Test and Measurement News

February 2007

Tech Tip: USB 1.1 Versus USB 2.0

You have probably noticed that PC-based instruments are moving away from serial COM ports and parallel printer ports and are now mostly being offered with USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports. USB has many advantages over these earlier interfaces, including automatic setup in Windows operating systems, faster performance, and smaller and cheaper hardware.

USB is so easy to use that you don’t usually need to think about how it works. However, you might be confused by the two versions of USB that are sometimes advertised: USB 1.1 and USB 2.0. From a user’s point of view, the only difference between the two is speed. USB 1.1 supports only Low Speed and Full Speed modes, and is suited to slow devices like mice, keyboards and PC Data Loggers. USB 2.0 usually supports “Hi-Speed” mode, which varies in speed but is typically 20 times faster than USB 1.1. This makes it the best choice for fast devices, including PC Oscilloscopes.

Here is what happens when you connect a USB device to your computer’s USB port:

USB 2.0 port + USB 2.0 device: device works normally
USB 2.0 port + USB 1.1 device: device works normally
USB 1.1 port + USB 2.0 device: device performance is reduced
USB 1.1 port + USB 1.1 device: device works normally

PicoScope 2104 and 2105 Reach the EE Times ACE Award Finals

Our two handheld USB PC Oscilloscopes, as well as being among our top-selling products, have now been chosen by EE Times readers and editors to compete for the title of 'Ultimate Products of the Year' in the 2007 EE Times ACE award finals. ACE stands for Annual Creativity in Electronics, which we think is a fair description of the PicoScope 2104 and 2105. We applied our 15 years of experience in test and measurement design to the needs of today’s engineers, and came up with scopes that fit comfortably in the hand, are easy to use, and still deliver excellent performance for use by hobbyists and technicians. They may be small, but they have full-sized specifications including (for the 2105):

25 MHz bandwidth
100 megasamples per second
24 k record length

Most of our competitors in this award are conventional bench-top instruments which may work well, but are they as creative as our products? The judges will decide on April 3, 2007.

Find out more about the PicoScope 2104 and 2105

PicoScope 5000 Series News

The new PicoScope 5000 Series scopes will be on show at MTEC, the sensors, measurement & instrumentation exhibition, at the NEC in Birmingham, UK this month. See the 'Exhibitions' section below for details and dates.

The PicoScope 5204 has the world’s fastest sampling rate for a USB PC Oscilloscope: 1 gigasample per second. We haven’t compromised on the other specifications either, giving the scope a huge 128 MB memory and a 250 MHz probe-tip bandwidth.

Find out more about the PicoScope 5203 and 5204

Automotive News

New ‘Real-Life Diagnostics’ article

Our latest vehicle diagnostics case study is entitled ‘Diagnosing Poor Interior Temperature Control’. Nick Hibberd explains how he tracked down a fault in a climate control system that would occasionally get stuck at the wrong temperature. Along the way, Nick gives plenty of general tips on vehicle diagnostics using a PicoScope automotive oscilloscope, and shows how a few minutes spent with a scope can replace lots of unnecessary part-swapping and guesswork.

View this and other automotive tutorials

‘Engine Management Diagnostics using PicoScope’ training course

Preston College, Preston, UK
13 - 14 February 2007

The ‘Engine Management Diagnostics using PicoScope’ training course is run on behalf of Pico Technology by Bill Phillips of V-Tech Training, assisted by Pico staff. Bill has spent most of his career in the automotive sector and is highly regarded within the industry for his knowledge and expertise.

The two-day course covers the basic working principles of Engine Management systems, testing components, and system diagnostics using oscilloscopes. The focus will be on using PicoScope to evaluate engine systems and their components including sensors and actuators such as injectors, lambda sensors and ignition components. The course is split between theory and practical demonstrations in a workshop using the Pico Automotive Diagnostics Kit.

Find out more about our automotive training courses

MechanEx Mechanics’ trade show

Coventry Ricoh Arena, UK
21 - 22 February 2007
Stand 25

MechanEx 2007 is a hands-on event featuring the very best in tools, diagnostics and the latest products from most major manufacturers. Designed for independent motor trade professionals, the event is brought to you by Professional Motor Mechanic and endorsed by IMI, The Institute of the Motor Industry.

Visit the Pico stand to try out our multi-award-winning Automotive Diagnostics Kit, which is widely used by automotive dealers and garages, and to put your automotive questions to our experts. You can also check out our wide range of diagnostic accessories including the Coil-on-plug Ignition Probe, the Mixmaster 12-Channel Ignition Signal Mixer, the FirstLook pressure sensor, and the Universal 6-Way Breakout Leads (elected to the MOTOR magazine Top 20 Tools 2006 list).

If you buy an Automotive Kit at the show, you can choose either a FREE place on the 'Engine Management Diagnostics using PicoScope' training course described above, or a 10% discount on the price of your kit.

See the FirstLook sensor in action

The FirstLook engine diagnostic sensor is a valuable add-on to your Pico Automotive Diagnostics Kit. By showing the pressure variations in the inlet manifold, fuel pressure regulator or exhaust tailpipe, it lets you track down misfires that purely electrical diagnostic tools can’t detect.

A new application note from the manufacturers of the sensor, SenX, shows how one technician, Wilf Breyfogle, successfully used it to diagnose a worn cam and lifter in a Safari Van. It is a dramatic demonstration of the unique sensitivity of the FirstLook sensor on the vacuum side of the engine.

According to Wilf, “This mystery could not be solved without the FirstLook Sensor hooked up to a Pico Scope and the training and support from Tom Roberts (Autonerdz)”

Find out more about the FirstLook sensor


Please visit Pico Exhibitions for the latest list of exhibitions and trade shows that Pico and its representatives will be attending.

We're hiring!

Thanks to our continuing success and growth Pico are always seeking talented people to join our company.

Please visit https://jobs.picotech.com/ to see our current vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you!

Software releases

Our latest software releases are available as free downloads. To check which release you are using, start the software and select Help > About.

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Contact details

UK Headquarters:
Pico Technology, James House, Colmworth Business Park, St. Neots,
Cambridgeshire, PE19 8YP, United Kingdom
Tel.: 01480 396395 (+44 1480 396395)
Fax: 01480 396296 (+44 1480 396296)

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Pico Technology, 320 N Glenwood Blvd, Tyler TX 75702, United States
Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)

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Shanghai 200070, PR China
Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

Email: sales@picotech.com