Test and Measurement News

November 2013

New pocket-sized PicoScopes!

The new PicoScope 2200A Series two-channel oscilloscopes are the smallest PicoScopes yet! They offer bandwidths up to 200 MHz and feature an arbitrary waveform generator, yet occupy about the area of a passport and measure only 19 mm (¾") thick. Connected to and powered by a USB port, they are the perfect scopes for engineers on the move to keep in their laptop bag, while offering all the features and performance of traditional benchtop oscilloscopes.

The specifications include:

  • sampling rates up to 1 GS/s
  • adjustable analog offset over the full input range (PicoScope 2206A and above)
  • high-speed USB streaming up to 9.6 MS/s
  • up to 1 MHz built-in signal generator (sine, square, triangle etc.) with programmable frequency sweep
  • 12 bit arbitrary waveform generator with up to 20 MS/s update rate

Despite their small size, these scopes include a comprehensive list of features as standard including:

  • FFT spectrum analyzer
  • segmented memory for rapid captures (PicoScope 2206A and above)
  • math channels
  • automatic measurements
  • color persistence display mode
  • advanced digital triggering
  • mask limit testing
  • serial decoding (UART/RS-232, SPI, I²C, I²S, CAN, LIN, FlexRay)
  • software-enhanced resolution up to 12 bits

A free SDK with example code is available for developing your own applications in languages such as C, Microsoft Visual Basic® and National Instruments LabVIEW®.

The new PicoScope 2200A Series oscilloscopes are available now from Pico distributors worldwide and from www.picotech.com. Prices include all hardware and software features mentioned above and a five-year warranty.

Model Bandwidth Max. sampling Buffer memory £ $* €*
PicoScope 2204A 10 MHz 100 MS/s 8 kS 159 262 192
PicoScope 2205A 25 MHz 200 MS/s 16 kS 249 411 301
PicoScope 2206A 50 MHz 500 MS/s 32 kS 349 576 422
PicoScope 2207A 100 MHz 1 GS/s 40 kS 449 741 543
PicoScope 2208A 200 MHz 1 GS/s 48 kS 599 988 725

Find out more about the PicoScope 2200A Series and download the data sheet.

Video of the month: Using Resolution Enhancement

Our selected video this month is PicoScope 6: Using Resolution Enhancement


Resolution Enhancement is a valuable feature of the PicoScope software that uses software filtering to provide up to four additional bits of resolution. This means that with 8 bit scopes like the new PicoScope 2200A Series you can measure with up to 12 bit resolution. You can select the degree of filtering, in steps of 0.5 bit effective resolution gain, to achieve the right balance between frequency response and resolution.

Visit the picoscope channel on YouTube for a list of over 70 videos on various aspects of oscilloscope usage.

Focus on digital triggering

All PicoScopes feature digital triggering, which Pico Technology pioneered in 1991. What is digital triggering and why do you need it?

Most traditional oscilloscopes use analog triggering. A dedicated comparator circuit monitors the input signal and causes the scope to capture a waveform when the signal crosses a preset threshold. These circuits are prone to frequency-dependent timing and threshold errors that cannot always be calibrated out. The result is increased timing uncertainty, also called jitter.

Pico Technology's digital triggering uses digitized data from one of the main input channels. This means that the trigger is locked to the sampling clock, so there is no additional source of jitter. PicoScopes then use interpolation to further reduce the jitter to a tiny fraction of a sampling period. The result is a highly stable trigger without the need for a separate trigger input and its expensive additional circuitry.

Other advantages of digital triggering:

  • Delay measurements, being locked to the sampling clock, are highly accurate even when long delays are used.
  • Pulse width triggering can discriminate between short pulses with single sample-period resolution.
  • Trigger thresholds can be set with 1 LSB resolution (8 to 16 bits depending on scope model).
  • Two thresholds can be set per channel, allowing programmable hysteresis and window triggers.
  • Complex triggers can be provided even on low-end scopes. Most of the advanced triggers shown in the menu above are available across the PicoScope range (PicoScope 2204A and above).
  • Trigger logic can be easily extended to the 16 digital inputs on mixed-signal scopes.

More details of PicoScope's advanced triggering

Review your Pico product and win $500!

We hope that you are delighted with your Pico product. Why not tell the world how good it is, and at the same time help us reach a charity donation target of $1000?

It's easy to publish a review: go to the online form, choose a star rating and type in your comments. For the rest of this year, Pico will donate $1 towards the target to Cancer Research UK, a registered charity, for every completed review. In addition, one lucky reviewer will be selected at random for a prize of $500 (or £300 or €350) in Amazon vouchers. The winner will be announced in the first Pico newsletter of 2014.

The donation scheme and prize draw end on 31 December 2013, so don't miss your chance. Review your product now!

Only one review per person. Total charity donation limited to $1000. No cash alternative.

Tech tips

Here are some of the latest tips delivered by our technical support experts. Keep watching our forum for more great ideas.

Unipolar scope inputs

Q. Using my PicoScope's bipolar inputs to measure a unipolar signal means that I waste half my input range and therefore one bit of resolution. Can I reconfigure the inputs to be unipolar?

A. Yes, you can if you have a PicoScope with analog input offset adjustment, such as one of the new PicoScope 2206A, 2207A or 2208A scopes:

  1. Choose the smallest input range that fits the signal's maximum voltage difference. For example, for a 0 to 1 V input signal (1 V difference), choose the ±0.5 V range (also a 1 V difference).
  2. Under PicoScope's Channel Options menu, set the DC Offset to bring the input signal into the middle of the chosen input range. In our example, the required offset is –0.5 V.
  3. You can now view the signal using the scope's full resolution, but the voltages on the vertical axis are offset by the DC Offset value chosen above. To correct this, set up a maths channel (Tools > Maths Channels) to add back the offset that was subtracted. In our example, assuming that the input is on channel A, the equation is "A+0.5".
  4. Right-click the scope view and deselect channel A, leaving the unipolar math channel with the correct voltages displayed on the vertical axis.

For a list of scopes with the DC Offset feature, see the PicoScope 6 User's Guide.

File conversion to MATLAB

Q. How can I change the format of a PicoScope .psdata file to .mat in order to open it with MATLAB?

A. You can export PicoScope data to MathWorks MATLAB® by loading the .psdata file back into PicoScope 6, then selecting File > Save As... and changing the Save as type to MATLAB 4 files (*.mat). Note that MATLAB cannot load a version 4 .mat file with more than 100 million samples per channel.


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