I am trying to sniff on a custom SPI-like bus protocol, which uses a unified bidirectional data line instead of separate MISO/MOSI. To make sense of the communication, I need to split it up into unidirectional lines before feeding them to my logic analyzer. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to see which device is responsible for which part of the signal. Since my devices won't talk to each other unless the protocol is carried out correctly, it's obvious that the bus splitting device has to be transparent to the actual agents communicating.
I tried to construct a bus splitting device, but failed as described here. Since this question was maybe too specific and has not been answered, I want to ask more generally: Is there a bidirectional bus splitter that is able to split 3-wire SPI into four wire SPI? Where could I buy such a device? (This seems similar to this question, only that I'm not talking about two really different protocols, so the answer does not apply). In principle only getting one direction would also suffice, since I could just subtract it from the full signal in order to retrieve the other half. And I'm also only interested in the master side of the communication.
The NXP P82B96 Dual Directional Bus Buffer seems to be a good candidate. Although it's advertised for use with I2C, it seems to be agnostic to the actual protocol on the lines. (As it does not even differentiate between DATA and CLOCK line for I2C.)
Splits I2C-bus signal into pairs of forward/reverse Tx/Rx, Ty/Ry signals for interface with opto-electrical isolators and similar devices that need unidirectional input and output signal paths.
As my devices operate on SPI mode 3 (polarity 1, idling on HIGH), the implementation of the receive pin should work:
- sense the voltage state of the I2C-bus pin Sx (or Sy) and transmit this state to the pinTx (Ty respectively), and
- sense the state of the pin Rx (Ry) and pull the I2C-bus pin LOW whenever Rx (Ry) is LOW.
But I am still puzzled on how this would actually work in sniffing this bidirectional bus. I could connect one device with the I2C line and grab its MOSI at Tx and MISO at Rx, but I would eventually have to connect both lines before feeding it to the other device, therefore making it impossible to separate the signals at my logic analyzer again. How can I connect the Tx/Rx for the slave while still being able to read them separately with a third device?
Edit: I now think this is actually not helping at all, since it leaves me with the same splitting issue as with out the device. I already have separate master and slave lines, I just don't know how to join them while still retrieving the separate directions.
I also stumbled upon the Bus Pirate. It seems like this is a device designed for sniffing on buses, but I don't think it can help me in my case. Is there a mode where I can use it as a bridge on a bidirectional line and grab unidirectional signals off of it simultaneously?
Edit: I found this Texas Instruments document on I2C isolation which seems related to the issue. This does supposedly split the bidirectional line to feed it to two unidirectional isolators. The question is: Does this work for my setup? It describes the I2C lines being open-drain, whereas my lines are open-collector and also I'm not entirely sure if I could just leave out the isolator part and grab the signals from the lines or if these would have to be also hooked up to some transistor or be pulled high.