Test and Measurement News

May 2010

Product of the Month: PicoScope 9211A

The PicoScope 9211A PC Digital Signal Analyzer is a compact, low–cost instrument for testing the high–frequency performance of cables, connectors, circuit boards and components. It can perform time–domain reflectometry (TDR) and time–domain transmission (TDT) measurements at up to 12 GHz, allowing you to detect and locate faults such as open and short circuits, and impedance discontinuities, with 200-femtosecond resolution.

Hardware: The PicoScope 9211A plugs into the USB 2.0 port on any PC running Windows XP or Vista. The analyzer has two 12 GHz sampling inputs and two high–speed signal generator outputs, with 120 ps rise–time, to drive the device under test. There is also a LAN port to enable the instrument to be used remotely.

Software: The PicoScope 9000 software is included in the price and contains all necessary measurement functions, with no need to buy extra modules.

Ordering: The PicoScope 9211A (order code PP473) costs only £5,995 (about $10,795 or €7,795 at current exchange rates) and includes a TDR/TDT accessory pack with calibrated cables, power splitters and connectors.

Visit the PicoScope 9211A on the web

Tech Tip: Zoom Overview Window in PicoScope

If you are a regular user of PicoScope then you will have noticed the new Zoom Overview window that appears whenever you zoom in. It shows which part of the waveform is displayed in the current view, which is helpful when you are using a large zoom factor. It also has a number of control functions that you might not have discovered:

Pan. Drag the rectangle in the Zoom Overview window to the part of the waveform that you want to see, and the main view will follow the rectangle.
Change zoom. Drag one of the sides or corners of the rectangle in the Zoom Overview window, and the main view will change its zoom factor to show the contents of the new rectangle.
Minimise. Click the Minimise button in the top right–hand corner to reduce the window to a small box that can be re-opened later.
Close. Click the Close button in the top right-hand corner to remove the Zoom Overview window and cancel zoom mode.
Switch off. You can tell PicoScope not to display the Zoom Overview window when you zoom in. Go toTools > Preferences > Options and clear the Zoom Overview check box.

Make sure that you always have the latest version of PicoScope 6: download a free copy today.

PicoScope Education Kit Winner

Last month we asked for your ideas for new science education experiments suitable for thePicoScope Education Kit. We picked one name at random from the list of entrants, and the winner was: Mr A Couture. Mr Couture suggested two ideas: measuring the focal length of a lens, and monitoring the pH of an aquarium. He will receive a PicoScope Education Kit. Our thanks to the other readers who replied.

We are still on the lookout for more ideas, so if you are working on an educational project involving the PicoScope Kit then please let us know. If you submit a well–documented project then we will publish it on our website. Your report must include an explanation of the purpose of the experiment, a list of equipment, the procedure, at least one photograph of the experimental set–up, and a PicoScope data file showing the results.

PicoScope Education Science Experiments

Send your ideas to our Education Specialist, Paul Allen, at pallen@picotech.com.

Questions and Answers

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

Q. Are the PicoScope USB oscilloscopes truly hardware–based? That is, are all the DAQ and sub–processors in the box, or does it require the PC to do signal processing and analysis?

A. All the multiplexing, sampling and digitising, as well as gain changes, are done in the scope itself. The raw or downsampled data is then sent by USB to the PC where all the post–processing for the PicoScope GUI is done. This system gives good performance on typical mid–range PCs, and the programmable logic in your PicoScope ensures that it is always upgradable by downloading the latest software from our website.

Q. I have recently acquired an ADC-200 with a parallel interface. It did not come with a USB Parallel adapter. As these adapters are no longer available on the picotech.com website, is there an alternate way to acquire a new adapter? What are my options to allow the ADC-200 to connect to a PC with no parallel port?

A. If you are running version R5.21.0 (or later) of PicoLog or PicoScope5, then most plug-in, PCI, PCI–Express and PCMCIA (Cardbus) parallel adapter cards will work with our parallel port products. When using an adapter card with a laptop, the card has to be inserted in the laptop slot before boot in order to be recognised by our software. USB printer adaptors are designed only for use with printers and do not work with Pico oscilloscopes.


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 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)

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

Asia-Pacific Office:
Pico Technology, Room 2252, 22/F, Centro, 568 Hengfeng Road, Zhabei District,
Shanghai 200070, PR China
Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

Email: sales@picotech.com