Test and Measurement News

March 2009

Press Round-Up

Pico products appear regularly in product reviews, scientific journals and engineering reports. Here are just a few examples that we noticed recently.

Investigating the safety of electroacupuncture with a PicoScope (BMAS)

When researchers began to design an experiment to measure the currents flowing through the body during electroacupuncture, safety was their main concern. They chose the PicoScope 3425, a four-channel differential oscilloscope, as their measuring instrument because its inputs are isolated from the power supply ground and so it eliminates the hazard of using grounded mains-powered equipment. The 12-bit resolution of the PicoScope 3425 is ideal for detecting small signal fluctuations and its high input impedance of over 10 MΩ makes it compatible with sensitive instrumentation such as electroacupuncture recording needles.

In this experiment, the PicoScope 3425 was used to record the applied voltage across a pair of stimulating electrodes and the induced voltage across a pair of recording electrodes. The scope’s floating inputs prevented any current leakage between the two sets of electrodes. The results were compared against the safety guidelines published by the British Medical Acupuncture Society.

Loudspeaker Voice-Coil Temperatures (Stereophile magazine)

This article describes how a Pico ADC-212 was used to monitor the resistance of a speaker voice coil while the speaker was being driven. The author was investigating changes in the resistance of the coil, due to heating, that caused distortion and power loss. The PicoLog software allowed him to create a chart of resistance over a period of time and then to print the results for publication.

Many of our customers are still happily using their ADC-212s, but if you are thinking of repeating this experiment we suggest that you use one of our newer oscilloscopes, such as a PicoScope 4000 Series model. The 12-bit resolution of these scopes makes them ideal for audio work.

Read Hot Stuff: Loudspeaker Voice-Coil Temperatures by Keith Howard.

Heat Losses In A Cook Pot at Constant Temperature (Aprovecho Research Center)

Pico data loggers are a popular choice for gathering energy efficiency data in the field, thanks to their portability, low power consumption and cost-effectiveness. In this application, a Pico TC-08 thermocouple data logger was used to compare the thermal performance of different types of cooking pot used in a typical third-world kitchen. The results may help cooks to use less fuel and create less pollution.

The TC-08 is a handy device that lets you collect data from 8 low-cost thermocouples. As it’s powered from the USB port, you don’t have to carry around an extra power supply, and it's so small and light that you can easily carry it in your laptop bag. The software supplied can display its own charts or can export results to Excel for further analysis.

Read Heat Losses In A Cook Pot at Constant Temperature (322 kB PDF) by Dr Alan Berick.

Questions and Answers

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

Q. In PicoScope 6, is it possible to see previous waveforms that were captured using the Repeat trigger mode?
A. Yes, the waveform buffer does exactly that. In the control area at the top of the PicoScope window is a box containing a number, with blue arrow buttons on either side. The number shows you how many waveforms are in the buffer. Once you have captured enough waveforms using the Repeat trigger, click the Stop/Start button to stop capturing. Now you can click the blue arrow buttons to scroll backwards and forwards through the buffer. The number of waveforms that you can store in the buffer depends on the scope settings and on how much buffer memory the scope has.

Read the “Waveform Buffer” page in the “Using and Understanding Oscilloscopes” section of our website.
Q. I understand that the ADC-11 has single-ended inputs, but is it possible to do pseudo-differential data acquisition? That is, record simultaneously on 2 different channels and then subtract one from the other in a Picolog or Excel spreadsheet?
A. Yes, this can easily be done in PicoLog by adding a calculated parameter (A-B for example) that will appear as an extra channel. This function is in the menu under Settings --> Calculated Parameters.


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