I'm a junior "data scientist" at a research lab. I have a background doing bioinformatics/image processing research and I have a degree in electrical engineering - I've never taken a CS course. My boss isn't technical, and he's assigned me a project that I can't do, and have no desire to learn to do.
He had someone in 1998 create a program that ran on Windows NT that collected data from a machine in real-time, down to microsecond accuracy. Now he wants it to run on Windows 10 and he's assigned the migration to me, along with a bunch of high-level features. I've been struggling with the project on the side for several months and I've gotten nowhere. It's in some version of Windows C++ - I've never used C++ of any kind, and I'm not familiar with Windows OS programming; Here's an example of how little I know. It's split into thousands of C files and headers and I can't decipher any of the few comments or the coding style, and I have no documentation. I don't think that I can complete this project for him, but since I'm the "programming guy" at the lab he thinks I can.
How can I convince my boss that I can't do this project? He asked me for a deadline the other week and I told him I can't give one since I don't know what needs to be done and I don't know how to figure out what needs to be done.
Please note that I'm not looking for advice on completing the actual project, or how easy you think it is. This isn't an XY problem. I'm not able to do it and I need help getting my boss to believe me.