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PSLab Desktop

Desktop application for the Pocket Science Lab (PSlab) open hardware platform.

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This repository holds the PSLab Desktop application. It is using ElectronJS running React on top as UI renderer and uses Python scripts under the hood for device communication. The goal of PSLab is to create an Open Source hardware device (open on all layers) and software applications that can be used for experiments by teachers, students and scientists. Our tiny pocket lab provides an array of instruments for doing science and engineering experiments. It provides functions of numerous measurement tools including an oscilloscope, a waveform generator, a frequency counter, a programmable voltage, current source and even a component to control robots with up to four servos. Our website is at See also the screenshots and demos.

PSLab Banner



Please join us on the following channels:

Downloads and Distribution

We are providing binary packages. Please see the releases page for downloads.

Python library

As this app uses the PSL library under the hood for device communication, you need to have it installed as well. Instructions are provided in the pslab-python repository.

As of now, you need to have the latest version installed.

Arch Linux

If you are running Arch Linux or another distribution based on it, install pslab-desktop.

Other Linux distributions

There are packages in .deb format (Debian, Ubuntu and derivatives), .rpm (Fedora, openSUSE etc), and .tar.xz archives.


There are installers as .exe executables, based on NSIS.

If you are using Chocolatey, you can install the app via:

choco install pslab-desktop

The package is available at and currently maintained at


There are .dmg image files and .zip archives.

Open the PSLab-*.dmg file, drag and drop the PSLab icon to the Application directory within the installation window, and PSLab will appear in your Launchpad.


Features and Implementation Status

Feature Description Status
Home Screen Show status and version of PSLab device ✔️
Instruments Exposes PSLab instruments like Oscilloscope, etc ✔️
Oscilloscope Shows variation of analog signals ✔️
Multimeter Measures voltage, current, resistance and capacitance ✔️
Logical Analyzer Captures and displays signals from digital system ✔️
Wave Generator Generates arbitrary analog and digital waveforms ✔️
Power Source Generates programmable voltage and currents ✔️
Lux Meter Measures the ambient light intensity
Barometer Measures the Pressure
Accelerometer Measures the acceleration of the device
Gyrometer Measures the rate of rotation
Compass Measures the absolute rotation relative to earth magnetic poles
Thermometer Measures the ambient temperature
Gas Sensor Detects gases, including NH3, NOx, alcohol, benzene, smoke and CO2
Robotic Arm Controller Allows to control 4 servo motors of the robotic arm independently ✔️


The goal of the project is to provide a fully functional science application that works with PSLab and other open scientific hardware. Furthermore the application should be fully compatible and feature matching to the PSLab Android app. Current status of the development:

  • Implement all major instruments
  • Have an effective build system for linux and windows
  • Have a basic data logging feature in place
  • [/] Implement interface for I2C sensors
  • Implement more minor instruments
    • Lux meter
    • Gas meter
    • Compass
    • pH meter
    • Accelerometer
    • Barometer
  • Make data logging and playback more robust
  • Code refactoring and architecture improvement

How to Contribute

Great you are interested in contributing! Please check the issue tracker for open bugs and feature requests and read the FOSSASIA community guidelines to get started.

Branch Policy

  • The development branch is the standard branch of the project. Pull requests are merged to this branch and tests run through Travis CI.
  • The master branch is currently not maintained and held the stable releases of the project and merged the development branch regularly after it was tested thouroughly.
  • The install branch is outdated and holds autogenerated install images for some Linux distributions and Windows. It was generated through Travis CI on merged pull requests in the development and master branches.
  • The gh-pages is currently outdated, but is intended to hold information of the project from the and /docs folder.

Setting up a Development Environment

  1. Fork the project to get a copy of the repository in your GitHub profile.
  2. Clone the forked project from your profile (not from FOSSASIA): git clone
  3. Change into the project folder: cd pslab-desktop
  4. Add the original FOSSASIA repository as a remote: git remote add upstream

Prerequisites and Dependencies

Please note: If you are in China, you need to configure a mirror for npm. In short, add the following to your ~/.npmrc file (create it if it doesn't yet exist):

registry =

While in your project folder, run npm install. This will install all the necessary dependencies required by the app to run.

Using a virtual enviroment

To isolate the Python dependencies, it is recommended to use a virtual enviroment for development. To create a virtual enviroment, run the following command while in your project repository:

python3 -m venv venv

Now activate the virtual enviroment in your current shell session:

# For bash/zsh users:
source ./venv/bin/activate
# For Windows cmd.exe users:

(If you use a different shell, check the Python venv docs for the full list.)

Within your virtual enviroment, now install the Python library:

python3 -m pip install pslab

With the virtual enviroment activated, the app will run using the libraries installed in the virtual enviroment, and not the global Python location.

To deactivate the virtual enviroment, run:


If you are also working on the Python library, set PYTHON_PATH to point to its directory in order to have your local version available to the desktop app.

Starting the app

All commands to start and debug the app are outlined in the package.json file. To simply get it running run the following command while in your project repository and the virtual enviroment is active.

npm start

And wait for Electron to open.

IPC and Stack

The stack comprises multiple pieces:

  • pslab-hardware, offering phyiscal ports
  • pslab-firmware, running on the PIC MCU
  • pslab-python, a Python library that communicates with the MCU via USB serial
  • the bridge here in scripts/, which talks to the Python library
  • the Electron app itself, which offers the GUI and communicates with the bridge via stdin/stdout

Electron builds on top of Node.js and Chromium. The UI is running in its own rendering process, requiring IPC in order to communicate with the main process. See public/electron.js for the entry point in this project.

To communicate with the Python bridge, there are extra Electron processes that spawn Python processes. See background_tasks/.

Any action from the UI thus requires the following:

  • an appropriate handler to pick up the action from the UI element
  • a function invoking the corresponding IPC method
  • an Electron-side IPC method definition (public/electron.js)
  • a Python-side IPC method definition (scripts/

Building the App

First you need to follow the instructions to set up a development environment.

While in the project root, run the build scripts as defined in package.json:

npm run build
npm run build:electron

For a platform-specific build, run the following instead, where PLATFORM can be any of linux, mac, or win:

npm run build
npm run build:electron -- --$PLATFORM

If you do not want to create an archive or package:

npm run build
npm run pack

This will produce two directories in the project root. The build/ directory contains the optimized React files, while the dist/ directory contains the final Electron build with everything else.


This project is Free and Open Source software. The project is licensed under the GPL v3. Copyright is owned by FOSSASIA. More details in the license files.


The project is maintained by