Test and Measurement News

July 2006

Pico Technology is 15 years old!

In the fast-moving business of electronics, there aren’t many companies that have grown successfully for 15 years. We're proud of the changes that we have helped to bring in over that time. It all started in 1991 with the ADC-10, a tiny oscilloscope and data logger that created a new market for portable, low-cost and easy-to-use instrumentation. Our latest products are thousands of times faster, with a wider range of functions and applications, but are still just as easy to use and offer the same exceptional value for money.

We never forget that our customers become attached to their Pico products and like to keep them running for as long as possible, so we offer free technical support on even our oldest scopes and loggers, and our latest software still works with all our products. Here are some of the comments we have received from our loyal customers.

I have been involved with Pico Technology since their first entry into the automotive world... As a long time partner with Pico, I can say, looking back, that this was one of the best business decisions I ever made.
— Tom Roberts, Owner, Autonerdz, USA

I used your ADC-12 modules extensively... I still use the ADC-12 on occasions... Congratulations on your 15 years, and may you continue with your successes.
— Dave Skye, Kodak (retd.)

I really appreciate your help and excellent support, I have an old serial Pico, but the software is better with time... keep up the great work...
— Marco Lopez, Retronix, Mexico

We have been using Pico Technology equipment for 15-20 years... in specialist logging systems with our own software written in Delphi.
— John Norrie

... using a Pico product for over 10 years ... We use your EnviroMon data loggers for checking the performance of our electronic descaling technology.
— John Thompson, Environmental Treatment Concepts Ltd, UK

In late 1994 I purchased an ADC-10 to take with me to West Africa... to monitor mains voltage fluctuations... This worked well and I was able to produce a detailed survey. The ADC-10 is still working fine... Many thanks for a great little product.
— Philip Williams, Headset Services Ltd, UK

Learn more about Pico’s history and see a timeline of Pico products

Nine days left to save 15%

To reward our customers for staying with us for the last 15 years, we are offering 15% off the list prices of all Pico branded products. New customers are welcome too! Place your order soon, with Pico or any of our participating distributors, because the offer ends on the 15th of July.

Tech Tip: Standard deviation calculations in PicoScope

The PicoScope PC oscilloscope software provides a full range of automatic measurements and calculations. Time-domain measurements include pulse width and peak-to-peak amplitude, while frequency-domain measurements include noise and various harmonic amplitudes. PicoScope can also calculate a number of statistical parameters based on these measurements, such as average, standard deviation, maximum and minimum. We hope you will find many of these features useful. To get you started, here is a brief introduction to the standard deviation feature.

Standard deviation is a measure of the reliability of repeated measurements. If a pulse width measurement is very stable, it will have a small standard deviation, but if the measurement is highly variable, perhaps as a result of noise, then the standard deviation will be larger. Standard deviation, like average, is expressed in the same units as the original measurement. To measure the standard deviation of a pulse width, for example, follow these steps:

  1. Use PicoScope in Repeat trigger mode to capture a repetitive pulse waveform.
  2. Select the “Settings | Measurements” menu option and click the “Add” button.
  3. Select “High Pulse Width” in the Measurements box and click “OK”
  4. A “High Pulse Width” measurement line will appear at the bottom of PicoScope’s scope view, showing the pulse width of the waveform in real time
  5. Return to the “Settings | Measurements” menu option, but this time click the “Options” button.
  6. Select the “Average” and “Standard Deviation” check boxes.
  7. PicoScope will add two columns headed “Average” and “Standard” to the measurement line that you created earlier.
  8. While the scope is running, PicoScope will continually update the average and standard deviation measurements.

You can use the statistics functions with a spectrum view as well as with a scope view, using a similar procedure. If you need help, you can always press [F1] to call up the online user guide. You can also download the manual free of charge from our Technical Library.

Automotive News

A.C.E. Misfire

Pico Technology now supplies the A.C.E. Misfire Detective software from Thompson Automotive Labs. This software helps technicians detect and troubleshoot misfires through a few simple connections to the engine management system. It can work by connection to the vehicle’s oxygen sensor, or by using the FirstLook sensor which is simply inserted into the exhaust pipe. A.C.E. Misfire Detective runs on any PC equipped with a Pico automotive oscilloscope.

The software offers several major benefits to the automotive technician:

  • It can identify misfires by bank on all petrol engines, or by cylinder number for supported engines. Users can extend the library to support new engines.
  • It saves time by indicating whether the cause of the misfire is a combustion, mixture or ignition problem.
  • It reduces swap-out costs by pointing straight to the cause of the misfire.
  • It distinguishes roughness due to misfire from torque converter shudder.
  • When connected to the oxygen sensor, it detects partial misfires that may have been overlooked.

A.C.E. Misfire Detective is offered in several package options

UK Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA)

The ATA scheme, launched in 2005, is a voluntary scheme in the United Kingdom designed to recognise technical competence, raise the professional status and credibility of skilled individuals, provide a benchmark for technician recruitment and career development, and significantly improve consumer confidence in the retail motor sector. It is governed by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

Successful applicants receive a photo identity card which is valid for five years, and are listed on a public on-line register on www.automotivetechnician.org.uk

Many ATA centres use Pico’s multi-award-winning Automotive Diagnostics Oscilloscope Kit. Stuart Brooks, Head of Public Relations at The Institute of the Motor Industry, comments, “The Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme has generated significant momentum across the industry and the IMI is delighted that Pico is actively supporting the initiative within its own market.”

Autonerdz CDs

With the increasing complexity of today’s vehicles, the need for automotive training has never been greater.

Autonerdz in the USA have a reputation for providing first-rate automotive training, and have developed their highly successful Nerdz Series of training courses. Now, for those of you not lucky enough to be able to attend a Nerd training session, help is at hand in the form of the Nerd Series of automotive training CD-ROMs.

Each Nerd CD contains over 6 hours of no-nonsense training that focuses on getting the job done using proven field-tested techniques. Suitable for beginners and experts alike, Nerd automotive training CD-ROMs are packed full with so much information that you can watch them again and again, and learn something new each time.

Nerd I - creative lab scope technique
Nerd II - fuel pump analysis, GM and Toyota ignition
Nerd III - primary ignition failure analysis 
Nerd IV - Ford ignition, failure identification

Honda fuel pump waveform

This month’s new automotive waveform is from a faulty fuel pump on a Honda Prelude. Using a Pico automotive oscilloscope, it's easy to see that the pump has a current dropout resulting from a faulty winding, brush or commutator segment. Our thanks to Darrell Hanan of Scott Community College, IA, USA for sending us this waveform.

Our waveform library contained 135 waveforms at the last count. Believe it or not, we provide it to the public free of charge. You don’t even need to register!

We are always looking to add more waveforms to our library, so if you have captured any interesting ones, please send them to us. Email a pair of PSD files, one showing the fault and the other showing a properly working component, to: documentation@picotech.com

View the waveform library


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.

About this newsletter

To make sure that your Pico newsletter reaches your inbox every month, add listmaster@picotech.com to your email address book or safe list. If you found this newsletter useful, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. Back issues are available from our newsletter archive.

Contact details

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

Pico Technology North America Inc.
320 N Glenwood Blvd.
TX 75702
United States
Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)
Fax:+1 620 272 0981

Email: sales@picotech.com
Web: www.picotech.com
Web technical support: www.picotech.com/tech-support/
Twitter: picotech
Facebook: Pico-Technology