Test and Measurement News

April 2010

New PicoScope Beta with Mask Alarms and I²C Decoding

Thanks to all of you who replied to last month’s survey on serial data formats, we have a new beta release of PicoScope 6 with I²C decoding. This is in addition to CAN bus decoding, which appeared in R6.3.4. Here is a full list of the new features in PicoScope R6.4.10 beta:

  • I²C decoding - feed in clock and data signals and let PicoScope show the data in tabular and graphical formats. You can also search for specified packet contents.
  • Automatic device reconnection - you can unplug your USB scope and plug it back in again, and PicoScope 6 will continue where it left off. You can even plug in a different scope.
  • Alarms - now you don’t need to watch PicoScope while it’s running a mask limit test, as it can be programmed to sound an alarm, save a file or even execute a command whenever the input signal goes out of specification.
  • Mask fail filter in Navigator - if you have collected a large number of mask limit test results in the waveform buffer, you can now tell the Navigator to show only those waveforms that failed the test.
  • Bitstream in AWG Editor - the arbitrary-waveform editor has a new button to generate a binary bitstream with the data that you specify. This is a handy feature for testing digital logic circuits.


Download PicoScope R6.4.10 beta, free of charge

Win a PicoScope Education Kit

Send us an idea for a new school science experiment using a PicoScope oscilloscope and we will enter your name into a draw to win a free PicoScope Education Kit. Have a look through our library of science experiments for some examples of previous ideas, or download a free copy of PicoScope for Education and try it out.

These are the experiments currently included in the kit:

  • Speed of sound (E)
  • Faraday’s law (E)
  • AC dynamo (E)
  • Measuring the value of a capacitor
  • Serial data
  • Speed of a pulse along a cable
  • Acceleration due to gravity

All experiments include setup instructions, notes and example waveforms. Additional equipment is provided for experiments marked (E).

Please email your ideas to our PicoScope Education specialist, Paul Allen. The winner’s name will be drawn at random from the list of entrants and announced in the May newsletter.

Tech Tip: Frequency Meter in PicoScope 4000 Series

If you have a PicoScope 4000 Series scope, you probably didn’t know that it has a built-in frequency meter. We recently added a feature to the PicoScope software to make use of this. When the scope is connected, go to the Channels toolbar and open the Coupling Mode drop-down list (the one that includes “DC” and “AC” coupling modes). You will see a new mode called “Frequency”. If you select this, PicoScope will draw a graph of frequency against time, in the range 0 to 2 kHz. This is useful for graphing the output of frequency-output devices such as vortex air-flow meters, and saves you from having to build a frequency-to-voltage converter.

Read more about the PicoScope 4000 Series High-Resolution scopes

Questions and Answers

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

Q. I need to capture several seconds of data at high speed. What is the longest gap-free record I can digitize, at 1 million samples per second? How about 20 MS/s?

A. At high speed you must store all the data in the scope's on-board memory before transferring it to the PC. We call this ‘block mode’. You will therefore need one of our deep-memory scopes like the PicoScope 4000 or 6000 Series. Taking the PicoScope 6403 with 1 gigasample of buffer memory as an example, you can digitize over 17 minutes of gap-free, single-channel data at 1 MS/s and 53 seconds at 20 MS/s.

If your scope does not have enough memory to capture all the data you need in block mode then you can use ‘streaming mode’, in which the scope sends the data continuously to the PC over the USB interface. This limits the sampling rate to about 1 MS/s on most scopes. PicoScope 6 can create files of up to 20 MS in streaming mode (giving you 20 seconds of sampling at 1 MS/s). If you write your own application using our driver then you can sample at 20 MS/s or more on most scopes, with no limit on the record size.

Q. I am seriously considering purchasing a PicoScope 4224, as it appears to be a good fit to my requirements. However, it is essential that I be able to write my own software in C# (using Microsoft Visual Studio) to control the scope. Will the PicoScope drivers work reliably under the .NET framework?

A. It is possible to use our drivers with .NET. In fact PicoScope 6 is a .NET application. The SDK (free download) for the PicoScope 4000 Series includes C# example code.


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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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Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)
Fax:+1 620 272 0981

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

Email: sales@picotech.com