windows laptop as my “scope” and that’s worked ok.

But today I finally cracked the code to running the software under Linux (see the picture). Here’s what I did:

1) Set the permissions on the /dev/parport0 device to 666 (or you could add your user ID to the lp group and set it to 664 or 660):
sudo chmod 666 /dev/parport0

2) Create a new wine prefix:
WINEPREFIX=~/pcs500 winecfg

3) Inside winecfg set the default operating system to Win98. Close winecfg.

4) Run the wine regedit program. Create a key under HKEY_CURRENT_USER named Software\Wine\VDM\ppdev. Create a string value named 378 and make the value /dev/parport0. This must be under Current User and not System!

5) Download the PCLab2000SE software from Velleman and run setup like this:
WINEPREFIX=~/pcs500 wine setup.exe

6) Finish the install then run pcs500.exe from the ~/pcs500/drive_c/Program Files/Velleman/PcLab2000SE directory:
WINEPREFIX=~/pcs500 wine pcs500.exe

7) If you like, make a shortcut in your desktop software to launch this automatically.

I have noticed the software occasionally hangs up under Wine — don’t know if it is a problem with Wine or a problem with the software, but it doesn’t happen enough to be a problem.

Update: I can’t prove it, but it seems it mostly hangs when you switch away from the main window and then switch back (but not necessarily every time you switch). It actually doesn’t hang per se. You still get a trace, but you can’t work any of the controls. Sometimes if you play around it will respond again but mostly not. Again, I can’t prove it, but setting the main window to always be on top (or “Above Others” depending on your window manager) seems to improve the situation. It doesn’t eliminate the hangs but it seems to make them less frequent.

Hope that works for you!

4 thoughts on “Velleman PCS500 Oscilloscope under Linux

  1. Scary registry work!

    If you were doing it over, what digital “scope” would you choose for Linux (or any modern OS) interfacing?


  2. I haven’t found a good USB scope specifically for Linux other than the pricey Bitscope ones. The cheap eBay scopes apparently work well on Windows but not Linux. So I really don’t know what I’d buy if I were buying today.

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