Test and Measurement News

May 2008

More Information on the 12 GHz PicoScope 9201

Since last month’s announcement of the forthcoming PicoScope 9201 12 GHz Sampling PC Oscilloscope, we have been busy designing a full-colour brochure listing the main features and specifications. If you register your interest on our website, we will send you a link to an online copy of the brochure.

In case you missed last month’s newsletter, the PicoScope 9201 is a high-performance sampling oscilloscope with two 12 GHz analogue input channels and a 10 GHz HF trigger input. It is designed specifically to use sequential sampling to capture repetitive signals, and has an effective sampling rate of up to 5 TS/s. These specifications give it the ability to display high-speed serial communications waveforms, time and voltage histograms, FFTs and eye diagrams. It has an extensive menu of automatic measurements, with standard mask tests including SONET/SDH, Fibre Channel, Ethernet and INFIBAND. With its small size (the same as our PicoScope 5000 series) and low price (less than £6,000), we think it will appeal to a wide range of design and test engineers.

Due to the high demand for the PicoScope 9201, we cannot yet give accurate lead times for delivery. Later this month, to ensure that orders are processed fairly, we will be contacting customers who have already expressed an interest to give them an opportunity to place orders. After this, in June, the scope will go on general sale. Orders will be despatched in the order they are received, with the first units being despatched to customers in early July.

If you have an interest in the PicoScope 9201 sampling oscilloscope, we recommend that you register your interest on the website:

Register now for the PicoScope 9201 brochure

Tech Tip: PicoLog and Excel

PicoLog, our data-logging software for Windows, can display and export data in a variety of formats. In particular, there are two ways to export your data from PicoLog into Microsoft Excel:

  • Static method. This is the simplest method. First, capture your data in the normal way using PicoLog Recorder. Next, click “File”, then click “Save as”, change the “Save as type” to “Comma-separated values files (*.csv)”, type in a file name and click “Save”. You can then open the resulting .csv file using Excel.
  • Dynamic method. This method uses Windows DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) to allow Excel to display your data as it changes. First, when you install PicoLog, you need to choose “Custom Setup” and ensure that the “Programming Examples” for your device are installed. You will then find in your Pico installation directory an example Excel (.xls) file that demonstrates how to acquire the data using an Excel macro. Open the .xls file (the program may warn you about the macros embedded in the file), then select “Tools”, “Macro”, “Macros”. You will see a number of macros listed. Clicking the “Edit” button will show you the Visual Basic code behind them, which you can edit to suit your own application.

Read more about PicoLog

PicoScope 6 and Resolution Enhance

PicoScope 6, our oscilloscope software, supports all of our USB oscilloscopes and is regularly updated. This month, we’ll take a closer look at one of its advanced features, Resolution Enhance.

Every digital oscilloscope on the market has a fixed input resolution that is measured in bits. The larger this number, the more distinct voltage levels the scope can measure. An 8-bit scope, for example, can distinguish 256 (2 to the power of 8) levels. This means that, if you set the scope to a measuring range of -2 volts to +2 volts, the total range of 4 volts is divided into 256 equal steps of 15.625 mV each. This is normally the smallest voltage change that the scope can detect.

PicoScope 6, in Resolution Enhanced mode, applies a moving-average filter to the incoming data. This filters out noise and increases the scope’s apparent resolution, at the expense of narrowing the frequency response. The longest filter available can increase the resolution by up to 4 bits, making an 8-bit scope behave like a 12-bit scope and boosting a 12-bit scope to around 16 bits. This increased number of bits translates to a higher dynamic range (8 bits is 48 dB, 12 bits is 72 dB and 16 bits is 96 dB), which can make a low-resolution scope suitable for higher-resolution audio measurements as long as the input signal remains within the pass band of the filter.

To find the Resolution Enhance controls in PicoScope 6, click the Channel Options button on the toolbar. You can find further information in the PicoScope 6 manual, which is free to download.

Download PicoScope 6 now

New: Linux Drivers for PicoScope 2000 and 3000 Series

The new Linux driversallow programmers to control the PicoScope 2000 Series and PicoScope 3000 Series scopes using their own software. The driver is supplied as an RPM package for Fedora Linux 8, and is accompanied by example programs in C.

The new drivers have been thoroughly tested, but we cannot guarantee that the software will be stable under all conditions. We would like to hear from you if you experience any problems or have any suggestions for improvements.

Download Linux drivers

Questions and Answers

Here is a selection of the questions that have cropped up recently on our support forum.

Q. Does Pico software recognise a device connected to a USB hub using a Serial to USB Converter?–Keith (Southend)

A. Yes it does. If you have one of our serial-port devices then you can certainly use a USB to serial converter. You will need to find out what COM port it has been assigned to in Device Manager, so that when you are in PicoLog you can assign the correct COM port.

Q. I just bought a TC-08 to monitor and evaluate a complex solar heater. I don’t need all 8 temperature inputs. I was wondering if it was possible to somehow convert one or two channels into an on or off state to monitor when certain pumps come on or go off, in relation to the temperature. –Brendan

A. The TC-08 can also measure voltages in the range ±70 mV, so you could convert your switch states to this voltage range and monitor them in PicoLog.

Q. I am trying to install my ADC-42 purchased in 2001! I have an old, incomplete set of Pico software on floppy discs, version 5.04.4 - 16 bit. Please can you tell me which version to download for Windows XP (SP2) just to run a simple spectrum analyser? –Forum guest

A. The latest version of the application software is R5.17.1, and that is compatible with your product. Remember to uninstall the older version before installing the newer version. (Note: we no longer sell the ADC-42, but we continue to look after our customers by offering free technical support and free downloads of the PicoScope 5 software.)


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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