Test and Measurement News

July 2015

PicoScope 6 latest: R6.11.4 beta

Last month we announced a new beta release of PicoScope with sixteen new and updated serial protocols. We also hinted that you might find more improvements. The main change is to math channels: this feature has been rewritten so that it now handles up to 5 million samples per waveform (up from 2 million) and is up to 3 times faster than before on a typical PC.

Give math channels a try using either your own PicoScope oscilloscope or the virtual 'demo' oscilloscope built into the software. You'll find a comprehensive range of math functions including arithmetic, trigonometry, exponentials, filters, and the min, max, peak and average multi-waveform operations.

Download your free copy of PicoScope R6.11.4 beta today

Important note: If you have a version of PicoScope earlier than R6.10.16, you must update to R6.10.16 before installing one of the R6.11 beta releases. To update automatically, use the Help > Check for Updates menu command in PicoScope.

Focus on: SPI serial decoding

SPI bus decoding is not new to PicoScope but, like all the serial protocols that PicoScope can decode, this one has benefited from speed, accuracy and usability improvements in the latest beta release (R6.11.4).

The SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) bus was developed by Motorola for use with their microcontrollers. Due to its simplicity other manufacturers adopted it and it has become widely available in components used in embedded system designs. It is commonly used for chip-to-chip communications between a CPU and keyboard, display, ADCs and DACs, real-time clocks, EEPROM, SD and other memory devices.

SPI is a synchronous bus with four lines: Data - master output/slave input (MOSI) and master input/slave output (MISO), clock (SCLK), and slave select (SS). SPI is a full duplex standard, meaning signals can be transmitted in both directions simultaneously, with data rates up to the tens of 10 Mbit/s.

Devices communicate using a master-slave architecture with a single master. The master device initiates the frame for reading and writing. Multiple slave devices can be addressed with individual slave select lines.

PicoScope's SPI decoding requires at least a two-channel oscilloscope to monitor one data line (MISO or MOSI) and SCLK. If your scope has more channels, you can also qualify the decoding with the SS signal. To monitor communications in both directions, you can set up two separate decoders in PicoScope, one decoding MOSI and the other MISO.

More information on SPI bus serial protocol decoding

Video of the month: PicoScope 6 Serial Decoding

This video by electronics blogger Colin O'Flynn shows you how easy it is to decode serial data using PicoScope 6. Colin is using the stable release of PicoScope with 8 supported serial protocols, but you can now download R6.11.4 beta with 16 protocols. As Colin points out, most benchtop scope manufacturers charge extra for this but in PicoScope it's all included as standard!

Watch "PicoScope 6 Serial Decoding" on YouTube

PicoLog update

We're looking after our data logger users this month with an update to the PicoLog software. There are no major changes, just fixes for some outstanding bugs:

  • Correction to IP address dialog for network-connected loggers
  • Data before trigger point is now exported to Excel files
  • Fixed error on opening data file with no PicoLog 1000 device connected

Download PicoLog R5.24.8 now

Tech Tip: Time offset in PicoScope

Q. Is there a way in software to do a time offset for one channel relative to the others to adjust for things like difference in cable lengths or skew in trace lengths?

A. Yes, you can use a math channel for this. The method is documented in the manual but it's described as 'Advance/Delay'. To create a time-offset math channel, go to Tools > Math Channels, click Create, and in the Equation Editor enter the text A[0.001] or similar, where A is the name of the input channel to be offset and 0.001 is the time in seconds (positive for an advance, negative for a delay).

Tech Tip: Rapid trigger mode timebases

Q. The PicoScope 6 manual has a note that rapid trigger mode is only usable "on the fastest timebases" but not what those timebases are.

A. Rapid trigger mode is available at timebases of 1 ms/div or faster, equivalent to 10 ms across the screen or less.

Rapid triggering can acquire a sequence of waveforms with minimal trigger rearm time between them – less than a microsecond with the fastest PicoScopes.


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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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Pico Technology, James House, Colmworth Business Park, St. Neots,
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