Test and Measurement News

March 2008

New 4-Channel Differential PC Oscilloscope

The big news this month is the release of our first differential USB PC Oscilloscope, the PicoScope 3425. This has four differential inputs, 12-bit precision, 5 MHz bandwidth and a high-speed USB 2.0 interface, and comes with PicoScope 6, our advanced but user-friendly PC Oscilloscope software.

The PicoScope 3425’s differential inputs allow you to measure signals that are not referenced to ground, so you don’t need expensive differential pre-amplifiers and probes. Its maximum common mode and differential ranges of 400 V make it ideal for capturing power waveforms from switch mode power supplies and motor inverters. It is also perfect for use in physics and biology laboratories, where its ability to reject common-mode noise allows it to pick up low-level differential signals from sensors.

The PicoScope 3425 has a 20 Msample/s sampling rate, allowing it to capture highly detailed waveforms, and its input impedance of over 10 MΩ puts minimal load on the circuit under test. It is USB-powered and requires no external power supply. The scope’s timebase range is 500 nanoseconds to 200 seconds/div, and with its deep memory of 512 K samples it can capture 26 milliseconds of data at its top sampling rate. A high-speed streaming mode allows the scope to capture large data sets limited only by the PC’s memory.

The PicoScope 6 software can show multiple views of the signal with different offsets and scales, in addition to a range of automatic measurements. A resolution enhance mode can boost the scope’s effective resolution to 16 bits. The software also has a spectrum analyser mode that can show frequency- and time-domain data at the same time.

If you want to control the scope from your own programs, you can use the fully documented programming interface (API), which is accompanied by example programs in C, C++, Visual Basic, Excel and LabVIEW.

The PicoScope 3425 is available direct from Pico Technology. The kit includes 4 BNC-to-4-mm leads, 8 large crocodile clips, 4 grounding adapters for current clamps, and a tough plastic carry case.

Find out more about the PicoScope 3425 differential oscilloscope.

Tech Tip: Using Multiple Loggers with PicoLog

PicoLog is our advanced data logging software for Windows. Many customers use it with only a single data logger, but you can easily configure it to use any combination of Pico data loggers. Just follow these steps:

1. Connect your Pico data loggers to your PC
2. Start PicoLog
3. Click File | New Settings
4. Tick the ‘Use multiple converters’ check box
5. Click OK
6. PicoLog will display the Converters dialog. Click Add to add each converter in your system.
7. Continue as usual

PicoLog is supplied with all our PC Data Loggers at no extra charge.

Read more about PicoLog data acquisition software

Application: EnviroMon monitors solar PV installation

In February 2008’s Circuit Cellar, Steve Ciarcia describes how EnviroMon helped him to monitor the performance of his solar photovoltaic (PV) installation. He used the EL040 current monitoring kit, which is a complete data logging kit with three AC current clamps, a three-channel converter and a PC data logger. Using all three channels, he monitored both sides of the fuse box and the output from the solar panels, enabling him to work out how much of his power consumption was being supplied by the PV installation.

Using the EL040 kit is as simple as installing the software from CD, plugging the logger into the PC, and then connecting up the converter and current clamps. EnviroMon will log readings every minute for up to 60 days, and displays graph and spreadsheet views that are updated in real time. You can expand the system up to 40 channels, using a wide range of converters and sensors available from Pico Technology.

Read Steve’s article
Read more about the EL040 Current Monitoring Kit
Related application: See how we use EnviroMon at Pico to monitor our electrical energy consumption, helping us to cut our electricity bills

Questions and Answers

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

Q. Can Pico products be used in LabVIEW?

A. Yes, we provide LabVIEW drivers and example programs for most of our products. When you install the Pico software, be sure to select Custom Install for the option to install examples and drivers.

Q. How can I make PicoScope 6 display a voltage range of 0 to +5 V instead of -5 V to +5 V?

A. With PicoScope 6 you can set up practically any combination of vertical and horizontal ranges. We will assume that you are starting with a scope view with a voltage range of -5 V to +5 V. To change the voltage range, click the coloured button marked ‘x1.0’ in the bottom left corner of the scope view. This is the vertical axis control button, and there is one for each enabled scope channel. Clicking this button opens a small Scale & Offset control box. Change the Scale to 2.00 and the Offset to -25%. You now have a voltage range of 0 to +5 V. (Download the PicoScope 6 User’s Guide.)


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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)
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Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

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