Test and Measurement News

June 2013

Flexible Resolution Oscilloscopes now shipping!

The revolutionary new PicoScope 5000 Series Flexible Resolution Oscilloscopes are now shipping! These scopes are just as easy to use as standard PicoScopes but can operate at a range of resolutions from 8 bits, like most standard digital oscilloscopes, all the way up to a very high resolution of 16 bits. These are true hardware resolutions, not the result of software enhancement, although you can optionally add software filtering to boost the effective resolution to 20 bits.

How do they work?

The new PicoScope 5000 Series uses a novel hardware architecture that combines multiple high-resolution ADCs to create minimal distortion and noise while maximizing bandwidth. Most digital oscilloscopes gain their high sampling rates by interleaving multiple 8-bit ADCs. Despite careful design, the interleaving process introduces errors that can make the dynamic performance worse than that of the individual ADCs.

The new PicoScope 5000 Series scopes have a significantly different design that consists of multiple high-resolution ADCs. These can be applied to the input channels in different series and parallel combinations to boost either the sampling rate or the resolution.

In series mode, the ADCs are interleaved to provide 1 GS/s at 8 bits. Interleaving reduces the performance of the ADCs, but the result (60 dB SFDR) is a significant improvement over a typical 8-bit oscilloscope. This mode can also provide 500 MS/s at 12-bit resolution.

In parallel mode, multiple ADCs are sampled in phase on each channel to increase the resolution and dynamic performance. Resolution is increased to 14 bits at 125 MS/s per channel (70 dB SFDR). If only two channels are required, resolution can be increased to 15 bits, and in single-channel mode all the ADCs are combined to give 16 bits at 62.5 MS/s.

More technical details

What models are available?

There are 12 models in the new PicoScope 5000 Series:

Model Channels Bandwidth


PicoScope 5242A 2 60 MHz 1 GS/s 16 MS FG 699 1153 846
PicoScope 5242B 2 60 MHz 1 GS/s 16 MS AWG 799 1318 967
… all the way up to …
PicoScope 5444A 4 200 MHz 1 GS/s 512 MS FG 1549 2556 1874
PicoScope 5444B 4 200 MHz 1 GS/s 512 MS AWG 1699 2803 2056

*Function generator/arbitrary waveform generator

Download the data sheet and find out why a PicoScope 5000 Series Flexible Resolution Oscilloscope could be the only scope you need!

Video of the month

This month we focus on the PicoScope 4262 very-high-resolution oscilloscope. This instrument has the lowest distortion of any PicoScope oscilloscope, typically only −95 dB at 10 kHz, and is therefore ideal for precision audio and vibration analysis.

The picotech channel on YouTube features a series of videos demonstrating various features of the PicoScope 4262. We suggest that you start with How to use an oscilloscope to measure the frequency response of an audio amplifier. This illustrates the use of the scope's built-in low-distortion frequency sweep generator to create a frequency response plot of the device under test.

The PicoScope 4262 has many other hardware and software features that are described in other videos in the series. Tune into the picotech YouTube channel and find out more!

Did You Know?

The PicoScope 6 software is being continually improved, so you may have missed some of its latest new features. Here are a few that we think you will like. The latest releases (stable and beta) are free to download from our website.

  • Signal Generator Triggering. The built-in signal generator in most of our latest scopes is now triggerable. The trigger can be the oscilloscope's internal trigger, an external signal or a button click. The generator runs for a specified number of cycles after the trigger event. New in R6.7.11. Video guide.
  • Keyboard maps. As well as redefining the keyboard shortcuts, you can now save the definitions to a file. This allows you to store several configurations and load the one you want. For example, each user of your computer could have a personal keyboard map. New in R6.7.11.
  • Korean language support. You can now select Korean in the Preferences > Languages dialog. New in R6.6.23.
  • LIN bus decoding. PicoScope can now decode the LIN automotive serial bus as well as CAN and FlexRay. It also understands I2C, I2S, SPI and RS-232/UART serial data. New in R6.6.18.
  • Derivative and other functions. We have added derivative (d/dx), integral, frequency, min, max, mean and peak to the math channels menu. This is in additional to all the usual arithmetic, exponential and trigonometric functions that you would expect. New in R6.6.2.

Check the latest stable and beta releases of PicoScope 6. Free of charge to all PicoScope owners and no registration required!

DrDAQ in Test & Measurement World

The DrDAQ Educational Data Logger has been listed as one of the Top 10 most popular products over the last year. On the Test & Measurement World blog Janine Love points out that DrDAQ can be used to add an assortment of I/O channels (we count 16 of them) to the Raspberry Pi. These include a voltage input for oscilloscope and data logging, pH and resistance inputs, a microphone, a light sensor, a function generator and arbitrary waveform generator output, four digital I/Os and a multicolor LED.

We'd like to add that the DrDAQ can be connected to a suitable USB host and used with our PicoScope 6 for Windows oscilloscope software, our PicoLog for Windows data logging software, or with the help of our free SDK, integrated into your own Windows or Linux applications. Why not try out the DrDAQ as the analog and digital I/O device for your next embedded project!

Visit DrDAQ on the web

Tech tips

Here are some of the latest tips delivered by our technical support experts. Keep watching our forum for more great ideas.

x10 scaling

Q. I'm new to this product [the PicoScope 3204B]. I like it. Is there a way to make the oscilloscope scale the vertical axis by x10? I'm using the x10 setting on the probe, and, yes, I can multiply by 10 in my head. But I prefer to set up the software to do that calculation for me, if possible.

A. PicoScope can easily do this. Click the Channel Settings button (marked with the channel letter and a black arrow) and change the Probe setting to x10. Other probe types are also listed.

Sending an output signal conditional on input

Q. I want to use my PicoScope 2205 MSO as a relay in a closed-loop system. I want to send an output signal when the input is below a certain value. Any thoughts on how I can achieve this?

A. PicoScope 6.7 has a triggered signal generator feature that allows you to set up a trigger on a scope input and use that to trigger the output of the signal generator. The Latest Features in PicoScope 6 video (time 3:53) shows you how to do it. You can set up a repeat trigger by using the required voltage level and specifying a falling edge.


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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Pico Technology, Room 2252, 22/F, Centro, 568 Hengfeng Road, Zhabei District,
Shanghai 200070, PR China
Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

Email: sales@picotech.com