Test and Measurement News

June 2015

PicoScope 6 news: improved serial decoding

We've just released PicoScope R6.11.4, a beta version of the oscilloscope software for PicoScopes, with improved serial decoding. There are now 16 serial protocols, a cleaner user interface, six times faster decoding and better error detection, and it's all free of charge to PicoScope oscilloscope owners!

The list of decoded protocols is now as follows (new ones are in bold):

1-Wire ARINC 429 CAN DCC
DMX 512 Ethernet 100BASE-TX Ethernet 10BASE-T FlexRay
I²C I²S LIN PS/2
RS-232/UART SENT (Fast & Slow) SPI USB

You might find a few other improvements hidden away: for details, see the release notes when you download or watch out for future newsletters.

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 this new beta. To update automatically, use the Help > Check for Updates menu command in PicoScope.

Focus on: advanced triggers

As well as the standard 'rising edge' and 'falling edge' triggers, most PicoScope oscilloscopes offer a comprehensive set of advanced triggers. Some oscilloscope manufacturers charge extra for these, but with PicoScope they are included as standard.

How do they work?

Because PicoScope uses digital triggering on its main input channels, the trigger timing is always accurate to one sample period, which can be as short as 200 picoseconds on the fastest scopes. Digital triggering also allows adjustment of trigger thresholds with a precision of one bit (1 LSB) on the vertical axis and ensures that they can't drift relative to the signal. Furthermore, digital triggering allows us to offer some very sophisticated trigger types such as runt pulse detection, pulse-width and dropout triggers, adjustable hysteresis, windowed level triggers, and logic triggers that combine multiple input channels.

Why do I need them?

Standard edge triggers are good enough when your signal is a simple repetitive waveform such as a square wave or sine wave. If the signal varies from one cycle to the next, these triggers cannot distinguish one shape of pulse from another and the result will be a confusing display. Advanced triggers let you filter out a certain class of event, for example narrow pulses or pulses that fail to reach a certain voltage, so that unwanted signals don't clutter the display.

Tell me more

There's a detailed discussion of the various advanced trigger types in the online A to Z of PicoScope under Advanced digital triggers.

All currently available PicoScopes except the PicoScope 2104 and 2105 handheld models offer advanced triggering but there is some variation in the features that they support. To find out exactly which trigger types are available on your oscilloscope, see the Device feature table at the back of the PicoScope 6 User's Guide.

Video of the month: Advanced Trigger Modes

Continuing our theme of advanced triggers, our chosen video on "Advanced Trigger Modes" introduces the subject with examples of runt pulse and pulse width triggering. As one YouTube commenter pointed out, these features often cost extra on competing scopes and make the PicoScope 5000 Series extremely good value for money.

Watch our video and find out how easy it is to set up and use advanced triggering in PicoScope. When you're done, click the Pico Technology channel name in YouTube to find more of our videos on oscilloscopes and data logging.

Watch "Advanced Trigger Modes" on YouTube

New science experiment: plant measurements during day and night

The latest science experiment to be added to our library is Plant measurements during day and night, by Susan Hammond of Woking College. It shows students how to use a DrDAQ Data Logger to measure oxygen level, temperature and (optionally) humidity over a 24 hour period. The results can be used to teach the concepts of photosynthesis and respiration to pupils aged 9 to 19 (UK Key Stages KS3 to KS5).

The experiment includes teacher's notes, questions for discussion, and ideas for further study.

We have over 70 educational experiments showing how data logging can be applied to the fields of electronics, physics, chemistry and biology. See the experiments index.

Tech Tips: using the PicoScope SDKs

Installing the USB drivers

Q. How do I install the drivers for my PicoScope hardware without installing the PicoScope 6 software?

A. In the system folder within the SDK you will find two subfolders, one for 64-bit (amd64) and one for 32-bit (x86). Open the appropriate folder and then run dpinst. This will install the appropriate USB drivers.

Stay subscribed to this newsletter for news of our improved SDK, which uses an installer and will therefore handle driver installation automatically.

AWG output and data capture at the same time

Q. The PicoScope 2000 Series (A API) Programmer's Guide explains how to drive the AWG and capture data, but not both at the same time. Is it possible?

A. Yes. Most PicoScopes are specifically designed to allow this, with a signal generator triggering function to ensure that input and output are synchronized. Note that the signal generator must be set up before beginning data collection, as only certain properties can be changed while the device is waiting for a trigger. It is possible to achieve synchronization to better than 1 millisecond even with the low-cost PicoScope 2000A Series oscilloscopes.

We have published a guide to this feature: read Triggering a PicoScope Signal Generator using the PicoScope API Functions.

Events

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 HQ:
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.
Tyler
TX 75702
United States
Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)
Fax:+1 620 272 0981

Email: sales@picotech.com