Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rigol oscilloscope binary file parser


So, just a day before my vacation trip I got a brand new RIGOL DS1052E. I was very eager to get back from my travels to check out my new scope. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that there is no good program to parse the native wfm files generated by the scope.

There already exist several attempts in generating a parser for the file format. The first attempt seems to be a script for Matlab. But this script suffers from not parsing all the available information and doing errors in alternate trigger mode. There are several derivations of this code on the Internet – all suffering more or less from the same problems.

New code

The problem was finally solved by Dexter who successfully reverse-engineered most fields of the Rigol wfm file format and uses it in its awesome wfm_view program. Unfortunately, it does only work under Windows and closed-source. Fortunately, he opened up the source code regarding the parsing of the wfm file. While it is not usable in it’s own it can be used to extract a protocol definition from it.

Armed with this wealth of information, I’ve re-implemented the file parser in standard Python. The code has been tested with Python 2.7.3 and 3.3.0 and should work without any modification.

The code contains an example usage of the library, see Which can be used to

  • extract header information
  • export to CSV as if the CSV was generated on the scope
  • plot the waveform and its FFT. (This requires numpymatplotlib and scipy)


Inspired by Dexter’s work, I’ve also put an antenna to one input of my Rigol DS1052E and could clearly see all the radio stations I have here:

Radio with a Rigol DS1052E

Get it

You can find the code on my Github page: